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What Liberal Democrats believe

In a liberal society, everyone is free to pursue their dreams, to make the most of their talents and to live their lives as they wish.

By Mark Pack, Feb 20, 2022 7:02

Our principles and values

'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.'

These words, from the preamble to the Liberal Democrat party constitution, are written on every party member's membership card. They are the best short description of the party's principles and values - its philosophy. But clearly, they need expanding and explaining, particularly given that so much in Britain and the world has changed so radically in recent years.

We believe the party's core values can be described as liberty, equality, democracy, community, internationalism and environmentalism.

Liberty

Liberal Democrats trust individuals to make their own decisions about how they live their lives, as long as they do not cause harm to others; no one else has the right to do this for them. We are optimistic about what individuals can achieve when not held back by the barriers of poverty, poor health, lack of access to education or inequality. Our predecessors in the Liberal Party had a proud record, stretching over centuries, of removing barriers to freedom erected on the basis of religion, belief, gender, sexuality or disability, and we will always defend the legal framework of human rights and civil liberties that protect individual freedoms.

An open, diverse and tolerant society is a good society. Being liberal necessitates being open-minded, and understanding that there will always be a range of different views on most issues. We embrace freedom of thought and speech, and argue for stronger protection against those who abuse free speech, use it to promote division and hatred, or spread falsehoods and 'fake news'.

Equality

Liberty goes hand in hand with equality, since people's ability to realise their own goals is critically affected by their circumstances. Poverty and ill health, poor housing and a degraded environment, and a lack of education all limit an individual's life chances and thereby restrict their capacity to be truly free. It is a savage indictment of the UK today that here, in one of the richest countries in the world, in 2019-20 over four million children - almost a third of all children - lived in poverty.

Achieving equality requires an active state, where government provides decent public services and an adequate welfare safety net for those in need. The great reforming Liberal governments of the early twentieth century laid the foundations of the modern welfare state, the Liberal William Beveridge created its essential framework and in the 1980s the Social Democratic Party was founded on the basis of a belief in social justice.

Liberal Democrats care passionately in particular about equal opportunities in education, the enabler above all else in liberating people, developing their talents and capabilities and ensuring that they can live their lives as they wish. Our approach to education at all life stages is exemplified through our proposals for a skills wallet, through which individuals can access education and training throughout their lives, and our commitment to free school meals. Our support for shared parental leave legislation when in government, and for free child care, similarly aim to improve life chances for children.

Yet we need to go beyond this, and tackle inequalities in wealth and income and power at their roots. Britain is one of the most unequal countries in the Western world, the gaps between wealthy and poor individuals, and wealthy and poor communities and regions, are widening, and those with the greatest wealth continue to exercise the greatest influence on the direction of the country. Our policies for a universal basic income and a fair tax system, among others, aim to give everyone an equal chance to live their lives as they wish.

The other dimension of the Liberal Democrat commitment to equality is the right of everyone to be treated equally and with equal respect, whatever their personal characteristics, including race, gender, nationality, way of life, beliefs or sexuality. 'Equality before the law' was one of the great rallying cries of the Whigs, our seventeenth- and eighteenth-century ancestors; and as Liberal Democrats we still pursue this quest for equality today - for example through legislating, during the coalition, for same-sex marriage, in aiming to close gender and ethnic minority pay gaps and in opposing discrimination wherever it occurs.

Democracy

Democracy is viscerally a core value of Liberal Democrats; it provides the means through which individuals exercise control over the institutions that shape their lives. But democracy in Britain is under threat. The first-past-the-post electoral system leads to gross distortions in representation and means that large numbers of voters feel unrepresented in Westminster and in local government; this is why we campaign for proportional representation for all elections.

But for us democracy means more than just a mechanism for counting votes. It means a system in which every citizen is empowered to make their voice heard. It means a spirit of equality, openness and debate, a coming together to decide our future fairly and freely, without being dominated by entrenched interests or the power of money. It means checks and balances, so that those in power cannot abuse their positions for personal gain or political advantage. It means a plurality of views, where no individual or organisation is deterred from speaking truth to power.

We are outraged by the current government's assault on the basic norms of democracy, by their lies, corruption and cronyism, by their efforts to stamp on any form of dissent and by their insidious undermining of the rule of law. They have abandoned all the political values that people used to think characterised the governance of Britain: decency, integrity, transparency, standards in public life. They are turning the UK into an illiberal and authoritarian state in which one party will be in power forever. We will oppose them at every opportunity.

