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What do the Liberal Democrats stand for?

I believe it is only possible to achieve good, practical and coherent policy, if it is founded on both good evidence and good ideals. Therefore it is important to know what a party stands for, otherwise real meaning of the policy headlines can be unknown.

In 1945 William Beveridge said "The outstanding merit of Liberalism as a political creed - that it stands for the general interest - means that the Liberal Party, unlike both its rivals, cannot count on automatic support from any sectional interest. It must build its own organisation for itself and its ideals."

In the arguments over public policy direction, with added the confusion of coalition politics at a national, regional and local level, it is sometimes hard to know or remember what a political party stands for. In the Liberal Democrats, the preamble to the party constitution defines what the party stands for and here is my version of what that definition says:-

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The Liberal Democrats believe it's each person's responsibility and the state's duty to protect and enlarge both liberty and social justice.

The Liberal Democrats consist of women and men working to improve liberty and social justice for the individual, for society, for the economy, the world and international community.

For Individual

Liberal Democrats exist:-

  • to build and protect a fair, free and open society
  • to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community
  • to ensure life is unrestricted by poverty, ignorance or conformity
  • to uphold values individual and social justice:-
    • We champion individual - thought, freedom, dignity, well-being and their right to achieve their maximum potential.
    • We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation.
    • We oppose entrenched privilege and inequality.
    • We will defend an individual's right to speak, write, worship, associate, vote freely and to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes.

For Society

Liberal Democrats believe in a society where:-

  • The state's role is:-
    • to disperse power,
    • to nurture diversity and creativity
    • to enable everyone to contribute fully to their communities
  • There is a strong democratic process:-
    • that has a just and representative system of government
    • that has effective Parliamentary institutions
    • that has open and transparent institutions with full freedom of information
    • that has a flourishing system of democratic local government
    • that has decisions taken at the lowest practicable level
    • that has people involved in running their communities
    • that has people taking part in the decisions that affect their lives
    • that has a fair proportion voting system for all elections, such as STV
    • that has institutions which reflect the views of the people they serve
  • The people have the sovereignty and authority:-
    • to determine the form of government best suited to their needs
    • to determine a democratic federal framework for the United Kingdom
    • to ensure fullest devolution of power possible to the UK's nations & regions
    • to encourage the widest possible distribution of wealth
    • to promote the rights of everyone to social provision and cultural activity
    • to make public services responsive to the people they serve
    • to encourage variety and innovation within public services
    • to make public services available on equal terms to all

For the Economy

Liberal Democrats believe in fostering a strong and sustainable economy:-

  • that encourages the necessary wealth creating processes
  • that develops and uses the skills of the people
  • that works for the benefit of all
  • that justly distributes the rewards of success
  • that operates in democratic, participatory and co-operative manner
  • that has competitive environment where the market operates freely
  • that has public services of the highest quality
  • that serves the genuine needs of society
  • that only requires state intervention where necessary
  • that promotes scientific research and innovation
  • that harness technological change to human advantage
  • that works for a sense of partnership and community in all areas of life
  • that recognises home ownership protects an individual's independence
  • that recognises the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly

For the World

Liberal Democrats believe in a world:-

  • where all people share the same basic rights
  • where we can all live together in peace
  • where different cultures will be able to develop freely
  • where each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet
  • where we safeguard the balance of nature and the environment for all life
  • where everyone is responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources
  • where we all work for the long term continuity of life in all its forms
  • where the quest for freedom and justice can never end
  • where we promote human rights and open government
  • where international action is based on a recognition of our interdependence
  • where national boundaries don't stop the quest for justice and liberty
  • where we commit to fight poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease
  • where we tackle oppression and aggression wherever they occur
  • where we promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services

For the International Community

Liberal Democrats have an internationalist view on the world:-

  • we will set aside sovereignty for an equitable and peaceful international order
  • we will work for durable system of common security
  • we will contribute to the process of peace and disarmament
  • we will work for the elimination of world poverty
  • we work for the collective safeguarding of democracy
  • we will play a full & constructive role in international organisations sharing our aims and objectives
  • we will work for unity in the European Union based on exercising power at the lowest practical level