These are the conditions of liberty and social justice …

Earlier today Adrian Sanders mentioned the Preamble to the Constitution of the Liberal Democrats. That’s quite a mouthful – and sounds deadly boring – but all party members can read on their membership cards a short extract from this document:

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.

In fact, this is the first sentence of one of the most beautiful pieces of political writing in English. When people ask me what Lib Dems believe I always point them towards it.

Recent posts appearing on Lib Dem Voice have demonstrated some of the turmoil within the party following the General Election and Brexit. We could all benefit from taking ourselves back to our fundamental values before seeking a way forward.

The Preamble speaks for itself, so here it is in full:

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 aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.

We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely. We believe that each generation is responsible for the fate of our planet and, by safeguarding the balance of nature and the environment, for the long term continuity of life in all its forms. Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.

Recognising that the quest for freedom and justice can never end, we promote human rights and open government, a sustainable economy which serves genuine need, public services of the highest quality, international action based on a recognition of the interdependence of all the world’s peoples and responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources.

We believe that people should be involved in running their communities. We are determined to strengthen the democratic process and ensure that there is a just and representative system of government with effective Parliamentary institutions, freedom of information, decisions taken at the lowest practicable level and a fair voting system for all elections.

We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely, and we will protect the right of citizens to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes.

We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from the people. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and commit ourselves to the promotion of a democratic federal framework within which as much power as feasible is exercised by the nations and regions of the United Kingdom. We similarly commit ourselves to the promotion of a flourishing system of democratic local government in which decisions are taken and services delivered at the most local level which is viable.

We will foster a strong and sustainable economy which encourages the necessary wealth creating processes, develops and uses the skills of the people and works to the benefit of all, with a just distribution of the rewards of success. We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary. We will promote scientific research and innovation and will harness technological change to human advantage.

We will work for a sense of partnership and community in all areas of life. We recognise that the independence of individuals is safeguarded by their personal ownership of property, but that the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly. We support the widest possible distribution of wealth and promote the rights of all citizens to social provision and cultural activity. We seek to make public services responsive to the people they serve, to encourage variety and innovation within them and to make them available on equal terms to all.

Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; 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. Setting aside national sovereignty when necessary, we will work with other countries towards an equitable and peaceful international order and a durable system of common security. Within the European Community we affirm the values of federalism and integration and work for unity based on these principles. We will contribute to the process of peace and disarmament, the elimination of world poverty and the collective safeguarding of democracy by playing a full and constructive role in international organisations which share similar aims and objectives.

These are the conditions of liberty and social justice which it is the responsibility of each citizen and the duty of the state to protect and enlarge. The Liberal Democrats consist of women and men working together for the achievement of these aims.

 

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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40 Comments

  • Katharine Pindar 13th Feb '20 - 1:38pm

    Really glad to have this, thanks, Mary. May I point out also that Geoffrey Payne of the Social Liberal Forum wrote that he thought the idea of reviving a Social Contract, as discussed in the two recent pieces which attracted many comments and lively discussion, was quite in keeping with our Preamble. Michael BG and I hope that the SLF may further advance the idea.

  • Hooray. Progress at last. Thank you, Mary.

    Perhaps now all the parliamentarians will read and digest the Alston Report on Poverty and Inequality in the UK and come up with some firm proposals based on Katharine’s suggestion of a Liberal Democrat Social Contract.

    http://www.bristol.ac.uk › poverty-institute › news › un-rapporteur-final-re…
    2019: UN Rapporteur: Final Report | Bristol Poverty Institute …
    22 May 2019 – Philip Alston UN Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights taking … A short (21 pages) final report on his mission to the UK has now …

  • The huge problem with the preamble, and the first sentence is a good example, is that it is full of often contradictory concepts and makes no judgement between them.

    For example liberty is often at odds with equality, because enforcing equality can and often does restrict liberty. Where is the line drawn, who draws it, and on what basis?

