Whilst September and October mean most of us are thinking about the weather getting colder, the nights getting longer and all things Christmassy appearing in the shops far too soon, in UK politics this time of year means just one thing: party conferences. The three main parties have all now held their annual conventions, setting out their stalls for the next twelve months and beyond. But what did each of the parties have to say from an economic point of view? Let’s have a look at the key points to take away.
Liberal Democrats – Perhaps unsurprisingly, Brexit featured strongly as a topic in all three party conferences. Whilst leader, Sir Vince Cable, certainly didn’t shy away from his party’s pro-European position, he also pledged that the party would not become “UKIP in reverse”. Keen to ensure his party isn’t defined by its Brexit stance, Sir Vince also called for greater taxes on wealth in order to tackle inequality in Britain and backed ‘fierce’ taxation of foreign investors purchasing property in the UK. He pledged the promotion of a ‘new generation of garden cities and garden villages’ as well as assisting councils in building new homes through borrowing. He also set out initial plans for changes to university funding and corporate governance.
Labour – Whilst there has been no change to Labour’s official policy on Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of his plans to “guarantee unimpeded access to the single market”, should his party come to power, felt more forceful than previous language used by Labour. Elsewhere, the party leader promised further action to close the gender pay gap by bringing in compulsory equal pay auditing for large companies with fines for those who do not comply. Mr. Corbyn also promised further plans for rent controls in large cities in the UK to fix what the party describes as the “dysfunctional and lopsided” property market.
Conservatives – Even though Theresa May spent little time speaking about Brexit after her speech in Florence in September, the speeches from other members of the party showed that the party is still divided over what form the country’s exit from the EU should take. Elsewhere, Chancellor Philip Hammond made no new economic announcements, but he did confirm that the Help to Buy housing scheme would receive a further £10 billion and that Britain’s railways would receive £300 million in new investments.