The ethos that underpins the Social Liberal Forum remains unchanged since its formation, and is best described as follows:
Social Liberals believe that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom.
Like all liberals, social liberals believe that individuals should have the freedom to develop and grow as they wish. The creation, protection and nurturing of this freedom should be a central objective of all governments. Clearly this entails guaranteeing the individual freedom from state interference. But is also entails public action, sometimes in the form of action by the state, to protect the individual against threats to guarantee freedom in the form of – among others – inequality, poverty, unemployment, ill-health, disability, lack of education and climate change.
Currently, however, the British state is poorly placed to achieve these ends. It is over-centralised and authoritarian, and for those reasons inefficient and unresponsive. The power exercised by the state therefore needs to be decentralized, participatory democracy encouraged and a greater emphasis placed on social justice and environmental sustainability.
The Social Liberal Forum exists to foster debate within and beyond the Liberal Democrats, with the aim of developing social liberal solutions and approaches which reflect these principles and which find popular support.
Participation in the Social Liberal Forum is open to anyone who shares a belief in social liberalism, whether they are members of the Liberal Democrats or not.
Following the election of the Social Liberal Forum Council, we agreed that the SLF should adopt the following statement as a record of our aims and objectives:
- while believing that, given the inconclusive outcome of the General Election, the creation of the coalition and its policy programme as set out in the Coalition Agreement was the best available option for promoting Liberal Democrat policies and values during this Parliament -
- Works to help the Party develop – as a priority – a distinctive, radical and progressive set of policies and manifesto for the next election
- Rejects any electoral pacts with any party and any pre-election preference for future working with any other party
- Seeks to help create and communicate a distinctive Liberal Democrat position on Government policies and their implementation
- Opposes the adoption of any non-progressive or illiberal policies by the Coalition
- Campaigns to maintain the internal democracy, transparency and vitality of the Liberal Democrats as an independent political party