  • Johnny McDermott 13th Feb '20 - 3:05pm

    The preamble reveals a source of the turmoil, it does little to resolve it without further explanation. There is a contradiction:
    “We believe that sovereignty rests with the people and that authority in a democracy derives from them. We therefore acknowledge their right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.”
    A traditional view of democratic statism, wielded by Brexiteers to justify withdrawal, as well as breathing new life into it with a majoritarian streak.
    Versus:
    “We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely.” Incuding, “international action based on a recognition of the interdependence of all the world’s people…”
    A thoroughly cosmopolitan globalist outlook. These are very difficult positions to reconcile, and then delivered to those sold on “the will of the [valueless, majoritarian – populist] people” in a form that is easily understood and changes minds. I think the turmoil is derived from an inability to square this circle, or even recognise it, as we try to find the best way to survive, let alone thrive.

  • TCO – liberty and equality are not contradictory concepts, but sometimes they do give rise to dilemmas. Resolving those dilemmas is precisely what liberal political debate should be about, and has been about since John Stuart Mill.

  • Steve Trevethan 13th Feb '20 - 4:07pm

    TYFTA!
    As well as a positive “what” of Libdemery, might it help to have some concepts and attitudes on the “how and the “why”.
    The ” how” may well need progressive and resilient economic theory. “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth could be a sound and exciting start.
    The “why” is important in clarifying our thoughts, feelings and actions and how we explain them to others in ways which are clear, honest and motivating.
    Might it help to rationalise and act to achieve liberty and equality in terms of “freedom to” and “freedom from”?

  • John Probert 13th Feb '20 - 5:47pm

    TCO 13th Feb ’20 – 2:52pm
    “The huge problem with the preamble, and the first sentence is a good example, is that it is full of often contradictory concepts and makes no judgement between them.
    For example liberty is often at odds with equality, because enforcing equality can and often does restrict liberty. Where is the line drawn, who draws it, and on what basis?”
    You might prefer this (I do):
    1. The Liberal Party exists to build a Liberal Society in which every citizen shall possess liberty, property and security, and none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Its chief care is for the rights and opportunities of the individual and in all spheres it sets freedom first.

  • marcstevens 13th Feb '20 - 6:59pm

    That’s from the Liberal Party not the Liberal Democrats The former would be a good home for orange bookers and libertarians like TCO. They are anti EU but seem to be drifting ever more to the right just like the SDP, the two of them have so much in common nowadays, certainly not a home for social liberals on here.

  • Geoffrey Dron 13th Feb '20 - 7:29pm

    It is difficult to see how a party based on such principles can contemplate coalition with left-wing Labour.

  • marcstevens 13th Feb '20 - 7:57pm

    Why shouldn’t it? The preamble lends itself to coalition with centre left parties and that’s where many of us are and always will be. It certainly doesn’t sit well with a right wing tory party or the BPs of this world and that’s all for the better.

  • @ marc stevens “That’s from the Liberal Party not the Liberal Democrats The former would be a good home for orange bookers and libertarians like TCO.”

    Given I joined the Liberal Party in 1962, employed by it, a Councillor, a Parliamentary candidate, knew every party leader and M.P. back to Jo Grimond, I think I pretty well know what the party was like. Hence, I wonder on what evidence you base that statement…… it surely can’t be on any personal knowledge or experience (although I’d be interested to know if it was).

    The Liberal Party I knew was far more radical and progressive than the Labour Party right wingers who formed the SDP. The Orange Bookers would have been far more comfortable with Gladstone, John Morley & Co in the 1880’s. I don’t think TCO quite made it to 1898.

  • Geoffrey Dron 13th Feb '20 - 11:25pm

    @marcstevens – centre-left parties are, as Clem Attlee and Ernie Bevin demonstrated, the enemies of the far left.

  • David (Raw) – I think marcstevens is referring to the rag bag of individuals which calls itself the Liberal party now – Not the one you and I were members of in the 1970s and before in your case.

  • It is time for the Lib Dems to set their stall out quickly and efficiently as a sensible centre right free market socially liberal party.

