What would a truly Liberal Britain look like and what improvements would it bring to people’s lives?

Your Liberal BritainA truly Liberal Britain would be based on the concept of freedom of the individual and the understanding that this freedom can only be fully realised if everyone is supported to maximise their potential.


It would celebrate diversity rather than stigmatising it. This would enable everyone to develop without suffering from the fears, frustrations and indignities which discrimination brings.

It would continue to skew spending on education towards poorer pupils, improve support for childcare and make it easier for children from modest backgrounds to get the best possible higher education or vocational training. This would give the best chance for every individual to fulfil their potential not just in terms of their career but also as participating members of society.

It would have comprehensive public health programmes and treat everybody needing medical help equally. This would reduce the life expectancy gap between rich and poor and, for example, greatly improved support for people with mental illnesses.

It would provide decent and affordable housing for everybody including those on low incomes who can’t afford to buy their own homes, by increasing the supply of social housing. In doing so it would reduce the broader social costs – in terms of health and wellbeing – associated with bad housing.

It would be outward looking and playing a full part in the EU and other international organisations. In this way it would help tackle long-term global challenges such as climate change and extremism which, if unchecked, will damage people’s lives in the UK.

It would protect the environment and stop carbon dioxide and other noxious emissions. In the short term this would, for example, greatly reduce respiratory problems in our urban areas and in the longer term ensure a decent world for our children and grandchildren to live in.

It would see power devolved within England and the introduction of voting systems which ensured that votes counted equally. This would improve the quality of public services and help tackle the disillusion felt by many people about remote decision-making and wasted votes.

It would ensure that everybody who wanted to be in work would have a job which used their skills and accommodated their other life choices.

It would consist of vibrant communities. There is more to life than work. Strong communities not only provide support structures for people in difficulties, but also provide the means for people to express themselves via music, sport and other activities which greatly enrich their lives.

It would have Liberal Democrats in government. Because without this, none of the above is going to happen!

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.


* Dick Newby is the Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Barry Snelson 14th Mar '16 - 6:36pm

    Would it live within its financial means or will it get even more bankrupt than it is now, please Dick?

  • Mike MacSween 14th Mar '16 - 7:02pm

    “It would protect the environment and stop carbon dioxide and other noxious emissions. In the short term this would, for example, greatly reduce respiratory problems in our urban areas…”

    Carbon Dioxide isn’t noxious. We produce it every time we breathe out. In attempting to reduce CO2 emissions diesel vehicles have been encouraged. While they do have lower CO2 emissions per mile than petrol engines (for similar power output) they produce higher levels of particulates, Nitrous Oxide and Sulphur Dioxide.

    Upshot is that in terms of general greenhouse gas emissions petrol is worse, per mile, than diesel. But diesel is worse in terms of local air quality, especially cities, than petrol.

    So in reference to the quotation, concentrating on lowering CO2 emissions, mainly by driving more diesel cars, will actually lead to more respiratory problems.

    From the ETA website – “Diesels emit the bulk of emissions that endanger health, causing asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and cancer, and such vehicles will from 2020 have to meet the strict Euro 6 emissions rating. Most diesel cars have yet to meet Euro 6.”

    Sorry if I appear a pedant, but scientific accuracy is important for a party which lays such store by “evidence based policies”

  • @ Barry Snelson It’s not just what you spend – it’s what you tax – and also the growth you may produce through investment.

    I’d have no concerns whatsoever about taxing such as Mr. Tony Blair – tonight revealed in the Guardian UK as having a property empire worth estimated £27m. Blair, his wife and children are registered owners of at least 10 houses and 27 flats between them, including several in central London.

    It was William Cobbett who describe London as the Great Wen (a pathological swelling on the face of the nation). The great inflation of London Property prices distorts the economy of the rest of the UK and has all sorts of connections to money laundering – time for a radical rethink that puts people before profits.

  • Eddie Sammon 14th Mar '16 - 11:12pm

    A truly liberal Britain would retain a bit of conservatism. I’m worried that society, especially the young and political activists, are trying to expunge all aspects of conservatism from its thinking. This is even happening on the right in America with the quite conservative (or cautious) foreign policy of Barack Obama being derided by some Republicans in favour of reckless “carpet bombing”, which is actually very unconservative.

    I see myself as a centrist and a liberal, but sometimes I feel the centre ground and liberalism need to retain a bit of caution, usually associated with conservatism, but actually in small amounts can make a valuable contribution to liberalism too.

    I hope to write a longer article on the subject, but if anyone wants to steal the idea after reading this then feel free, but a credit would be good! 🙂

  • A truly Liberal society would value temperance. Drugs and alcohol cause massive social harm.

  • Gordon Lishman 15th Mar '16 - 8:59am

    Very well said, Dick!

    Three thoughts to amplify your vision:
    1. We need to address the problem of young people who are failed by the education system. According to a recent OECD report, the U.K. is falling behind others in the growth of a young underclass – particularly young white men – who are not motivated or support to engage with education, training and work.
    2. Conventional public health interventions will not significantly reduce the gap in life expectancy you mention; neither will conventional health care. The increasing gap is caused by “social determinants” around control over one’s own life, environment, poverty, unemployment, “bad work”, low aspiration, etc. It needs a holistic approach – see Michael Marmot’s various publications, most recently “The Health Gap”.
    3. I am coming increasingly to the view that the type and breadth of response needed to address inequality, poverty and other ills has to be based on a wider public acceptance of the nature of the problems and appropriate responses. I mean the sort of social solidarity which underpinned the cross-party response to Beveridge in the 50s and which is the foundation of Scandinavian society. The demonisation of recipients of any sort of State support, led by Tories but shamefully endorsed by Labour much of the time, has undermined the capacity of governments to act. This links to your commitment to communities, but goes beyond it.

  • David Evershed 15th Mar '16 - 11:31am

    What about the liberal traditions of free trade and minimal interference by the state in personal and business life?

  • I enjoyed the article and the comments but must say that the lack of mention of a federal system of regional government and a fairer voting system are both very serious omissions from my vision of a truly liberal UK (not just Britain). The UK is a union of four separate countries that are treated very differently and unfairly by our current FPTP Con Government. Also, given the very different populations of the four UK countries and a clear need for England not to be disadvantaged in any new UK federal system, there is a lot to consider and address going forward fairly.

  • Ross Fifield 16th Mar '16 - 8:42am

    Dick has attempted to do something which this Party has failed to adequately articulate in recent years (what we stand for broadly and therefore the principle reason to support us).

    It’s a mammoth philosophical as well as political task and certainly not one you can do in a short article. But well done for starting the discussion!

    It might be helpful for efforts to be led by the President, in concert with the leadership to answer this very straight-forward question with a resonating answer – What do the Liberal Democrats stand for? So far, I don’t think anyone has nailed it and it will likely require a group effort, possibly involving consultation across the Party to come anywhere close. I’m sure if you ask 20 different members, you will get at least 21 different suggestions – I certainly have my own answer to this question, but individual answers are something we must seek to avoid. The task is to produce a collective answer.

    The Conservatives can be acknowledged as the Party of self-interest. The Labour Party tend to be acknowledged as the Party of working people.

    I wonder what our members and the public will acknowledge as our core interest as we move further into the 21st century?

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