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Liberal Democrats unveil election policy platform

By Julian Shea in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-06-11 00:06

British leader of the Liberal Democrats party Ed Davey visits Thorpe Park during a Liberal Democrats general election campaign event in London, Britain on June 10. [Photo/Agencies]

The Liberal Democrats became the first major party contesting the United Kingdom general election to release its policy manifesto on Monday, putting the National Health Service, or NHS, and carers at the center of its bid to win public backing in the July 4 vote.

When the most recent parliament was dissolved on May 30, the Lib Dems, as they are also known, were the fourth biggest party, holding 15 of the chamber's 650 seats, behind the Conservatives Party on 346, the Labour Party on 205, and the Scottish National Party, which only contests seats in Scotland, on 43.

The Lib Dems party leader, Ed Davey, who has spoken publicly about his experience of being both a child carer for his terminally ill mother and an adult carer for his disabled son, said "the major cause" of the "crisis" in the NHS is "the crisis in social care", which he said was down to "years of Conservative chaos and neglect". He said his party's manifesto promise was "to save the NHS".

He said he had received "humbling messages from people across the political spectrum and outside of politics altogether" about the plight of carers, saying "how refreshing it is after so long of being forgotten and ignored by people in power … caring has been in the shadows for far too long and I'm proud that, as a party, we have brought it into the light".

Before the UK left the European Union, the Lib Dems were the most Euro-friendly of the country's major political parties, and at the last general election in 2019, the words 'Stop Brexit' were printed on the manifesto cover.

When quizzed on the topic by journalists after the policy launch, Davey set out his party's position of the EU.

"We've made clear, time and again, that we're a pro-European party," he said, adding that, in the long-term, the UK needs to be back "at the heart of Europe" and that the party aimed "to place the UK-EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the single market", but he said "it's going to take time".

In the longer term, he added, it was the Lib Dems' ambition to see the UK rejoin the EU, which it formally left on Jan 31, 2020, following the referendum of 2016.

The attitude of past Conservative Party governments, he said, had done "such damage" and "poisoned Britain's relationship with our nearest neighbors". Once links to the continent had improved, he added, the UK could get a "much better trade deal from the dreadful trade deal that (former prime minister) Boris Johnson got".

The Conservative Party manifesto launch is expected on Tuesday, with sources hinting that it will take place at a location with connections to Formula 1 motor racing. And the Labour Party's manifesto is set to be launched on Thursday.

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