    Labour have learnt nothing. All of the candidates are pushing extreme hard left policies of nationalisation of Royal Mail, nationalisation of water and railways, attacking the outsourcing companies, abolishing Universal Credit, abolishing the WCA, siding with Unite or the Marxist rail unions, and supporting high taxes on corporations and wealth. They also have all committed to Brexit. The idiotic 2017 and 2019 policies of the hard left will be no more welcome delivered by Nandy or Starmer than they were by Corbyn.

    There is absolutely no way we can work with any of them. We should speak out for the free market, globalisation, Europe, privatisation and free trade with gusto and candour. We also must set our stall out as true social liberals, proud to represent all minorities, religions, and genders, whilst Labour try to pander to UKIP voters with blather about buses.

    The coalition government was the best government Britain has ever seen. Economically liberal, outward looking, internationalist, pro business and strongly socially liberal and truly a reflection of open diverse Britain. The far left under Miliband and the far right under Farage started the rot with their naked populism – now leading us to a place where Priti Patel and Raab are senior figures in government and the opposition would rather side with the RMT than the CBI.

  • Fine words, but they can justify pretty much any policy in practice – previous comments and articles on LDV running the spectrum between “well to the left of the last Labour government” and “Conservatives, but pro-EU” – so perhaps not all that useful.

    For example…
    “We aim to disperse power … We believe that people should be involved in running their communities … We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely … We want to see democracy, participation and the co-operative principle in industry and commerce”
    … has generally, along the way, become a Lib Dem consensus that trade unions are a bad thing (and “hard left”), without any particular suggestions about how else power relating to industry and commerce might be democratically dispersed to the workforce through other methods, or how the current owners and executives of industry and commerce might be incentivised to disperse that power.

    …or perhaps…
    “no one shall be enslaved by poverty … the market alone does not distribute wealth or income fairly … We support the widest possible distribution of wealth … we are committed to fight poverty”
    …has somehow become an inability for the Lib Dems to win in England except where poverty levels are already low, and a direction that well-off graduate middle class voters are the “core vote”

  • Neil Sandison 14th Feb '20 - 12:32pm

    Good reminder Mary but i could not help but notice only 9 words about the environment
    This needs upgrading particularly as we have so many members ,councillors and MPs championing action on the climate emergency and local community environmental projects .

  • The post-war welfare state was based on practical and easily understood principles. Private and local authority run hospitals were nationalised and the health insurance premiums paid or that portion of rates collected councils for health services were replaced with an enhanced contributory national insurance scheme supplemented with wartime levels of taxation.
    The provision of social security was underpinned by three key planks – full employment as the normal condition of the economy, a mass program of public housing that saw 42% of the population living in council housing by the 1970s and the contributory principle i.e. people paid-in to the system during their working lives and drew on the system during periods of unemployment, ill-health and in old-age.
    Beveridge was always clear that the responsibilities should be shared between the state and the individual and welfare payments would provide for basic subsistence.
    The system was intended to eliminate the need for means-tested and replace it with a universal system that all could benefit from and contribute to. This is why it maintained support in the decades after the war.
    To be eligible for a council house families had to be in regular employment and almost all council house tenants were in paid work. This changed in the 1970s as unemployment grew and priority was given to the homeless. It is this balance of rights and responsibilities that needs to be restored/
    People, especially younger people and those with disabilities and young children, need to have ample opportunity to earn a living and be able to secure adequate food and shelter,
    The big hole in Beveridge’s plan was equal payments across the country that took no account of the problem of rents. That was mitigated when a large part of the population could get council housing. Today those council houses are rented out in the private sector for £500, £600 or £700 per room each month to individual tenants occupying living rooms and dining rooms turned into bedrooms.
    Beveridge didn’t solve the problem of rents, We need to, if the welfare state is to survive at all as the baby boom generation swamps the ranks of the retired and an impossible financial burden is put on a proportionally smaller working population.

  • @ Joe Bourke “The big hole in Beveridge’s plan was equal payments across the country that took no account of the problem of rents. That was mitigated when a large part of the population could get council housing”.

