A vote for the Liberal Democrats is a vote for a brighter future : Jo Swinson

November 10, 2019 4:15 PM

Jo SwinsonThe Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson has set out her party's commitment to introduce free childcare from 9 months, transforming the lives of parents and children across the UK.

She said : We have a plan for building a brighter future.

Where every single one of us around the country can thrive.

Where you can go on to do anything you want, no matter who your parents are, how much money they have, or the colour of your skin.

Where you can be confident that my generation has done everything in our power to save the planet. Because you are our future.

This week we launched our General Election campaign.

Around the country it is so heart-warming to see children so at ease in the natural environment, learning how to look after the planet from such a young age.

And it reminded me of how inspiring the school climate strikes have been - young people taking the government to task on the lack of urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.

We can also learn a huge amount from young people about mental health.

During a school visit , a group of teenagers discussed with me the very real problems they've experienced with child & adolescent mental health provision - and it was heart-breaking to hear them talk about how help was not there when they needed it.

It is so good to be out there across the country making the case for a Liberal Democrat government.

At this election, voters are being told that the only choice they have is between a Conservative or Labour government.

But that is simply not good enough.

Our country deserves better than what is on offer by the two tired old parties, led by men who want to rehash ideas from the past - whether it's the 1870s or the 1970s.

Journalists keep asking me who I prefer out of Jeremy Corbyn or Boris Johnson. 'Go on, if you had to choose!' they say.

It's like they think I'm some kind of judge on X-Factor, and that my job in this election is just to pick which one of them I think mangled the song least. That's not my job, so the answer will always be neither of them.

And that's because both of them would be bad for our country.

Boris Johnson this week announced a new policy that would charge people from other EU countries a fee for coming to work in our NHS.
Think about that.

EU workers are essential to our NHS. Tens of thousands of them care for our relatives in their old age and treat our children when they are sick. We should be thanking them for working in our NHS, not charging them extra for the privilege.

This tax on nurses is a cruel, heartless and frankly stupid policy. It demonises our neighbours, undermines our NHS and makes a mockery of Boris Johnson's claim that he wants to build a global Britain.

And the Labour Party are deluded if they think that they can deliver Brexit and still fulfil their promise to protect the NHS.

The best way to protect our NHS is to stay in the European Union - with a strong economy and access to the talent we need.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn still won't tell you whether he'd support leave or remain. The biggest issue of the day, and he cannot pick a side.

And how can we trust a man who has utterly failed in rooting out the anti-Semitism that plagues the Labour party.

We've heard how a shadow cabinet member adapted a song with anti-Semitic slur.

And it's stories like that that led to the Jewish Chronicle warning the British public against voting for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.

So when I look at what is on offer from Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, I know that I could do a better job as Prime Minister than either of them.

This election offers a huge opportunity for the Liberal Democrats.

Over the last few months, tens of thousands of new members have joined us.

We've had our best-ever local elections.

And for the first time in a hundred years we've beaten both Labour and the Conservatives in a national election.

We had MPs join us from both sides of Parliament, ready to build something new and exciting.

Our country has a choice to make.

We can choose to be open and generous, instead of closed and selfish.

We can choose to work with our closest allies, instead of standing alone in the world.

We can choose to nurture the bonds in our family of nations, instead of trying to tear them apart.

At this general election, people can choose the Liberal Democrats.

Leaving the European Union is not the answer to the problems we face.

It won't help the single parent struggling to pay for school uniforms. Or the child who needs extra help at school. And it won't save our planet.

That's why a majority Liberal Democrat government will revoke article 50 on day one. We want to stop Brexit and use the £50 billion Remain Bonus to invest in our children and the most vulnerable in our society.

Recently, we have been setting out our plan for building a brighter future.

We've shared our plan to transform our mental health services by investing £11bn over the course of the next Parliament.

And our plan to give every child the best possible start in life by recruiting more teachers and investing more in our schools.

And we are the only party with a radical and credible plan to tackle the climate crisis.

We have announced our plans to make life easier for parents.

We are continuing a strong Liberal Democrat tradition.

One of my proudest achievements is introducing shared parental leave.

I was pregnant with my son Andrew while I was taking the Bill through Parliament, which meant it was too late for us to use it then.

But I was delighted that my husband Duncan and I were able to share our time off after our son Gabriel was born. Those early weeks and months are so vital, establishing those special bonds between parent and child.

And sharing leave early on means that caring responsibility later are much more likely to be evenly shared too.

But when those nine months of paid parental leave are up, the choice for parents is simply not good enough.

For so many people, the cost of childcare simply makes returning to work impossible.

How many of us know friends - usually women - who faced with astronomical childcare fees decide to stay at home instead of going back to their career.

Taking an extra couple of years out until the current free provision starts. And if they have another child, what could have been six or nine months becomes more like six years.

We know the huge impact it has on women's careers - from missing out on promotions to fuelling the gender pay gap and losing out on valuable work experience.

What works for a family will depend on individual circumstances. But currently so many parents do not have the luxury of choice when it comes to how they look after their children.

We will support families as they juggle the demands of modern life by giving them a proper choice on how they organise their lives.

A Liberal Democrats government will provide working parents with free, high-quality childcare from when their child is 9 months old until their first day at school.

We will fund 35 free hours a week, 48 weeks a year for every child aged two till four and children with parents who are back in work from 9 months.

And this isn't just about making lives easier for parents.

We know how important early years education is to a child's development.

Our offer means that disadvantaged children do not fall behind their peers by the time they start school.

Investing in those early years is the best way to narrow the gap between rich and poor children.

We will transform childcare so every family and child can thrive.

Our politics is in a state of flux.

And this general election could lead to seismic change out of which a new and different politics can emerge.

One based on hope, not fear.

On where we work with our closest allies to save our planet for future generations.

One where we value every individual and are ambitious for what they can achieve, no matter who they are, the colour of their skin, which god they pray to or none, or who they love.

At this General Election, the choice is clear.

Vote for the party that wants to Stop Brexit.

The party that has the plan for a brighter future. Vote Liberal Democrat."