Motions passed at the 2011 Liberal Party Assembly
This assembly welcomes the decision of the Liberal Party NEC to support NATO intervention to protect those communities in Libya calling for a democratic revolution.
This party welcomes and credits the structure of NATO and the key role of the USA, UK, Canadian, Norwegian and French forces to limit the suppression of the people by the brutal forces of the dictatorship.
This Assembly notes that Europe and North Africa would have faced horrendous refugee problems had the democratic forces been defeated and that the previous government in Libya had supported various terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe against legitimate democratic governments.
Assembly notes the increasing burden being place on all three branches of HM Armed Services, in particular the recent involvement of UK forces in the Libyan Crisis at a time when such forces are already stretched by ongoing commitments in Afghanistan and a residual commitment in the Persian Gulf.
Assembly notes that much of the capability used in the Libyan crisis is to be cut under current government spending plans.
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.
Assembly notes that the economy is still faltering following the 2009 recession, and is not yet on the road to full recovery.
Assembly reasserts the Liberal belief in free trade and believes the way to bring recovery is to encourage small businesses to open and bring wealth in the economy. However, Assembly believes one of the biggest barriers to the success of small businesses is the high level of business rates.
Assembly believes that the hardest year of any new business is the first year of trading and many new enterprises fail within the first twelve months.
Accordingly Assembly calls for business rates to be waived in the first year of trading of new companies, and believes this will act as a stimulus for the whole economy.
Assembly notes the ongoing debate and public concern over the provision of pensions. The current system is blighted by low returns on investment, high costs and unrealistic assumptions on the returns from equity investments. Private pension funds remain under funded with substantial deficits and long-term liabilities.
Many private sector pensions are now closed to both new and existing employees whilst many employees are further excluded by the high proportion of their salary they must contribute to retirement.
Action needs to be taken to publicize the potential pensions problems and thereby encourage and enabl people to make meaningful pension provision during their working life.
Assembly notes the existing policy of the Liberal Party, being that the UK should consider withdrawal should serious attempts to negotiate substantial reform fail.
Assembly believes the European Union as it is currently constituted to be fundamentally illiberal. For example, assembly notes that between 1973 and 2002 there have been over 100,000 directives and regulations that are legally binding on EU nations. These directives lack any form of democratic legitimacy because only the unelected EU Commission can initiate such directives and no other body has the power to reject or amend any of them. Further, there are so many EU ‘laws’ that no individual or body of any kind can keep up with them, and there is an ever present danger of people being prosecuted for breaking laws which they could not reasonably have known existed.
The Liberal Party has campaigned for the creation of a more flexible European Union which allows different levels of integration according to the needs and aspirations of individual nations within a broad free trade co-operative area.
A more flexible and democratic European Commonwealth remains the Liberal Party’s both immediate and long term goal and we realise that to achieve this we need a constructive dialogue working with like minded Europeans. We reiterate that the loss of sovereignty agreed in the Lisbon Treaty was not endorsed by the British people and therefore we believe has no democratic legitimacy and we support all attempts by parliamentarians and other campaigners to reverse this treaty.
We believe the current debt crisis in Greece reflects the inherent instability of straight jacket Europe and the instability of having a common currency without full political and economic integration. We will oppose any attempt to have further British taxes diverted to prop up this system.
We believe in universal suffrage and the private ballot are essential to a healthy functioning and representative democracy.
We oppose the introduction of individual voter registration as it would do little to tackle fraud, and the experience of its introduction in Northern Ireland suggests that it can lead to large numbers of people falling off the register.
This government we fear, is deliberately undermining voter registration further by plans to stop the full household canvass in 2014.
This effectively leads to a system whereby people can easily opt-out of voter registering.
Some people have estimated this could lead to as many as 10 million people falling off the register. This would be a disaster in terms of excluding people from the political process.
We note that historically the The Liberal Party campaigned for universal suffrage and The National Liberal Federation had as one of its objectives to encourage voter registration amongst working class people.
We deplore that believe the Tory Party and their Lib Dem coalition partners may be deliberately undermining the voter registration process to disenfranchise those elements of society who have and will suffer the most from their policies and least appreciate the benefits participation.
We in The Liberal Party urge all our branches and councillors take steps to oppose these proposals.
Health and Social Care
Assembly recognises that:
Assembly therefore calls on HM government and all political parties to agree to set up a detailed investigation in to the actual costs, statutory, charitable and non profit making, of providing care to individuals in one shire county and one city. Further, that this study be undertaken by an independent body such as the Rowntree foundation with a brief not only to establish accurate overall costs and provision but also to ascertain from individuals within those areas whether the services meet their needs and whether the support is adequate. The brief should also encompass consideration as to whether there is any duplication of services.