Disestablishment: ‘Legitimate power stems from the people’

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 recently helped reignite debate on the need for disestablishment in the UK

Nick Clegg recently helped reignite debate on the need for disestablishment in the UK

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


  1. John Dakin says

    “Rather mild” is putting it rather mildly. It seems, from what you say, that Nick Clegg is simply restating an established Lib Dem position, whereas the Tories are going all out for “Britain is a Christian country”. Is not a more robust response to Cameron’s evangelism needed?

  2. Jim Rider says

    No need for concern. The PM and the HM are sitting comfortably in church, propping each other up, but decent, thinking folk, are walking away. What a way to run a democracy and what a shoddy example for the children ! The game’s up; just a matter of time.

  3. Jeuan David Jones says

    ‘Nick Clegg recently helped reignite debate on the need for disestablishment in the UK’ –

    Will someone please edit your postings for accuracy?
    The CofE was disestablished in Wales in 1920, nor is it the established church of Scotland or NI. So can we please have more accurate discussion about this latest call for disestablishment in the context of a very complex political and constitutional framework?

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