Category Archives: Op-eds

Introducing ALTER

ALTER logoNew members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.

Do you think we should tax wealth rather than work? That regressive taxes like Council Tax should be replaced with a progressive tax on landowners instead? Do you agree with the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ Mirrlees Review that “the economic case for taxing land itself is very strong”?

If so, have you considered joining ALTER?

Last week, new member Simon Gilbert wrote a piece in which he described himself as a Georgist and declared his support for the land tax. Feeling like we had discovered one of our own, ALTER contacted the LDV team, asking them to introduce us to Simon.

The LDV team not only passed our message to Simon, (who has since joined us) but also invited us to introduce ourselves more widely to the LDV readership. So this is a short piece to introduce who we are, what we stand for, what we’re trying to achieve, and why you may wish to join us!

ALTER – Action for Land Tax and Economic Reform

ALTER is an Associated Organisation within the Lib Dems that focuses on economic reform, with particular focus on the land value tax. The land value tax is a long time Liberal policy, the one that led to the showdown between Lloyd George and the Tory House of Lords with the People’s Budget in 1909. On our website there is a selection of articles that explain the benefits.

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Why calling for HQ staff to be sacked is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on LDV

There have been a few snarky comments directed at me on various places on the internet because we don’t allow comments on this site which abuse members of HQ staff. We can’t always catch them all, so if you see any, please let us know by emailing [email protected]

I’ve also had a few very nasty emails calling me all sorts of names because of this policy from people who should know better. I mean, imagine if yours or your partner’s or your mum’s head was being called for on some random website. I doubt you would like it that much.

And bear in mind that you might think you have the right to inflict your opinions about individuals on the rest of the world, but they can’t answer back. That’s hardly a fair situation.

This evening, one member of staff posted this on their Facebook page. Some of you reading this will have seen it but if you are going to comment, please don’t mention their name. I did obviously get their permission before I posted it on here but it doesn’t need to be personalised.

What has been particularly unpleasant is the sight of senior Liberal Democrat figures pretty much suggesting that a particular individual should be pretty much deported.

How would you feel if that were you. Anyway, read how it actually makes real human beings feel.  They are hurting just as much as the rest of us with the added fear of potentially losing their jobs and we have a duty of care towards them as towards any other part of the Lib Dem family:

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LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 19,400  visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

Statement from Alistair Carmichael following leak enquiry (62 comments) by The Voice

How not to motivate your exhausted, defeated candidates (65 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Opinion: This will be closer than we all think (57 comments) by Craig Dearden-Phillips

Also posted in Site news | 1 Comment

LibLink: Ryan Coetzee: The Liberal Democrats must reunite, rebuild or remain in opposition

Ryan Coetzee has written a long article for the Guardian in which he analyses our election defeat and looks to the future.

He looked at the three fronts of the electoral battlefield, Scotland, Labour-facing and Tory facing seats. He looked at the Tories’ fear tactics throughout the campaign:

About four weeks from election day it became clear that The Fear was hurting us. We tried everything we could to counter it: fear of a Tory minority government in hock to its own right wing, Ukip and the DUP; fear of Tory cuts to welfare, schools and other unprotected departments; ruling out participation in any government that relied on SNP support; offering ourselves as the only guarantors of a stable coalition. All of it was trumped by The Fear, and on a scale we didn’t see coming.

I cannot help wonder what would have happened if Miliband and Clegg had turned round to David Cameron and told him that he was talking nonsense. By ruling out coalition with the SNP, we legitimised his depiction of them as the ultimate bogey party. They were never going to anything other than a pain in the backside. They aren’t monsters. The worst they would be able to do would be to propose amendments on the likes of Trident which would be voted down by virtually everyone else bar a few of us and a few Labour lefties. I understand, I think, why we didn’t do that – it hadn’t gone so well when Clegg faced down Farage, however much we might admire his courage in doing so. I suspect, though that a joint initiative to combat the Tory fear might have helped Clegg and Miliband see they could work tougher and  combat the ridiculous Tory scaremongering. Mind you, Labour’s policy platform was so weak, it might all have been in vain anyway.

