19 June 2020

Lib Dem leadership contender Layla Moran behind book backing universal income

19 June 2020

Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Layla Moran has published a book laying out a platform of “progressive and centre-left” policies as she called for the party to show it had changed since it was last in government.

Ms Moran has edited a 128-page publication called Build Back Better with contributions from a number of leading figures, including senior politicians who served in government when the party was last in power.

Ideas put forward include providing all citizens with state-funded payments and laying on free broadband.

Containing contributions from more than 40 party backers, including ex-leader Sir Vince Cable and former minister Lynne Featherstone, the book was put together by Ms Moran in a bid to “start a wider discussion” among Lib Dem members and voters, she said.

The Liberal Democrats...must send a signal that our party is renewed since coalition, with a policy platform that is clearly progressive and centre-left in approach

Ms Moran said she wanted to show that the party had “progressive and centre-left” ideas and that it was “renewed” since the coalition years and its successive election defeats since.

Acting leader Sir Ed Davey, who has announced his candidacy to take on the top job permanently from August, served in the Cabinet when the party shared power with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015.

Wera Hobhouse, who has also announced she will stand for leader, was first elected in 2017 like Ms Moran.

Suggestions in the book edited by Ms Moran include creating a universal basic income – a salary-style payment from the Government to all citizens – and providing universal basic services, which would see the provision of free broadband, water and energy, potentially saving a single adult in the UK £1,360 per year.

Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, promised free broadband to voters at the December election but ended up suffering a heavy defeat to Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.

Other chapters also call for the private health sector to be commandeered to help tackle the backlog of delayed NHS operations, while another draws up plans for a Digital Bill of Rights to protect people online.

Ms Moran said: “The Liberal Democrats … must send a signal that our party is renewed since coalition, with a policy platform that is clearly progressive and centre-left in approach.

“This booklet explores these new ideas and thinking, at a time when a strong liberal party is so desperately needed to counter the forces of nationalism.

“We must be the driving force behind a better, more compassionate country, where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive.

Liberal Democrats conference (PA Archive)

“That’s why I convened this group of thinkers and writers from in and outside the party, to listen to their thoughts and start a wider discussion among our membership and voters.”

As well as editing the book and contributing an education chapter, Ms Moran also used a section to call for more cross-party working on the centre-left, building on the winning formula from the 1997 election when local arrangements with Labour led to the Lib Dems doubling their number of MPs.

The party’s education spokeswoman said the Build Back Better document was seeking to emulate the 2004 Orange Book, which saw Lib Dem names put forward their vision for a liberal society.

Edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall, it featured contributions by former leaders Nick Clegg and Sir Vince, ex-energy secretary Chris Huhne and ex-pensions minister Steve Webb, among others.

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