Tag Archives: social liberal forum

SLF Conference – The Tweets #2

Here’s our second look at tweets from SLF Conference covering late morning and early afternoon. It’s a great day. Remember you can watch live below:

First up a session on how the Lib Dems rebuild featuring Sal Brinton and Mark Pack:

But at the end…

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Opinion: Liberal Democrats should debate ways of liberating our economy from the power of the banks

“Stronger Economy Fairer Society” was the strap-line that took us into the devastating General Election of 2015.  Some members wanted a fairer society that would support a stronger economy but regardless of which way we place these adjectives and nouns, it’s still unachievable without liberating the UK economy from our five major banks.

As long as our five big banks have the power to create money when they make loans, and lend it back to us at a profit, it is very difficult to see how our economy can achieve anything other than consolidating wealth into the hands of a few.  The Bank of England (BoE) and business generally is having less and less influence on how our economy expands and grows. Not only do we need to challenge this ‘status quo’, we need to radically overhaul the system and liberate the banking monopoly so that our economy functions to support our marketplace.

Properties in London have been sliced and diced according to an economic system that is essentially controlled by five big banks and this has overly inflated prices – driving up rents and sales. Homes for families are now filled with rooms for rent that are advertised as flats. We have less than 20 square meters for a bed, cooking and toilet facilities and are charged £800 per month rent. Generation rent (typically graduate students), are unable to save to buy a home due to ‘market rents’ sucking every penny from their incomes.

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Introducing the Social Liberal Forum

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

Social Liberal ForumWhat we believe

The Social Liberal Forum exists to foster debate within and beyond the Liberal Democrats, with the aim of developing social liberal solutions to the challenges facing the country, and which find popular support.

The ethos that underpins the Social Liberal Forum has remained unchanged since its formation in 2009, and is best described as the belief that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom.

Like all liberals, social liberals believe that individuals should have the freedom to develop and grow as they wish. The creation, protection and nurturing of this freedom should be a central objective of all governments.

Posted in Lib Dem organisations | 36 Comments

Opinion: Tax more and spend less

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal Democrats

The 2010 election was notable for the failure of the three main parties to spell out clearly how they would reduce the budget deficit.  No-one wanted to scare the voters away.

2015 is already proving different. Nick Clegg has announced that Liberal Democrats would increase taxes by at least £8 billion and bring in a further £6 billion by tackling tax avoidance. There would still be up to £16 billion cut from  expenditure, £12 billion from government departments and £4 billion from welfare. Whilst not exactly a return to Keynesian economics, this is nevertheless a huge step away from the Tory approach which seemed to have dominated coalition fiscal policy. The balance between expenditure cuts and tax increases under Tory plans for the next parliament would be 98:2 whereas we will be proposing 60:40.

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Our Climate Change bulldog #slfconf

Ed Davey Social Liberal Forum conference Jul 19 2014 Photo by Paul Walter
WARNING: Contains strong hagiographic content, which some readers may find disturbing.

On Saturday, while much of the country was enjoying the sunshine, I spent two hours studying and listening to The Right Honourable Edward Davey MP FRSA.

In the wonderful surroundings of the new headquarters of Amnesty International, Ed addressed the Social Liberal Forum conference on “Energy and climate change – the balance between state and market”. He was then interviewed by four bloggers: Jonathan Calder, Matthew Hulbert,

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Tim Farron’s Beveridge Lecture in full: “Let’s say a huge yes to active, ambitious, liberal government and build a new consensus”

Tim Farron MP speaks at the rallyLib Dem party president Tim Farron delivered the Beveridge Lecture at this weekend’s Social Liberal Forum conference. Here’s what he said…

William Beveridge never led our country or our party. But he changed both in a spectacular way.

He was a humble man, a good man and so I am going to make an assumption that he’d want to know what social Liberals plan to do next, rather than hear us eulogise about him.

It’s a massive honour to be asked to give this …

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SLF Conference 2014 – Governing as Liberal Democrats

Social Liberal ForumThe Social Liberal Forum have organised their next conference to take place in London on this Saturday  19th July. You can register via the website. We have an excellent line up of speakers and all Liberal Democrats of various shades of opinion are very welcome to attend, and for that matter anyone outside the party who is interested in the Liberal Democrats.

