Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Liberal principals

Reading the newspapers this week, one would be forgiven for thinking that the Liberal Democrats were a collection of unprincipled opportunists, or a gang of miscreants who happened onto the political stage last month, to scupper the old parties ‘battle of ideas.’ This has come from hacks on both sides of British politics and ignores a number of facts which are worth mentioning.

In the last general election the Lib-Dems got over a fifth of the vote. They have increased their share of the vote in every general election since 1997 and polling has consistently shown that there is a significant number of people, who given the opportunity of Lib-Dem success, say they would support them. So they have been a growing presence on the political landscape; albeit one hampered by a corrupt voting system, ignored largely by the press, and patronised by Labour and the Tories.

As for the charge of not having an ideology; it’s a bit rich coming from Labour commentators. If ‘new’ Labour has an ideology, it is a particularly muddled and contradictory one. The Conservatives represent what they have always held dear; featherbedding the wealthy, inwardly looking, with fear, loathing and contempt of the poor. ‘People in glass houses’ maybe springs to mind?

The press are clearly worried about this election and it would seem that its influence may be on the wane. We have changed a great deal in the last ten years and the establishment hasn’t kept pace with either technology or the zeitgeist. It doesn’t like what it sees, and it is terrified the old way of doing things may be at an end. We will see a concerted effort to scare the voters back into line next week and the headlines will be interesting on May 6th should the polls remain as they are; who knows whether they will succeed.

As for what the Lib-Dems believe in, I cannot put it any more succinctly than the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution (below). Read it, and then tell me that they do not stand for anything, that they don’t believe in anything and that they have no ideological beliefs. It sounds pretty good to me.

Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution:

“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms.

Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality. Recognising that the quest for freedom and justice can never end, we promote human rights and open government, a sustainable economy which serves genuine need, public services of the highest quality, international action based on a recognition of the interdependence of all the world's peoples and responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources.

We believe that people should be involved in running their communities. We are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with effective Parliamentary institutions, freedom of information, decisions taken at the lowest practicable level and a fair voting system for all elections. We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely, and we will protect the right of citizens to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes. We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. We similarly commit ourselves to the promotion of a flourishing system of democratic local government in which decisions are taken and services delivered at the most local level which is viable.

We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a just distribution of the rewards of success. We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary. We will promote scientific research and innovation and will harness technological change to human advantage.

We will work for a sense of partnership and community in all areas of life. We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity. We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all.

Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security. Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles. We will contribute to the process of peace and disarmament, the elimination of world poverty and the collective safeguarding of democracy by playing a full and constructive role in international organisations which share similar aims and objectives.

These are the conditions of liberty and social justice which it is the responsibility of each citizen and the duty of the state to protect and enlarge. The Liberal Democrats consist of women and men working together for the achievement of these aims.”


  1. The Poster says it all shame youve joined them!

  2. We haven't joined them, we have formed a coalition with them. Surely it's not such a hard concept to grasp. No one party could form a majority - so the parties need to compromise to form a government in the national interest. Would you prefer a Tory majority?