Eyeing kingmaker role, UK Liberal Democrats pitch manifesto at center

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 14, 2015 7:02 PM

By William James

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Liberal Democrats will on Wednesday make their bid for a seat at the top table after May's national election, launching a centrist manifesto designed to win over swing voters and lay the ground for coalition talks.

Neither the center-left Labour Party nor Prime Minister David Cameron's center-right Conservatives is likely to win an outright majority on May 7, in what is forecast to be one of the country's closest elections since the 1970s.

The Liberal Democrats, who in 2010 won their first stint in government as junior coalition partners with Cameron, go into the vote hoping they can overcome a collapse in support and hang on to enough seats to win a decisive say in which major party forms the next government.

"This manifesto is a blueprint for a stronger economy and a fairer society," Clegg will say at an event in London. Both the Conservatives and Labour published their manifestos earlier in the week.

The central Liberal Democrat campaign message is that it will be fairer than the Conservatives when it comes to spending cuts and stricter on fiscal discipline than Labour. The Liberal Democrats also oppose Cameron's plans to hold a referendum on Britain's European Union membership by 2017.

Nevertheless, Wednesday's manifesto has been painstakingly compiled to allow the party to take on a coalition role with either Labour or the Conservatives. Its front page pledges will set out key areas where the party will not compromise, informing the complicated negotiations expected to start on May 8.

"This manifesto is a serious document from a party prepared to govern," said David Laws, the lawmaker who led the writing of the manifesto. "It sets out a credible and deliverable liberal vision for Government that builds on our achievements in coalition."

(Editing by Larry King)