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Opinion: Getting back to the manifesto

libdemmanifesto 2010 wordleGetting this right is probably the foremost challenge the Party faces. Earlier year the Social Liberal Forum conducted an online survey, including open comments, over the contents of the Party’s pre-manifesto themes document and consultation. Although the response rates were low and mostly SLF members, it gives an interesting insight into what some party think of the work done on manifesto thinking to date.

The “Stronger economy, fairer society” theme

77% supported the slogan, 23% did not, but the majority of comments including from those who said “yes” thought it a …

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Opinion: Our values and messaging have to match our behaviour

101 Humpty Dumpty, Lindt Big Egg Hunt Covent Garden 26-3-2013One thing about Nick Clegg, rather like those inflatable Humpty Dumpties some of us had as kids – thump him and he bounces right back. Monday seems to be one such occasion. An upbeat, earnest speech, designed, it seemed to most commentators, to speak to the party as much, if not more, than to the country.

For the Social Liberal Forum, the immediate reaction to his commitment on increased infrastructure spending was, while welcoming it, to wonder why on earth he and Danny had railed against it to the extent of picking a fight with the party about it until now? But, Damascene conversions, however belated, are to be welcomed. Let’s hope this is the first of many.

I was interested in Stephen Tall’s analysis that despite not saying it Nick was still firmly trying to “anchor us in the centre ground.”

photo by: Martin Pettitt
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Opinion: Did SLF call for leadership ballots in The Times? Er, no.

Social Liberal ForumI do not buy any of Rupert Murdoch’s products as a general rule, and this decision seems to have been vindicated by their printing a fictionalised account of a letter printed in today’s edition, actually the Social Liberal Forum’s first statement on the events of recent days.

Our statement  calls for a serious re-examination of party strategy which many of us feel is the key factor behind last week’s appalling election results. It was agreed by the SLF Council who have a range of views about the LibDems4Change petition. For the record, …

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Social Liberal Forum conference 2014

slflogoSocial liberalism is right at the heart of Liberal Democrat values, and all Lib Dems, right across the political spectrum, believe in fighting for the rights and needs of the disenfranchised and disadvantaged.

The Social Liberal Forum is a membership group within the party who are committed to making sure that these values drive policy and strategy. Its key aims are to promote social justice and to narrow gaps in power.

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Social Liberal Forum response to Budget 2014

Social Liberal ForumThe Social Liberal Forum’s Gareth Epps responded to yesterday’s budget over on the SLF website:

Much of this year’s Budget comes as little surprise. With a tight fiscal background and given George Osborne’s penchant for playing to the gallery, so much is predictable. Ditto the widely-trailed coalition announcements on the income tax threshold (where Nick Clegg has been desperate to stop the Tories claiming credit for the policy they opposed in 2010) and childcare.

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21st Century Education: A Social Liberal Approach

slflogoThe Social Liberal Forum are proud to announce the publication today of our newest publication: 21st Century Education.  The contributors to this publication are all experts in the world of education—the majority of whom are teachers—who are also members of the Liberal Democrats.   Grass roots members at that, many with long years of party membership.  As the editor of the booklet I am grateful that all the contributors were happy to write under the Social Liberal Forum banner.

What we are predominantly grappling with in this publication are not the usual battlegrounds of …

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Times reports Lib Dem “infighting” but misses out David Laws’ dismissal of their “highly misleading” story

Yesterday, the Times reported that the Liberal Democrat leadership were preparing to ditch policies from our manifesto which wouldn’t get agreement from either the Conservative or Labour parties. I wrote of the dangers of such a move, arguing that our manifesto needed to be brimming with liberalism.

David Laws, who chairs the manifesto group, wrote on the party website that the Times story was highly misleading.

The latest example of this is the highly misleading article on the front page of today’s Times (18 February) under the headlines ‘Lib Dems Axe pledges for coalition deal’ and ‘Lib Dems seeking policies to

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Lib Dems accuse Danny Alexander of ‘going native’

According to the Independent, members of the Social Liberal Forum have challenged Danny Alexander over ‘straying beyond party policy’ by outlining proposals to maintain the squeeze on spending throughout the next Parliament.

