Opinion: The Liberal Democrats, liberalism and me

Ok, So I have heard many people asking what do the liberal democrats believe? What is Liberalism? and where do I fit into this? Well, I am going to attempt to answer these questions the best I can without boring you all to sleep. From the Preamble to the 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 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.

So that’s the basic stance on the party’s views and where the Liberal Democrats are different to other parties. They believe that everyone has the right to live a good life, and where everyone has the opportunities to be the best they can be, regardless of age, colour, gender, religion, location or how wealthy you are, and we all know that currently and previously, these things do alter our paths and rights to achieve in life. I personally know how this feels as i’m sure many of you do too. If you are not lucky enough to be able to afford to go to a good school your opportunities are lowered, or if you are from say rural areas then your opportunities are greatly different compared to those living in city centres. I believe the same opportunities should be available to all people in all areas of the country (even the world). But, we can not achieve this level of equality if those in charge are not in favour of equality.

Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on these ideas of equality and liberty. Liberty is freedom… the word liberal comes from the latin word liber which means ‘free’ man.  Liberals generally support ideas and programs such as freedom of speech,  freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, and international cooperation. Liberalism first became a distinct political movement during the age of enlightenment.. where it became popular among philosophers and economists in the western world. Isolated strands of liberal thought that had existed in Western philosophy since the Ancient Greeks, began to combine at the time of the English Civil War.

So, you know now about the basic core beginnings of liberalism and you know about the views of the Liberal Democrats… so where do i fit into this? and more importantly, what about you?

I have always had a strong view that every human and animal deserve the equal right to live a free and healthy life. After all, we  share this planet  and no species is more important than the other. We each have a purpose and in turn each deserve the right to a good life.

Now, I have always been interested in politics but it wasn’t until I learned about the Liberal Democrats that I realised the views and ideas behind this party are very much the views and ideas I have always tried to live by. Liberal Democrats are not here to work for the elite, they were never designed around the rich and powerful. The party  strives to achieve fairness and equality for all.

Yes ok, they have made a few mistakes over the years, but they are just human.. like you and me. Sometimes people can do wrong even though they have the best intentions. The main thing to remember is this. If you learn from your mistakes  grow and develop into better things, then the mistakes you made will be more of a learning curve.  You have to try and think about all the positive outcomes from it and with regards to the Liberal Democrats,  they have done good things over the 5 years even though they were small party.

Now we have a Tory majority govt I fear that these next few years are going to be crucial. We have all seen what David Cameron is intending to do: bring back fox hunting, take away the Human Rights Act and replace it with something else, £12 billion in welfare cuts (even though there is a planned 10% pay rise for MPs). They might be  more trustworthy with the economy than Labour but doing it off the backs of the normal average people  like me and you is not fair.

So how can we achieve fairness and equality in this country? I truly believe the only party who will always strive for this is the Liberal Democrats and that’s why i am proud to say I am a Liberal Democrat.

* Leanne Jones is a full time mummy, natural born liberal and feminist who loves music, art, science & is obsessed with politics'

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10 Comments

  • Well said Leanne. And thankyou.
    There is a viewpoint that our values are harder to communicate than the Tory, Labour and nationalist ones. I don’t buy that. Our preamble is a truly beautiful document and if we start from there we wont go far wrong.

  • David Warren 16th May '15 - 5:41pm

    I think Labour are struggling to communicate what they believe in.

    They moved from Democratic Socialism to New Labour.

    Where are they now?

  • I think there was a definite failure to communicate the basic message of liberalism during the most recent campaign. Hence why your post, Leanne, is a very timely and important one.

    I particularly liked how you included animals within your core belief for the right to a free and healthy life.

  • Stephen Hesketh 16th May '15 - 8:51pm

    Thank you for this article Leanne – it is fantastic for those of us in the second halves of our lives to see young idealistic people identifying themselves as Liberal Democrats and joining the party.

    Some here have tried to suggest that it is only those born before the mid-1960s who hold such values of fairness, freedom and community, and seek to balance them in a distinctively Liberal way. They would have us believe that the young are interested in being market consumers and little else. Yourself and many other young Lib Dems prove that narrative to be totally floored.

    For too long too few young people have failed to engage in the political process. What has been fantastic to see over the past few days is the return of younger idealists to politics and that those values set out in the Preamble are finding great resonance amongst so many of you.

    I have also been struck by just how many of you are heart, mind and soul Liberals with a clear and sophisticated understanding of politics.

    Thank you and welcome to a new generation of Preamblers!

