This is the speech I gave to the Annual General Meeting of the Lancaster University Liberal Democrats on Wednesday 5th November 2014.
Check the speech against delivery.
Lancaster University Liberal Democrats
It’s great to be here at the Annual General Meeting at Lancaster University Liberal Democrats. In six months time will we will be having a general election. It's safe to say that this one will be quite different from the one in 2010. In 2010 every other window on campus had an orange diamond poster in it.
However despite recent setbacks, LU Lib Dems must be a campaigning society and must be unafraid to put the case for liberalism and the Liberal Democrats to the students at Lancaster University over the next few months.
Lancaster Local Elections
On the same day as the general election we have the local elections taking place in Lancaster. It is very important that students from the Society have the opportunity to stand in the local elections especially here on the University ward and in the Ellel ward that encompasses South West campus.
Locally we should aim to get as many Lib Dems elected and potentially once again hold the balance of power on Lancaster City Council. To do this, it is very important that we rediscover community politics and we should start right here on the university campus.
General Election 2015
The next general election will be the toughest since the merger of the Liberal Party and the SDP in 1988. Things will be very tough in Labour leaning areas however don't be surprised if we make gains against the Conservatives.
Locally for example we should aim to regain the Lower Lune Valley Ward from the Conservatives. Nationally too we stand a very good chance of taking marginal seats off the Conservatives; seats such as Bosworth in the East Midlands, Watford in Eastern England and Camborne and Redruth in the South West.
A Free and Just Society
We Liberal Democrats must not forget our historic objective of creating a free and a just society.
The Labour Party cannot be trusted with our liberty. New Labour sought to erode our civil liberties with ID cards and 90 days detention without charge. Furthermore let's never forget their illegal invasion of Iraq.
The Conservative party cannot be trusted to achieve social justice. Our party has been absolutely right to oppose housing benefit cuts for young people, the Tory fire at will proposals and our party conference has voted against free schools and the NHS reforms.
We should also congratulate Andrew George for introducing a bill to protect the most vulnerable from the worst aspects of the bedroom tax.
In government, we've protecting civil liberties by scrapping ID cards, limiting detention without charge and by removing innocent people from the DNA database. Furthermore, we were absolutely right to oppose Theresa May’s Snoopers Charter.
We have also helped to create a fairer society. We have lifted low paid workers out of paying income tax. We have helped the most disadvantaged children in the country through the pupil premium. And Steve Webb has ensured the fairest and most generous pensions system in a hundred years.
Also we must not forget that we have done much to create a more equal society. It was Liberals who abolished slavery and who gave women the right to vote; and we must also be proud that we have introduced equal marriage giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples. Thanks to Lynne Featherstone.
We are also going to tackle inequalities in health care. One of our priorities at the next general election will be to ensure that mental health issues receive equal care and have equal waiting times with physical health issues. This will save many lives and help many more.
The Green People’s Budget
In 1909, David Lloyd George gave his People's Budget, which laid the foundations for the welfare state. In the 21st century, it is time for a new People's Budget. A Green People's Budget is needed to tackle three of the big issues facing modern Britain; climate change, unemployment and housing shortages.
This Green People's Budget would directly stimulate the building of new houses and green infrastructure such as wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal and tidal energy sources. Britain desperately needs new homes and to ensure a safe future, we need to be doing a lot more to tackle climate change. The Green People's budget would aim to achieve both, and in the process will grow the economy and will create thousands of new jobs in the housing, environmental, and science and technology industries.
Now I know what you're thinking how is this going to be paid for?
Firstly, I'm not sure why we spend billions of pounds every year on an outdated Trident nuclear defence system, which heaven forbid we will never use. At the very least we should cut back the number of nuclear weapons and downgrade to a cheaper weapons system; or potentially consider scrapping our nuclear weapons entirely.
Secondly, the original People's Budget placed great emphasis on land value taxation and I think it's about time that land taxes were introduced on wealthy estates and on wealthy land owners.
Tim Farron often talks about creating a new consensus. I hope that the Green People's budget will be a central pillar of the new consensus that we Liberal Democrats want to create.
Freedom from Authoritarianism, Freedom from Poverty, Freedom from Climate Change
In the next few months, in places like this campus our party will begin the road to recovery.
We must always be a party that will stand up for the social justice of the most disadvantaged members of society; and be a party that will stand up for the civil liberties of everyone in society.
We must have no time for the politics of nationalism wherever it comes from UKIP or the SNP. We must always remain proud to be a pro-European and a pro-immigration party.
British politics needs radical reform; we need to reform our voting system, start electing the House of Lords and ensure federalism for the whole of the UK, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Cornwall and the English regions too.
Above all, we must reject the authoritarianism of the Labour Party, the Thatcherism of the Conservative party and the xenophobia of parties like UKIP. Britain faces many challenges in 2014 and only the Liberal Democrats have the answers to them.
Liberals are the champions of freedom; freedom from state authority, freedom from poverty and freedom from climate change. Young people must be the vanguard of this Liberal Movement.
Now, let’s get out there and build the freer and fairer society that we all want to see; and let’s ensure that no one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.