As a party with a long history we embrace the principles of Liberalism and since the merger with the SDP those of social democrats as well.

Outsiders often lazily describe the party as having liberal and social democratic wings.

The reality, of course, is a lot more complicated.

Internal pressure groups like the Social Liberal Forum and Liberal Reform represent different strands of thought within the party, but they are not disciplined organised groups.

Amongst our MPs, it has been a practice to align individuals regarding their attitude to the ground-breaking Orange Book.

If you are one of those who wrote for that particular publication, you will almost certainly find yourself described as an economic liberal.

Again, that is far too simplistic.

Charles Kennedy wrote the forward to that publication, and Vince Cable was one of the contributors.

Both come from the social democrat tradition.

Even Nick Clegg often seen as Mr Orange Book himself was keen during the coalition years to argue that the state wasn’t shrinking as a result of government policies.

The critical thing about the Liberal Democrats is that we are Britain’s only liberal party.

Our competitor’s Tory, Labour and Greens, are all authoritarians in one form or another.

We may disagree about the role government should play in areas like the economy, but we are all united in our defence of civil liberties.

For example, It was Liberal Democrats who stood alone in opposition to the introduction of compulsory ID cards.

Our commitment to grassroots democracy is also unique with our long-held belief in community politics.

We are the only party who regularly interacts with the electorate, through surveys, meetings and doorstep conversations.

Working all year round not just at election time.

When it comes to liberalism, we are the undisputed champions.

Don’t get me wrong the internal pressure groups and heated debates we have on policy are our lifeblood.

However, when it comes to facing the voters, we unite as one voice promoting our precious values to the people.

As the legendary Jo Grimond once put it ‘Marching To The Sound Of Gunfire!’

So why are we, Liberal Democrats?

Well because however we have come to the party being part of our liberal family is a truly uplifting experience.

Something you won’t find anywhere else.


* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • Lorenzo Cherin 5th Dec '18 - 12:31pm

    David you are fast becoming what some of us knew you were all along, an asset to this party, seen in print now and for what you are!

    Here is one of the best pieces we have seen on this site.

    Too many older and a little more negative Liberals, down play the SDP element.

    We must value these different strands. I think it wrong to denigrate the word moderate, we are, as social Liberals or social democrats, radical moderates.

    Liberalism is the same as social democracy in the way it is flexible. To me, the word is balance. We offer that. We did in coalition, and then we and it were for the best of giving our government a sense of beneficial service.

    Where we did not, ie caved in, the party was not radical or moderate, it was weak and wrong.

    We must be what is needed, sensible, as well as sentimental. A little too much of either does not offer…balance.

  • David Warren 5th Dec '18 - 2:33pm

    Thanks for those kind words Lorenzo.

  • Christopher Haigh 5th Dec '18 - 10:02pm

    @Lorenzo – like you I am still trying to reconcile the conflicting ideologies of liberalism and social democracy which were merged together. When I think of a liberal democracy I think of the USA (a freedom type free for all) whilst when I think of a social democracy I think of Sweden (a happy orderly controlled society with government intervention). I think as you do that the party needs to be pragmatic and not ideological and go with policies that will best maintain a contented society. As a newish member I found this liberal democracy/social democracy contradiction very difficult to deal with when out delivering leaflets at meetings etc.

  • David Warren 6th Dec '18 - 10:10am


    Thanks for your comments.

    In my time with the party I have found the sharpest differences between the economic and social liberals.

    The Social Liberal Forum have been prominent for sometime and recently Liberal Forum seem to be a lot more visible than before.

    I look forward to some fascinating debates.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 6th Dec '18 - 1:10pm

    Christopher,these are comments very insightful, though we could argue there is more to see if we scratch the political surface.

    My wife is of American birth and origin. The country is a paradox. So too is Scandinavia, taken , if we must, as a a region.

    In the US it is harder to be free in the market, more cumbersome to pay tax, more regulated at top level, running a business. Mother of democracy , or liberty or not, they must ave guns, but are wedded to the state. On drugs, on defence, on involvement internationally, they are rarely laissez faire.

    In the social democratic oriented Nordic lands, the economy is freer, enterprise the norm, the social market the way.

    Taxes are the way those societies maintain their society first principles. All, average or rich, pay more, get more in response to that acceptance.

    There, prices are no worse or better, values much the same in individuals, but the concept of society is in practice, not theory.

    But we can see that is easy in a , society of a few million, not a few hundred million…

  • Peter Hirst 6th Dec '18 - 4:11pm

    You can’t do better than the first few lines of our constitution that we should use more often. We believe in people first and foremost and in their individual rights. Civil liberties will become more important so we should use every opportunity to promote them and the individuals concerned.

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