In 1988 the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party united to form the Liberal Democrats. Following the Liberal tradition, the new united party values the personal freedoms of liberty and opportunity and an open, participatory democracy.
It recognizes that these social goods can be available to everyone only if citizens are empowered by positive government actions of the kind that characterize the Social Democratic tradition.
The Liberal Democrat Guarantee
Liberal Democrats are committed to open government and rational debate. They will not indulge in personal abuse or attacks.
Liberal Democrats will not knowingly publish anything in Focus leaflets or on their website that is not truthful and cannot be supported by evidence which is either already in the public domain or can readily be made available.
Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society. The principles of fairness and social justice for which the Liberal Democrats stand are embodied in the party’s constitution:
The Preamble to the Constitution of the Liberal Democrats.
Fair, Free and Open
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 rights 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.
Safeguarding the Environment
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 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 service delivered at the most local level which is viable.
Using the Skills of the People
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.
Partnership and Community
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.
Fighting Poverty and Oppression
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.
Liberty and Social Justice
These are the conditions of liberty and social justice which it is the responsibility of each citizen and the duty of the state to enlarge. The Liberal Democrats consist of women and men working together for the achievement of these aims.