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Liberal / SDP / Libdem Manifestos > 1959 > Manifesto text in a single long file
1959 Liberal Election Manifesto
People Count. . . and because more and more people are realizing that Liberals believe that People count there has been the recent remarkable increase in public support for the Liberal Party. At this Election we hope to consolidate and improve that position as a first stage to the eventual formation of a Liberal Government which will be able to create a Liberal society in this country.
That is our ultimate aim and we appeal to all progressively minded people to start by working and voting for Liberal candidates at this vital Election.
At the General Election the votes do not choose a Government, they choose a Parliament. The first task is for everyone to vote for a Member of Parliament and that Member should represent you and your neighbours.
You will get a Tory or Socialist Government after this Election, but the kind of Tory or Socialist Government you get will depend on the strength of Liberalism in the House of Commons and the strength of the Liberal vote in the country.
The House of Commons should be a strong influence on the Government. That is what it is for. Lately it has been far too much under the thumb of the Party machines and we must have more Liberals to save us from Tory or Labour reactionaries.
If the House of Commons is to be truly representative we must breathe new life into it to make it what you and I want. This has not been happening. First, most of the issues today are not between Conservatives and Socialists but between Liberals and the Government, whether it be Conservative or Socialist.
For instance, the question of how industry should be run is largely one of providing encouragement for efficient management, giving a greater stake in it, and a greater sense of security to the worker and recognizing the important part which the Trade Unions must play, not against management but in close co-operation with it. We all depend on the industries of this country to produce a higher standard of living.
Liberals believe that they should not only be efficient but provide a friendly and secure atmosphere in which everyone involved can have a sense of useful purpose in serving the community. The only people who continually hammer away at this are the Liberals.
The need to bring the Social Services up to date and to sweep away out of date restrictions on the individual is a Liberal task.
In Foreign Affairs, are we to put ourselves at the head of a great movement for greater Western Unity as Liberals want - a unity which is vital if the summit talks are to succeed in establishing a genuine peace? This is a Liberal issue.
On Defence, the issue for years has been "Does Britain need to make its own A-Bombs." On this Tories and Labour have been united in saying 'yes'. Only recently (and possibly too late) has Labour begun to see that if every country makes its own bombs the risk of war is increased. Liberals for years have been saying that the H-bomb ought to be held in trust for all the free peoples and we should all make a contribution to its production.
Partnership in Africa
Again in Africa, the issue is a fundamental Liberal one about how you treat human beings, in which the irresponsible desire for domination of black by white or white by black must be eradicated in favour of a system in which all races mix freely with full respect for one another.
The Conservative and Labour Parties are not united internally on many of the important issues such as Defence and financial policy. We have seen resignations from the Government we know the fierce arguments which go on behind closed doors in Socialist Committees.
These arguments should not be hidden from the light of day. They should take place in the House of Commons and in the open Council Chamber, but the last thing either the Conservative or Labour Parties want is to air their disagreements in public.
We must have more Liberals in Parliament and Local Government for the sake of honest, above board politics. We must have Liberals to raise these Liberal issues. The Conservative Party is clearly identified in the minds of the electors with employers and big business, and they cannot deal objectively or fairly with the problems continually arising between employer and employee. The Labour Party is in the hands of the Trade Union Leaders.
The return of a Socialist Government inevitably means that management is put on the defensive, for it does not know what is going to hit it next The return of a Conservative Government means that the Trade Unions feel justified in going on to the offensive.
The whole nation is the loser from this crazy line up of power politics, and those who lose most in the struggle are those who live on fixed incomes, such as old age pensioners and a host of others who are solicited at Election time but are forgotten after the result is declared.
A Liberal vote is a protest against the British political system being divided up between two powerful Party machines, one largely financed by the employers and the other by the Trade Unions.
The Liberal Task
There is a vital task to be done in building up a Progressive alternative Party. The Labour Party have failed to appeal to youth; they have lost their enthusiasm: and so long as they remain tied to nationalisation (which is part of their constitution) and financed by the vested interests of the Trade Union establishment, they will never broaden their appeal sufficiently to embrace all the people who want a progressive party in this country.
England is a democracy and that means there is a Government and an Opposition, and one takes the place of the other from time to time. After all, even Tories do not presumably envisage a Tory Government for ever, there must be an alternative and it should be Liberal, not Socialist.
As a result of the failure of the Labour Party to free itself from sectional interests or keep up its momentum, there seems at the moment to be every likelihood of another Tory Government. If it is not to slip under the influence of its reactionary wing we must demonstrate that there is a strong non-socialist block of opinion in the country which will not tolerate oppression in Africa, another Cyprus, or complacency over inflation, Government expenditure, and the set-up in the nationalised industries.
A big Liberal vote would show that there are people who share Labour's concern about poverty but who are opposed to nationalisation. This would make it harder for Labour leaders to carry through the nationalisation of steel and other industries.
There are millions of Liberals in this country. There are also millions of young people and uncommitted voters who simply do not see themselves mirrored in the image of Tory bigwigs or Labour bosses. There are all the consumers, small business owners, professional men and technicians, craftsmen and farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers and pensioners who have no interest in the Capital v Labour struggle and are greatly harmed by it. Now is their chance to make themselves felt in the New Liberal Party.
Below you can read some of the chief points in our policy but the immediate task is to build a non-Socialist Opposition whose arteries are not too hard to stand the flow of real blood of enthusiasm about the real issues of our time.Jo Grimond
The British H-Bomb
People Count . . . ordinary people, exceptional people.. . people who succeed - those not so successful, the rich, the poor, the young and the old age pensioners.
In the interest of all we must save to spend on the right things. The biggest item of government expenditure is Defence.
