The Preamble to Our Constitution contains these words:
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’ …
‘Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, caste, heritage, class, religion or belief, age, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation’ and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.’
This applies as much to the internal working of our party as to the type of society we wish to build and should always influence how we conduct ourselves in private, public and online.
We expect our members and registered supporters at all times to behave lawfully, honestly and with integrity. They should always act with respect towards each other and particularly towards staff, volunteers and people who interact with the Party in their professional capacity.
As a member or registered supporter, you have the right to be treated fairly, equally, and within the bounds of party rules. You also have a responsibility to help ensure that these rules are upheld, and that the party can abide by its external legal and regulatory obligations. We provide a range of pastoral support services to help when things are not going right (www.libdems.org.uk/getting-support-when-you-need-it).
The Party reserves the right to refer any breach of this code of conduct which breaks the law to the police rather than/as well as dealing with it under this code of conduct.
Liberal Democrats believe passionately in freedom of speech, diversity of thought and freedom of conscience and will always defend these principles in law. However every political party must have some shared values, and on joining the party our members and registered supporters must acknowledge that they agree with the party’s fundamental values and objectives as expressed in the preamble to our constitution, though this does not mean they must agree with every single party policy.
Within the bounds of these shared fundamental values and the desire for our party to be successful, we encourage robust and passionate debate on policy, strategy and the way in which the party functions. We also encourage our members and registered supporters to play the ball, not the person, and be measured in their criticism.
Whilst we should all treat each other with respect, nobody has the right not to be offended.
One of our fundamental values is to reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, caste, heritage, class, religion or belief, age, disability, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. The party has adopted definitions of Antisemitism, Islamophobia and transphobia in order to help people understand how our values apply to our behaviour.
Anyone running for or holding public office must be aware of how their actions may be associated with the party and the greater responsibility that comes with higher or more prominent office. Behaviour which may be acceptable from a private individual may not be appropriate when carried out by someone who, by virtue of the post they hold, is seen by members of the public or those they interact with as representing the party.
This also applies to those elected or appointed to party office, who should strive within their leadership roles to proactively empower and support others to contribute fully to our community. Those whose roles within the party give them more power and influence should take particular care to exercise this properly and not use it to intimidate, exclude, coerce or otherwise bully other members.
If you need help in carrying out your role, you have a right to appropriate training, support and guidance. In turn, if a change in circumstances means you are not able to carry out your duties properly, you have a responsibility to notify colleagues so that suitable arrangements can be made. We encourage all parts of the party to support volunteers through the different chapters in their life, including making provision for informal or formal temporary leave from party posts in cases of illness or when an office holder faces parental or caring responsibilities.
Those who are elected as Liberal Democrats are expected to conform to both the Liberal Democrat Code of Conduct and their own electing body’s Code of Conduct when acting as elected officials.
The standards in this code also apply to electronic communications, online social media and written media, where members should strive to ensure their comments cannot easily be misconstrued or their actions misinterpreted. Where honest mistakes do happen, prompt apology and clarification is important.
Online interactions are often carried out in public, and all members should be aware of the extra risk of bringing the party into disrepute during public online exchanges. Those who have large or influential social media profiles should be especially wary of using these to encourage or enable others to harass, bully or intimidate individuals.
Members will be expected to fully comply with the Member’s Code of Conduct in private online groups endorsed by the Liberal Democrats. Some groups will also have their own rules regarding suitable subject matter and repeated postings and members are also expected to comply with these.
Where the party runs online events, forums or similar, the party may actively moderate the online community so that people can come together, debate big ideas, learn and engage with each other in a safe, healthy and supportive way. Specific additional rules that comply with this Code of Conduct and the Party’s constitution may also be set by the organiser, such as for hustings, and you will be expected to comply with them as well.
If moderators believe you are not complying with either this code or such additional rules, your contributions can be removed, you may be blocked from further participation in this event, or other events in future. Your actions may also be reported to our disciplinary process and/or the police.
All moderation decisions are final, except in cases where there is a published appeals process. In such cases, you must follow that process rather than post further messages disputing a moderation decision. Moderators for official party events and groups run by the party are under a duty to behave fairly, objectively and impartially and must never use their powers to favour one side of a debate or to silence views with which they personally disagree.
For party members, details of our disciplinary process are set out on the party website and in our constitution.
For registered supporters the Liberal Democrats reserve the right to revoke your registration as a registered supporter at any time, without notice, if we believe you have broken this code of conduct, or have acted in any way that is in conflict with our values. There is no right of appeal and you cannot reapply to become a registered supporter for four years.
You have the right to resign from your registration as a supporter with immediate effect at any time.