The traditionally liberal constituency of North East Fife has recently seen visits from Liberal Democrat party leader Tim Farron, Scottish leader Willie Rennie, and former party leader, MP, and University of St Andrews chancellor Menzies Campbell alike, underlining its status as a battleground seat. They are to be applauded for engaging residents of the East Neuk on the street, whereas Theresa May holes up in lonely Aberdonian town halls and refuses to answer questions that are not heavily vetted in advance. Instead she arrogantly expects voters to hand her victory, leaving her to deliver a Brexit that strips our university of vital research funding and leaves many of St. Andrews’ staff, students and residents in the lurch, with their status as EU citizens still unconfirmed.
The Liberal Democrats have named Elizabeth Riches as their candidate for the general election, a local resident with 27 years’ experience as a councillor in Fife, who has served diligently both as leader of the opposition and deputy leader of the council.
Ms Riches, whose husband co-founded St Andrews’ Department of Social Anthropology, is clear in emphasising the Liberal Democrats’ status as the only party that is pro-UK and supports close and mutually beneficial relations with the European Union. Unlike the SNP, who have used the Brexit vote for political gain with yet more clamours for a “once in a generation” independence referendum, and unlike the Tories, who called this election because they know that the realities of Brexit negotiations will start to bite by 2019, the Liberal Democrats alone offer a sensible vision for Brexit. The pound has already plummeted, inflation is rising, the economy is slowing, and borrowing has increased since last year, yet Theresa May still threatens to walk away without a deal.
the Liberal Democrats alone offer a sensible vision for Brexit
The party fully accepts the result of last June but, in comparison to the campaign of half-truths and broken promises seen last year, we are calling for a referendum on the terms of the deal, believing that the British people, with the facts laid bare, know best about our country’s future.
The Liberal Democrat manifesto goes way beyond Brexit. We have pledged a 1p rise on the pound through income tax, creating £6 billion to be ringfenced for our struggling NHS, with an increased focus on mental health. Moreover, the growing housing crisis across the UK has been met with a commitment ensuring 300,000 new homes are built every year and a “rent-to-own” policy that allows young people, who would normally struggle to enter the housing market, the ability to contribute rent payments towards a stake in home ownership. The failed legacy of the war on drugs that needlessly clogs up our prisons at great taxpayer expense also needs to be undone. As such, the Liberal Democrats propose introducing a regulated, legal market for cannabis, following the success of many examples worldwide, that reduces the influence of gangs, allowing us to take the dangerously potent strains of the drug they sell off the street, and provides tax income that can be sensibly dispensed and means the police can focus on more important criminal matters. Add to this the plan for a decentralised UK with the single transferable vote in use across all elections, along with reform of the House of Lords and a ban on fracking and our priorities for a cleaner, fairer future become clear.
Compare our pledges to the uncosted mess of the Tory manifesto, who have recently stated their desire to focus on pressing issues in the national interest such as repealing the ban on fox hunting, going back on their promise to ban the trade of ivory, bizarrely indicating a desire to enforce a first-past-the-post system to London elections and, perhaps most ominously, these words in the manifesto: “some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet… we disagree”.
Look to Labour’s and you see empty platitudes and clear disagreements within the party when it comes to some of the most important issues of this election such as Brexit, Trident, and immigration. Meanwhile the SNP’s homogeneously robotic stances on all issues always come back to the question of independence, which this constituency firmly rejected, at the expense of doing their job in government. Independence is not in the interest of the academic, fishing, farming or tourism sectors of this region and it is time to move on.
So, if you do not want to revisit the independence referendum, know that we should not estrange ourselves from Europe, want your voice to be heard on both local and national issues and believe in a progressive and truly liberal approach to society and government, then you must vote Liberal Democrat on 8 June.