Under the heading “Lib Dems accuse Danny Alexander of ‘going native’ at the Treasury as he backs George Osborne’s plans for more spending cuts” Andrew Grice reports that:

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The Lib Dem conference economy debate: Nick Clegg raises the stakes. He’ll have only himself to blame if he loses

After a weekend of averted rows – nuclear power and ‘fracking’ supported, axeing of tuition fees dropped – today’s debate on the economy will see a return to Lib Dem conference tradition: a dust-up between the leadership and the activists.

A year ago, there was a poorly coordinated attempt by Lib Dem members within the Social Liberal Forum and Liberal Left groupings to get the party to change the Coalition direction on the economy, to bring in an explicit Plan B. It suffered a crushing defeat, with Vince Cable, Steve Webb and Tim Farron all speaking in favour of …

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Conference: Social Liberal Forum at Glasgow

Social Liberal ForumThere is some welcome cause for cautious optimism among Social Liberals on the beautiful train journey to Glasgow (and, indeed, for those observing from the side-lines). A series of pieces, for example in the New Statesman and on Politics Home, by prominent figures reasserting the traditions of Beveridge, Hobhouse and Keynes have helped allay fears about the direction of the party and reminded the wider world we are still here.

The Social Liberal Forum has been busy, too. Yet again a large number of agenda items have had significant SLF input, resulting in a healthy balance to an equally healthily packed Conference agenda.  Here are a few highlights of the agenda and fringe for social Liberals:

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Opinion: Tools to make the recovery stronger, fairer

The Social Liberal Forum’s amendments to Nick Clegg’s economy motion – supported by an unprecedented number of voting representatives – seek to ensure that the party retains distinctive, independent economic narrative up to and beyond the next election. The narrative behind Nick’s motion – which, to be clear, has a great deal that Liberal Democrats can be proud of – is clear enough. Here is the rationale behind our amendments.

On housing, the motion highlights government guarantee schemes that are yet to scratch the surface of the housing shortage, and recognises that “house building remains well below historical averages.” The …

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Opinion: Reflections on the Social Liberal Forum conference

slflogoSo what did we learn this weekend?

In several ways, the Social Liberal Forum conference in Manchester has been about celebration. Not only was the weather as glorious as it was when I left that great city as a student; but the work of the SLF in ensuring the delivery of social Liberal policies in Government has been worthwhile, should not be ignored and merits recognition for those who have played a part in it.

We were also – rightly – challenged by Norman Lamb when thinking about public services, …

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The Steve Webb interview: How I built a modern, inclusive, liberal State Pension system

steve webbAt the excellent Social Liberal Forum Conference on Saturday, a group of eight bloggers spent the lunch break interviewing Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb just before he delivered the second Beveridge Memorial Lecture.

The thing about Steve Webb is that he might have Professor in front of his name and MP after it, but he’s  in no way intimidating, though. He speaks with authority, but engagingly so,  has no airs and graces and has a knack of explaining some complex concepts in language that even I can understand. He …

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Social Liberal Forum responds to the motion on the economy

While some of us were melting in the Friends Meeting House in Manchester at the Social Liberal Forum conference on Saturday morning, Stephen Tall was telling us about the leadership’s motion on the economy to be discussed at our Glasgow Conference in two months’ time.

It’s to be noted that the biggest cheers of the day came when Vince Cable was talking about the need to differentiate from the Conservatives, calling George Osborne’s declaration that there should be no more tax rises in a new Conservative Government “cavalier and “ideological.”

Co-chair Gareth Epps was also applauded when he said that Liberal …

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Liberal Reform comment on Royal Mail privatisation

In the wake of Vince Cable’s announcement that the Royal Mail would be privatised, we asked Liberal Reform and the Social Liberal Forum for their comments. We haven’t received anything from SLF yet, but here is what Liberal Reform co-chair Alan Muhammed had to say:

Liberal Reform welcomes the floatation of the Royal Mail, an organisation that has long required reform.  These moves will generate the biggest employee share scheme for 30 years and enables greater access to capital, crucial for sustaining the Royal Mail as a successful commercial business, delivering a vital service that the nation values.
There’s a substantial amount

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Party groups respond to the Spending Round

Here’s your usual round-up of comments from Lib Dem party groups following yesterday’s spending round announcements.

