The past decade has not been kind to the Liberal Democrats. Since losing voters’ trust in coalition, we’ve seen a persistent decline in our polling. From an all-time high of 23% in 2010, today, the Liberal Democrats sit at just 6% support. We cannot go on like this. For our party and for our country, we urgently need change.
That is why I’m setting out my vision for a brighter future. My nine-point plan will show we can stand out from the crowd, with a bold, progressive and liberal vision for moving our country forward.
A better country starts with better education. We need to close the disadvantage gap before school by investing in early years education, and create a curriculum designed by teachers.
We need a new economic approach. Family life, mental wellbeing, nature – everyone values these things, but they are overlooked by the narrow calculus of GDP. We must enshrine mental health and wellbeing as a key economic indicator, and fight for a carbon-negative country by 2045, fuelled by a ‘green spark’ lockdown recovery.
In these difficult times, we can’t leave anyone behind. A Universal Basic Income will protect everyone from poverty, no matter the uncertainty in the economy.
Inequalities and discrimination have no place in modern Britain. That is why I will champion investment in health and social care to tackle inequalities in health outcomes, and set up a taskforce to tackle racial discrimination and close the opportunity gap.
The UK needs to adapt to the 21st century. We must make technology work for everyone, with a Digital Bill of Rights, and digital literacy training. Our democracy should be fit for purpose, giving everyone a voice. That means more local decision-making, the right to vote at 16, and a cross-party campaign for proportional representation.
Finally, Britain should lead the world in humanitarian causes by treating refugees with compassion, and raising the aid budget to 1% of GNI, to spend on environmental causes.
But I’m aware that before we can start to change our country, the Liberal Democrats need to look at ourselves as a party. We need to regain lost trust, and begin to build back better.
First of all, we need a campaign that can really connect with voters again. This means listening: to voters’ concerns and to members’ ideas. That’s how we can build a progressive, bold message that appeals to a broad base. Under my leadership, we will state our case positively, in clear terms of the liberal values we are for, not what we’re against.
And as a party, we need to live our values by setting clear diversity targets, empower our activists with tailored support and training, and show that we will cooperate at all levels with other progressives to oppose Boris Johnson’s Conservatives and deliver real change wherever possible.
Right now, we have to be honest with ourselves: we cannot let the decline of our party continue. Now is the time for a fresh approach, and a bold new vision. Let’s seize this moment. Vote for me, and let’s move our party and country forward, together.
Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Oxford West & Abingdon. She tweets @LaylaMoran