I decided to update this because so many people expect an answer which is about actions rather than values. The quick and simple version (from the party web-site) is here and shows how our beliefs relate to fairer taxes, a strong economy and so-on. The brave can read on …The following is extracted from Nick Clegg’s introduction to a recent policy paper “Facing the Future”.
“As liberals we depart from the other two main political traditions in three critical ways.
First, we place our faith in people, rather than institutions. States, markets and communities can give people power. But they can also hoard power – in state bureaucracies, market monopolies and social norms. Labour is a party of state power. Conservatives believe in the power of the free market [and individual wealth – ed]. These are honourable political traditions. But they are not ours … For us, the litmus test of any institution, law or reform is whether it gives more power to people to lead their own version of a good life. The exercising of power by people – individually and together – is the basis of social progress. As this paper puts it: “Our vision is of a society in which power (political, economic, social) is as widely distributed as possible and people have the capacity to make the lives they choose for themselves”.
Second, liberals are the consistent optimists of politics. Optimism fuels our mission to redistribute power. It makes little sense to argue for people to have more power – in their workplaces, in communities, over public services – unless you trust them.
And thirdly, we instinctively look forwards, not backwards. For the other two traditions, gripped sporadically by nostalgia, the ideal society often seems to lie in the past. For us, it lies in the future. The advance of individual freedom, knowledge, reason, democracy and material wealth translate into real progress for real people. We are in this sense the most progressive party. It is also why we are so passionate about the need to protect the environment for future generations.”
The full policy paper can be read here