Tag Archives: community politics

Finding our way again

What was it like becoming an activist in 1978? Well, you were given a bundle of newspapers to deliver. No change since then apparently?  You might also be lent a copy of The Theory and Practice of Community Politics, which you thought about, discussed and, importantly, set about acting upon in all the communities to which you belonged.

Neither the people who had developed this new form of Liberalism and fought for the Party to accept it, nor those who followed this theory and practice in the 80s and 90s, would have thought  that forty years later they would be accused of having no values or philosophy and of just callously saying anything to get elected, which is how this kind of activism is attacked today.

The idea of Community Politics was to create a movement.  It was sufficient in many areas to campaign directly in the many communities to which people belong, at work, at home, in their neighbourhoods and in wider non-geographically based communities.  But it also adopted a second avenue (in what was called the Dual Approach) which was to seek election to councils and parliaments where policy could be changed so as to help achieve the central objective – which was to help people take and use power in their communities.

Our philosophy went back to Mill and especially to T.H. Green and from him to the New Liberals.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 76 Comments

Community Politics – putting people first

Liberal Democrats believe that the state exists to serve and enable individuals to live their lives to the full.  Our starting point is the individual. We want to find ways of enabling and encouraging each person to fulfil his or her own potential.

We believe that men and women have an immense, largely unrealised capacity for self-direction, self-cultivation, self-understanding and creativity.  People are not sheep to be flocked, cattle to be herded or oxen to be led; it is inhuman to reduce people to the status of objects to be manipulated, directed or discarded.

It is the right of every human to share the liberty and the opportunity to experiment, to experience, to learn and to influence his or her surroundings. This is the ethos that drives the Liberal Democrats.  It is not about having one’s own way; it is about having a way that is one’s own.

A liberal community does not dictate how people should live, but liberates people to live as they please so long as that in doing so they do not impinge upon the freedoms and rights of others.  It does not provide for the needs of the citizen, but rather enables the citizen to provide for their own needs.

Posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

Opinion: Have we forgotten the basics of community politics?

Do we still do community politics? “Of course we do,” all Lib Dems will say, particularly after press comments on Lorely Burt’s “dog poo” speech at a conference fringe meeting. But I’m not so sure.

A while back when I advised residents to use the local Text the Council number to report flytipping etc, my colleague, a hard working ex-councillor was horrified. ‘Don’t do that,” he told me, “get them to text you so that we get the credit for reporting it.”

And of course we do that all the time and it earns us votes.

But wasn’t part of the point of community politics, as set out in the 1970s by the ALC and the Young Liberals, to create an empowered citizenry, to help residents to take responsibility for their neighbourhoods and hopefully absorb Liberal values in doing so?

Posted in Op-eds | 14 Comments

Opinion: Our liberal identity crisis

Does anyone know why the Liberal Democrats exist ? It’s an important question.

IPSOS/Mori research in 2012 into voter perceptions found that 64% “don’t know what the Liberal Democrats stand for these days” (57% for Labour, 44% the Tories). This was echoed even amongst party supporters, with 41% of Lib Dem voters unclear (42% for Labour voters, 37% Conservatives). “Our polling now shows that the Liberal Democrats have the toughest task telling voters what they stand for”, the report concluded.

We need to acknowledge that our party has an identity challenge nationally, and blaming the coalition would be too convenient. …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 81 Comments

Opinion: Individual freedom and power should be our distinctive Lib Dem identity

It seems that every few days there is another soul-searching LibDem blog or newspaper article asking: “what do we believe in?” “What do we stand for?” “What’s the coherent narrative behind the string of ‘Lib Dem achievements in government’?” What we need to do is urgently define ourselves in contrast to – not in relation to – the other major parties.

What we need to do is build a strong national identity.“Individual freedom and power” should be the phrase that the Liberal Democrats adopt to assert their distinctive identity for three reasons.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 25 Comments

The stimulus of applying for low-carbon community funding

Today will see the announcement of the successful applicants to the first round of LEAF funding from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC). Congratulations to all!

I’m involved in a bid to be submitted on Friday, so I appreciate the work it took to get the bids in on time. We’re undertaking three months’ work in as many weeks, I’m told.

LEAF is the “Local Energy Assessment Fund” – a.k.a. loose change DECC found in its trousers pockets before the year-end wash. It was announced in December with two bid rounds. It’s £10 million for …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Opinion: What do the Lib Dems and the Big Society have in common?

Being a student, I am lucky enough to have very flexible working hours, and I’ve put these to good use this autumn helping with Brian Paddick’s campaign to become the first Lib Dem Mayor of London.

Something I’ve noticed with creeping inevitability about the campaign is the similarities between myself and the other people turning up on Fridays – the vast majority of whom are male and pale like me.

This is symptomatic of a wider problem with volunteer organisations in general, and cuts to the heart of a political philosophical gulf between us and the tories: volunteers are people in a position to volunteer.

While conservatives were perfectly at …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 28 Comments
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