Toby Keynes, chair of Humanist & Secularist Liberal Democrats, gives his view as a Lib Dem on Nick Clegg’s recent calls for disestablishment…
Nick Clegg’s rather mild expression of his personal opinion that church and state should, over time, ‘stand on their own two feet’ won’t come as a great surprise to Liberal Democrats: it’s been party policy for nearly 25 years, since our 1990 Autumn Conference voted for the disestablishment of the Church of England.
It’s a magnificently straightforward and simple policy: ‘This conference calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England.’
That policy has stood unchanged ever since, although we’ve also regularly called for the Bishops to lose their reserved seats in parliament.
In fact, only last month, our Spring Conference again affirmed that ‘Legitimate power stems from the people, not from patronage, heredity or position in the established church.’
Disestablishment is embedded in our party’s core beliefs, and is enshrined in the Lib Dem constitution:
‘…we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality.’
I’m sure Christ wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Toby Keynes is chair of Humanist & Secularist Liberal Democrats