UK General Election: Liberal Democrat Manifesto and Human Rights
The Liberal Democrats have published their General Election Manifesto 2010. Cian has noted the main human rights commitments in the Conservative Party’s Manifesto here, and I have previously highlighted the main human rights commitments given in the Labour Party’s 2010 Manifesto. This is a brief overview of the main human rights commitments given in this Manifesto, however is important since it may be that the Lib Dems may be the King-makers in the new British Parliament (see here, here and here).
The Liberal Democrats have made the following commitments:
- Maintaining the Human Rights Act 1998 in its current form;
- Working towards recognising the universality of human rights throughout the globe;
- Electoral reform through lowering of the franchise to those 16 and over; introducing proportional representation and a fully elected House of Lords;
- Introduction of measures to protect civil liberties including introducing a Freedom Bill, strengthening the right to peaceful protest; scrap identity cards and reform the system for the collection of DNA.
- Support a global fund to enable all countries build viable welfare systems;
- Rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes, including cutting current proposals for a prison expansion programme;
- A ‘firm but fair’ immigration system, including the introduction of a fully independent body to assess asylum claims at first instance (this already occurs on appeal);
- An amnesty for those living in the UK for ten years without requisite authority, who speak English and do not have a criminal record, to ‘earn citizenship';
- Supporting voluntary and community groups;
- Allowing input from local communities on matters such as health care and policing; and,
- Better recording of hate crimes against the disabled, homosexual and transgendered.
While these are just some of the key issues which drew my attention, the Manifesto (like the other main parties) is short on methods of achievement of these aims. Referring back to the comments I made regarding socio-economic/welfare rights (see here), there is nothing to suggest a draw back from the punitive approaches towards welfare which have been introduced over the last 13 years. However, there are some welcome developments within the asylum and immigration field. Rather than adopting the populist Daily Mailesque approach of ‘Foreigners Out’, the Lib Dems are seeking to deal with reality of undocumented people in the UK, who are raising families and who have set down roots within the country. In relation to the asylum system, de-politicising (to a degree) the current status determination regime at first instance is most welcome. The extent to which any of these proposals within the 2010 Lib Dem Manifesto are implemented if the Lib Dems are the King Makers, remains to be seen.