How can we tell we don’t live in a truly liberal Britain?

Your Liberal BritainOften with questions like these, people use their own experiences to illustrate the lack of (in this case) liberalism in the country. I’m going to do the opposite. This won’t be an answer with figures and alternative models behind it, but it’s this personal experience that motivates me to fight for the Liberal Democrats.

I was brought up in a regular middle class household; both my parents had secure jobs and owned their own house (albeit with a mortgage). My parents were from working class families who struggled to make ends meet, but they were classic examples of showing hard work pays by securing places at university and then respectable careers as a classical musician and in the civil service.

Because of this stability and complimentary working hours, they were both able to encourage my intellectual interests and support me in my work. This meant I secured a place at a great state secondary school in London, and then a place at Oxford University.

With my education, I have been able to get a job with guaranteed hours and enough money for me to be renting my own place and cover my other expenses. I am able to pursue my own interests through financial and personal freedom, and as a white middle class male I feel most doors are open to me.
It could be said this is a privileged upbringing. I say this should be the sort of start every child should have in life.

My parents never had the heartbreak of having to choose between spending time with their child and working enough hours to put food on the table. At my primary school, there were many children with special needs but some fell behind because their parents were not able to provide that extra support.
At secondary school, while part of the reason was because of league tables, teachers were encouraging rather than discouraging pupils from applying to the top universities and finding a way for each pupil to reach their full potential. When there were disruptive elements in the class, teachers were given extra resources rather than a greater workload.

At university, as with every other university there were students who took drugs and did other impulsive things such as criminal damage. I never saw anyone stopped and searched, and there was a desire to deal with things internally rather than ‘ruin someone’s life’. We all know the stories and statistics for those young people especially in urban areas such as London who do not experience this attitude.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in my own story. After leaving university, I was suffering my own mental ill health which cost me my zero hour contract job, which had regardless put me close the edge of crippling, unsustainable debt. Underfunded and overstretched local health services were unable to provide support, and I am immensely grateful to my current job (which I luckily got a few weeks after losing my previous) for providing me with the opportunity to stabilise my personal situation. It is through my boss’s flexibility and refusal to reprimand me for factors outside of my control that was the key difference between the two jobs.

I can tell we don’t live in a liberal Britain because the poor, the mentally ill, BMEs, and other minority groups are persecuted under unjust laws, exploited by economic circumstance, and overwhelmed by the pressures placed on them.

But I have seen what a liberal Britain could look like, and I want everyone in this country to have the opportunities that I did.

You can contribute to the party’s vision of a Liberal Britain here.

This piece is part of the Your Liberal Britain series of posts here on Lib Dem Voice. Everyone can take part – why not send in your own vision for Liberal Britain? 
Your Liberal Britain is a grassroots initiative launched and run by new members of the party, inviting every Lib Dem to help explain what the party stands for. We all know we want to build a fair, free and open society – but what would it actually look like? And why should anyone care?
To take part, simply write 500 words in response to the question ‘What would a truly Liberal Britain look like, and what improvements would it bring to people’s lives?“, and send it to [email protected], mentioning ‘Liberal Britain’ in the subject line.
To get inspiration for your post, read others in the series, and take a look at all these ideas that other members have submitted to Your Liberal Britain. You can also get involved by hosting a simple discussion evening with your local party – everything you need to run one is right here.
 

 

* Joey is a new member since the election, and is getting his first taste of local campaigning in the London GLA elections.

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3 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 17th Mar '16 - 2:46pm

    Joey

    Good to have you in our party and thank you for your very Liberal openness!

    The most striking difference between a Liberal , and I do not mean a socialist who is a liberal socialist or a libertarian classical liberal , and we have some of each , but the mainstream of our party , are able to back what is right based on what is humane and on what works , public or private.

    The obvious aspect of this here is that the NHS failed you miserably and your employer did the reverse .A leftist would not face up to that , other than to fudge the whole question with a sentimental nonsense about the sainted NHS.When shall we learn there are good and great practitioners at every level of the NHS, and there are terrible ones too, and the whole system needs us to face that !There could easily have been , in another area , a terrific NHS response to you , and you might have had one of many horrendous employers .As Liberals and Democrats , we need to recognise there is no monopoly on humanity and truth .

  • “BMEs, and other minority groups are persecuted under unjust laws,”
    A bit of a sweeping statememt eh?
    Do you know many BMEs and how they are persecuted?

  • Well said Joey, thank you for contributing it is all about fairness!

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