Tag Archives: social liberal forum

Inequality Street

inequality street 4Six years ago my ideas about inequality in society were given a jolt by the publication of a book with the intriguing title ‘The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everyone‘, by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. The authors – both academics – drew on research from many sources to show that societies in which there are huge variations in income are bad for everyone, rich or poor, and that more equal societies benefit all their members.

We might expect inequality to have an impact on factors such as life expectancy and educational performance, but the authors observed its effects in some surprising areas of life, from obesity (‘wider income gaps = wider waists’) to teenage births. And in each case the effect was seen right across the income spectrum. The sobering truth is that, amongst the developed nations, the UK is one of the more unequal countries.

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Opinion: SLF Conference – a brilliant day focused on social liberal ideas

img_8090The Social Liberal Forum is, sadly, a point of contention in the Liberal Democrats for some. The candidate who went first at the leadership hustings towards the end of the conference was chosen by how fast they could name the former special advisor to Nick Clegg who made the case that all Social Liberals in the Lib Dems should join Labour (it was Richard Reeves, by the way, & he said it here). Reeves’ comments  show how far up in the party those critical of SLF are & how scathing their attacks can be. Nevertheless, I do wholeheartedly identify as a Social Liberal, so despite claims of the SLF attempting to turn the Lib Dems ‘socialist’ that I had heard from other members, I attended the conference & discovered I couldn’t have made a better decision.

Firstly, I was struck with how damn trendy the conference building was. It was hosted in the Amnesty International Human Rights Centre, & with all its exposed black bricks & flat-white-selling cafe’s I had to check if I was in the right building for a Lib Dem event. Thankfully it was, so I was escorted into the main room for the famous SLF Annual Beveridge Memorial Lecture, this year presented by Baroness Claire Tyler, but not before a quick remembrance to that champion of Social Liberalism, Charles Kennedy. It was done not with a 1 minute silence, but a 1 minute applause to recognise his achievements, which definitely captured his spirit & energy better than any mourning could have done. The Beveridge Lecture itself was intensely interesting, going over Beveridge’s 5 great evils in the modern day (squalor, ignorance, want, idleness & disease – the antiquated language of which was a large point of the lecture) & reminding us that a higher & higher GDP can’t alone tackle these issues, but national wellbeing should always be a priority too.

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Opinion: SLF Conference: Why social justice must be at the heart of re-booting liberalism

social liberal forumThe Social Liberal Conference was held on one of the hottest days of the year so far but not even good weather could have kept me away from joining fellow Liberal Democrats for a day termed as ‘Re-booting Liberalism’. I am a social Liberal because I believe strongly in social justice as a means of addressing the problems of inequality. This must be our fight as a party if the Liberal Democrats are to gain relevance and support from the electorate in the coming years.

The keynote speech was a William Beveridge memorial lecture and was delivered by Baroness Claire Tyler. The whole speech can be found here. Her words as follows set the tone for the day:

I think it is entirely appropriate to be revisting Beveridge at a conference entitled ‘Rebooting Liberalism’. It’s neither regressive nor intellectually lazy to be looking to the past as we seek to move forward. Far from it – we are fortunate to have an incredibly strong intellectual tradition within the party and in seeking to both clarify and communicate exactly what we stand for, we could do much worse than draw on the ground-breaking work of one of the grandfathers of modern Liberalism.

The morning sessions were split into roundtable discussions, open sessions and two fringe events. A very generous and yummy lunch was served. It was a great time to network, catch up with friends and be canvassed for GLA votes.

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LibLink: Claire Tyler delivers the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture

Baroness-Claire-Tyler-1Baroness Claire Tyler is our spokesperson for mental health in the Lords, and on Saturday she gave the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture at the Social Liberal Forum conference. The full text has now been published, but we can give you a taster here.

The title of the lecture was ‘Wellbeing – a modern take on Beveridge’ and she began by saying:

I think it is entirely appropriate to be revisiting Beveridge at a conference entitled ‘Rebooting Liberalism’. It’s neither regressive nor intellectually lazy to be looking to the past as we seek to move forward. Far from it – we are fortunate to have an incredibly strong intellectual tradition within the party and in seeking to both clarify and communicate exactly what we stand for, we could do much worse than draw on the ground-breaking work of one of the grandfathers of modern Liberalism.

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Social Liberal Forum holds hustings for Farron and Lamb

The Social Liberal Forum Conference ended yesterday with a 90 minute hustings between Tim Farron and Norman Lamb. Both men turned up dressed in very similar clothes. As I tweeted at the time, if they had been women, we’d never have heard the end of it.

It was a lively event, not least because they did allow questions from the floor that hadn’t been submitted in advance – and they allowed supplementaries. The candidates were both put under more pressure than they had been at any other event I’d seen so far. There is nothing wrong with vanilla ice cream, but if the other hustings were that, then this one was Chilli and Dark Chocolate ice cream – rich with flavour and full of warmth. When I say warmth, I am not referring to the temperature in the room. The air-conditioning was broken, leading Nick Barlow to make one observation:

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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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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristopher Haigh 1st Jul - 9:18pm
    Peter, any idea why rural areas so overwhelmingly seem to support Tory MP's at the moment ?
  • User AvatarSpencer Hagard 1st Jul - 9:03pm
    David - I agree. And the sooner the better!
  • User AvatarNom de Plume 1st Jul - 8:42pm
    petermartin2001 The problem is the euro. The federalists have a lot to answer for. They have turned Europe into a powder keg, again.
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 1st Jul - 8:38pm
    The increase in racism has been horrific and I personally know a European who received abuse before the vote and is now afraid it will...
  • User AvatarPaul Pettinger 1st Jul - 8:24pm
    Strongly agree. The last thing we should be doing is help further mainstream xenophobia, but challenging it, the scapegoating of migrants, the lack of investment...
  • User AvatarSteve Comer 1st Jul - 7:31pm
    Good move by Tim to visit the centre with Caroline. I`m also pleased to see him openly attacking Farage over the posters as Guy Verhofstadt...