  • Great post Leanne!
    Stephen, your point about the suggestion ” that it is only those born before the mid-1960s who hold such values of fairness, freedom and community,…” reminds me that in the ’50s when I was a small child the absolute dread of war was still tangible. The present World War 1 centenary makes me realise how much we have moved on. I don’t think that my children can understand the black dread that we remember, even a decade after the second world war, and their understanding of “fairness, freedom and community” is diferent to my own. They see fairness, freedom and community as desirable, but I see it as essential – my parents much more so even than I. They clung to Liberal philosphy with a passion. The achievement of Community in its fullest sense was the only thing that could prevent more of their personal friends’ relatives being carted off to the gas chamber. That is not to say that the modern interpretation is worse then ours, it is just slightly diferent.
    That diference explains my fury that our coalition partners aparently approved govenment officials sending a million people to food banks, while our own leadership did not even see this as a resigning matter.
    As Leanne generously implied, this may have been a mistake, but perhaps it was a change in attitude resulting from the passing of several peaceful decades.

  • …………………………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 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………………

    And “Mom and Apple Pie”…If you asked any political party what they believed in, the list would be the same… It is not what you say it is how you act that counts…. To rebuild, firstly we need to admit that our performance over the last few years did not reflect our core values; we need our councillors to show again, that whatever our national failure, we will fight for them locally ( I voted for my local councillor whilst refusing to vote for my national candidate)….

    I don’t hold all the answers but I believe a ‘down-up’ rather than the last ‘top-down’ direction is essential…

  • Thank you Leanne, for sharing ourshared Liberal values!

  • Expats, Leanne’s quotation included the sentence; –
    “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. ”
    and that seems to be the diference between Liberal philosophy and Tory and Labour. We care about people, but the other two major parties emphasise organisations, “Business” or “Workers”.
    Other parties might also include freedom, dignity etc. in their philosophy, (as you say who wouldn’t?) but these are not emphasised in their rhetoric. Indeed some even contemplate repealing civil rights legislation. Doing so will not do much direct harm to buiness or labour, but will certainly harm individuals.

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th May '15 - 2:38pm

    ” … 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 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 …”

    As Huw points out we are the party of individuals but I would go further, we are the party of individual people and their multiple and complex communities. We do not simply define people by their social class or by that side of industry in which they find employment!

    It is all too easy to dismiss the preamble as ‘motherhood and apple pie’ but a proper reading of the words reveal a strong thread within Liberalism against the excesses of unfettered free markets and all powerful multi-nationals which, at this moment in history, clearly represent a greater potential threat to individual and community freedoms and prosperity than do European nation states.

    I totally agree with Huw regarding “fairness, freedom and community … being essential”, where I disagree is that this is a lessening desire. Whatever their other values and sacrifices, deference for ones ‘elders and betters’ frequently dogged earlier generations.

    Much was made of us ‘all being in this together’ in the early days of the coalition. Clearly this was yet another cynical Tory sop to the masses and one in which we became implicated.

    I suspect in line with Expats thinking, we now have a few short years to reclaim Liberal Democracy and take it to the people – and this time mean what we say. As a party we must learn from the very expensive mistakes of the past five years . If something is not possible we should explain why directly via party literature and broadcast. Not for a moment should we fool ourselves into believing that being right will result in a fair hearing in the press.

    Locally and nationally, we need to go out and fight for Liberal Democracy itself. Important as it is, the challenge we face is much greater than simply getting Lib Dem candidates elected, the electorate must understand what we fight for and why. As we have just seen, being in power is simply not enough.

  • Bravo Stephen!
    I will agree to differ on the “lessening desire,” but I did say ” That is not to say that the modern interpretation is worse then ours, it is just slightly diferent.”.
    However, although I enjoy the less formal atmosphere of today, I recognised the value of deference to “ones elders and betters” when confronted with a well known “dragon” of a senior scientist who asked me to supply a piece of equipment, which I duly did.She was on the phone straight away furiously complaining that the supplied equipment was far too small. I checked my calculations and told her that it was exactly what she had asked for. This went on for fortnight, whereupon a very subdued “dragon” admitted to her mistake. From then on we were the best of friends. Having respect for ones elders sometimes means that you have to prove yourself to be accepted, and that is not a bad thing. Sometimes, it seems that the shoddy service we recieve from multinational companies and their infuriating call centres comes about because their managers never really had to prove themselves, in the old way. Respect solely for elders is a bit pointless, but respect for everyone, and the resulting desire to always give exactly what is asked for is an ideal we should retain and value.

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