About the Liberal Democrats

Where we come from

Founded in our current form 1988 after the merger ot the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party. The history of the liberal movement in the UK dates back to the founding of the Liberal Party in 1859.

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This means we have been working on our mission of protecting liberal values in the UK for over 300 years. Many people ask us what the Liberal Democrats stand for at our core. We hope this page explains who we are, our history and where our ideals come from
Socialism needs to pull down wealth; liberalism seeks to raise up poverty. Socialism would destroy private interests, Liberalism would preserve [them] ... by reconciling them with public right. Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference. Socialism assails the preeminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks ... to build up a minimum standard for the mass. Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man. Socialism attacks capitalism; Liberalism attacks monopoly.
Winton Churchill
Our modern party is influenced by our rich history of campaigning for liberal values, ranging from voting reform, old age pensions, sick pay and the founding of the welfare state. 

In challenging times we continue to work in our communities promoting liberal values, and working with our fellow residents to build a greener, fairer more caring Britain. 

You can find out more about our history and our what Liberal Democrats stand for today further down this page. 

Our Vision
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.
Our Mission
To safe guard democracy, disperse power,  and build a world where  we safeguard the balance of nature and the enviroment and in which all people share the same basic rights in which they live together in peace.
Our Plan
To elect Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament and Counsillors who agree with our vision and will work in and onbehalf of their local communities to deliver our mission and our vision.

A brief timeline

1832 - Great Reform Act

Lord Grey's Whig government a precesssory to the Liberal Party passes the Great Reform Act extending the vote  to many people for the first time in history.

1859 - Founding of the Liberal Party

The Liberal Party is formed to overthrow a minority Conservative government.

1868 - Education & Secret Ballots

William Gladstone is elected Prime Minister, his Goverment will go onto pass the first Act of Parliament to deal with Education and change elections to be secret ballot. 

1885 - 3rd Great Reform Act

William Gladstones fourth government passes the third Great Reform Act.  Creating the one member constituencies of roughly equal size we see in todays constituencies. 

1908 - Birth of the Welfare State

The Liberal Government of Herbert Henry Asquith introduced the state pension - this act is credited as being the birth of the Welfare state and has been built on by successive governments of all colours over the last century.

1909 - Jobs & Minimum Wages

Expanded the welfare state passing legislation creating for the first time minimum wages, the first government organised job centers, and campaigned on the peoples budget against conservative and aistocratic pressure.

1911 - National Insurance

Introduced the National Insurance Act - creating for the first time in the UK Health insurance the precursor to the NHS and unemployment benefits for workers who lost their jobs. 

1911 - The Parliament Act

After fighting two general elections - passed the Parliament Act making the elected House of Commons the senior of the two houses and preventing unelected Lords from blocking the elected Members of Parliament from making laws. Considered one of the most important acts in British democratic history. 

1918 - Votes for Women

Under a government of national unity lead by David Lloyd George the Liberal Prime Minister passed the long overdue 4th Great Reform Act giving the vote to all men over 21 and for the first time women.

1919 to 1956 - Decline

The strains of leading the country through World War 1 , saw the Liberal Party split and decline. By 1956 only 5 Liberal MP's remained in Parliament. 

1942 - Beveridge & the NHS

In 1942 William Beveridge Liberal politican produced the Beveridge report - this was the foundation of the NHS and welfare system introduced after the second world war, and arguably is the most influential British governent report of the last 100 years. 

1956 to 1981 - Revial

In 1956 Jo Grimond became leader of the Liberal Party increasing our focus on campaigning in local communities, and community politics and in 1958 it won the first ina  string of by-elections and improved in perofmrance at general elections. 

1981 - The Alliance

When the gang of four split from the Labour Party in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party they found natural allies in the Liberal party, who shared many of the same views. This gave birth to an electoral alliance which in 1983 won 25% of the votes in the general election.  

1988 - Merger

In 1988 the SDP and Liberal Party  merged to become the Social and Liberal Democrats

1990 - Liberal Democrats

In 1990 under Paddy Ashdown we changed our name to the Liberal Democrats and started performing well in elections, pledging to increase income tax to spend on education, and having a celar commitment to enviromentalism.

1998 - Devolution

As part of an informal agreement before the 1997 general election - the Liberal Democrats had secured Tony Blairs committment to create the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish devolved governments. 

2003 - The Iraq War

In 2003 Charles Kennedy and the Lbieral Democrats were the only major UK politcal party to oppose the Iraq War, and the attacks on civil liberties perpetuated by New Labour in the name of the war on terror.

2010 - Into Government

In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis the Liberal Demcorats went into Government in coalition with the Conseratives. This proved to be a convtoversial but necesary move ensuring fairness was kept front and center of governement policy and putting tackling the climate crisis as a priority for the first time. 

2015 - Survival 

Deeply unpopular due to an harsh portal in the press, and clever manipulation by the tories the party suffered its worst election in modern times, however it survived to campaign on. 

2016 - Europe

Europe has been the defining theme in British politics since 2015. Campaigning unashamedly for remain and then against no deal we worked to ensure the liberal values we all cherrish were not destroyed by hard line right wing tories, who wanted to turn the block back to the 1950's. 

2022 - Today

Whilst we might not have won the EU referendum we continue to campaign to protect our shared liberal values. 

In a world rocked by Covid 19, Liberal Democrats are moving forwards with resolute determination to rebuild strenght and campaing for a liberal future for Britain. 

Words From our History

Modern  Liberalism

Our modern guiding principles are rooted in our history, from being focused on our communities to ensuring we're resposible to our planet we believe that our modern liberalism is vital to our country thriving. 

Community Focused
We believe that politics should be routed in local communities. Our campaigners and candidates are from their local communities and often are active outside of politics working to make them a better place to live. 
Handing back control
We believe that decisions are best made by local people. Liberal Democrats and liberalism believe that control of your future, and your area should rest with you.
Fairness First
Fairness should be at the heart of our society. People should be able to have equal opportuninty to succeed in life on a level playing field. 
Our country is diverse, so our politics should be as well. Liberals believe in lifting up under represented groups by ensuring that they have the same oppertunities as everyone else.
Resposible to our planet
We only have one planet, we need to look after it. As a society we've made too many mistakes in the past and as such Liberal Demoracts understand that we need to put this right and be responsible to our planet in everything we do.