    It’s all a matter of who sets the prioritiest. How many Council House/flats could be built – or the welfare cuts be reversed – for the cost of HS2 ?

    Time to revive the The Housing (Financial Provisions) Act, 1924….. John Wheatley’s great legacy.

  • John Harris 14th Feb '20 - 3:04pm

    A reminder of LibDem idealism that reads well if the Party has actually given you a membership card!

  • Sue Sutherland 14th Feb '20 - 4:02pm

    Thank you Mary for reminding us why we belong to this party in spite of everything. I believe that one thing which we have neglected to do is develop the idea of Community. Indeed an article here suggested that even at local level community politics has morphed into consumer politics and yet, there it is with liberty and equality as one of the three tenets of our party.
    The word community embodies our approach to how power should operate. We do not want a dictator telling us what liberty and equality are, but we want to involve all members of a community in how that community operates in order to achieve liberty and equality. Greaves and Lishman in their pamphlet on Community Politics point out that a community is a group of people with something in common. This can be a nation or a neighbourhood ( or for many of us a group of nations) or those with an interest in common . An individual therefore belongs to many communities. Unfortunately in our political practice community is too often narrowly linked to neighbourhood when it should inform political decisions at all levels. We have not tried to reform the way the nation operates to bring it closer to the people, to give an individual power to bring unfairness or bad practice to the notice of national government. The present petitions system is a joke and yet we are still concentrating our efforts on the way we vote, not what we are voting for.
    Thinking of the nation as a community which needs protection, development, fairness and economic well being to operate for the best for all members can be the bedrock of our policy development rather than narrow empiricism with no real idea of how those policies interact. For Greaves and Lishman Liberalism ‘is not about having one’s own way: it is about having a way that is one’s own’. Community politics is about enabling everyone to achieve this. It should always be present on our banners when we march and in our minds when we try to embody Liberalism.

  • Tony Greaves 14th Feb '20 - 5:07pm

    As the person who effectively acted as the editor of the preamble to our constitution during the Merger negotiations between the Liberal Party and the SDP over 30 years ago, I’m not sure it is the “most beautiful” piece of political writing (though some of us did try to capture the style of the Liberal Party constitution it superceded). In many areas it is a result of the discussions and negotiations that took place during the merger process, though a small number of us did our best to keep it away from the main negotiations until the last stages. Having said that I reread it last summer and was amazed how good I thought it was and I’ve taken to reading parts of it out when I speak at Local Party events. Having said that it does need revisiting not least to stop calling it the “preamble” – a legacy of he Liberal Party and give it a title such as “Statement of Principles”. Anyone who is interested can find four versions of the Preamble as it evolved, as an appendix to “Merger” by Rachel Pitchford and myself, our book about the negotiations and events in 1987 and early 1988.

  • Neil Sandison is quite right: the Preamble urgently needs amending to place our concern for the future of the planet at its heart. Sure, that will create more potential contradictions, but liberalism is not about simple solutions to complex problems.

  • Thanks, Tony Greaves, for what you gave us. Yes, it does need updating to reflect our current concerns about the environment and the climate emergency, but it is still pretty powerful stuff.

  • Read the Liberal Party website, it’s on there now and says exactly the statement above my first post of this thread. The poster is probably a member of the Liberal Party for all I know hence the post. Thank you for clarifying David Evans and it’s exactly as you put it. By the way I too was a member of the Liberal Party and Young Liberals back in the day before the Liberal Democrats and I don’t like what the Liberal Party as it is now has turned into. Labour may be far or hard left under Corbyn but that has not always been the case and may not be the case with a change of leader. If the Lib Dems were to become what Stimpson, TCO and their ilk would want, eg another right wing Tory light orange booker free marketeers party, then there needs to be a Social Liberal Party which believes in the mixed economy which would include some nationalisation. There is nothing extreme hard left about bringing the railways back into public ownership. Vince Cable was in favour of it and it’s also a policy that’s popular with the electorate. I despair when I see how the orange bookers have destroyed our party and are carrying on doing so on here and just want to get our party back. There was nothing fine about a coalition government that imposed a bedroom tax, abolished the ASB, stifled the Careers Service and Sure Start. It worked for people at the top, not those of us at the bottom but then you would never understand that.