Also posted in LibLink | Tagged , , and | 71 Comments

Opinion: On black spiders, royalty and liberalism

The release last week of Prince Charles’ letters to Ministers – the so-called “black spider letters” – offers a once in a lifetime window (and one unlikely to be repeated, thanks to the 2011 amendments to the Freedom if Information Act exempting royal correspondence from FoI disclosure – inexplicably supported by our party in coalition) into the workings of the British ‘system’, and the influence of the royals in the process of our ‘democratic government’.

I hope that, as liberals, all Liberal Democrats would agree that political power derives from the exercise of the people’s democratic rights at the ballot box, and that no-one should be able to exercise political power, nor exert undue influence on the political process, simply by virtue of birth or connections. This is why we have argued for democratic reform of the House of Lords, for example.

Yet, in the black spider letters we see both the absolute expectation of Charles that his views are relevant, important and to be listened to, as well as the sycophantic grovelling of ‘commoner’ Ministers towards the royal point of view (that “I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Royal Highness’s most humble and obedient servant” sign-off of Charles Clarke must surely stick in the craw of every socialist).

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Opinion: Let’s put members in the driving seat

“Caron’s test” for emails to Party members is good, but I think we can go further.

The underlying problem, as I’ve written before, is that too many of the emails  seem to be written by marketing professionals who are trying to achieve a specific result – often one that can be measured by funds raised.  The reason it’s a problem is that we aren’t just donors – most of us see ourselves as members of an extended family who need to be reassured, engaged and spoken with directly in ways that relate to our own experience as Party members.

It is interesting that fund-raising charities now spend a good deal of their time and money on chatting with supporters about what they do rather than just doing constant appeals based on need.

A recent piece of US experience seems to me to be useful:

Levitt and Dubner in their most recent book in their “Freakonomics” series quote the example of Brian Mullaney of Smile Train with his “once-and-done” strategy.  That involved asking potential donors to make only one donation with the option of ticking a box to say “do not ask for another donation”. That seems counter-productive: in charities, we have learned that first-time donors rarely give enough to cover the cost of making the contact. It’s only with continued donations that the charity makes a surplus on the relationship.

19 Comments

Lynne Featherstone writes…Why I’m backing Norman Lamb for leader

Norman Lamb Lynne FeatherstoneNot for the first time in the history of the party, the Lib Dems are faced with adversity – after the crushing loss of a huge number of our dedicated and hardworking colleagues. But we are a party of survivors – and it has been incredible to see the surge of support for the party in the last two weeks. Over 13,000 people have signed up to the party since the general election. These new members have joined because they see the need for a liberal voice in our country.

I know what it is like to be the only Lib Dem in the Home Office – with Conservatives as your coalition partners and Theresa May as your Secretary of State. And you want to do liberal things – that are not in the coalition agreement!

What I am saying is that doing liberal things in a coalition government with coalition partners who are more often than not diametrically opposed is a huge challenge. Having got our hands on the levers of power – could we use that power liberally?

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Opinion: We mustn’t be afraid to attack the opposition when they deserve it

Many things are being written about the election we have just been through. I for one think this is great; everyone is engaged and wanting to examine what went wrong, how we can learn, what can we do next time. The key is that we’re all committed to rebuilding and giving it all we have again next time. This is really encouraging, so I wanted to add my own little insight and raise a few more questions for our campaign teams, local and national, to address.

My issue concerns the ever-dreaded ‘negative’ campaigning. It’s something we as Liberal Democrats really struggle with, especially at a local level. One of the biggest frustrations for me in all my campaigning roles I’ve held so far, is that the superb team of local councillors and candidates I’ve always worked with are entirely uncomfortable with praising themselves but even more so with blaming the opposition for things that they absolutely should be blamed for.

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Opinion: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez drops a few truth bombs on political parties

I’m currently studying abroad in Salamanca, where, as in the rest of the country, there are municipal elections on 24th May. (Yes, polling day is on a Sunday.) My bedroom floor is covered in a variety of different party propaganda (yes, that is the word they use in Spain for it) that I’ve gathered for academic reasons, obviously.

