Liberals believe that it is political failures that lie at the root of many other unsolved problems, especially the short-term thinking which so often leads to quick-fixes instead of lasting solutions.
The British system of government has a backlog of overdue reforms: proportional representation, fixed term parliaments, an elected second chamber, devolution to the nations and regions of Britain, the restoration of power to local authorities and the need to curb abuses of power through a written constitution.
All these have been supported by Liberals for a long time and there is a growing consensus for most of them, but Liberals have a deeper concern about the health of our democracy.
A key issue for Liberals is the generally poor standard of political debate. One reason for this is the use of three line whips which make most of the important votes in Parliament a foregone conclusion. Although Liberal Party members elected to public office work together to achieve the aims of the Party and always strive to agree among themselves, they remain free at all times to serve their constituents as they think best.
We are opposed to the use of referenda. It is dangerous to pretend that issues can be settled by a simple question with a yes or no answer. Our alternative is to use a form of jury system, where representative groups of several hundred people (selected by scientific sampling methods) consider issues in depth over a period of several days and are able to question experts before giving their views. This gives more meaningful but non-binding results.
Although we believe that proportional representation is important we are strongly against systems which give more power to party machines. We advocate the Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies, as proposed by the Electoral Reform Society, which enables voters to express preferences between different candidates of the same party and does not exclude independents.
The use of multi-member constituencies retains a link between MPs and their constituents and encourages parties to offer a balanced slate of candidates. In a five member constituency no party would offer five male candidates!