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Windsor Liberal Democrats

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Liberal Democrat Philosophy

An explanation of the principles of the Liberal Democrats in terms of a few basic values and assumptions about human nature and society. Then a quick summary of our approach to certain policy areas.

A party's philosophy or ideology is a combination of its basic principles, which change little, and, based on these, particular approaches to current problems. The term ideology is rather discredited, because successful approaches tend to be applied again and again, even where they are not appropriate: e.g. the use of markets in 'Thatcherite' ideology.



These can be expressed in a single phrase (if we include future individuals):

Valuing all individuals


Start from the worth of all individuals. All institutions should primarily meet individuals' needs. There is a basic equality of esteem and value between them all.

Each individual should have the greatest possible say over their own lives. They know what is best for them better than anyone else. It is not implied that individuals are perfectly rational: there is just no better or more committed judge, and psychological well-being is included. It is, in fact, a good thing in itself to feel in control of one's life.

One of the psychological drives is social. Community has value for itself. Community is also a good way of achieving many ends, including banding together for political ends, to have a say. Everyone should be able to contribute to their communities.

Power is better dispersed and accountable. Communities are a natural way, but even international institutions help. Market and other (including political) competition disperses power, but itself needs protection from monopoly power.

All power also has to be limited by rights and other laws. Where possible, individuals should be free to do as they like, being the simplest way of having a say in their life. However, freedom can only be guaranteed by rules. Even a majority can oppress minorities and attack outsiders. Rights can be balanced by constitutional procedures.

We aim for equality of treatment, not of outcomes. Minorities need protection, but this is normally best done by applying general rules. However, people need certain minimum standards. No-one should be disadvantaged by discrimination, ignorance or poverty.

Diversity must be respected. If people are to control their own lives, they need to decide the basis for their own decisions. Our view of society should not be imposed, and any attempt to do so tends to be counter-productive.

The natural environment also needs to be protected, and the future safeguarded. Otherwise, any short term gains will just lead to problems later.


To Government and Public Services

controlling power, decentralisation, participation, responsiveness, openness, honesty of funding

To Society

human rights, minorities, equality before the law; communities

To the Economy

competition, 'free' & 'fair' markets; corporate governance; fair taxation

To the Environment

sustainability; value animals as well; everyone's quality of life

To the World

international institutions & rules; free movement

This is summarised from 'It's About Freedom': the Report of the Liberal Democracy Working Group and from The Preamble to the Constitution of the Liberal Democrats, both available from Liberal Democrat Publications.

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