Human Rights

Human rights are universal. Providing, defending and promoting equal legal rights for everyone to pursue their lives according to their abilities, wishes and means, with no discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity, disability, or minority status in their country of birth or permanent residency is at the heart of liberalism.

Community

Individuals do not exist in isolation; we are all members of an incredibly rich weave of different communities, whether defined geographically or through work, tradition, culture, interests or family. Communities enable individuals to join together in the pursuit of common goals or activities, in the defence of their views, or simply in the enjoyment of each other's company; they are the main way through which people express their identity. We will always strive to empower diverse communities and individuals' rights to join or to leave them.

The importance of communities has been underlined during the pandemic, as millions of citizens have supported not only their family, friends and neighbours but strangers and key workers, with food, transport and other means. Government should bolster this network of caring responsibilities, by providing support for local groups and individual carers.

Communities allow for true democracy in enabling individuals to express their needs and take decisions, but to function effectively, they need to be able to exercise real political and economic power. We believe that government should encourage the development of thriving communities - decentralising power, for example through the establishment of tenants' management of social housing, community energy cooperatives, local remote working hubs, mutual structures at work, employee participation or trade unions.

We aim to disperse power as widely as possible throughout society. This implies decentralising power to local government and to the nations and regions of the UK. The UK's departure from the EU has destabilised even further the uncomfortable, and sometimes adversarial, relationships between the different governments within the UK. Liberal Democrats are committed to a federal UK in which power and resources are shared fairly and genuinely between its component nations, while retaining the strong strategic advantages of the Union, and the unique powers of local government.

Internationalism

Since Liberal Democrats believe in the worth of every individual, we are internationalists from principle, rather than nationalists who define their nation or race in opposition to others and thrive on division and intolerance. Britain will be at its best in a fairer and more equal, tolerant and connected world. We strive to offer everyone in Britain equal opportunities to access the experiences and personal rewards that global connectivity brings.

We are also internationalists for good pragmatic reasons, because some goals are too big for nation-states to achieve on their own: guaranteeing peace and security, tackling the climate and nature emergencies, standing up to corporate power and spreading prosperity around the world. There is no healthy future for our country if we do not work with others to tackle these problems. This includes establishing a framework for international trade which respects high social and environmental standards. It includes offering support for the most vulnerable through restoring the UK's development assistance programme; it was Liberal Democrats in coalition who established the commitment to meet the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNI (gross national income) in aid.

And this is why we have always supported, and will continue to champion, the European project; it was a shared belief in the value of Britain's membership of the European Community that helped bring the Liberal Party together with the SDP in the Alliance of the 1980s. Now, after Brexit, we argue for developing much closer relations with the UK's former partners in the EU, to the benefit of British citizens and British companies; and we will work to create the conditions through which the UK is able to join the EU once again.

Environmentalism

Our belief in the empowerment of individuals is not limited to the current generation; future generations have the same rights as we do to live their lives in the ways they choose. The accelerating climate and nature emergencies pose some of the greatest threats to the well-being and freedom of future generations - and, increasingly, to our own lives - that modern society has ever seen. The Liberal Party was the first of Britain's major parties to call for urgent action to protect the environment.

We need to act at home and internationally to promote environmentally sustainable means of production and consumption - as did Liberal Democrats in coalition, in setting ambitious climate targets, establishing the world's first Green Investment Bank, supporting the growth of renewable energy and promoting decentralised and community energy. Many Liberal Democrat-run local councils have pioneered local sustainability solutions. But this is not just about economics: protecting the beauty of the natural world is a good in itself, and societies that live in harmony with nature, protect biodiversity and respect animal welfare, are healthier and happier than those that do not. We need a better way to judge the progress and well-being of society than mere growth in GDP.

But are we different?

We recognise that change is required to face the new challenges of our world. In meeting these challenges we aim to be ground-breaking and radical, but rational.

Unlike other parties, Liberal Democrats are not obsessed with the divisions between the public and private sectors. We believe in an activist state, taking action to tackle major challenges such as inequality, poverty and the climate emergency, and in the importance of public services and regulation, but we also value the motivation and efficiencies that market forces can deliver. And we recognise the value of alternative models, such as cooperatives and social enterprises. No system is ever perfect; it is through the energy and determination of the people that work in these activities that decent outcomes can be delivered for individuals and their communities.