So, I was really excited to read Miriam’s article in El País recently. It most certainly did not disappoint – if you want a lesson in how to drop truth bombs on political parties, look no further.

Just to give a little bit of context – the Partido Popular is currently governing. It’s got “Working, Making, Growing” posters up around half the city, shouting from the rooftops about its economic success. Miriam notes that although progress has been made, it’s rather odd to be making that a central campaign plank while overall unemployment rests around 20% and youth unemployment around 50%.

She also attacks them for their failure to confront the ‘crisis of values’ facing the Spanish political system, talking of a ‘radical disconnect between the political class and citizens.’ She refers to Chris Huhne briefly, stating that the levels of corruption in the Spanish system could never occur in a country where a politician can go to jail for exchanging points on their driving licence.

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Opinion: What sort of leadership do the Lib Dems need?

Attention for many Lib Dems is now turning to the leadership election: the relative merits of the two candidates, their personal histories and political preferences.  This reflects the traditional approach to leadership: what is it that makes an individual a ‘great’ man or woman?

Particularly useful for understanding how leaders act is the dichotomy between ‘transformative’ and ‘transactional’ leadership.  Transformational leaders tend to be seen as ‘active’: not only do they have a clear vision, but they also innovate by undertaking political change. In many ways they challenge their followers by acting independently of them; Paddy Ashdown’s abandonment of equidistance in 1992 may have been just such a case. Transactional leadership may be ‘passive’ but this doesn’t mean that it is means standing still. It can be incremental, building steadily on previous changes. Charles Kennedy’s leadership was probably an example of this.

However, leadership doesn’t operate in a vacuum. In political science we pay attention to the wider context or environment that leaders have to work within.  These may be close, like the leader’s ‘followers’ (party membership), or they may be more distant, such as the political order (constitution, composition of government, etc) and wider social and economic forces underpinning it.

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Opinion: Here’s to our fallen comrades

Nearly two weeks have passed since the general election and while much has been analysed in reaction to that fateful day, as the party looks to turn a corner, it is also worth looking back and mentioning all of those good Liberal Democrats now out of office.

The election of 2015 will leave its mark in history for being the election of political scalps. Countless big names lost their jobs while the press looked on in disbelief as three leaders resigned all within a couple of hours of one another (and one even reinstated himself!). However we must also reflect on the loss of a large number of Liberal Democrats and their backroom teams whom the country will sourly miss. From Charles Kennedy in the North of Scotland to David Laws in the South West, Britain has lost many a servant to liberalism and the remaining eight MPs must shout louder than ever to have their voice heard.

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Some thoughts on the art of the apology

It is undoubtedly a good thing that Richard Brett, the Chair of the English Candidates Committee has sent out an apology to candidates for the very poor tone of the email they received on Monday. But did it pass muster?

Initial reports suggest that it is not being particularly well-received by candidates. You know how in an email you have to hook people in that first sentence? I’m not sure that this quite cuts it:

I am aware that the e-mail sent out on Monday upset some of you with its tone and I am very sorry if this was the case for you.

It doesn’t exactly say “I’m sorry you were upset”, but it’s a bit stilted. Sometimes it’s best to just say something like: “We got this wrong, and we are very sorry. We will learn for the future.”

Commendably, though, it explicitly stated what we knew already that the wording had absolutely nothing to do with the member of staff who sent it out, but had been agreed between Richard and his vice-chair Margaret Joachim. It’s good to see that personal acceptance of responsibility.

13 Comments

Opinion: #libdempint shows new members are proud of our record in coalition

On Monday night, four friends and I (all new members) hosted #libdempint, an informal event for fellow newbies in London. The original plan was to meet up together and share a drink or two. We thought we might get a couple of random strangers come along and make pleasant but slightly awkward political conversation with us. Instead, we had 100 fellow newcomers attend, three official speakers (Rob Blackie, Elaine Bagshaw and Tom Brake MP), and a couple of pretty interesting gatecrashers – a couple of lovely fellows called Tim Farron and Nick Clegg.

Needless to say, we hadn’t really expected any of this. Interest in what we’d set up has been phenomenal – national media have been interested but more importantly our follow up event next week is already fully booked, and so we’re putting on a third in the coming weeks.

