Nick Clegg, Ed Davey and Naomi Colvin of Occupy will be among the speakers at the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) conference on Saturday 14th July.
You can now register through the Social Liberal Forum website. Last year’s conference sold out so do book your place soon.
The theme for our conference is “Intergenerational Justice”. Since the economic crisis that began in 2007, we now have a young generation that will be poorer than its parents; this is unprecedented in British history since the last world war. At the same time the older generation will have to retire at a later age and compete for jobs with younger people. There are bound to be political implications for this and more broadly it will change our society and our culture in ways that are hard to predict.
So there is no shortage of intergenerational issues to consider. The impact of student tuition fees and accumulated debt, the marketisation of higher education, the cutbacks in EMA Cuts in welfare, the obesity epidemic, the increase in binge drinking, issues around body confidence, the increase in STDs, the impact of early learning, free schools and academies, the housing generation gap, will all spring to mind for many Lib Dems. Will the pupil premium lead to improved social mobility? Will the riots happen again this summer? Will the increasing numbers of elderly people be looked after properly? And in response to the coalition, what are the new political movements that have sprung up? And whatever happened to the Green movement?
But that is not all.
The biggest anxiety for the Coalition government, of course, is about whether their budget deficit program is working or not. However there is another topic on the economy that is even more important; “economics for future generations”. We have asked Ed Davey to debate with Mary Mellor from the Green Economics Institute on this – it should be a fascinating session. Historically the Liberal party and the Liberal Democrats took the lead on Green Economics in British politics, even going back to Victorian times when John Stuart Mill in his “Principles of Political Economy” supported what he called the “stationary state”. Today however, at a time when we need to implement ecologically sustainable economic policies more than ever, we are in Coalition with the Tories who even today believe it makes sense to pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment. So how much difference can we make now we are in government?
The conference will start with what we intend will be an annual event: The William Beveridge Memorial Lecture. And we are delighted that Nick Clegg has agreed to be our first speaker for this.
William Beveridge goes down in history as a great Liberal and the founder of the welfare state. That welfare state is under pressure today more than ever before. Our progressive vision as Liberals is based on empowerment and localism. But the reality in government is also to make hard decisions on welfare funding. Will our social liberal vision as a party survive this Coalition and hard economic conditions?
We look forward to what Nick Clegg will say on this, and no doubt there will be many interesting questions that you would like to ask him.
We also look forward to seeing you there.
* Geoff Payne is the events organiser for Hackney Liberal Democrats