Unlike other parties, we do not pretend that we have all the answers. What we want to do is create structures that empower individuals to work out their own answers. Ever since the Brexit referendum of 2016, too many politicians have fanned the flames of division and intolerance as their short-cut to power. This is deeply damaging, not only to the individuals who suffer directly from it but to the country as a whole, holding everyone back from realising the aims of prosperity and well-being.

A liberal society

So what does the Liberal Democrat approach mean for people who live in Britain?

In a liberal society, everyone is free to pursue their dreams, to make the most of their talents and to live their lives as they wish. Everyone has enjoyed high-quality education at school and has access to education and training throughout their lives. People can apply for worthwhile jobs or, if they prefer, work for themselves. They know they are supported by health and social care and welfare benefits in case of need, and they can rent or buy decent housing in safe neighbourhoods to live in.

People know who takes decisions on their behalf at a local level, whether this is in local government or local public services, and they know how to make their views heard through a multiplicity of representative organisations. If something goes wrong, whether in the companies they work for or buy from, or in their rights under law, there are means of putting things right, of access to justice, which every individual can use fairly whatever their background, education, income or wealth.

The country is a world leader in tackling the climate and nature emergencies, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants and improving the efficiency of energy and resource use. The use of fossil fuels for power, heat and transport is coming to an end, walking and cycling are encouraged and clean public transport is available. The countryside is coming back to life with the spread of forests and the recovery of wildlife; healthy and affordable food is produced in increasingly low-impact ways.

Britain is once more a member of the EU, working with its European neighbours to tackle the major challenges of the century. Britain's aid programme is one of the largest in the world, relative to its wealth, addressing global poverty and the climate and nature emergencies.

Democracy is thriving. Local councils at all levels represent their citizens and values and listen to their views. Proportional representation, together with an effective system of constraints on those elected, ensure that no party exercises a monopoly of power at any level, local or national. Of course there are major disagreements between parties, but they are resolved through elections and collaboration, and respect for one another's views, not through the winner-takes-all contempt for opposition that characterises our current system.

A different country, a different world, is possible.

If this is the world you want too, join us now.

Taken from Policy Paper 142, adopted by the Autumn 2021 federal conference.

Soaring inflation: Cut VAT to help families and keep prices down

June 18, 2022 3:19 PM

brsqThe Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to cut VAT, to help families with the cost of living while keeping soaring inflation in check.

It comes as the Chancellor Rishi Sunak rejected calls to cut taxes now as he claimed it could risk fuelling inflation.

When the last emergency VAT cut was introduced in December 2008, inflation fell from 4.1% to 3.1%. The ONS also found that the cut to VAT in the hospitality sector in 2020 led to a fall in consumer inflation.

The Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that Rishi Sunak is due to rake in an extra £8.6 billion in extra VAT due to inflation over the next year, or £430 per family.

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"Rishi Sunak's excuses for failing to reduce taxes during a cost of living emergency simply don't wash.

"Slashing VAT is one simple tax cut the Conservatives could introduce now to help families while keeping inflation under control. Instead ministers are sitting on their hands and cashing in billions in additional VAT tax receipts while people struggle to pay their bills.

"We have seen in the past how an emergency VAT cut can bring inflation down while encouraging spending in our shops. This move would put money into people's pockets and reduce prices at the shops and at the petrol pump. It should be a no-brainer.

"The Chancellor doesn't need to wait for the next Budget, he could bring in this tax cut at a stroke of a pen now."

Lib Dems call for fuel duty to be cut in more rural areas

June 14, 2022 12:37 PM

ny66Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to reduce fuel duty in rural areas, after analysis found that households in more remote areas paid £114 in transport costs each week in the year to March 2020, almost £40 more than those in urban areas.

The Lib Dems want an expansion of the rural fuel duty relief scheme, which is currently offered in a handful of remote areas of the UK, including Scotland islands and other areas, Scilly, and Hawes.

The proposal is to extend the relief to places where "public transport options are limited and drivers are being disproportionately hit by rising fuel prices". This would include Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, Shropshire and rural parts of Wales. The Lib Dems also want the relief to be doubled to 10p a litre.