  • marcstevens – “there needs to be a Social Liberal Party which believes in the mixed economy which would include some nationalisation. There is nothing extreme hard left about bringing the railways back into public ownership. Vince Cable was in favour of it and it’s also a policy that’s popular with the electorate” – and in the aftermath of Brexit, we can combine this with a moderate dose of economic nationalism a.k.a “economic patriotism” in the form of a comprehensive industrial policy that specifically aims to reduce reliance on imports from both China and the EU, and to help Britain catch up with other countries and not lag behind in the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution. I mean, policies that reduce the reliance on EU imports and supply chains will help alleviate the shock from Brexit on our industries, given our manufacturing’s heavy reliance on EU components, machinery and supply chains. Regarding China, the raging Coronavirus will cause a serious disruption to global supply chains (given the fact that the manufacturing hub Wuhan is currently under quarantine and many factories are still closed) and thus will affect our manufacturing as well, but it also provides us an incentive to reduce reliance on Chinese imported imputs.

  • marcstevens 15th Feb '20 - 8:08pm

    I agree with much of what you say Thomas, I think I’ve agreed with you before somewhere else on here. I agree with you on a comprehensive industrial policy and manufacturing; that this country should be doing more or at least exporting more of what it does well like digital technologies and financial services for example, but do not see the EU as being a barrier to this. If anything the single market can have a beneficial effect as we have been seeing with the likes of the automobile industry and whether the UK can be a successful exponent of greener but affordable transportation.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Feb '20 - 12:59am

    Attempting twice to add a comment to this thread, twice it has disappeared! I had referred to a comment of Joe Bourke posted here on Valentine’s Day just before 1 pm, and had attempted to add a reference I believed relevant to a recent thread. So I will try again, first giving the reference and then adding my new comment!
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/a-new-social-contract-putting-flesh-on-the-bones-63391.html So for a third time…
    Joe had helpfully posted, “Beveridge hadn’t solved the problem of rents. We need to…”, explaining that after the war such a large part of the population obtained council housing that rental costs were not considered as much of a problem. But now of course many people are obliged to take private tenancies, and can be charged as much as £700 a month to rent a single room. A horrifying statistic, conjuring up those dismal pictures on a recent TV programme of tiny rented rooms in former office blocks.

    It does not appear that our party has much of an answer to this huge problem, which of course has links to poverty and homelessness, judging by the policy passed at the Bournemouth Conference last September. This called for the reform of the Housing Act 1988 by scrapping No-Fault Evictions, surely a needful reform, but then tailed off with a call for further work to be undertaken to explore the opportunities for further reform. The reason for my now referencing the article posted here by Michael Berwick-Gooding and myself, which attracted many comments, is because we listed homelessness as one of the five over-arching ills we believe must be tackled under a revived and restored national Social Contract. Joe’s comment here in Mary’s thread reminds Michael and myself that the policies we seek under the proposed Social Contract need further discussion and enlargement, which we hope will be ongoing as the party considers developing the proposal. Homelessness, and its full meaning of not having an adequate and affordable home of one’s own, is very much a problem of our time for which all solutions must surely be considered by us and duly campaigned for. I write in an office bedroom which I suppose is probably half the space which a homeless family may be obliged to live in, perhaps for many months.

  • @,Joe Bourke it’s interesting that you mention the contributory principle, but you omit two key associated points.

    The first is that you should get out what you put in. This is key in the sphere of pensions where, of course, the Socialist implemented state pension is an inter-generational Ponzi scheme where today’s pensioners take out far more than they ever contributed and today’s workers will never get the same level of benefit.

    The second is that the state currently supports people who have never contributed, because Beveridge lived in an era of full employment and two parent families and didn’t foresee that that would not continue to be the case.

  • @,Marcstevens “there needs to be a Social Liberal Party which believes in the mixed economy which would include some nationalisation.”

