Liberal Party (UK, 1989)
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|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Liberal Party is a United Kingdom political party formed in 1989 by a group of individuals within the original Liberal Party that opposed its merger with the Social Democratic Party to form the Liberal Democrats. (As such, the Liberal Party is not connected to the coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that came to power in 2010.)
As of 2014[update] the Liberal Party held 21 council seats at county and district level and 15 seats at community level. The party has no representation in the UK Parliament, nor Members of the European (MEP) or Scottish Parliaments. At the 2001 UK general election the party's best local result was coming second behind Labour in Liverpool West Derby, pushing the Liberal Democrats into third place. However, they were unable to repeat this at the 2005 general election, finishing third behind the Liberal Democrats in the constituency, but still beating the Conservatives; they repeated this position at the 2010 general election.
The party states that it exists:
- "To build a Liberal Society in which every citizen shall possess liberty, property and security and none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. Its chief care is for the rights and opportunities of the individual, and in all spheres it sets freedom first."
- 1 History
- 2 Policies
- 3 Electoral performance
- 4 Elected members
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The contemporary Liberal Party is the smaller of two successors which emerged in the 1980s to the Liberal Party that had been founded from the Whig Party in 1859. That Liberal Party had first entered into an alliance with and then formally merged with the SDP in 1989. A small minority of the party, notably including former MP Michael Meadowcroft and the last elected President of the Liberal Party, unhappy with what they saw as authoritarian and economic interventionist policies that veered away from traditional Liberal policies, formed a new party. The new party included several councillors and entire council groups from the pre-1988 party, but no MPs. Since then, the number of Liberal councillors has been broadly constant, though with steady growth in recent years.
In 2002 Meadowcroft stepped down from being the party's first president, and was replaced by Councillor Steve Radford. In 2007, Meadowcroft left, and joined the Liberal Democrats. In 2009 Radford stood down and was replaced as president of the party by former councillor Rob Wheway. Wheway served a year as leader; Radford was re-elected party president in 2010.
Subsequently, the party supported the People's Pledge, a cross-party campaign calling for a referendum on UK membership of the EU.
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The Liberal Party's highest policy-making body is its annual conference, the Liberal Party Assembly, at which all party members are entitled to vote. The Assembly is responsible for all policy decisions and constitutional changes.
Liberal policies include:
Income tax not to be payable on earnings under £10,000, called for sooner than by the Coalition Government elected in 2010; a top rate of income tax of 50% on taxable earnings over £100,000; a system of 'Universal Inheritance' whereby all UK-born citizens at the age of 25 are paid a £10,000 'inheritance' at the age of 25, to be paid and repaid in the form of a reformed inheritance tax with a starting rate of 10%. The Liberal Party has a long-standing commitment to Land Value Taxation (see SDLT and Council Tax). The party supports greater resources being dedicated to tracing tax evasion and more relief against corporation tax in respect of capital expenditure.
The Liberal Party’s constitution commits it to “build a United Europe”. The Liberal Party stated policy is that the European Union (EU) is in need of fundamental reform and identifies issues that are against UK national interests. The party would campaign for reforms to the advantage of the UK including consideration to withdraw from the EU; the Liberal Party is opposed to the adoption by the UK of the European currency, the euro. The party calls for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU).
Crime and justice
Courts to be given the additional power to initiate further investigation. Imprisonment for crimes against the person, or which put persons at risk of physical, psychological or emotional injury. The party supports the right to choose a trial by jury. The party opposes capital punishment, including the continued use of the death penalty overseas. The party believes magistrates and judges should reflect the values of British society and communities.
The party wishes to enable young adults to have responsibility and decision making at sixteen, including the right to vote, economic independence with a choice between work, further education, community service or a combination of all three. The Party would provide grants for students which would also be extended to cover all types of training and for 16- to 17-year-olds to be able to claim housing benefits and income support, pending the introduction of a tax credit system.
The party supports peaceful protests; the collection of evidence for prosecution should be concentrated on groups or individuals that threaten the physical well-being of other people.
