Liberalism in Practice

Core value: freedom/liberty

  • Liberal democrats believe in a fair, free and open society. Clegg said he championed the freedom, dignity and wellbeing of individuals.
  • Liberal democrats do not believe in the classical liberal view of negative freedom, but they believe in positive freedom, providing a qualified endorsement for social and economic intervention as a means of promoting personal development.
  • Reduced maximum  period of pre charge detention to 14 days
  • Ended fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent, scrapping ContactPoint database
  • Stopped local councils checking bins or school catchment area
  • Protected motorists  from rogue clamping by banning it on private land
  • Placing individual liberties on a par with state security opposition to “snooper’s charter” proposed by Conservatives
  • Advocate freedom of the individual therefore cannabis use should be legalised as this has no impact on anybody else apart from that person.
  • Agree passionately for liberal democracy. Similarly to Thomas Paine, believe that the only form of legitimate government is a democratic republic. We have a duty to protect the rights of our fellow citizens.
  • Against I.D. cards and CCTV.

Core value: reason

  • Liberal democrats, too, conflict with the conservative values of paternalism and tradition, as reason and knowledge result in progress and this increases freedom.
  • Clegg calls for more transparency in government – on the back of MPs’ expenses scandal – proposal of recall vote.
  • Anti-war – believed that it should have been discussed more and people’s views taken into account.

Core value: the individual

  • Liberal democrats differ to classical liberals as they don’t believe that society is a collection of individuals who are out to further their needs and interests. They have a more optimistic view that we would look after those worse in society.
  • Been pestered by Labour to not back the bill to give doctors more power. Linked to privatisation and takes power away from the NHS. Liberal democrats like individual freedom and therefore could support this bill, but they also support FAIRNESS and EQUALITY.
  • 2011 A.V. referendum – votes should be more proportional as the individual is important.
  • Shift power away from central government in the NHS and education in order to give the individual more say in local politics.

Core value: justice

  • Liberal democrats believe that everyone is born equal and each individual has the same chance to rise or fall in life, and this is why justice is necessary.
  • Pupil’s premium – child’s education at primary school is important so they want to give extra funding to poorer children. Seven billion pounds for this policy, which sees a policy ranging in ages from 2-20 to reduce inequality.
  • Desire a just constitution – House of Lords reform, reduction of bishops to 12. Removal of hereditary peers. Currently not representative but proposals of 80% of elected Lords voted through by P.R..
  • Been very successful with their attempts to increase the level at which tax starts to be paid. Meaning that the lowest paid enjoy greater benefit. £8,105 is now tax free Support crack down on tax avoidance
  • Call for much fairer banking system with £2.5 billion bank levy.  Want to separate  high street and investment banks
  • Regional Growth Fund in process of creating over 330,000 jobs with £2.4 billion for innovative projects
  • Mansion Tax for homes worth £2million plus
  • University fees was an area that they have lost credibility on but their argument was that it was unfair for those people from poorer backgrounds to get access to higher education.

Core value: toleration and diversity – speak of multi-culturalism and a tolerant society to improve freedoms.

  • Belief that if you are an illegal immigrant and have stayed here for a while, then you are allowed to stay if you inform authorities. HRA and immigration amnesty.
  • Age of consent for homosexuals to be 16.
  • All of the above examples show where the Liberal Democrats are sticking to the core values of Liberalism

Liberalism v.s. Socialism

  • Traditionally differences over inequality, loss of liberty and state involvement levels.
  • New Labour changed this with their proposed constitutional changes, but the Lib Dems argued that going to war changed this.
  • 1997 – Blair invited Paddy Ashdown into the cabinet. Lib dems then became involves with policies which fitted with their views on constitutionalism: devolution, House of Lords reform, HRA, CRA.
  • Also involved in issues regarding autonomy in schools, pro-European stance and liberal interventionism.
  • However under Blair we saw a significant rise in state interference through terrorist detention, stop and search tactics, ID cards and increased CCTV, which meant that the differences between them was brought into sharp focus.

Liberal v.s. Conservatism

  • Cameron and his launch of Big Society similar to liberal democrats in so far that there is a shared belief in devolving power away from the centre
  • Also some similarities in terms of rights and freedoms, such as CCTV and ID cards being opposed by both
  • Obviously major differences are conservatives look for strength on law and order, reduced taxation, constitutional change and EU. This is where the coalition has shown real tension. Although AV referendum went ahead it was clear that  both sides had different views. The issue of Europe continues to split the Conservative Party but the Lib Dems are united in their support for it. Their ideas on justice and punishment also differ starkly with Cameron reinforcing the importance of prison sentences and the recent expectation that prisoners earn their right to get TV etc..
  • However, Locke and Jefferson saw that property is a basic human right therefore tying in with Conservatives belief that it is important for security.

Economic and social liberalism

  • Clegg is an “orange booker” who believes there is nothing wrong with making money to provide for the poor. This emphasises the importance of the state in redistributing resources but also about improving social mobility through greater access to education. Traditional liberals see this as neo-liberalism from Thatcher and that the only thing that will come from this is further inequality.
  • Traditional Liberals believe that real liberalism is social – looks at positive liberty and the promotion of moral and civic values and the free market as a way to prevent monopoly.

Tough liberalism

  • Support for rehabilitation community service, restorative justice putting people at the centre of alleviating crime.
  • Clegg has brought this to the coalition and combined well with Ken Clarke’s approach as Justice Secretary. The dynamic has changed a little since his removal with many Tories calling for a further crackdown on crime.
  • Ditched the word ‘tough’ as wanted to move away from the idea that liberalism can’t deal with crime.
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