Q&A: Human rights, internationalism and justice, are tied in together, and as a supporter of War on Want, resident Michael Knight asked about the Liberal Democrats' approach
Richard: "As a Liberal Democrat, human rights and internationalism are at the centre of our beliefs. The preamble to the Liberal Democrats' constitution contains these words: "no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity."
We believe in free trade because the evidence of history shows that it works to bring peace and prosperity. By trading with other countries we become closer to them, reducing the likelihood of conflict. One of the greatest successes of the European Union is that there has been no major war in Europe for seventy years – for the first time in a thousand years. Spreading prosperity to other countries also helps to spread human rights as people see the success of our democratic values.
I agree that it is deeply troubling when we sell weapons to countries with poor human rights records. It is also, unfortunately, the case that the arms industry is a large part of Britain's economy, and while I should like to see a "swords into ploughshares" transformation of our industrial priorities, that is something that would take much time and careful encouragement.
Liberal Democrats would guarantee the rights of all EU citizens currently living in the UK. We believe in the free movement of people, and that Britain benefits greatly from the presence of migrants, adding to our culture, keeping our NHS working, picking our crops, paying taxes and raising families.
Freedom of assembly and association, including the right to form trade unions, is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Charter of Human Rights and strongly supported by the Liberal Democrats. The protections for workers afforded by membership of the EU was one of the reasons we argued so strongly that Britain should remain, and is one of the areas we feel that the Labour Party has so badly let working people down.
If elected, I along with Liberal Democrat colleagues would be working diligently to ensure there is no watering down of those protections."