Reported by the Telegraph and the i, rural affairs spokesman Tim Farron said:

The Government must act now to help rural families on the brink, by expanding the fuel duty relief scheme.

Ministers need to also crack down on the petrol profiteers who are cashing in on people's misery at the pump.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered an "urgent" investigation into petrol station operators by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Lib Dems are also calling for an emergency cut to VAT, from 20 per cent to 17.5 per cent across the board. Together with the fuel duty relief, the measures would save rural drivers £7.60 each time they fill up their tank.

Road-map for greater European cooperation proposed

March 14, 2022 5:03 PM

Clean up our water

March 13, 2022 10:53 AM

h772zLast year the government passed legislation which missed the opportunity to clean up our rivers and water supply given revelations that there had been 4000000 incidents over 12 months of untreated sewage entering our waterways

Rather than target water companies with levels of improvement the government opted for a much weaker requirement to show improvement with no end date for improvement. Ignoring the billions made in profits by water companies the government deemed targets as too expensive

Water companies are responsible for this mess, not consumers. Bill payers should not be paying to clean up the mess.

In our new policy voted for by members today, Liberal Democrats are calling for:

  • a Sewage Tax to force water companies to contribute from their massive profits to cleaning up the damage caused by sewage discharges.
  • reducing the number of licences the Environment Agency gives to water companies permitting them to discharge raw sewage into waterways.
  • setting meaningful targets and deadlines for water companies to end sewage discharges into waterways.
  • adding local environmental groups onto water companies boards, to support water companies in their duties to protect and enhance the environment.
  • The promotion of a "public benefit company" model for water companies, so that particular economic and environmental policy objectives are also considered when running the company rather than just a return for shareholders.

By forcing water firms to accept local environmentalists onto their management boards, the public will be able to hold them to account, the Lib Dems said. "Local groups will hear first hand how bad the problem is from water companies and be able to release the details to the public," the party said.

The Lib Dems said the move is inspired by the former frontman of the Undertones, Feargal Sharkey, who has campaigned to clean up Britain's waterways. Mr Farron said: "It is time to name and shame water companies for their disgusting sewage dumps in our rivers.

"Local environmental groups should have a seat at the table to stop water companies trying to get away with outrageous damage to wildlife habitats and popular swimming spots. The campaign to save our rivers from sewage has captured the public's attention like nothing I've seen in years.

"We have to thank Feargal Sharkey for that. I want to see a Feargal on the board of every water company, ensuring this scandal ends once and for all."

Clean up our air

March 12, 2022 6:27 PM

fr32Whilst, understandably, most focus is on what is being done about climate change there are two environmental issues which have greater consequences for peoples health which the government seems to be studiously ignoring

At our Spring Conference yesterday, Lib Dems blasted the Government for its slowness in taking action on air pollution, the cause of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK.

We passed a motion submitted by Ealing Lib Dems and moved by Hina Bokhari AM which called for a greater empowering of local authorities and the introduction of stricter, legally-binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants.

Our spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse said after the debate:

"Air pollution is a killer. Thousands of people lose their lives each year, with many others suffering from ill health because of it. This is no legacy to leave to our children, who are in particular danger. It is heartbreaking and a damning indictment on the Conservatives, who have looked the other way.

"It is high time we put the power into the hands of local people and those who have directly suffered from the Government's failure to act more quickly and urgently,

"The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone has the right to clean air. It is incumbent on this Conservative Government to do all they can to uphold that right, by tackling the air pollution crisis head on and cleaning up their act."

Under our proposals, local authorities would receive greater funding to tackle air pollution in their area. This would allow them to install more pollution sensors near major roads and at every urban school, as well as publicising local air quality issues such as live data from those sensors.

We are also calling for funding to be introduced to support a shift to clean fuels for public transport.

Time for radical action on energy prices

January 9, 2022 12:10 PM

t57k (Photo by Parvesh Kumar on Unsplash)As our Prime Minister works on ever less plausible excuses as to why he approached a Tory donor to fund his flat refurbishment apparently in exchange for pushing the donors desire for a new Great Exhibition, back in the real world where wall paper doesn't cost £800 per roll the people he was elected to serve are confronted with an ever growing cost of living crisis

With prices forecast to grow at 6-7% in the Spring, far outpacing wages, energy prices are expected to increase by around £700 per household and National Insurance is also due to increase by anything up to £1200 per worker ( someone on £30,000 - will pay an extra £255 a year (£21.25 per month) for example)

!n addition a recent freezing of income tax allowances slipped into the budget will plunge more than 1.2million people into the 40p higher tax band and an extra 1.5million into the 20p basic rate by 2026 with analysis by the Liberal Democrats, finding that the average British family will pay £430 more each year by then.

