We’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.
By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.
To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This third one is by Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on RE in schools.
The Liberal Democrats very much welcome the discussion document, 2020 Vision of the Good Society, which has been put together by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and Church Action on Poverty. It is encouraging to see churches working together and making their voice heard, setting out priorities so clearly in the run up to the General Election.
Reading through the document, it is interesting to see how closely some of the key themes raised in the report match Liberal Democrat values and priorities.
On the economy, Liberal Democrats want a much fairer tax system which reduces the amount of tax that low earners pay, and we have already demonstrated our commitment to this by raising the tax threshold to £10,000, lifting many low earners out of tax altogether. We will raise this even further to £12,500 if we are back in power after the May 6th General Election. Raising the tax threshold was a Lib Dem policy which other parties have followed. We have also constantly been pushing for tax dodging corporations to pay their taxes and strongly object to the rich not paying their way in our society when others are struggling.
Equality of opportunity for all will also be a key theme of the Lib Dem 2015 Manifesto. We have already introduced the pupil premium to help children from poorer backgrounds and in this Parliament put in place two million apprenticeships as we believe in helping young people who have not had the benefits of a higher education to get proper vocational training. Many of these apprentices have gone on to part-time or full-time employment.
We particularly value the document’s comments on the problems facing some young people today and understand that, as a party, we must do more. It is not acceptable that one in ten children suffer from a low level of wellbeing, and one in eight children suffer from neglect, as stated in the report. On housing, however, our party has consistently called for more affordable housing which is something we will be highlighting again in our 2015 election manifesto.
We certainly agree with 2020 Vision’s commitment to protecting the environment. The Liberal Democrats have always been green champions. We are committed to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and promoting renewable energy as we understand that tackling climate change is essential if we are to help prevent increasingly severe weather events around the world and halt the rise in sea level which is expected to have such a devastating impact on poorer countries. My Liberal Democrat colleague and friend, Tim Farron MP, recently wrote an article on this very subject, “Climate Change must be the Pressing Issue for Liberals”, which is well worth a read. Green issues will therefore certainly be at the heart of our 2015 Manifesto.
It seems to me that the 2020 Vision of the Good Society report coincides closely with our vision of the kind of Britain we want to build for the future and we congratulate you for putting together such a valuable policy document. I am sure it will be used in church hustings up and down the country in the run-up to the General Election in May 2015.