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Economist backs the Liberal Democrats

June 1, 2017 9:51 PM

From: Liberal Democrat Voice

The esteemed publication the Economist has said that its vote goes to the Liberal Demcrats.

It is not, to be fair, the most enthusiastic endorsement that this world has ever seen, and its language harks painfully back to the brains and heart stuff that Nick Clegg came out with pre 2015, but we can take this.

No party passes with flying colours. But the closest is the Liberal Democrats. Brexit is the main task of the next government and they want membership of the single market and free movement. (Their second referendum would probably come to nothing, as most voters are reconciled to leaving the EU.) They are more honest than the Tories about the need to raise taxes for public services; and more sensible than Labour, spreading the burden rather than leaning only on high-earners. Unlike Labour they would reverse the Tories' most regressive welfare cuts. They are on the right side of other issues: for devolution of power from London, reform of the voting system and the House of Lords, and regulation of markets for drugs and sex.

It is well unimpressed by the extremist politics of Labour and Tories, though:

Jeremy Corbyn has taken Labour to the loony left, proposing the heaviest tax burden since the second world war. The Conservative prime minister, Theresa May, promises a hard exit from the EU. The Liberal Democrats would go for a soft version, or even reverse it.

The party leaders could hardly differ more in their style and beliefs. And yet a thread links the two possible winners of this election. Though they sit on different points of the left-right spectrum, the Tory and Labour leaders are united in their desire to pull up Britain's drawbridge to the world. Both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn would each in their own way step back from the ideas that have made Britain prosper-its free markets, open borders and internationalism. They would junk a political settlement that has lasted for nearly 40 years and influenced a generation of Western governments (see article). Whether left or right prevails, the loser will be liberalism.

And they have this to say about Corbyn's record on human rights;

An avowed human-rights campaigner, he has embraced left-wing tyrants such as Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro (a "champion of social justice"), who locked up opponents and muzzled the press. Mr Corbyn has spent a career claiming to stand for the oppressed while backing oppressors.

They are pretty withering about Theresa May:

She wanted the election campaign to establish her as a "strong and stable" prime minister. It has done the opposite. In January we called her "Theresa Maybe" for her indecisiveness. Now the centrepiece of her manifesto, a plan to make the elderly pay more for social care, was reversed after just four days. Much else is vague: she leaves the door open to tax increases, without setting out a policy. She relies on a closed circle of advisers with an insular outlook and little sense of how the economy works. It does not bode well for the Brexit talks. A campaign meant to cement her authority feels like one in which she has been found out.

It's fair to say that they are not expecting us to rush to power any time soon and their hope, in fact, is that we become an element of a new centre party after the election:

Labour has been on the brink of breaking up since Mr Corbyn took over. If Mrs May polls badly or messes up Brexit, the Tories may split, too. Many moderate Conservative and Labour MPs could join a new liberal centre party-just as parts of the left and right have recently in France. So consider a vote for the Lib Dems as a down-payment for the future. Our hope is that they become one element of a party of the radical centre, essential for a thriving, prosperous Britain.