Why you should vote Liberal Democrat

On behalf of the Cambridge Student Liberal Democrats

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Throughout the world, liberalism is in retreat. We see tolerance making way for prejudice; we see open minds becoming closed; we see hope deforming into resentment.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Tories are shifting rightwards at an alarming rate. Theresa May seems set on dragging our country through the hardest possible Brexit, selling off the NHS, establishing full-scale internet surveillance. This is a series of utterly backwards steps. Yet it seems likely that the Conservatives will increase their majority. So, in Cambridge, with the Tories a distant third, this is an election for the opposition. And herein lies the greatest tragedy – Labour.

Labour do not have our best interests at heart. Their ‘opposition’ over the last two years has been pitiful. It has been left to the Lib Dems to oppose a hard Brexit, with Corbyn ordering his MPs to support the Article 50 bill un-amended. When Labour abstained from voting on the Snoopers’ Charter, it was left to the Lib Dems to defend your privacy.

Julian Huppert, the Lib Dem’s candidate (credit: Freddie Dyke)

In Cambridge, our candidate is the brilliant Julian Huppert. Born and raised here, he studied Natural Sciences at Trinity before going into cutting-edge cancer research. As our MP, he championed a vast array of worthy causes, from chairing the Parliamentary Group on refugees to enabling the defeat of the Snoopers’ Charter (in its first incarnation) in 2012. He is the only candidate who truly understands the needs of the University and of the city as a whole.

Our Parliament would benefit greatly from the scientific experience Julian has. With many MPs either unable or unwilling to evaluate policies based on the facts, and the government pursuing a hard Brexit in spite of the damage it will cause, an appreciation of evidence has never been more important. For example, the Liberal Democrats want to legalise cannabis and regulate the market. All the evidence shows that it will reduce crime, save money, and improve public health – but still Labour and the Conservatives remain dogmatically in favour of a broken system. It is a commitment to improvements like this – based on a mixture of evidence and common sense – that mean the Lib Dems are far more in agreement with students than either the Tories or Labour on social issues.

As the only party determined to keep a close relationship with Europe – to retain access to the Single Market, and to ensure the rights of European citizens living in the UK – the Lib Dems are committed to opposing the Conservatives’ destructive approach. While we respect the result of the referendum, we see no reason to pursue a Brexit that inflicts great damage to our economy and society for purely dogmatic reasons.

The Lib Dem’s are promising a second referendum on the Brexit Deal

With this in mind, it is important to remember that Labour is not a liberal party. Whilst the Conservatives harbour intentions of ‘making a new internet’ for ease of government surveillance, Labour are no less authoritarian. Trying to introduce national identity cards, waving through mass surveillance, Corbyn’s aggressive attempts to silence opposition from within his own party: Labour at their core do not share liberal principles. A continued Labour opposition would do nothing but bicker among themselves and fail to hold the government to account. A Liberal Democrat opposition would focus on scrutinising, debating, and countering the failures of the government, as any credible opposition should.

The Liberal Democrats also want to focus on mental health, bringing waiting times for treatment in line with those for physical health. This is especially important at Cambridge, where so many students are let down. The Conservatives refuse to prioritise it. The Lib Dems here in Cambridge have been putting pressure on the university to increase the number of counsellors available to students, and as our MP Julian would be well-placed to continue his work on increasing mental health provision both on a local and a national level.

Ultimately, what underpins all our policies is a concerted desire for common sense, for calm logic, for sensible policy. This is more than can be said about the Tories, Labour or the Greens.

Frankly, this will be our last chance for many years to change the direction of our country. For tolerance, for liberty, for hope, I urge you to vote Liberal Democrat.