All of this speaks to the very real sense of (perhaps renewed) energy that abounds in the party at the moment, as thousands of new members continue to sign up.

But among the hundreds of email conversations the five of us have had with some of these newbies over the last 10 days, as well as the face-to-face discussions we all had on Monday night, something else has become clear to us: a common thread woven through the motives of many of these people signing up to support the Liberal Democrat party.

That thread is a palpable determination to not let the last five years be brushed under the carpet.  Many of the people I spoke to on Monday night expressed this with no little passion. There seems to be both a fear that the party may react by recoiling from its time in government, and a consensus that to do so would not only be a waste, it would send a signal that the party believes it made a mistake going into coalition. We didn’t. We made a difference. We must always – always – be proud of that.

36 Comments

Opinion: Fighting to win you back

The Liberal Democrats and the public have been going through a messy divorce. Things haven’t been right for some time and there is no shying away from it.

Perhaps the problems started when we were unfaithful and began a fleeting affair with the Tories? And when the lies began, including over how to fund the children’s university education, it was clear that there had been a breakdown in trust which we were always going to struggle to repair (things are always more complex when kids are involved).

I know we didn’t pay you enough attention, preferring to spend time on the things that mattered to us likes Lords Reform and the AV referendum. Instead we should have tried to love the things that you were passionate about like making sure there were jobs for everyone, lowering the cost of living, putting food on the table and improving healthcare and schooling. They should have mattered to us, because they mattered to you. We should have taken you to the ballet, even though we loath it!

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LoveProudly: An interview with Stephen Donnan about the fight for Marriage Equality in Ireland (North and South)

Tomorrow Ireland votes on whether to allow equal marriage. I recently interviewed Stephen Donnan who is one of the founders of LoveProudly , a grassroots group dedicated to marriage equality across all of Ireland. He is also a former Chair of the LGBT group in the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Mathew: Stephen, tell us a bit about this new initiative.

Stephen: Well, basically, Mathew loveproudly was set up by myself and a number of other activists from Belfast, Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland to facilitate and support the calls for Equal Marriage in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

We want to promote and campaign for Marriage Equality and highlight the existing inequalities in the law in both jurisdictions, but in a positive and constructive way.

We don’t want to indulge in the campaign of fear and division; that isn’t what loveproudly is about and we want to follow in the example set by MarriageEquality and Equal Marriage NI.

MH: It sounds great, Stephen, so is this a cross-party campaign?

SD: It’s strictly independent of endorsing or being endorsed by any one political party.

I am not doing this within the confines of a political party, however we have had input and support from various political representatives across the spectrum and across the border.

MH: So what campaigning have you done and will you be doing?

SD: Our first aim was to get the message out about who we are and what we are aiming to achieve and I think we did that successfully when we launched on Valentine’s Day.

Our next step is formulating a plan with the two campaigns.

There is a Marriage Equality referendum in the Republic of Ireland on May 22nd and while we are optimistic we are still very far from an assured Yes vote.

We will be canvassing with the YesEquality campaign in the south and getting the word out on why a Yes vote is so crucial.

MH: How’s it looking in the Republic…and what influence has Equal Marriage having become law in England, Scotland and Wales had on people there?

SD: It is clear that we are living in changed times.

The recognition of same sex marriage in the rest of the UK, and in places as unimaginable as Slovenia and North Carolina, has had a massive impact on the debate here.

If Ireland and NI want to be seen as part of Europe, part of a diverse future where same-sex couples can celebrate their relationships freely and safely, then there’s nothing to lose from a Yes vote in the referendum.

Polls are showing that it will pass but that could lead to complacency and that would be fatal for us.

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Opinion: Conservative health policies are short on detail

What have the Conservatives said on health so far? Their manifesto makes big promises – but is vague on detail.

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View called for £8 billion more annually by 2020 (alongside £22 billion efficiency savings) to maintain NHS standards.

Liberal Democrats were the first to sign up to this – and we set out clearly how to fund it. The Conservatives matched this – but give no details on funding this other than the ‘recovering economy’.

Lamb also called for a (much-needed!) cross-party Review of NHS & Social Care funding.

