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Welcome to The Conversation’s Manifesto Check, where academics subject each party’s election manifesto to unbiased, expert scrutiny. Here is what our experts had to say about the Liberal Democrats’ top policies. Follow the links for further analysis.


David Chivers, Lecturer in Economics at Exeter College, University of Oxford

The Liberal Democrats propose to tackle the deficit in a way that means the country would cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour. Essentially, the economic message delivered in their manifesto is that austerity is necessary as the current debt levels are too high. This will be achieved by a combination of tax increases as well as spending cuts.

But on closer inspection of the manifesto, only £5 billion of the current £27 billion structural deficits will be raised through tax increases. The rest of the savings will come from tackling tax avoidance, departmental savings, as well as welfare savings.

The Liberal Democrats' claim that cutting the deficit is essential for growth and employment is that it increases business confidence. This statement is misleading and is a result of a general lack of clarity over what government debt is and its effect on the health of a country’s economy.

Read more here.


Ian Preston, Professor of Economics at UCL

When asked about immigration in the recent leaders' debate, Nick Clegg sought to draw a distinction between “good” and “bad” immigration. The Liberal Democrat manifesto does not try to push this distinction. Immigration is presented as primarily a good thing. The party believes in Britain as an “open, trading nation”, “within the European Union and beyond” and celebrates openness to “visitors who boost our economy”, “migrant workers who play a vital role in business and public services” and “refugees fleeing persecution”.

Although the Liberal Democrats were part of a coalition that has tightened immigration policy in several ways, in its manifesto, the party positions itself to push for a relatively liberal approach to future decision making.

Read more here.


Andrew Street, Professor of Health Economics at University of York

The section on “building a healthier society” in the Liberal Democrat’s manifesto shares much in common with the manifestos already published by the other parties. But taken overall, the Lib Dems offer the most coherent set of plans to improve our health and wellbeing.

There is cross-party consensus about the importance of prevention and promoting healthy lifestyles, the need for joined up health and social care, and that funding increases are required, though parties differ by how much and where funding will come from. The Lib Dems claim while in power to have “increased the NHS budget every year in real terms”, though funding increases have been lower than for any previous administration. Now, the party promises that funding for the NHS in England will be “at least £8 billion higher a year in real terms by 2020”, financed by tax increases and a hoped-for economic recovery.

Read more here.

Ian Preston has been part of teams receiving funding from the Home Office, Migration Advisory Committee and Low Pay Commission for past research on migration.

Andrew Street receives funding from the National Institute of Health Research and the Department of Health's Policy Research Programme.

David Chivers has received funding from ESRC, but the views expressed in this article are his own and do not reflect those of the research councils.

Authors: The Conversation

Read more http://theconversation.com/manifesto-check-the-liberal-democrats-top-policies-40429

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