The way in which it is chained by debt is obvious. The deficit means that our national debt is growing and, as it does, the amount of money we have to pay just to service the debt is growing, taking away money that could be spent on other things. And we will never be able to thrive as a nation with a ticking time bomb of debt above our heads.
But our potential is also chained by personal debt. The level of consumer debt in this country is enormous - particularly with the advent of payday loans. And this debt, run up in a time when people were encouraged to see easy credit as the way to rising living standards and as masking tape for stagnating incomes, is now a toxic cloud hanging over millions of people - stifling them by making constant demands for ever more money to service it and pay it off.
However, debt is relatively easy to solve. In the long run the country will gradually find a way to close the deficit and individuals will, one way or another, manage to escape their debt.
Meanwhile, the greatest chain binding our nation is poverty.
1 in 4 children live in poverty. Someone born in the most deprived areas of Britain will die 15 years earlier than someone born in the most privileged. Children born in poverty are almost guaranteed to finish at the bottom of the education system no matter what their talents are while children born in wealth are almost guaranteed to finish top of the education system. And 4 million people in the UK live in food poverty - unable to afford the basic nutrition they need.
This poverty enslaves people. It enslaves them in a life where they lack proper nutrition, where they have poorer health and worse access to healthcare. Where education and its promise of unleashing innate potential and offering a chance to escape poverty is already closed off to them from the second that they are born. Where jobs are few and far between and where none of them pay enough to live on. Where benefits are an essential everyday part of life in order to survive - even for those in work.
And this is a national tragedy on many, many levels.
Because there are deep, deep wells of potential in this country that remain untapped. There are brilliant minds, great scientists, doctors, artists, teachers, public servants, engineers, builders, designers, you name it, who will never come to be because their potential is strangled by poverty.
Imagine a child born today, a child with the potential to be the next Einstein, but born into poverty. At home her parents will only be able to afford the kind of cheap food that has poor nutritional value because the rest of their money is taken up immediately by the rent and the utility bills. At times her parents even have to skip meals in order to feed their children. And when she goes to school her parents won't have had the luxury of being able to afford the books to read to her so she will arrive behind other pupils on literacy. And as she grows up she will find herself with 30 children or more in a class and a single overworked teacher who has no time to help individual pupils and who has the lion's share of their time taken up dealing with the trouble makers. And she certainly won't have the luxury of her parents being able to buy her a laptop to help her do her work or having the time to help her with her homework.
Her school is unlikely to encourage her to take each science subject at GCSE, instead she, along with peer pressure, will take the easier dual science GCSE instead - because science "isn't for them". And when she comes to the end of the school any ambitions she might have will be squashed by a careers advice system that tells her that she would find it too difficult to go to university and that a job at McDonalds is more suited to her position.
Now, she might be fortunate and get past all that. She might make it to a great university and realise all of her potential. But if she does she will be one of a fortunate few who make it out of the poverty trap. And for everyone of them, hundreds more remains in the chain of poverty.
And that is Britain today. Brilliant minds, potential scientists and entrepreneurs, artists and musicians, trapped in poverty and in dead end jobs, never realising their potential. And without that potential, all of society loses out. All of us are hurt by the absence of the wealth and prosperity they would have created. All of us are hurt by the absence of more bright minds and voices.
But it doesn't have to be like this.
If poverty were truly tackled, with the same dedication and effort it was after the Second World War (a time when this country lay in literal physical and economic ruins), then so much of that potential could be unlocked. The solutions needed might have changed since 1945 but the goal and the sense of purpose needed have not.
Our potential is vast. This could be such a great country if only we could work together to achieve it. Poverty can be eradicated and in doing so we will set us all free. It is nothing less than complete and utter cowardice to give up on the task as being too big because it only remains too big as long as we set our expectations low.
If poverty was truly, meaningfully tackled then we would all benefit. We would benefit from the wealth and jobs that would be created. We would benefit financially from the massive decrease in people forced to be dependent on the state and from the welfare system returning to an emergency welfare system rather than a part of everyday life. And we would benefit morally from a society no longer so deeply divided by inequality and a massive gap between rich and poor.
For this is the crux of the matter:
You can tinker all you like with the economy but unless we truly unleash the deep wells of talent and potential Britain possesses but which are chained by inequality and poverty then we will never, ever be able to be strong and thrive as a country.
That is what modern liberalism tells me. And that is the goal, the vision, which modern liberalism must have. A vision of a new Britain. A vision of Britain Unchained.