Old Liberals, New Liberals and Social Democrats

At their Autumn Conference, the Liberal Democrats debated their core values and principles in detail for only the second time since the party was formed in 1988.

Some saw the party as a largely a continuation of the Liberal tradition, which has been based primarily on a commitment to the rights of individuals. Others said that the influence of Social Democratic thinking, which has tended to emphasise the importance of greater equality as a central goal, was too often overlooked. But they may really be the political heirs of the socially reforming New Liberals who came to prominence in the early twentieth century. Such thinkers and politicians as J.M. Keynes, William Beveridge, Jo Grimond and E.F. Schumacher have undoubtedly been influential.

The History Groups summer meeting tried to shed some light on who are the Liberal Democrats philosophical antecedents.