Tag Archives: social liberal forum

Follow the Social Liberal Forum Conference TODAY

If it’s a wee bit quiet around here today, that’ll be because most of us will be in London (that’ll be a 6:25 am flight for me) at the Social Liberal Forum Conference. 

It’s the first time a major party gathering across the UK has tackled the subject of Brexit. Party President Sal Brinton, peers Lindsay Northover and Jonny Oates and others will be discussing what to do next.

The theme of the day is Inequality and its various effects on welfare, housing, health, about inter=generational inequality. It’s been planned in conjunction with the Equality Trust which was set up to take forward the ideas in The Spirit Level: Why equality is better for everyone by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson.

Vince Cable will be delivering the annual William Beveridge Memorial Lecture at 1:20 pm.

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Inequality and Brexit

inequality street 4The Social Liberal Forum conference on Inequality takes place on Saturday in Holloway, central London and readers of LDV are very welcome to come along and participate. We have added a morning session on Brexit to give everyone an early opportunity to debate the implications for the party. Please register in advance via the Social Liberal Forum website.  Guest speakers include Vince Cable, Norman Lamb, Sal Brinton, Shiv Malik, Neil Lawson from Compass and Karin Robinson from Democrats Abroad.

So why are we focussing on inequality?

The EU referendum result came as a terrible shock. Just as we started to wonder where we go from here, news came in of the reactions this provoked, one of which is a huge increase in Lib Dem membership. This opens the possibility that the Liberal Democrats may become a major force in British politics again. Another of course is a huge increase in racially motivated violence and intolerance. So we have more Lib Dem members becoming active in an increasingly illiberal society.

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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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  • User AvatarGlenn 6th Dec - 2:23am
    If you ask me, and since you don't I'll answer anyway, if the pro EU case is that strong upon leaving the electorate will eventually...
  • User AvatarTynan 6th Dec - 1:47am
    Does anyone think that if Scotland or leave had won, that their liberal ideals would be supporting a further referendum within the timescale/s now being...
  • User AvatarTynan 6th Dec - 1:38am
    More heat than light on both sides here. I think the problem is that the government, and opposition never thought they would lose, therefore there...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 6th Dec - 12:50am
    Paul, Good on you and the Chesterfield team. I will get down one more time if I can.
  • User AvatarAl 6th Dec - 12:28am
    Interesting article but the arguments in it equally apply to the 2014 referendum. Indeed they apply even more so because Brexit fundamentally changes the situation...
  • User AvatarStephen Johnson 6th Dec - 12:12am
    It was most unfortunate that the Referendum so poorly planned. Half of us don’t want to be in the EU. Half of us do. What...