David Cameron yesterday proposed 7-day hospital services and 7-day extended hours GP access, offering 5,000 extra GP’s.

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Opinion: Now is the time for social liberals to organise, and quickly

A member for 13 years, this is only the fifth time (out of five) that I have been a candidate and lost; it’s only the ninth set of elections that I have been involved with, all of which have been characterised by losses.  I realise that I am only a beginner compared to many folk in this wonderful political family of ours.

In our part of the world, there are elections (of some form or other) almost every year.  And I admit, particularly after the results became clear last Thursday, to have started to flag a bit.

But as the days have gone by since polling day, I have gradually begun to take heart.

Much has been made of the encouraging numbers of people that are joining the party.  The era of everything being the Lib Dems’ fault is now well and truly over.  As a result of Nick’s gracious resignation, we have the opportunity of a leadership election in which we can, as a party, make an important decision about the future.

Also posted in Leadership Election | Tagged and | 46 Comments

Opinion: The Human Rights Act – undemocratic and illiberal

COE-Logo-Quadri

Liberals (with a small “L”) believe that society should not be governed by immutable dogma. New laws can be created when required and old laws changed or removed. Immutable revelation only applies to religion.

Not everyone believes that laws should be subject to the uncertainty of the democratic process. For decades the Soviet Union relied on the absolute principles of Marx and Lenin. Some religions provide God-given legal codes. But for liberals, laws are the work of humans and must be subject to democratic change.

It is therefore strange that the Liberal Democratics support the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which cannot be amended or corrected by our democratic process, or indeed any democratic process. Changes to its existing provisions must be unanimously agreed by members of the Council of Europe (which despite its name is completely independent of the EU): its 47 member states include countries as diverse as Russia, Turkey and Monaco.

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Opinion: What does Nick do next?

Given our new position in parliament with eight MPs, we’ll be handing out multiple portfolios to whoever can possibly take them – and I suspect, Lords, AMs and MSPs as well, where necessary. This is by no means a bad thing. We have fantastic members in all parliamentary institutions, and the devolved ones in particular could do with being taken more seriously. The only issue being they cannot then hold their respective ministers to account. The main question that strikes me now though is with a more or less inevitable EU referendum and being the most unapologetically pro-EU party – who takes the EU portfolio?

It has been suggested that Nick could lead the ‘In’ campaign in such a referendum, I assume doing a similar job as Alistair Darling did for Better Together. On paper, I can’t imagine anyone more qualified despite the fact I don’t think any such unified campaign being a good idea. For the purposes of this article however, I’ll work with the idea. For the merits that are pointed out in the above article;

Throughout his time in government he was an enormous asset to Cameron in international diplomacy, especially – but not exclusively – with Europe. Foreign policy was never Cameron’s forte, either as leader of the Opposition or during his first term as PM. “Abroad” was where Cameron made most of his misjudgements – all by himself.

There are few people better qualified on foreign policy and in particular Europe than Clegg. I’m hesitant to mention Tony Blair, setting aside one major caveat, perhaps a close rivalry. For obvious reasons, Blair doesn’t even make the short list for such a hypothetical position.

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Opinion: The right is winning on Facebook and votes, but the left on Twitter

facebook and twitterI have been thinking why it seems that right wing parties are more toxic than left wing parties. Is this true? Or is it simply my prejudices? Is there anything in the “shy Tory” phenomenon?

It does seem that popular culture is more left leaning, but I thought some numbers would help us understand society better and also help Liberal Democrats decide who to vote for in the upcoming leadership election.

For this analysis I have used the Facebook likes, Twitter followers and 2015 General Election votes for the following parties: Conservatives, UKIP, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Liberal Democrats, Labour, the SNP, The Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party and Plaid Cymru. I didn’t use Sinn Fein because they campaign throughout the whole of Ireland and I didn’t use any other parties that I deemed to be “minor”.

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Opinion: Thinking on a delusion

On the morning after the General Election, feeling rather shell-shocked by the results, I turned on the radio and caught John Dowland’s lute song In darkness let me dwell. The music captured the feeling of the moment, but context was more thought-provoking: a Radio 4 programme The glass delusion, exploring a seventeenth-century phenomenon of people thinking they were turning into glass.

