The preamble to our constitution states:
"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.’
The following values and principles underpin Liberal Democrat policy. Both our policy and values are decided upon by our members, voted for with one member, one vote, during our semi-annual party conference. More details can be found here.
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.
We stand by the idea that without equality, true liberty cannot be realised.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.