There has been talk of cutting VAT on fuel something once promised by Mr Johnson as a benefit of Brexit (see http://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2022/1421767/yet-another-abandoned-brexit-promise) but in truth that will only cut bills by around £100 pa. Better than nothing but not really the solution on its own

While energy bills rise for families, energy producing firms are making record profits.

As Liberal Democrats we are calling for a more radical approach

It's time for a one-off 'Robin Hood Tax' on the oil and gas barons' mega profits to fund extra support for those hardest hit by energy price hikes.

The levy would raise £5 billion to help the most vulnerable by doubling and extending the Warm Homes Discount, doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance, and helping reduce bills in the long term by investing in insulation and energy saving.

The Conservatives have ignored the problem of rising bills for too long.

We need action now so people aren't forced to choose between heating and eating this winter.

We also need to plan for the future , to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, to better insulate our homes and to stop us being caught at the whim of global energy prices. We need a radical green agenda as proposed by the Liberal Democrats ( seehttp://southsuffolklibdems.org.uk/en/article/2021/1417469/four-broken-climate-promises-by-the-conservatives)

Help kids catch up campaign

January 7, 2022 1:37 PM

nnvc (Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)You may recall that as a result of the closure of schools for long periods caused by covid the government appointed an education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins,to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for lost learning during the pandemic.

Months later Sir Kevan put forward plans costing £15bn to enable pupils to catch up on their learning with the government offering only £1.4bn cash over three years

The government's proposal represents £50 per pupil per year ( one of the lowest amounts allocated by any of the rich nations in Europe or Norh America) - and Sir Kevan wrote to the prime minister saying: "I do not believe it is credible that a successful recovery can be achieved with a programme of support of this size."

They ignored his advice and he resigned

As we find our way through the latest wave of the pandemic nothing has changed, the money allocated to support those left behind remains inadequate for the job in hand

Lib Dems would invest £15 billion in helping kids catch up, as recommenced and crucially, some of that money would go direct to parents, with £200 of catch up vouchers for every child, and more for those on free school meals or with special needs.

Every child is different and our plan would ensure they get the individual help they need while helping to close the learning gaps between rich and poor.

You can support the campaign at Help Kids Catch Up (libdems.org.uk)

Davey announces flagship education catch-up vouchers policy

September 19, 2021 3:00 PM

ggds (Photo by Deleece Cook on Unsplash)Today Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has announced a new flagship Education policy on the third day of the party's conference - Catch-Up Vouchers.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for a £15 billion package of education catch-up funding, as recommended by the Government's former Education Recovery Commissioner, Sir Kevan Collins.

As part of this, the party is calling for a £5 billion programme of Catch-Up Vouchers for every school child, putting the money directly into parents' hands to spend on whatever their children need most: tutoring in reading, writing or maths; music lessons; swimming classes or other physical education.

This idea of a three-year programme of education Catch-Up Vouchers would become the world's biggest ever parent-listening exercise.

These Catch-Up Vouchers would be doubled and in some cases tripled, for children in care, for disadvantaged children, and for those with special educational needs.

Commenting on the new policy ahead of his speech Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said:

Covid should mark a watershed in how we educate our children and young people. It is clearer than ever that we need a massive education catch-up fund. And this catch-up fund - which our schools desperately need - should also give parents a radical new role in their children's education.

If we are to repair and reverse the lost learning our children have suffered, we need this Government to implement what their own catch-up expert recommended, to fire up a fresh direction for education.

Schools should be free to spend their Covid cash as they see best, and parents should have a catch-up fund that goes directly to them in the most radical empowering of

The Liberal Democrats are the party of empowering people, and supporting parents and children is our top priority in the new fair deal we offer. We empowered children and schools with the Pupil Premium, and our Catch-Up Vouchers would empower the most disadvantaged children now.

The policy

Catch-Up Vouchers worth £200 a year for 3 years, given directly to parents for all 8.3 million children in state-funded schools.

