So, What's It All About?
Launching the Lib Dem manifesto, Tim Farron billed it as a chance to “change Britain’s future”. The party is pitching itself as the new opposition, and has pledged a second referendum on any Brexit deal as well as promising that more money will be devoted to education and the NHS. There’s also a focus on “breaking down the barriers that hold people back”, by reducing inequality and fighting discrimination.
Human Rights Laws and Access to Justice
The UK has been part of the Human Rights Convention since 1953. The rights in the Convention were brought directly into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Liberal Democrats say the current system works, and that they would oppose any attempt to scrap the Act or withdraw from the Convention. They also plan to strengthen the UK’s commitment to international human rights law. The Lib Dems say that “cuts to legal aid have denied effective access to justice to many.” They would conduct a review of the effects of legal aid cutbacks on access to justice and secure further funding.
Employment and Workers' Rights
Human rights aren’t just for protecting our personal lives – they’re also crucial protections in the workplace. The Liberal Democrats want to get 1 million more women back into work by 2025, by increasing childcare and back-to-work support. They also pledge to protect the rights of EU workers in the UK, as well as British people’s rights to work across Europe. Other promises include stamping out the “abuse of zero hour contracts” and modernising workers’ rights in light of the “gig economy”.
We all have a right not to be discriminated against under the Human Rights Convention, and the Equality Act provides further protection for certain groups. The Lib Dems are looking to extend certain requirements of the Equality Act to all companies with more than 250 employees, which means they would have to publish data on gender, race and LGBT employment levels and pay gaps. They also pledge to tackle period poverty by providing free sanitary products in schools, and to complete a review of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to see if it’s working effectively.
The party says it will put a strong focus on championing our human rights values across Europe and the wider international community. They would also control arms exports to countries that the Foreign Office has flagged as human rights priorities, and would suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Health and Disability
The right to access healthcare is protected by law. The Liberal Democrat manifesto says they’d raise £6 billion for NHS and social care funding, and guarantee the rights of all EU nationals working in the health service. Disabled access on public transport will also be made a priority.
Brexit – the process of leaving the European Union – is one of the biggest issues of this General Election. Leaving the block will raise a host of rights questions, including employment rights, privacy, and free movement. The Liberal Democrats have pledged a second referendum on any Brexit deal, as well as a guarantee for the rights of all EU nationals in the UK. They’ll push for the same deal for Brits living in other European countries, and say they will protect freedom of movement.
We all have a right to education, and policies surrounding schooling and universities will play into this. The Lib Dems are planning to scrap the proposed expansion of grammar schools, invest an extra £7 billion in education, and reinstate university maintenance grants for the poorest students. They’ll also work to challenge gender stereotyping and early sexualisation.
Free Speech and Privacy
Free speech is a vital part of our human rights – so any policy surrounding it plays into a discussion about our rights. The Lib Dems say they’ll ensure independent self-regulation of the press, begin part two of the Leveson inquiry, and order Ofcom to launch an immediate review of media plurality. They’d introduce a digital bill of rights, which would protect people’s powers over their own information, support individuals over large corporations, and preserve the neutrality of the internet. They vow to roll back state surveillance powers and attempts to undermine encryption, as well as end the ministerial veto on release of information under the Freedom of Information Act.