The link to Dowland was because melancholia was seen as a disease of the imagination. That flowering of melancholic music and the glass delusion were reflections of what was going on in society at the time.

Delusions are manufactured symptoms which make life bearable: they beg the question of what someone with a delusion is escaping from. Freud’s influential essay Mourning and Melancholia suggests that the two look very similar, but in mourning there is a clear sense of what has been lost, but in melancholia it is something unknown, or unacknowledged, so melancholia is more generalised.

This leaves me thinking about the election. We face some big issues: globalisation, climate change, the European Union, and the potential breakup of the UK. These were barely mentioned. Even talk of the NHS focused on money and fantasies of threats, ducking the real issues of increased life expectancy and fear of death.

22 Comments

Introducing LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

lGBT+ lib dems logoNew members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.

The Liberals were the first party to support gay rights in a general election manifesto. The Lib Dems opposed Section 28 from the start, were the first to call for legal gender recognition for trans people, literally wrote the law on civil partnerships and were the first major party to support same-sex marriage, which was pushed through in Government by Lynne Featherstone as Equalities minister.

It’s clear that as a party we’ve always been there for LGBT+ people, and we always will. Liberalism is inherently opposed to conformity, and our party is constitutionally supportive of people regardless of gender orsexuality. However, there is room for an organisation which proactively advances the cause of equality and liberation.

LGBT+ Lib Dems, like its predecessor organisations, exists to promote the needs of LGBT+ people. We have ensured that the Lib Dems have been ahead of professional organisations such as Stonewall. As a recognised party body we submit policy straight to the Conference floor. We help the Lib Dems get the details right to make the best difference to LGBT+ peoples’ lives.

Also posted in Lib Dem organisations | Tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: “Britain isn’t a democracy – we can’t possibly say that!” Yes we can!

When I was at secondary school in the early 1970s, my history teacher was a man with a passion for his subject who always encouraged critical discussion. So while he taught us enthusiastically about British “democracy”, he was indulgent towards me when I challenged his assertion following the February 1974 election: the one where the Tories came top with 11.9 million votes (297 seats), Labour “won” with 11.6 million votes (301 seats) and the Liberals’ six million votes delivered 14 members of the House of Commons.

The reality is that the outcome of every election before and since 1974 has been unfair to a greater or lesser extent. Labour got more than nine times as many seats as the Liberal-SDP Alliance in 1983 with just 2% more of the vote. Tony Blair had a comfortable overall majority with 35.2% in 2005 while David Cameron fell well short five years later with 36.1%.

The 2015 election is more striking than most. The SNP got 95% of Scotland’s seats on just under half the vote. Each SNP MP represents roughly 25,000 voters while almost 3.9 million ballots were cast to get Douglas Carswell into Parliament. 51 of the 55 seats in South-West England are Conservative and Labour is the only other party with representation in that region.

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Paul Scriven writes… Be very clear about who we are

From the off let’s be clear, the UK has a centre left party called the Labour Party and a centre right party too; the Conservative Party.

If this is the case then why are some in the Liberal Democrats talking about a move to the left and some a move to the right? I personally don’t get that debate.

Recent history shows that moving left is to build our party on the fickle quick sand of shifting political fashion. We tried to be a “left wing party” when Labour wasn’t popular and looked what happened. People didn’t come to us because we …

174 Comments

Opinion: Human rights? Don’t forget animal rights…

 

It wasn’t a passion for human rights that attracted me to the Liberal Democrats, but animal rights.

Five weeks ago, I hadn’t even registered to vote. I’d given up on politics, but something about this election spoke to me and I suddenly wanted a say, rushing to get my name down just before the deadline.

But who to vote for?

I thought about what mattered to me. Animals mattered to me. We share the earth with them, yet often they come off worse in that deal. Their freedom’s been compromised. They need protection – more than often from us.