Double vouchers (worth £400/yr) for disadvantaged children (those eligible for the Pupil Premium) and those with special educational needs.

Triple vouchers (worth £600/yr) for:

For parents to spend on approved tutors or classes however they choose - through the school or outside of it. Any vouchers not spent over the year go to the child's school for their benefit.

Schools would be encouraged to offer extra catch-up tutoring and classes, funded through vouchers, and teachers encouraged to discuss with parents what would most benefit their children.


Businesses and workers need certainty and support

September 17, 2021 6:36 PM

Frsd2 (Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)99% of businesses in our economy are small businesses. Unfortunately the Government is simply not doing enough to protect them.

The pandemic devastated small businesses as they were forced shut overnight. Retail and hospitality were among the hardest hit. As a result, many businesses are in a rent-arrears crisis with unpaid commercial rent totalling £6 billion.

Covid-19 also took a toll on the UK's towns and highstreets. People lost employment opportunities in the area and the sense of community fostered by local businesses. The Federation of Small Business has released a dire warning that 250,000 businesses could be forced to close by the end of the year.

Small businesses can't have their problems ignored. They need action now.

Today at conference our members called for dedicated support schemes to protect those sectors worst affected by Covid. Included in our small business support package is:

them.

The pandemic devastated small businesses as they were forced shut overnight. Retail and hospitality were among the hardest hit. As a result, many businesses are in a rent-arrears crisis with unpaid commercial rent totalling £6 billion.

Covid-19 also took a toll on the UK's towns and highstreets. People lost employment opportunities in the area and the sense of community fostered by local businesses. The Federation of Small Business has released a dire warning that 250,000 businesses could be forced to close by the end of the year.

Small businesses can't have their problems ignored. They need action now.

Today at conference our members called for dedicated support schemes to protect those sectors worst affected by Covid. Included in our small business support package is:

To read our policy in full please go to https://www.libdems.org.uk/f6-small-businesses-and-jobs

This government has failed countless small businesses and employees during this pandemic. We call for clear policy and not last minute knee-jerk reactions.

It is urgent that the government puts in place the right support for economic recovery post pandemic.

We must act now to ensure our economy is open, fair and creates new job opportunities.


Radical proposals on carbon investments

August 28, 2021 11:20 AM

7js2 (Photo by Photography Account on Unsplash)We have regularly complained that whilst the government is great at announcing radical targets to cut carbon emissions when it comes to actually doing something there is mainly silence

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper our leader Ed Davey put forward some pretty radical ideas about what needs to be done. Recognising that the private sector out invests the state significantly in climate impacting investment he is proposing that new stock exchange listings of fossil fuel companies would be immediately banned on the London Stock Exchange. He would also stop new bonds being issued in London to finance oil, coal or gas exploration.

Fossil fuel firms already listed in the UK would then have two years to produce a coherent plan about how they would reach net zero emissions by 2045, or risk being struck off the LSE.

In the longer term, pension funds would have to disinvest from fossil fuels by 2035, with all companies with fossil fuel assets removed from the exchange by 2045.

"The reality is that no matter how much governments spend, it's going to be totally dwarfed by the amounts banks, private equity and hedge funds invest every day," Davey said.

"So if you're going to really take on climate change you've got to get that private capital to switch from dirty into clean. And this is a fundamental role for Britain in global leadership on climate change."

Huge amounts of fossil fuel financing still went through London, Davey said, pointing to mooted plans by the part-Chinese owned Neptune Energy for a £7bn initial public offering. The company has interests in oil and gas production projects in a number of locations, including Norway, in the North Sea off the UK and Netherlands, in Egypt and Algeria, and with offshore gas in Indonesia and Australia.

Davey said: "We have a chance to change that in the UK. We don't have to wait for anybody else to do it. And we would also show a leadership role to other financial centres. I think New York under President [Joe] Biden would have a real problem if the UK stole the march."

The plan, which would apply only to fossil fuels used for combustion, would in the end help savers and pension funds, he argued: "There's a massive lie being perpetrated by people in the City, these fossil fuel companies and the government. The lie is these investments are safe. They are not safe. If the City of London doesn't take this seriously, it's risking its own future."

