Assembly, aware of the outcome of the Iraq war, which has heightened dangers in the Middle East, now views with concern the drift towards international conflict towards Iran, Assembly therefore:-
1. Asserts the need for Britain to follow an independent policy with regard to Iran resisting pressure to follow the direction of the Bush administration in Washington;
2. Respects the historic independence of Iran which through its own democratic processes and established educational opportunities offers a significant public opinion to counterbalance fundamentalist ideology from whatever quarter it may come;
3. Rejects an Iraq style military intervention into Iranian affairs;
4. Encourages dialogue with the Iranian government through ministerial channels and with the Iranian people through cultural interchange. It notes the recent, and widely acclaimed, Persian Empire exhibition at the British Museum. It would seek to promote opportunities for exchange programmes between those in Iran and the UK who share the same academic and occupational interests;
5. Recognises the determination of Iran to secure and promote its continuing independence but also its potential to act as a stabilizing force in the Middle East;
6. Is deeply concerned at the prospect of a further proliferation of nuclear weapons in any part of the world. Believes that we have to establish a cultureof mutual respect, trust and cooperation that will remove the need for expensive and high risk military armament of what ever kind, the main beneficiaries of which are the international armament manufacturers.
Iraq and Afghanistan
Assembly aware of the continuing loss of British civilian and military lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the many more Iraqi and Afghani civilian casualties, calls for an early phased withdraw of military personnel from these countries believing that this will hasten the return to stability through their own democratically elected governments to whom we would offer whatever appropriate support they might reasonably request of us.
Assembly encourages HMG to work with intergovernmental organisations to establish a human rights observation force in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and to press for an end to the occupation in a just and peaceful solution to the conflict on the basis of UN resolutions and the international rule of law.
By this motion The Liberal Party has adopted as policy a portion of the text of Early Day Motion 596 (dated 14th July 2005). This motion is intended to add to rather than replace the Palestine policy adopted at the 2000 Assembly.
Government is not working
Assembly regards the manifold administrative failures in Government departments, as evidenced in the Home Office in the matter of released prisoners and in DEFRA in the matter of delayed payments to farmers, as requiring a radical review of how Ministers perform their duties. Assembly therefore calls for:
1. a streamlining of the channels which convert policy into the delivery of objectives and entitlements;
2. a freeze on new enactments until it can be demonstrated that existing legislation and approved Orders can be efficiently delivered;
3. a setting of performance targets for Ministers to be reported to Parliament so that the public can see that appointments (and reshuffles) are based on performance rather than personal allegiance to the Prime Minister who would have his/her own performance targets to meet.
End Wasted Votes NOW – Make Votes Count
Assembly reaffirms its commitment to a system of Single Transferable Votes in Multi-member Constituencies (STVM). Assembly believes, however,that it is more important to end wasted votes NOW, before the next General Election, than to delay reform in the hope of achieving strict proportional representation by that time and therefore calls for the introduction (before the next general election) of the the single transferable vote in multimember constituencies based on utilising current city, unitary authority and county boundaries.
The Liberal Party welcomes proposals to introduce the Single Transferable vote in local elections in Scottish Local Authorities. The Liberal Party urges all Councillors and members to request their local authorities to demand the introduction of STV for local elections at the earliest opportunity.
Funding of political parties and the Electoral Commission
Assembly believes that the revitalisation of British politics will not be achieved through the government funding of political parties which will simply encourage the publication of more trash material to the direct benefit of the printing and advertising industries, is concerned that the maximum expenditure limits for elections have been allowed to rise to a level where they reduce the ability of small parties to compete effectively but greatly increase the influence of wealthy donors.
Assembly believes these limits should be reduced by at least 50%. Further, assembly calls for the abolition of the Electoral Commission, whose bureaucratic activities hamper those parties which rely on voluntary involvement and has proved ineffective as a regulator of standards in political financing.
Assembly condemns any move which erodes long established civil liberties and upholds the independence of the judiciary when its decisions are being challenged by members of the Labour cabinet.
Public Ownership of Utilities
It has become obvious that since HM Government has privatised (or Denationalised) various public utilities, the quest for profit has got in the way of providing a high quality, efficient service to the detriment of consumers.
The break-up Public Utilities and Public Services has caused confusion to the public and duplication of services. The ineffectual actions of various appointed “watchdogs” show that these services have lost the confidence of the general public and in particular those who use them.
Assembly therefore calls for the following utilities and services to be taken into public ownership:
1. The railway network (including stations) and trains. Recognising the benefit of leaving community rail companies in independent ownership and control; and encouraging and extending these where there is evidence of public support and viability;
2. Water supply, distribution and sewage.
Assembly calls for the Liberal Party to campaign as a radical, reforming party in the true liberal tradition and in particular to pick up the baton from the Liberal government of 1906–1914 to defend the welfare state from erosion and the attacks from the present ‘Labour’ government.
We ask for the National Executive Committee to seek out sponsorship from disillusioned Trade Unions and citizens who feel betrayed by present day politicians. Assembly believes that the future of the Liberal Party, in the short term lies in the election of Councillors to all tiers of Local Government.