    And there’s nothing to prevent you starting one. I’m sure you and several other commentators would be far happier if there were. Perhaps called the Social Democratic Party.

    I think it’s clear that this party, like the current Labour Party, and the Conservatives before the Cummings purge, is an unhappy marriage of incompatible partners that would benefit from an amicable split.

  • Meanwhile, in Thuringia, the centre-right “liberal” FDP’s attempt to make deal with the (Flugel-dominated) AfD to create an AfD-backed government just blew up horribly on their face, and, we all know what the AfD truly is. I can see that many centre-right members here would rather choose to back such a party (if it ever exists) over Corbyn if those are only two options, but I will not.

    “And there’s nothing to prevent you starting one. I’m sure you and several other commentators would be far happier if there were. Perhaps called the Social Democratic Party.” – may I remind you that the current Libdems will lose what is left of its grassroot base if it goes down the Orange Book path again and such a party is formed. Most of the Libdems current membership and grassroot base is still centre-left not centre-right.

    “I think it’s clear that this party, like the current Labour Party, and the Conservatives before the Cummings purge, is an unhappy marriage of incompatible partners that would benefit from an amicable split.” – there is a problem that one wing of the party is clearly outnumbered in terms of grassroot support but seems to have outsized influence over party leadership and decision-making, at least since Clegg became leader.

  • marcstevens 16th Feb '20 - 5:40pm

    There is an SDP already, it still exists and is similar in many ways to the Liberal Party, it would be an ideal home for Orange Bookers and I would suggest you join them. Social Liberals, which now reflect the majority of Lib Dem MPs, will continue to thrive and if my local party is anything to go by, they assure me that they will vote against OB motions. Thomas is right of course, and I hope your attempts to destroy the party will fail as will your obsession with privatising public services including the NHS.

  • @Marc Stevens methinks you doth protest too much. If you were secure about the ascendancy of social liberalism would you really need to proclaim it so loudly?

    “your obsession with privatising public services including the NHS.”

    Can you point to any quotes that bear this out?

    Though it seems to have escaped your notice that the largest part of frontline NHS services – the GPs – is and always has been a collection of private businesses.

  • Katharine Pindar 16th Feb '20 - 11:38pm

    TCO, would you mind telling us which party or part of a party you support? Or are you just a kind of right-wing anarchist bent on trying to undermine any left-of-centre grouping? As Thomas and marcstevens suggest, you have no chance of undermining our Liberal Democrat party. which can cheerfully shake off the small hangers-on of the Liberal and the Social Democrat parties, because we are actually strong in our principles and values.

    In your comment to Joe, you state that Beveridge lived in an era of full employment and two parent families. Well, presumably only when the troops who were disbanded after the War found new jobs in new industries, and women who had been widowed perhaps found older husbands, and new houses were built when bombed areas were cleared. If just after the War there had been the Internet and social media, or even TV for everyone, the complaining and highlighting problems that we expect today might have been shared and evident. But I suppose having survived the war they just got on with life, more stoical than we are today.

  • TCO,

    I don’t think you can say that today’s pensioners take out far more than they ever contributed. The state pension is about 30% of average wages. PAYE in the form of income tax and national insurance (including employers national insurance which is ultimately borne by the worker) are about 30% of average wages. These taxes contribute to funding the public infrastructure that is built up over generations including roads, hospitals, schools, parks, flood defences, public buildings etc.
    From 18 to 66 is 48 years in work. The average length of retirement is 18 years i.e. about 37% of direct taxes paid over a working lifetime.
    With universal benefits, the who;e point is that everyone, regardless of circumstances, gets at least a subsistence level income without any means testing. Those that can afford it or have the benefit of occupational pension schemes will have additional sources of income in retirement.
    Of course demographic pressures and longer lifespans are putting increasing pressure on the state pension hence the introduction of auto-enrolment under the coalition government to provide for the accumulation of private pension funds.
    Beveridge lived through the inter-wars and saw first hand the destitution caused by mass unemployment and the poverty associated with ill-health, poor housing and the strain of child rearing. His objective was shared responsibility between state and individuals. For example, he advocated that parents should take on the responsibility for their first child and child benefit would only be paid for the second and subsequent children. He was also cautious about not encouraging idleness and set unemployment benefit at subsistence levels.
    I think he got the balance of rights and responsibilities broadly correct for the time.
    Paid work is not the only way to contribute to society. Unpaid work in the form of Child rearing and caring for the elderly are equally valid and deserving of equal recognition to that of direct tax and national insurance contributions.
    Full-employment and public housing were, as you say, key foundations of Beveridge’s plans. However, the majority of married women and pensioners were not actively engaged in paid work in the post-war years as they are now.
    The welfare state needs to be able to adapt as society changes, but I think the basic principles and objectives enunciated by Beveridge remain as valid today as they were in the post-war period of austerity.