You can read the full story here

An alternative relationship with Europe

August 25, 2021 3:08 PM

j7d3 (Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash)Yesterday we covered some of what we assume were some of the unintended consequences of Brexit ( surely no sane person would deliberately plan these problems!).

That's all fine and dandy you might be thinking but given we have now left the EU what is the Liberal Democrat position on Europe

Well the party supports a longer-term objective of UK membership of the the EU, but we accept that an immediate campaign to reverse Brexit, would alienate voters sick of the recent history of Brexit-inspired division and bitterness. In the short-term we would like the closest possible alignment between the UK and the EU on trade, security, environmental, social, judicial, educational and scientific issues.

We voted against he government's disastrous Trade and Cooperation Agreement was finalised at the end of 2020, ('the only "free" trade deal in history to put up new barriers to trade instead of pulling them down').and are currently working on policies to determine the best possible future framework for the UK-EU relationship across all policy areas, with the aims of:

(a) demonstrating the benefits to UK citizens and businesses of a much closer relationship compared to the government's inadequate measures;

(b) recommending roadmaps for the UK to re-join the Customs Union, Single Market and other EU agencies and programmes as appropriate; and

(c) maximising public support for eventual UK membership of the EU.'

The basic thrust of the party's position is therefore clear: to demonstrate how the version of Brexit that the government has chosen is disastrous for the UK in every respect, and to call for a different relationship in the immediate term - for example, membership of the Single Market - that would be much better. In this way, we aim to construct a 'roadmap to re-join' that ultimately convinces the electorate - including a sizeable number of those who voted Leave in 2016 - that membership of the EU is in the UK's best interests.

The future of the relationship between the UK and EU in the next few years will be one of the most crucial issues this country will face; it is hard to think of any policy area it does not affect, or any individual, community or business it will not have an impact on. Making sure the Liberal Democrats develop a principled and practical set of proposals to deal with this, with the ultimate aim of persuading the electorate to support the UK re-joining the EU, is one of the most critical tasks in front of the party, and we hope you will help us fulfil it.

Under 100 days to save the planet

July 27, 2021 5:30 PM

nnd5Its now under 100 days before the Climate Change conference in Glasgow which aims to agree actions to be taken across the globe to reduce carbon emissions and reach the target of limiting temperature growth to under 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

The growing number of climate catastrophises hitting the world in recent years shows how critical this is

The UK is hosting the conference and a lot rests on our ability to cajole others to increase there current commitments to action

We have alienated many poor countries with our withdrawal of aid to them some of which was to help with climate change. On paper we have an aggressive set of targets to reduce carbon emissions although as we have commented before there are few actions actually in train to show how these targets will be delivered by the government

It is against this background the Liberal Democrats have launched a green recovery plan. There are five main themes to the plan

Save our countryside

4 out of 10 species are in decline and we are failing 17 of our 20 biodiversity targets. We want to clean up waterways, restore peat bogs and plant trees to help restore the natural environment

Green every home

Our homes account for 14% of UK emissions and yet the Conservatives scrapped the Green Homes Grant reducing the attractiveness of taking positive action. Our plan would see upgrades to insulation in all homes by 2030 and require all new homes to be built eco friendly

Clean up our air

One in four kids attend schools in areas over air polution limits. The UK has broken air pollution limits for a decade. We would invest £20bn in a clear air fund to create safe walking and cycling routes to schools and invest in pollution free public transport

Revolutionise British transport

Transport is our biggest single source of omissions. We would invest £40bn over three years in rail, buses and trams and electric vehicle charging points

Kickstart the switch to green energy

We already generate over half our energy from renewable sources but need to address the rest if we are to me emission reduction targets. Our aim is to make the investment now to ensure 80% of electricity comes from green sources by 2030

You can show your support for this programme by going to Green Recovery Plan - Liberal Democrats (libdems.org.uk)

Ed Davey calls for help on self-employed tax

July 26, 2021 1:08 PM

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The worlds poor

July 14, 2021 1:55 PM

j42cThe government won its parliamentary vote yesterday to cut aid spend from the legally obliged 0.7% to 0.5%. All Liberal Democrat MPs voted against the proposal

Given his recent time in the news it would seem odd that we would lead our article with a quote from a somewhat discredited Tory ex-Prime Minister

But his thoughts are not isolated

Here are three others

These quotes are not from woke bleeding heart liberals but from two past Conservative Prime Ministers ( Teresa May and John Major ) and the very popular ex -leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson

At a time when the world faces the fall-out from the pandemic cutting our aid spend by £4bn means more children will die, fewer girls will go to school, less investment in climate action and less care for the sick in some of the worlds poorest countries. We are one of the worlds richest countries and our behaviour is shameful. We know opinion polls shows cuts to aid are popular which is probably what motivates the cuts but nit doesnt alter the fact we are cutting aid to some of the worlds poorest and most destitute people

One quote to finish from our leader Ed Davey

Boris Johnson has just switched off millions of Conservative voters by callously breaking his promise and abandoning millions of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our world.

It's decisions like this that will make millions of voters, especially in the Blue Wall, move away from the Conservatives in droves. This Conservative government has lost touch with the values of our country.

The right to peacefully protest

July 5, 2021 12:40 PM

bg53Protest has always been a crucial part of our democratic society in Britain. The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental human right.

Today MPs will consider the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which includes provisions to allow restrictions on protests to prevent excessive noise, a vague description which risks unnecessary curtailment of the right to protest. The bill proposes changing the Public Order Act to mean police can impose conditions on protests if the "noise generated by persons taking part … may have a relevant impact on persons in the vicinity".

UN special rapporteurs, parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Equality and Human Rights Commission have all publicly raised concerns about the bill.

noise clause was narrower.

A government spokesperson said: "The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but the government will not tolerate a small disruptive minority impacting the rights of others to go about their business without unnecessary disruption.

"The police have been clear that public order legislation is out of date and have stated their support for further powers that will allow them to better manage the highly disruptive tactics used by protest groups today."

The problem is this statement is a complete over exaggeration

The Independent reports that neither police chiefs, elected commissioners, nor Britain's largest force requested the power.

The Metropolitan Police, which hosts the vast majority of large demonstrations that could be affected by the law, said it did "not request the legal change on noise".

The NPCC's lead on public order told parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights that police chiefs had asked for a "lower, broader threshold" for imposing conditions but not a law relating to noise specifically.

Attempts will be made in Parliament to take out these overly restrictive noise clauses. As Liberal Democrats we oppose attempts to restrict the right to peaceful protest. If you agree with us you can join our campaign at Stop the Protest Crackdown Law (libdems.org.uk)

What Liberal Democrat's would do.

June 21, 2021 7:44 PM

dreToday is opposition day in Parliament . With such a big majority the government rarely loses a vote allowing an opposition motion to pass. Nonetheless it gives an indication of what other parties would do if in power

The tweets below summarise what Liberal Democrat MPs are proposing.All sensible stuff we hope you will agree and a long way from some of the cultural posturing of the current government

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Doing the decent thing

June 5, 2021 5:33 PM
cr55The years of coalition government may get mixed reviews now but one thing Liberal Democrats are proud of is the passing of a law to force Govts to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. We were one of the first countries to do so.

Despite the fact it was a manifesto commitment for the Conservatives at the last election the Prime Minister decided to junk the promise on the grounds of affordability even though the actual amount spent was already due to drop significantly as the covid lock-downs reduced the size of the economy on which it was calculated. A further reduction to 0.5% is now being implemented although stories of last minute cuts and poor interactions with aid agencies suggest an unplanned shambolic approach, so typical of this government in many other spheres of activity.

When pressed the government makes no commitment when the cuts will be restored and the law upheld

For Mr Johnson and his populist government slashing spend on aid appeals to a portion of their supporters who dislike foreign aid full stop or say that charity begins at home ( Tell that to our kids who are getting 1/5th of funding in US and 1/8th of that in the Netherlands to help catch up on learning missed during school lock-downs!)

The aid reduction has meant millions of pounds less is being spent on supporting girls' education, reproductive health, clean water, HIV/AIDS, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and Syria, and hundreds of other projects.

Charities warned that millions of women and children would not receive food and support and have predicted that more than 100,000 people could die as a result of the government's decision.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has described the aid cuts as a "death sentence"

To their credit a growing number of Tory MPs ( 30 at the time of writing) from across the Party have threatened to rebel on this issue ( All three living Conservative Ex Prime Ministers support the restoration of the cuts) and attempts will be made to put this to a vote next week in parliament

As Liberal Democrats we believe we have a moral duty to the world's poorest. We will vote again