Wednesday, March 06, 2013
What the Lib Dem's Stand For. My response to Alex Wilcock's Meme
Never knowingly one to shirk a challenge I was delighted to get an email from Alex Wilcock inviting me to join his Meme restating what we as a party stand for. I am someone who constantly quotes the preamble to our constitution – and have only just returned from speaking at an International Women’s Week event, where I quoted it to explain why I am a member and to underline the importance of matching political allegiance with personal values.
I didn’t have a lot to argue with about what Alex has already said. The challenge though it seems to me, is saying something which doesn’t turn out to be a truism. Trying to incorporate the Ryan Cotzee shorthand of “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society” is slightly problematic for me, to use that old test, would anyone sign up to the opposite – “Weaker Economy, Less Fair Society”? Fair can be a bit of a weasel word in so many ways which is why I appreciate the preamble because it actually explains what we have in mind. After all, many Tories think fairness is about getting rid of inheritance tax and cutting benefits to the most vulnerable.
Like Alex I love the line “no-one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” which underpins everything I believe, along with our commitment to equality. This brings me to the issue many of us are struggling with at the moment – it is no good having a statement of beliefs if it isn’t reflected in our values, and no good claiming to hold core values if they aren’t reflected in our actions. That is what should define us, that is what should determine our priorities.
So if I were to try and encapsulate the essence of who we are and what we stand for it would be this.
We believe that everyone should have the opportunity to thrive and make their most of their lives, free to do as they choose so long as it doesn’t harm others, free from those obstacles that prevent them from enjoying their lives such as poor health, discrimination, injustice, living in poverty or fear. We believe that the state’s role in this is three-fold. Firstly to be a safety net, protecting us by providing public services such as the health, fire and police services, the welfare state, adequate regulation to protect us as consumers, employees and employers, access to justice whoever you are. Secondly to provide a ladder – through education and other opportunities to develop our full potential. Thirdly by ensuring the right infra-structure is in place, through for example road and transport networks, housing, or the right environment for business to develop. That is why as Liberal Democrats we are committed to policies that achieve those ends, that ensure those with the most contribute more, recognising that a fairer, more equal society is good for all of us.
And now I’d like to hand over the baton to the following: