If they win the next General Election a Lib Dem government would hold a “well-being budget” and policy decisions would be judged on how they would impact people’s emotions – not just how they would affect the economy. But it comes as the party’s annual conference has been overshadowed by its plan to scrap Brexit without a second referendum. New party leader Jo Swinson has spent much of this week denying claims her party is anti-democratic for ignoring voters who want to leave the EU. Making her maiden leadership speech Miss Swinson made a vain attempt to deflect some of the criticism by unveiling the new policy.
“A Liberal Democrat Government will put the wellbeing of people and our planet at the heart of what we do – and this autumn we will set out our own wellbeing budget,” she said.
The plan, which expands on a policy first introduced by David Cameron in 2010, is similar to a scheme being used in New Zealand.
The questions would include: Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?”
A party spokesman said that the happiness unit would be part of the Treasury.
But it immediately faced ridicule from critics who said that the Lib Dem’s flagship policy of cancelling Brexit would instantly make millions of people unhappy.
Tory MP Steve Double said: “No wonder the Lib Dems want to appoint a happiness minister, no one will be happy if they block Brexit and destroy our democracy in the process.”
Miss Swinson used her speech in Bournemouth to ramp up her onslaught on Brexit, vowing to torpedo Britain’s exit from the EU on Day 1 if she becomes Prime Minister.
“There is no Brexit that will be good for our country,” she said.
She predicted that Brexit would “hurt” jobs and the British economy while pouring scorn on the PM’s likelihood of securing a deal with the European Union.
Referring to his decision to pull out of a press conference in Luxembourg on Monday due to fears of not being heard over protests, she said: “He claims he can negotiate a Brexit deal in a month.
“I wouldn’t hold much hope – yesterday he failed to negotiate where to have a press conference.”
She criticised the millions spent on preparing for a no-deal exit as “sickening” and compared leaving without an agreement as equivalent to “burning your own house down”.
“You might have insurance, but you’re still going to lose all your stuff,” she explained.
Watched on by her mother Annette and husband Duncan Hames, a former MP, Miss Swinson told members that they must no longer view themselves as bit players in Westminster.
The party currently has 18 MPs – boosted by six defections this year alone – meaning it would need more than 300 additional seats to secure a majority in the House of Commons.
Yet the former minister has continually dismissed calls to join in a coalition with either Mr Johnson or Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn after the next general election, saying that neither are “fit” to lead the country.
Instead, she told conference: “I am standing here as your candidate for prime minister.”
Members gave her multiple standing ovations as she told them: “We can win, we must win. And to do so, we must build the biggest liberal movement this country has ever seen.
“We cannot be satisfied with a place on the fringes of British politics, narrow and pure, small and irrelevant.
“Only a Liberal Democrat government can deliver the fair, inclusive and open future that we deserve.”