  • @Katharine Pindar,

    If you’re cogniscent of Beveridge you’ll also know that his aim was to provide only a minimum safety net that ensures incentive for self-betterment of one’s circumstances.

    @Joe Bourke the key point is that current pensioners were paying the pensions of those retired when they themselves were working, and the nu.ber of workers per pensioner is in long term decline due to increased lifespans not being met (yet) by raised retirement age.

    Hence people retiring at 60 will get 30-40 years of pensions whereas they were probably only paying for half that length of time for the pensioners they supported during their working life.

    This will all fall on mine and subsequent generations as our retirement age will no doubt be 75 or higher to deal with the fall oit

  • @katherine Pindar “TCO, would you mind telling us which party or part of a party you support? Or are you just a kind of right-wing anarchist bent on trying to undermine any left-of-centre grouping? As Thomas and marcstevens suggest, you have no chance of undermining our Liberal Democrat party. which can cheerfully shake off the small hangers-on of the Liberal and the Social Democrat parties, because we are actually strong in our principles and values.”

    Is it usual to use such language against long standing fellow party members such as myself?

    I merely make the same point that I made to Marc Stevens, that you seem insecure about the strength of support for your views and intolerant of other legitimate strands of Liberal thought.

  • I would concur with Katharine. Isn’t your strand of liberal thought as you call it more at home in the SDP or Liberal Party as they are very much into your privatisation mania and obsession with unfettered free markets. The NHS service is a public service free at the point of delivery so your comment about GPs is a total misnomer. Mr Farage is interested in more NHS marketization, have you thought about banding up with him even?

  • TCO,

    The old age dependency ratio is about 29% compared to 18% in 1960 and will continue to rise.
    At present, the retirement age is on course to reach 67 by 2028, and 68 between 2037 and 2039 . The Centre for Social Justice advocates increasing the age for receiving state pension to 70 by 2028 and 75 by 2035
    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/pension-age-state-raise-uk. As the article notes “The UK provides the lowest state pension in the developed world, accounting for a mere 16 per cent of the income made during work.”
    An average UK pensioner’s income (including private pensions) is worth 29 per cent of their earnings at retirement. Among the developed countries making up the OECD, the average is 63 per cent, while the average for EU member states is 71 per cent. ”
    “Bismarckian models are adopted in countries that generally have high taxes, and more supportive welfare state systems. In these countries, there is not much private sector provision contained in pensions. The Beveridgean model, is what has shaped the UK’s relationship to the welfare state. This model dictates that the state should provide a minimum level of support to prevent people falling into poverty.”
    We are on course for a pension age of 68 perhaps between 2037 and 2039 and could even reach 70 but 75 seems unlikely for most people at present.
    The UK had a strong system of defined benefit pensions in the post-war era but much of that has gone and the new auto-enrolment is unlikely to be able to furnish anywhere near the kind of occupational pensions that were formerly available to retirees.
    One key aspect that remains is the ability to build up equity in property ownership while working so rent payments are not needed in retirement. Capital can also be released in old age by downsizing or income supplemented by renting out spare rooms. This may have cushioned the impact of relatively low pension income in the past . However, with so many of the current generation unable to get on the property ladder the opportunity to use property equity in old age or rent spare rooms may be greatly reduced.

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