Stop the manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons by this country and offer to contribute to a general Western Nuclear Programme and aim, through strengthening the unity of the West, at having a greater say in the circumstances in which it might be used.
The West must be adequately defended by possession of the ultimate deterrent and with conventional weapons, but this must be done through the partnership of the Western Alliance. The fewer nations that manufacture the H-bomb, the more security there will be.
This step more than any other would bring down taxes.
Cutting out waste in nationalised industries and government services would do this too. The Gas and Electricity industries should be allowed to settle their own charges and wages and should be made to raise their own capital in the market. The coal industry should be broken down into smaller administrative units and the miners given some share in running them.
Too much of your money is being wasted. You are also paying too much for many of the goods you buy. So - cut prices.
Housewives would pay less if tariffs were reduced step by step, distribution costs cut and price fixing agreements effectively banned.
Invest in Education
People Count . . . and so do their children.
Britain's future as a nation lies with the children. More teachers and more schools are needed. Secondary schools come first. Then the primary schools must be improved. There is room for public, grammar, comprehensive and independent schools in our system. Remember Russia spends seven times as much per head on education as we do. America spends twice as much. A big extension of University education is needed. The means test on University education should be ended.
Opportunity in Industry
Needed, too, for your children is opportunity in industry.
The "bulge" years start in 1962 - when the large number of children born after the war will need jobs. Britain's production and productivity lag. It must expand so that jobs are waiting for them - Restrictive practices both by management and labour must go. The causes of crippling industrial disputes must be eliminated. It can be done if rank and file trade unionists are ready to fight for more industrial democracy.
Trade unions must be registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies in such a way as to ensure fair elections and prevent victimisation.
Ownership for All
People Count . . . This traditionally private-enterprise country must pull together to bring about ownership for all.
Liberals want co-ownership and co-partnership schemes encouraged through tax-reliefs. They want special tax-free employee savings accounts schemes brought in. They want more people to be able to buy their own homes. Schedule A income tax and Stamp duty must be abolished. To encourage mobility of labour, Liberals want temporary unemployment allowances increased.
People Count . . . Too many people have to live in crowded cities. In the Britain the Liberals want to create it is essential to revitalise the countryside.
This requires a new approach to agriculture. A land bank should be set up to provide cheap credit for farmers and rural industries. If this were done and tariffs on goods used by farmers cut, farmers will be made less dependent on the Government. Speed rural electrification and water supplies. Strengthen and improve the advisory services. Above all spend on the roads.
Double the present expenditure. The roads are dangerous, inefficient and uneconomic. Traffic jams are costing £150,000,000 a year in wasted time. Build more and better roads in the countryside. Then industry can be dispersed and people can move from the over-crowded cities. We must spend to save lives.
Aid the Pensioner
People Count . . . in the family of Britain.
The new Liberals share the concern of their forebears for the old, the sick, the needy, the disabled.
The poverty of the pensioner shames our wealth. Raise the pension to £3 for a single person and £4 16s. for a married couple. Tie it to a special cost-of-living index. Make private pension schemes transferable.
Help the Sick
Make the Health Service more human and less 'Whitehall'. Provide effective out-patient and after-care facilities and special accommodation for the old. Invest more money on hospital building, pay and research.
Scotland and Wales
Liberals have long promised self-government for Scotland and Wales.
The Scots and Welsh are separate peoples, each with a great and distinctive tradition. Each country has special problems, including severe unemployment and depopulation, problems which cannot possibly be solved by a Government based on London.
Liberals would give Wales and Scotland Parliaments of their own.
The United Kingdom Parliament would remain responsible for foreign and defence policy, but the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments would be elected to cope with their own countries' needs.
We should all benefit, because the Parliament at Westminster would have more time to give to wider issues. As an immediate step. Wales should have its own Secretary of State in the Cabinet.
The Commonwealth must be a really effective community of free nations. A Common wealth Civil Service and a Commonwealth Development Fund should be set up to help the newer member states to build their economies. Set up a permanent Commonwealth Council of Ministers for closer consultations.
Britain Must Lead
People Count.. . Their first desire is peace.
It is against the background of the great heritage we possess in the field of civil liberties, a prudent economy with a freely convertible pound and the rule of law that Britain must lead.
Great Britain must demonstrate that what is morally right is economically right by giving aid to the newly developing countries, by leading a partnership in the Common wealth, in Europe and through the United Nations. We must strengthen U.N.O. by establishing an international police force without delay. People count in Britain, in the Commonwealth, and throughout the world.
Liberals are Determined to Get On and Get In
The new Liberal Party believes that the British people must stop being cynical about politics and politicians. People will show less apathy only if politicians give them a lead.
Youth is behind the new Liberal Party and is determined to send back more Liberal M.P.s to Parliament to lay the foundations of a future Liberal Government.
The British people's sense of fair play should extend to the voting system. At the last election it took 120,000 votes to elect a Liberal to Parliament, 45,000 to elect a Socialist and 39,000 to elect a Conservative. Liberals urge fairer voting. This is part of the Liberal programme for the Reform of Parliament and the Reform of Local Government to ensure that people count.
The vote does not belong to the Conservative and Labour parties. It belongs to the people.
People count - in Britain - in the Commonwealth - throughout the world.
Abolish the earnings rule for pensioners; stop sending men to Coventry; give the small man a liberal deal; end hospital queues; slash taxes on goods in the family shopping basket; pay fair compensation for a land grab; do away with the Colour bar; trade with the peoples of the world - Exchange goods, not H-bombs; tell the Press, don't bar them from Councils; free the Police to do their proper job - their task is to prevent crime; help and encourage the Fine Arts.
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