So, I got on the case. I e-mailed all the main parties, asking what they were doing to protect and promote the welfare of animals. The Lib Dems were the first to get back, highlighting the progress they’d made while in government. Working with farmers, retailers and consumers to ensure full compliance of the EU’s ban on battery cages; pressing the European Commission to properly enforce a ban on sow stalls and promoting EU rules to support a humane and sustainable farming system for animals across the board.

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Opinion: The passing of the torch

When I joined the Liberal Democrats, I told my family that I didn’t join for a job or for a career; sadly for too many that was the reality on 8th May.

We should thank, above all else, colleagues in HQ and around the country who campaigned tirelessly and with such dedication. They deserved much better and we owe them so much.

Charles Kennedy was straight off the mark with his thanks and in return I would like to thank him. Thank him for his service, for inspiring a generation of activists including myself, and for giving me the opportunity to work …

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Opinion: Three opportunities for us to do better as a political party

Understanding what party membership and political volunteering really means to people in 2015

I have always felt that we have missed on all the learning from the voluntary sector about how to motivate and engage volunteers, but in 2015 we need to go even further than that. Just like the electorate we need to know a lot more about our members, their motivations, their skills and the ways they want to be useful.

Technology allows to engage all our members in different ways that are not bound by geography (which bearing in mind our lack of organisation in many local parties this …

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Opinion: The anti-Tory electoral alliance – a statistician’s look

I’m a data analyst by trade – I’m no activist or political strategist, so I have little else to offer to the party other than analysis of the election results. And I have been playing with the data since the election, trying to figure out the most optimal way to stop the Tory juggernaut from taking over Britain.

I found there was one way to win these elections (or the next, if nothing changes) away from Tories. Not for the Lib Dems – it was far too late for that – but for the nation as a whole. A way practised in this country only in times of great national danger, but nothing out of ordinary on the continent, in countries like Germany, France or Netherlands: an electoral alliance.

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Opinion: Politics as if we were in the 21st century

 

So, we’ve had a bounce of new members. The fight back begins and we’re planning how to make the Lib Dems strong again. All great stuff.

But hold on a minute. This is the biggest opportunity in my lifetime to change progressive politics for the better, and drag parties that were born in the 19th and 20th centuries into the 21st. But if we’re to grasp that opportunity, surely we need to think beyond just our own party?

I’ve written elsewhere about how the Liberal brand is weak – see: The Lib Dems need to appeal to people’s hearts, not their heads  – but more fundamentally, politics is weak. About a third of people don’t vote at all whilst many (a majority?) view politicians as self-serving, elitist or irrelevant to their lives. Even those who vote often do so without enthusiasm. Will all this be changed by a resurgence of the Lib Dem party alone? I doubt it will be sufficient.

Tagged and | 24 Comments

Opinion: My vision

As a Parliamentary Candidate I received innumerable emails on a range of issues. One said:

Right, Kirsten. You’ve come into my house via your election pamphlet so here’s me coming into yours via an e-mail. I have a very simple request and that is for you to describe your personal vision (not a formulaic party response) for our country in 10 to 15 years’ time and your strategy for attaining that vision.

Many of us are tired of the same old party political machinations which focus solely on ‘buying’ votes via unachievable promises. I want to be inspired by someone who is able to rise above the unedifying scramble and who can paint a picture of a UK that will become admired.

16 Comments
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    @jbt: "But does anyone care? The only test here that matters is whether people recognise and value the relationship." If you seriously intend to pursue...
  • User AvatarDavid-1 26th May - 4:52am
    @jbt: "I have no problem with Irish voters. . . we recognise a kinship with them that we do not extend to others!" Have you...
  • User AvatarT-J 26th May - 1:57am
    I have very strong feelings about this. In my opinion, the Commonwealth is the most meaningless of international organisations - if it did not exist,...
  • User AvatarSammy O'Neill 26th May - 1:37am
    I sense, I feel without undue justification, that the Lib Dems risk being portrayed in this upcoming referendum campaign as focusing on the wrong things...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 26th May - 1:10am
    No, but I would if I could (no money besides debt). I suppose I need to give myself a renewed focus on sorting it out!...
  • User AvatarAndrew 26th May - 12:45am
    well, what I am doing is comparing today's graduates with previous generations... house price inflation has already made it almost impossible to get on the...
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