Liberal Democrats are the party where everyone belongs

What do Liberal Democrats believe? We strive for a society where everyone belongs and is free to be themselves.

Inclusiveness comes first, because freedom alone is not enough. Liberal Democrats value individual liberty, but at the same time we recognise that none of us can be truly free without the support and consent of everyone around us. And society as a whole is stronger, healthier and happier when everyone is able to play their part. We all win when we work together, while respecting our differences.

This historic Liberal tradition is today a thoroughly modern political philosophy, perfectly in tune with the 21st century zeitgeist. Globally connected by today’s digital technologies, we’re all more interdependent than ever. Businesses seeking to thrive in this modern world have found that when they build teams that respect and prize diversity, they prosper more than those who don’t. Research has shown that when everyone in a team knows they are accepted just as they are, they contribute more than when they have to keep a part of themselves in check.

Our commitment to belonging and freedom is distinct from both the anonymous collectivism of socialism and the free-for-all individualism of capitalism. Monolithic state socialism and unaccountable, unregulated capitalism are equally disempowering. Liberal Democrats reject the imposition of conformity and hierarchy as much as we oppose the perpetuation of inequality and privilege.

Yet this is a radical politics, centrist only in the sense that it upsets the extremist wings of Conservatives and Labour alike. It is left-leaning, because it is necessarily redistributionist. Liberal Democrats believe too many in our society are let down by inadequate education, health, environment, housing and welfare provision to realise their full potential. We are internationalist, naturally, committed to supporting these goals globally. Our politics also promotes localism and co-operative enterprise, encouraging people to work together to improve their own communities, workplaces and industries. In doing so, we challenge vested interests on the left, right and centre.

At the same time, our overarching commitment to an inclusive society means that we will always proceed by persuasion and compromise. By definition, a Liberal Democrat society will always have a mixed economy. We respect and value the views of others who think differently. This encourages us to be pragmatic about working with others of different views to achieve shared goals. And we always welcome opposition because it helps us refine and strengthen our thinking.

But make no mistake, we are as passionate and determined as any political movement. Do not be deceived by what you might have heard in the past from some who have misunderstood our mission. It is not our goal to be a moderating influence on someone else’s view of society. We are wholeheartedly campaigning for Liberal Democrat politics to prevail, so that we can build a world that realizes the full potential of humanity – where everyone belongs and is free to be themselves.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Katharine Pindar 5th Feb '18 - 5:01pm

    This is an excellent statement, thank you, Phil, a pleasure to read and agree with. My only problem is with your headline – we may indeed seek a society where everyone feels they belong, but there are many people with other beliefs who will never feel they belong to our party. Just as well, as we don’t support monopoly!

  • I don’t disagree – how to pivot this into attracting enough voters so the LDs can get back to the mid 20% range in the polls rather than 7%. Some kind of game-changing initiative is needed.

  • OnceALibDem 5th Feb '18 - 11:25pm

    Is it possible to change the headline. The article is about building a society where everyone belongs – a basic liberal ideal. But that is not what the headline suggests – that suggests a party for everyone. You can’t build a political movement that has a meaningful ideology on the basis that it will appeal to everyone – if you do then you’d have to accept everyone from Jayda Fransen to George Galloway as a member.

  • Phil Wainewright 6th Feb '18 - 1:07am

    Katherine and OnceALibDem highlight a deliberate conundrum in the headline. Certainly, there are some people don’t belong in a party where everyone belongs, because they don’t share that belief. But I don’t think they would want to join anyhow. Therefore, the headline is not addressed to them.

    We are the party where everyone belongs, and no one signs up to be a member unless they share that belief.

    As to Rob Parker’s point, I have lost count of the contributors and commenters to LDV throughout its history who have agonised over succinctly defining our values so that we can broaden our appeal. The only game-changing pivot we need is to clearly articulate our values and ensure that everything we do reinforces that message – what Andy Cooke in a recent post called The Golden Thread.

    Well this is it. We believe that everyone belongs. This is a distinctive political message that makes sense of the modern world, and it infuses everything we do. It is what will take us to mid-20% and beyond.

  • Peter Hirst 6th Feb '18 - 12:53pm

    excellent words; does not everyone want liberty or freedom at least for themselves. We need to be clearer. As an inclusive Party we campaign for freedom for those most in need of it, the oppressed, disadvantaged, poor, minorities, victims of violence, trafficking, or fraud. There should be an element of fairness in our pursuit of freedom for everyone.

  • OnceALibDem 6th Feb '18 - 3:27pm

    “But I don’t think they would want to join anyhow.”

    But they do and have. Rachel Johnson. Bill Fowler.

    “We are the party where everyone belongs, and no one signs up to be a member unless they share that belief. ”

    This is completely contradictory – and not borne out by the constitution which says that the party consists of men and women working together to achieve these aims. You aren’t a party where everyone belongs if you say that some people wouldn’t feel able to join.

    If you want a Liberal Democrat party where ‘everyone belongs’ then you have a very different idea to me of what a Liberal party should be. And such a party would not be worth joining, supporting, voting or working for.

  • Phil Wainewright 6th Feb '18 - 11:50pm

    @OnceALibDem When I say “We are the party where everyone belongs,” my intention is that the words “in society” are implicit. I think the body of the article makes that absolutely clear. Therefore, if someone can’t sign up to inclusiveness and working towards a society where everyone belongs, then this is not their party. I suspect we can agree on that.

    And so long as that implicit context is conveyed, I think “everyone belongs” is a useful shorthand for our belief that a society where everyone is free from the constraints of poverty, ignorance and conformity, is a society that provides better outcomes for everybody.

  • Great article. The comments remind me of the tolerance paradox: we can only assure a tolerant society by being intolerant of intolerance.

    The challenge is translating these ideals into a few representative policies that can cut through the binary political dialogue that the last elections left us with. We’re not getting that right yet.

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