Repeal of legislation regarding non-prescription drugs and its replacement with a strategy of regulation, control and taxation with an increase in education and treatment services. The creation of an independent multi-agency co-ordinating body to oversee policy development; the dissemination of accurate information to minimise drug-related harm to individuals and communities. The aim is to close the criminal market place and cause a reduction in related crime and violence.
The party opposes hereditary power and would remove all remaining political power from the monarchy. The monarch would retain a purely ceremonial role and no longer be head of the Church of England.
Church of England
Establishment of a modern Bill of rights and a written Constitution.
Liberty and privacy
The party promotes individual liberty and privacy, including controls on the illegitimate use of surveillance cameras, and of commercial exploitation of recordings of individuals on private or public property. The party calls for respect of privacy by the press and media and opposes misuse of libel law by the rich and powerful. The party proposes to limit libel liability to those with editorial control with an aim to establish facts and get corrections printed and supports the use of legal aid by ordinary citizens to enforce privacy rights. The party opposes the introduction of compulsory identity cards.
The party believes that individual freedom ought to extend to the right to die and so supports voluntary euthanasia, taking inspiration from the Netherlands.
Overseas aid to be limited to 0.7% of GNP.
The abandonment of the UK's weapons of mass destruction and increase in conventional armed forces. The UK defence forces should be professional armed forces, supplemented by volunteer part-time reservists, and exist for the defence of the peoples of the UK. At the 2011 assembly the party issued the following motion: 'Further, assembly deplores the redundancy notices issued to personnel in the Army and Royal Air Force on their return from active service. Assembly believes that the UK’s Armed Services have now been cut to a level which is below that which is consistent with the effective maintenance of national defence and international obligations. Assembly calls for an immediate cessation of the implementation of further defence cuts and, insofar as is possible, a return to pre-2010 levels of manpower, capability and funding as a first step, such increase in spending to be financed as a result of the immediate decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear weapons capability.'
The party supports the work of the United Nations, but considers that the UN needs reform. The party proposes reforms including the reconstitution of the General Assembly and establishment of a second Assembly elected by people rather than by governments, with powers to endorse, amend or reject decisions of the General Assembly. Removal of major powers’ right to veto. The Secretary General to be able to take urgent action to enforce the Geneva Conventions.
In the 2011 local council elections, eight Liberal councillors held their seats, three lost their seats and five new Liberal councillors were elected: a net gain of two. In the two years to the May 2013 local elections, the number of Liberal councillors rose from 16 to 21. In the 2013 elections, the party won three seats, a gain of one.
As of 2013[update] the party held three county council seats, 18 seats on city, borough and district councils and 14 seats on parish, town and community councils.
Although the Liberal Party has retained many of its seats, it has not had a significant impact outside its strongholds of Ryedale, Liverpool and Yorkshire.
Number of councillors
Totals include any in-year by-elections and defections, held/gain/loss are the changes since the start of the last municipal year. Figure from the BBC election results before 2003 lists Liberal Party seats amongst "Others" or "Independents".
As of 2014[update] the Liberal Party had no members of the UK, Scottish, or European Parliaments. Following the 2013 local elections it held 35 council seats:
- Liverpool (3)
- Peterborough (3)
- Harrogate (1)
- Southend-on-Sea (3)
- Mid Devon (1)
- Ryedale (5)
- Torridge (1)
- Wyre Forest (3)
Town, parish and community councillors
- Social Democratic Party (1988), the rump successor to the SDP which did not merge into the Liberal Democrats
- Contributions to liberal theory
- Liberalism worldwide
- List of liberal parties
- Liberal democracy
- Liberalism in the United Kingdom
- Liberal Assembly
- The Liberal Party (official website)
- Peterborough Liberals
- Thirsk and Malton Liberals
- Liberal Agenda promotes liberalism in the U.K and membership involvement in the U.K.Liberal Party.
- Catalogue of the Liberal Party 1989 papers at LSE Archives