Government and Institutions

IEA: Lib Dems offer “illiberal concoction” of public spending and state intervention



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Mark Littlewood responds to Jo Swinson's leader's speech

Commenting on Jo Swinson’s speech to Liberal Democrat Conference, Mark Littlewood, Director General at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Jo Swinson’s criticism of Britain’s “tired old parties” seems solely focused on the Brexit debate; but if we look past the UK’s relationship with the EU, the Liberal Democrats appear to be offering a similar, illiberal concoction of heavy public spending and state intervention, just as other political parties do.

“Like its fellow parties, the Liberal Democrats seem to think more public spending is the answer to the nation’s woes, having pledged a £1billion investment package for colleges and education, seemingly without giving consideration to how it will be costed or the UK’s budget deficit, which has yet to be fully eradicated.

“Despite supposedly championing liberalism, the party seems wedded to state intervention into people’s personal lives, signalled by party members’ passing motions which included a commitment to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in England, and giving councils power to ban new fast food outlets or such adverts within 500 metres of a school.

“The party has also pledged to move forward the UK’s net-zero carbon target by five years, regardless of potential economic cost, especially to those on lower incomes.

“If the Liberal Democrats are serious about giving voters meaningful choice between the parties, they should consider adopting a more classically liberal agenda; this shift, far more than their stance on Brexit, would be a real signal of a renewed political debate.”

Notes to editors:

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For further IEA reading on public spending, click here.

For further IEA reading on minimum alcohol pricing, click here.

For further IEA reading on fast food outlets, click here.

For further IEA reading on classical liberalism, click here.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems.

The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.