One of the marks of great parents is not realising that you are growing up in poverty. Despite my family often struggling financially, I never felt like I had my opportunities curtailed. That is a testament to their dignity, self-respect and determination to escape those hard times. But for lots of the people I knew, that wasn’t the case. Their backgrounds defined and dictated their futures. Growing up in a deprived household outside Preston meant they simply weren’t offered the same life chances as children from wealthier families.
So it angers me to see the huge damage that the Conservatives have done to the social fabric of our country in recent years. While there were some battles we didn’t win, Liberal Democrats fought hard in government to prevent the Tories slashing welfare and hitting the poorest in society. But millions of people’s lives have worsened under the Conservatives since 2015. They have bungled the roll-out of Universal Credit, made brutal cuts to benefits and introduced their senseless two-child limit that is fuelling child poverty across the country. And as a damning report by the Resolution Foundation concluded today, child poverty would rise to a 60-year high under the Conservatives if they are returned to power this election.
That same report found that under Liberal Democrat plans, there would be 600,000 fewer children in poverty than there would be under Conservative plans. We would scrap the cruel two-child limit, benefit cap and bedroom tax, and invest in free school meals and childcare for millions of families. In fact, the Resolution Foundation concluded that the Liberal Democrats have the most progressive policy of all the major parties. That is partly because unlike Labour, we have committed to improving Universal Credit payments to make it more supportive for the self-employed, helping hard-pressed households struggling to get by.
The Liberal Democrats are also the only party committed to stopping Brexit, which would secure a £50bn Remain bonus over the next five years. Of this, we have committed to spending £15bn on helping struggling families by increasing welfare spending. We want to end the chaos and division of Brexit, so we can focus on the country’s real priorities like ensuring everyone has the same opportunities regardless of where they come from.
Voters at this election have a stark choice. Usher in five more years under a Conservative government, able to rush through their destructive Brexit plans and cruel welfare policies that will send child poverty levels soaring. Or deny Boris Johnson the majority he craves, by backing the Liberal Democrats in seats across the country where we are the only real challengers to the Tories.
Recent polling has shown that the Tories are currently on course for a big majority. But the Liberal Democrats are just behind the Tories in dozens of seats across the country. In many of these seats we are just behind, so every single vote will count. Even big Brexiteer beasts such as Dominic Raab or Jacob Rees-Mogg are at risk of losing their seats to the Lib Dems if progressive and Remain-backing voters support us. So I would urge all voters to think carefully how they vote at this election. If you don’t want to wake up on the 13 December to a stonking Tory majority, vote tactically so we can stop Boris Johnson entering Downing Street and inflicting his damaging and divisive policies on the country.