I’ve been a Liberal Democrat supporter as long as I can remember. My parents were involved with the party, and often shared their political views with my sister and I when we were children. Therefore, I suppose it is no surprise that I actively support the party today.
However, I have to confess that since the Coalition agreement, and the abandonment of the tuition fees promise, I have occasionally wondered why I continue to support the party. A little doubt was creeping into my mind. I never supported the tuition fee policy, but was a little disappointed that some MPs that had used it to their advantage to get elected had subsequently gone back on their word.
Nonetheless, onwards and upwards – these things happen…
Often the party would do things that I like and associate with liberal values, such as taking those earning under £10,000 out of income tax (a great policy which I hope will make life a little easier for some of us). However, at other times, I would get a little frustrated after reading that House of Lords reform had been dropped, or the recent action on secret courts.
Yet recently the one thing that has reminded me that, as a party, we still hold broadly liberal values is the demonization of those on benefits. George Osborne, many of the Conservatives, and the right-wing press continue to speak of “skivers” searching for an easy life and leading the rest of us into financial difficulty, throughout the current economic crisis. Benefits are designed to help those in need so that they can survive, and aspire to better things. Obviously some people claiming benefits are lazy and selfish, but I think that it is fair to say that a significant proportion of those not claiming benefits are also lazy and selfish. I’ve seen no evidence to support a statement to the contrary…
When we hear that the “welfare state” is supposedly leading the country further into debt, I often look back to Lib Dem rhetoric over the last few weeks, months, and years, and remember that we are the only party that hold the following core values detailed at the preamble to our constitution.
It is hard to believe that very few of the investment bankers who caused this recession by being lured into selling billions and trillions of pounds of sub-prime debt in return for a chance of significant personal reward, are experiencing the financial hardship of those demonized as claiming benefits for “being lazy” and “selfish”.
Politicians have (quite rightly) gone to prison for stealing public money, as have journalists who stole an individual’s right to freedom and privacy by phone-hacking. Yet the majority of investment bankers continue to use other people’s money (the hard-earned money they place into a bank, or financial institution) in the hope of getting a significant personal reward.
The Conservative Party don’t recognize this, the Labour Party are too busy criticizing to generate any coherent policy alternatives, but the Liberal Democrats are using their role in government to defend those in need, at the lower end of the economic spectrum, so that they can work hard and aspire to the life of security that we all deserve. That is why I remain proud to be a Liberal Democrat.
* The author is known to the Liberal Democrat Voice team and worked as an activist and organiser for the Liberal Democrats.