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.

So starts the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution.

This quote works well as a one sentence summary of Liberal Democrat beliefs. However people are sometimes after a little more detail about what Lib Dems believe, and other documents such as general election manifestos and policy statements are not always long-lasting. Moreover, the party’s relative newness compared to the Labour and Conservative parties and (most of the time) much lower media profile means there is often much less familiarity with party’s core beliefs.

That is where this poster on what the Liberal Democrats believe comes in…

(Click on the image for a larger version or see below for a high-res A3 version you can print.)

Poster: Liberal Democrat history and philosophy explained

Print version of ‘What the Lib Dems believe’

A high-res version of ‘What the Liberal Democrats believe’ is available here (pdf). It is A3 sized and suitable for printing out and/or inclusion in other publications, such as local party newsletters.

What the Liberal Democrats achieved in government

There’s a companion infographic to this one, which looks at what the Lib Dems achieved in government 2010-15. You can view ‘What have the Liberal Democrats achieved in government?’ here.

Liberal Democrat Newswire

Like to know more about the Lib Dems? Then join thousands of others in reading my free monthly email newsletter Liberal Democrat Newswire:

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The Liberal Democrat preamble in full

Here is the full preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution, from which the quote above was taken:

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 cooperative 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.

22 comments
Paul Gray
Paul Gray

It's reasonably simple if you follow the principle that liberals believe the state should be as small as possible whilst remaining involved enough to create a system of social justice. For example, you might dislike the idea of government bodies interfering in markets but might equally acknowledge that the government needs to ensure regulatory authorities have enough power to protect consumers.

Mark Pack
Mark Pack

Carol - the point there is that anyone or anything with power can use it both to help and to damage liberty, and hence liberals need to be sceptical of anyone with power but also look to use power to promote liberty. That makes us different from many on the left who are not that worried about how much power the state has over our lives, and also different from those on the right who don't see the power the state can have in making us more free (e.g. by providing good education services).

Simon Arnold
Simon Arnold

I'm an Economic Liberal ( Small State Liberal.)

Carol Smith
Carol Smith

I think it is the last bit that begins 'All Power'

Mark Pack
Mark Pack

There are two different strands of thought in the party, often labelled social liberals and economic liberals. That section is trying to explain how their differences and how they fit in the party. Is there something particular about the panel you find unclear?

Carol Smith
Carol Smith

Not sure I am clear on the part headed' Social and Economic Liberals'. Please will someone explain.

TheLaughingCat
TheLaughingCat

One for the downstairs loo, where guests can't escape! Ideological enlightenment through toilet reading :D

markpack
markpack

@gregjudge Glad you like it! Might be something to point our Leadership Prog members at as they'll (hopefully!) be doing lots of mbr work?

Trackbacks

  1. […] That doesn’t mean long and learned discussions on philosophy; most voters won’t be interested (although the party could and should do much better at talking about its beliefs, rather than just current policies, to would-be candidates and to new members and helpers – hence the poster I produced). […]

  2. […] You can read the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the 2015 general election in full below and the separate 2015 local elections manifesto is here. If you would like to know a little more about the Liberal Democrat beliefs which underpin the manifesto, take a look at What do the Liberal Democrats believe? […]

  3. […] Although the paper comes from the Federal Policy Committee, of which I’m a member, the bulk of the credit for Part 2’s excellence is due to Duncan Brack who produced an wonderful draft which the committee then did its best not to wreck. (On a similar theme, if you’d like to know more about what the Lib Dems stands for, take a look at my poster.) […]