Liberal Democrats believe that the state exists to serve and enable individuals to live their lives to the full.
Our starting point is the individual. We want to find ways of enabling and encouraging each person to fulfil his or her own potential.
We believe that men and women have an immense, largely unrealised capacity for self-direction, self-cultivation, self-understanding and creativity. People are not sheep to be flocked, cattle to be herded or oxen to be led; it is inhuman to reduce people to the status of objects to be manipulated, directed or discarded.
It is the right of every human to share the liberty and the opportunity to experiment, to experience, to learn and to influence his or her surroundings. This is the ethos that drives the Liberal Democrats. It is not about having one’s own way; it is about having a way that is one’s own.
A liberal community does not dictate how people should live, but liberates people to live as they please so long as that in doing so they do not impinge upon the freedoms and rights of others. It does not provide for the needs of the citizen, but rather enables the citizen to provide for their own needs.
A community based on co-operative values and mutual understanding is the cornerstone to a truly Liberal society, and that is why this party champions freedom of association, the right to organise and the involvement of the workers in managing their workplace. It is why we promote co-operative working and mutual societies above large corporations, and why we promote the development of not-for-profit companies and social enterprises to deliver services and goods to our communities.
The underlying tenant of Liberal Democracy is that people of apparently differing backgrounds will come together in common cause or concern. That common cause or concern is what binds a community, and it is what makes our society function. It is that basic nature of humanity that makes Liberalism as relevant today as it has always been; adapting to changing circumstances but always protecting the individual against the state.
As the two great authoritarian parties, the Conservatives and Labour, continue to restrict our freedoms and curtail our liberties now more than ever there is a clear need for a strong and powerful Liberal voice in this country. A voice that puts the individual ahead of the state, that gives the worker influence over the employer and above all in a society that worships corporations and big government is still capable of standing firm and putting people first.
* Chair of Manchester Gorton Liberal Democrats, a member of the NW Regional Executive and the English Council and Vice President of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats
By Iain Donaldson