Liberal Democrat philosophy: free 14 week email course

Lib Dem philosophy series - header graphic

It’s common for people to want to know more about what the Liberal Democrats stand for and why. There are lots of policy answers available, but for some it is the Lib Dem philosophy that they’re most interested in.

So here is my free 14-part weekly email series about the roots of liberal, Liberal and Liberal Democrat beliefs. Each email is quite chunky, which is why they are spaced out weekly.

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This course is about where the party’s beliefs come from and why, rather than a current survey of party policy. If that’s more your thing, you may find my party poster and shorter versions of what the party believes or the 2019 general election manifesto useful.

Many thanks to Duncan Brack and his colleagues at the Liberal Democrat History Group, especially the contributors to the now sadly out of print Dictionary of Liberal Thought, whose work I’ve used heavily.

Thanks for the permission Duncan and I hope you don’t wince too much at what I’ve done with the words.

17 responses to “Liberal Democrat philosophy: free 14 week email course”

  1. Mark

    I have a question if I may. Of members joining since the 2015 election, how many rejoined following a lapse/resignation in the coalition years?

    I am such, not because I was alienated by the coalition itself, but because I was appalled by the broken pledge on tuition fees.


    Tristan Ward

    • The big majority of the new members seem to be fully new rather than coalition lapsers rejoining. There are definitely some of the latter, but evidence such as the party’s surveys of new members points to them being by far the smaller part of the overall picture.

    • Tristan, How about comparing the Student fees debacle with reality, No doubt there as a number of reason for the decision to U turn.

      The NHS is safe in our hands??????? Caring Conservatives ???

      We/I support Remain OK given that 25% to 30% support Brexit I and all the PLL will now fully support the Tory-UKIP Brexit with a 3 Line Whip.

      The Official Opposition has become a Coalition with the Tory Government and
      the 48% really 70% who did not vote for Brexit have not had any representation in Parliament from Labour, ONLY the Lib Dems.

      Have to look at who keeps reminding people of the Student Fees, because lets be clear The Tories were the major party in that Coalition “I suppose they fought tooth and nail to stop the Lib Dems supporting their proposed increase in Tuition Fees.”

      No point really dwelling in the past, you either want Brexit and the Impact which is made clear from the now numerous Statements or you are opposed to Brexit, if Brexit can be stopped then normal politics can be resumed.

      I would suggest that the long held Lib proposal for PR should be supported by all those opposed to Brexit and the waste of time and money it has cost even at present so that the Will of the People which is now seen as SO Important is recognised at every General Election. There would be little chance of any party becoming an elected dictatorship and being able to progress a policy such as Brexit without being HONEST about the outcome with the People.

      Secret Trade Talks, Secret Non Disclosure Agreements, Take back Control of Our Borders-We don’t want a Border, we want frictionless flow of transport, NO Customs checks.

      Sorry the Tory Government have more faces than Big Ben so suggest that there should be even comments about all Parties. What I see at the moment the Lib Dems are the Anti Brexit—Pro EU party and that clearlt sets then apart since Brexit surpasses all the other issues, apart from Global Warming/Climate Change.

      • The Lib Dems are the pan-national pro-EU party, you there are other Pro-Eu parties on the British Isles including the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and the SNP.
        In Wales, Lib Dems may be unhappy with just 1 seat in the Senedd, however, Wales is the home of liberalism and that is reflected in Plaid Cymru.
        In Northern Island, the main liberal grouping is the Alliance party, and FIANNA FÁIL in the Republic.
        When Wales becomes independent I/We hope that Plaid Cymru will be included a member of the ALDE (we will have a country, and soon a new member of the EU).

    • Yup – the logistics of post etc. are too complicated and costly I’m afraid (and the reason for email rather than putting all on the web is to get the deliberate weekly phasing, starting whenever someone wants).

  2. Tristan Ward, I left school in 1966 and if given the opportunity to go to university I would have grabbed it with both hands whatever the cost. I agree that the loans system costs too much. Sometimes you have to accept some things we do with others in life ‘warts and all’ and compared to the other parties the Liberal Democrats has a very clear skin.

  3. Could we get this in a more accessible format? It’s what I’ve been looking for, however how many people have the time to read lengthy emails on these topics? We all lead go, go, go lifestyles. Something I can listen to on my commute would be much better. I’m enjoying the Lib Dem podcast and listening to Nick Cleggs books. We need more stuff like this, but in this topic would be great as I’ve felt it was missing since I joined so I’m glad we’re doing something along these lines

  4. I’m enjoying the weekly email format as it allows me to absorb the information over the course of the week. As it’s in written form I can refer back to the sections I want to go over more easily than in a podcast. I love podcasts as well actually but always need to take notes! I’ve really enjoyed the two that Mark has taken part in recently.

  5. strange that people say ‘ I don’t know what the Liberal Democrats stand for’, because ask the same question of Labour or Conservative, and while most people will mouth certain perceptions of the two ‘old’ parties, no-one really has any idea. It seems that ‘taking back control’ and ‘we want our sovereignty back’ was all about was really all about ensuring that our prime minister should be given all the Henry VIII powers, or an elected dictatorship. How else can all these muppets standing for Tory Leader even claim that ‘if I am elected I will do xxx’?.. where did our so-called democracy go..?

  6. sorry for the rant.. but when I meet that question I answer with ‘the Liberal Democrats have a comprehensive set of policies, which are cohesive and costed, and are based upon our fundamental principles’,
    As regards our principles, I point to (or even quote) the preamble of our constitution.
    I may then give the quote from a top Tory ‘who cares about principles if they don’t get you elected’ pointing out that Labour and Tory interests are just about them having power, and for their own interests alone..
    The other book we used to have, Mark, was the Policy Index which was an index of every topic under the sun and a reference as to where you could find a policy document/ discussion paper/ conference motion/ MP’s speech that gave a line on the matter.

  7. When the Tuition fees issue comes up on the doorstep (less and less frequent) I suggest that people look at their payslips. The increase in personal tax allowances, now firmly adopted as Tory policy on a more or less annual basis, was a Lib Dem policy in 2010 – we don’t seem to get much credit for this obviously progressive change.

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