Both Liberal Reform and the Social Liberal Forum issued press releases. Here’s what the SLF said:

Danny Alexander MP will tomorrow announce details of capital spending plans, a result of hard-fought negotiations led by Vince Cable and others. The Social Liberal Forumm recognises that further cuts to current spending in the Chancellor’s Spending Review today are unlikely to repair public finances in the absence of robust economic recovery. Today’s announcements are insufficient to tackle our real economic challenges following the banking crisis and the alarming collapse

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Opinion: The best government team you’ve not heard of

Switch_off_internet_in_case_of_political_dissentThe best performing team in government is also one you’ve probably not heard of. It’s the Government Digital Service, who have been revolutionising central government’s use of the internet – providing the sort of excellent and reliable new systems that have countries round the world scrambling to copy them, whilst managing to hit timescales, keep to budgets and avoid bugs in a way that puts most government IT projects to shame. Better services and lower costs – it’s a winning combination that whoever is in power after 2015 will need to …

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Opinion: Let’s rid our political economy of inequalities of power

LIBOR-fixing, ineffective banks, corrupt Parliamentarians and the Murdoch press may not appear to have much in common with the fact that median earnings have become decoupled from growth in economic productivity – signifying rewards accumulating to a few at the very top. To my eyes, however, they are all symptoms of the same phenomenon: that the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few, hidden from adequate scrutiny and the power to affect change, impinges on our freedom to live lives free from poverty, ignorance and conformity.

To any liberal with a …

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Race equality – a new Liberal Democrat approach: SLF/EMLD Conference takes place soon

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, is the keynote speaker at one of the most important race equality events this party has held in recent years. Organised jointly by the Social Liberal Forum and Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats, it takes place from noon on Saturday 1st June at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, 25 New Inn Yard London EC2A 3EA. The conference will be of immense help to all those who realise that, particularly in London, the ethnic minority vote will be key to whether we sink or swim in the next elections.

Race equality is …

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Social Liberal Forum Conference. “Ownership and Democracy – where does Power lie?”

slflogoOn July 13th at a rearranged venue in the Central Manchester Friends Meeting House, we are organising the third annual Social Liberal Forum conference, in addition to the one in London on 1st June.

The overall theme will be “Ownership and Democracy – where does power lie?”.  I came up with the idea for this theme after attending an excellent fringe meeting organised by CentreForum at the 2012 Federal conference on “What is Cleggism?”. The debate included David Howarth’s contribution which you can watch on this video.

David Howarth …

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Opinion: A letter to Nick Clegg on the General Equality Duty

slflogo

Dear Nick,

I am writing on behalf of the Social Liberal Forum to urge that Lib Dem MPs vote tomorrow to uphold the decision of the Upper House to support the retention of Section 3 of the 2006 Equality Act.  Today the Equality and Human Rights Commission itself issued a statement supporting its retention. In making this request we are adding our voices to those of the Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats and the Lib Dem Disability Association, and several Lib Dem peers.

On 4th March several Lib Dem peers joined colleagues across the …

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Opinion: George Osborne doesn’t get it… again

This should have been a budget for growth, helping the UK economy to recover from the deepest and longest depression on record. George Osborne’s announcements on childcare, investment in industrial research and of course raising the personal income tax allowance to £10,000 are welcome steps in the right direction. They are all are clear examples of Liberal Democrat influence in the Coalition, not least the flagship move on the tax threshold. These measures, however, don’t go nearly far enough to support businesses starved of credit or households facing escalating living costs and squeezed incomes – where was …

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Party groups respond to the Budget

As one might expect, groups within the Lib Dems are united in welcoming George Osborne’s announcement that the coalition will deliver the Lib Dem policy of a £10,000 income tax personal allowance next year, earlier than previously expected. Both the Social Liberal Forum and Liberal Reform also agree that the chancellor needs to be more ambitious when it comes to stimulating economic growth, though the groups diverge somewhat on how to do so.

First up, here’s the SLF’s response:

The Budget contains some welcome measures, especially on childcare costs and raising the personal tax allowance to £10,000 next year. The

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