Principles of Liberal Democracy

Up to 2012 the Liberal Democrats’ citywide organisation for Leeds was responsible for the panelling of the party’s prospective city council candidates. It placed approved candidates on the panel of candidates for the city, from which the wards could select. There was a rigorous process with a candidate pack of information on the city council and on what it entailed being a Liberal Democrat councillor.

There was also a short statement of the party’s basic philosophy, expanding on the preamble to the party’s constitution. Unfortunately the City Council Liberal Democrat group ended its financing of the organisation out of the levy on councillors’ allowances and for the past eight years there has been no citywide party organisation and, more crucially, no panelling of prospective candidates.

In the hope that panelling will be reinstated the three original authors of the philosophy statement – from Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees – have now revised it for general use, given that there is a lack of such a leaflet. Any colleagues who might wish to see it and, hopefully, use it locally, can find it here: Principles of Liberal Democracy 2020


* Michael Meadowcroft joined the Liberal Party in 1958. He has served at every level of the party organisation. He was a Leeds City Councillor, West Yorkshire Met County Councillor and MP for Leeds West, 1983-87. For 25 years he led or was part of electoral missions to 35 new democracies on four continents.

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  • Where liberty clashes with equality, Liberal Democrats but liberty first. Are we all good with that ??

  • “For the past eight years there has been no citywide party organisation and, more crucially, no panelling of prospective candidates.”

    How is the local party(ies) complying with Art 3.8 (of which there seem to be 2) of the English Party Constitution then?

    “For the purpose of … (b) elections for a local authority, including Mayors, divided between more than one Local Party…. the Local Parties concerned shall form appropriate joint arrangements to co-ordinate candidate approval and selection (according to the current English party rules), campaigning and publicity and to be responsible for the formulation of policy on local issues for that election….

    Each Local Party or Local Parties making joint arrangements under 3.8 above shall adopt a procedure for the approval of candidates for local authority elections. That procedure shall be uniform across the area of the local authority. “

  • David Warren 10th May '20 - 7:02am

    A document along these lines should form part of the pack sent to all new members.

    We need to remind ourselves regularly why we are Liberals and how we can put our beliefs into practice. This applies particularly to our parliamentarians and local authority representatives.

  • Julian Ingram 10th May '20 - 3:57pm

    Well done Michael, I think this is something we can use for members supporters and candidates. Might need a bit of finessing but it works for me.

  • Paul Holmes 10th May '20 - 9:43pm

    On the back of my membership card it says ” ……we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community…………..”

    No mention of one being dominant over the others.

  • Paul Holmes 10th May '20 - 9:55pm

    Why does maintaining a panel of approved candidates need financing -on a scale that means that without it the system has collapsed?

    Locally we have a pool of volunteer interviewers who can be called upon to form an approval Panel/s as and when needed. Documents can all be PDF’s so there is negligible cost beyond a bit of photocopying or printing which the Local Party covers if needed.

  • Cllr Stewart Golton 12th May '20 - 2:12pm

    Just for clarity, panelling of candidates does take place in Leeds, and is organised by the Leeds Campaign & Development Group, which is an interface between the Council Group and the constituencies (there are 8 in Leeds) that are serious about campaigning. Unfortunately, not all constituencies attend meetings, but all are asked to submit their potential candidates for panelling. The panels consist of a mixture of councillors and activists from across the city.

  • Richard Underhill 31st May '20 - 3:21pm

    So why did we lose the 1929 general election?
    Did we support equal votes for women?
    Why would we want world government? (except as a possible alternative to World War?)
    Small is beautiful

  • Richard Underhill 31st May '20 - 3:43pm

    Paul Holmes 10th May ’20 – 9:43pm:
    I was the first elected federal conference delegate to speak under the new logo, saying
    “we put liberty above all” which to some delegates may have sounded like the Liberal Party ethos of Freedom First. Nevertheless when asked to support a motion to free John McCarthy, a British journalist who had been kidnapped in the Lebanon, despite the deliberate inactivity of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, conference passed the motion unanimously. They were not asked to pay money towards a ransom and did not argue that Liberal Democrats would gain votes. Paddy Ashdown was present, but did not suggest a commando raid. John Alderdice (APNI) was present, as was one MEP of the Progressive Democrats of the Republic of Ireland (in coalition with Fianna Fail).

  • Richard Underhill 31st May '20 - 7:02pm

    31st May ’20 – 3:21pm
    I am still influenced by what Nancy Seear said at our AGM a few years ago

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