Liberal Democrat vision: a United, but decentralised, Kingdom

With the SNP expected to surge in May the Liberal Democrats offer a vision for a more devolved, but united, federal UK

The party has pledged to transfer three key powers to the devolved parliaments and assemblies (p133, 10.2 A decentralised but United Kingdom). The powers to:

  • "Borrow for investment.
  • Manage the Crown Estate’s economic assets.
  • Control a range of benefits for older people, carers and disabled people."

For Scotland the party has pledged to make sure the Scottish parliament will raise in tax more than half of what it spends. Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to “deliver Home Rule for Scotland by implementing the Smith Commission proposals in full in the first session of the next Parliament.”

The party has also pledged Home Rule for Wales and provide for a Welsh Parliament as opposed to an Assembly. They have also promised to implement “the remaining Silk Part 1 proposals on financial powers for Wales”.

In addition to this, the party has also promised to encourage more devolution in England, party by building on City and Growth Deals in the country and reduce the UK government interference on English local government.

They have also said they will built on the devolution of Corporation Tax to Northern Ireland.

SEE ALSO: Conservative-Lib Dem-DUP coaltion: a popular option for Tories

Overall, the party is making the case for a federal UK, one with “Home Rule to each of the nations of a strong, federal United Kingdom.” The party is trying to strike a balance between full control for the Home nations and a centralised United Kingdom. A federal UK could be a sustainable option, allowing some decisions to be taken closer to home and others like foreign affairs and defence in London.

The party also has some other plans to change the UK’s constitutional situation. The party has pledged that it supports introducing STV for English Council elections and for electing MPs. In 2011, the British public rejected AV for UK elections, but in a new coalition/agreement PR for councils could be achievable. The party also promises to fight for a House Of Lords “with a proper democratic mandate” (p132) and lower the voting age to 16. With a hung parliament looking likely these are two policies with which they could work with Labour on.

Furthermore, with the Lib Dems potentially holding the balance of power in May - perhaps with the SNP - here’s some of their key economic policies:

  • The party has promised it would balance the books by 2017/18 and that it would have debt fall to a ‘sustainable level’ by the middle of the next decade.
  • The Lib Dems have also reiterated their pledge to give 0.7% of National Income to development aid in other countries.
  • They have also pledged to limit welfare reductions.

YouGov's latest poll puts the party on 8%.

Download the full Lib Dem manifesto here. The UKIP manifesto, also released today, can be accessed here.


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