Tag Archives: social liberal forum

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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Opinion: Liberals together?

I’ve been a member of the Liberal Democrats (and sometime activist) since the mid-1990s.  So I don’t want to encourage anyone to leave the party, despite the frustrations we share.

Admittedly, when supporters (and a few members) dropped away in the immediate aftermath of the Coalition I wasn’t entirely unhappy.  Many seemed not really to have engaged with our political culture, even if they liked individual policies (and didn’t like Labour or the Tories).   But since then many good liberals have left, for reasons we all know.  The response of remaining members has been characterised by sadness, rather than rancorous …

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Opinion: The road to 2015 – it’s the economy, stupid!

Liberal Democrats gather in Brighton this weekend, with Mike Thornton’s victory still fresh in our minds as evidence of our enduring tenacity as a campaigning force. But what will the people of Eastleigh, and places like it up and down the country, want to see a party of government discussing at this critical juncture? With the main conference agenda looking bland, the issues that matter most to voters are likely to feature on the fringe and in the guise of emergency motions – the state of the economy more so than any.

Figures published recently demonstrate that the health

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Opinion: It’s the economy stupid

The announcement on Friday that the UK economy contracted again in the last quarter of 2012 offers a damaging blow to the Government, and our leadership in particular, who have rightly and continually reaffirmed during this parliament that generating economic growth is by far their greatest priority.

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Autumn statement: Lib Dem party groups respond

Both Liberal Reform and the Social Liberal Forum have commented on the measures contained in yesterday’s autumn (read winter) statement.

First up, Liberal Reform welcomed many of the measures – particularly the faster increase in the income tax personal allowance – but expressed concerns about the party’s approach to the negotiations on the statement:

Liberal Reform welcomes many of the individual measures outlined in the Autumn Statement. The faster-than-expected increase in the income tax personal allowance and the freeze in fuel duty are particularly welcome, and reflect the Liberal Democrat priority of reducing the tax burden on those on low and middle

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The Independent View: Employee ownership makes economic sense

While Labour and the Tories debate how to reinvigorate their annual party conference programme, the Liberal Democrats democratic policymaking structure means that debates at their conference remain engaging and relevant. And with the party now in Government, the journey from the Conference floor to the statute book is rather more direct than has previously been the case.

This means that over the next few weeks, the Lib Dem gathering in Brighton is the most likely place for progressive yet plausible policy ideas to get a hearing. The Social Liberal Forum’s motion 106 on employee ownership, to be debated on Monday 24th September from 09:05-11:05, is a particularly good example. The motion calls for a number of radical measures relating to the stewardship of large companies (>250 employees) including:

• The right for employees of listed companies to request 5% of company shares
• A role for employee representatives in major corporate decisions, including conditions of employment; Director’s pay; and the strategic direction of the company
• The right for companies to implement German-style two-tier board structures, with a supervisory board (including a shareholder’s representative) and a management board (including a worker’s representative).

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Opinion: Economics will rightly dominate conference

A fairer, more sustainable economy – that’s what Lib Dem conference will be about
I’d like propose a new hashtag – #IAgreeWithSimon. Hughes, that is, specifically I agree with this:

At the next election we will be judged by whether relative to the rest of the western developed world we have steered our way through these difficult waters.

The government’s record to date is not encouraging, and with Liberal Democrats gathering in Brighton on Saturday to debate how the to shape the nation’s political economy, conference fringe will once again be where it’s really at.

The Social Liberal Forum has an excellent

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Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture


Nick Clegg gives the William Beveridge lecture

Speaking at the at Social Liberal Forum Conference 2012 on Saturday morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gave the William Beveridge memorial lecture. Here are my tweets of the event, interspersed with some links to older blog posts that expanded on some of the issues which came up.

Storified by Mark Pack · Sat, Jul 14 2012 10:25:17

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Is education the key to social mobility?

We’ve all read the statistics: in the United Kingdom, 7% of the population who were educated in independent schools make up 95% of our politicians, judges, journalists and business bosses. And let’s not forget our actors and sports stars. You’re twenty times more likely to play cricket for England if your parents mortgaged themselves to send you to a private school.

But do we all want to be Yuppies? Not everyone wants to be a politician, judge or journalist, many are thankfully still in possession of their full set of faculties. Moreover, our average western society requires roughly 20%

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Social liberal values and the tyranny of spin doctors – the Social Liberal Forum (Scotland) Conference

Partick Burgh Halls in Glasgow was the venue for the Social Liberal Forum’s first Scottish Conference last weekend. Members came from as far away as England to participate in what turned out to be a lively and stimulating meeting.

The highlights of the event were:

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Clegg’s economic gear shift must be driven by Plan C

With the UK’s double-dip recession biting harder than previously thought, growing unease at the economy’s failure to recover appears to have elicited something of a change of emphasis at the heart of government. If Nick Clegg’s Financial Times interview (£) signifies a genuine change of direction in economic policy, and it would be welcome if so, we should ask in which direction we’re now facing. The Social Liberal Forum recently published Plan C, our approach to achieving a fair, sustainable economy, so it pays to benchmark Clegg’s call to “shift up a gear” against the values

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Party groups unite against increased surveillance

Yesterday Mark Pack summarised the current state of play on the snooping row (“The wheels are coming off the online monitoring wagon”).

This topic has generated more emails, blogs and tweets from angry Lib Dems than anything I can remember. Party members seem to be united in their opposition to increased monitoring, so much so that statements from the so-called right and left of the party are virtually interchangeable.

From the Social Liberal Forum:

Any furthering of the already-extensive powers to interrogate peoples’ communication, especially in the absence of proper oversight, would constitute an ineffective and illiberal intrusion of our civil

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