When asked to chair a meeting in Oxford East for the Your Liberal Britain initiative my heart sank. Having been through all the Lib Dem soul-searching last year, written a post-election blog, My Vision, and an Agenda 2020 essay, the last thing I wanted was more philosophy and discussion on values. But I agreed to host and I’m glad I did!
The event attracted a room full of people, more than our usual events, and the majority of the audience were new members. They hadn’t yet gone through the existential angst of figuring out our party’s identity and the way forward. They were fresh, full of ideas and raring to go!
So after a brief introduction and having a member read out the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution in full (most new members had never read it) we divided into small groups and worked through the four questions posed by Your Liberal Britain. I picked up some of the sheets left over at the end of the evening and thought I’d share some of the responses here.
- What do you think is the single biggest social problem in Britain today?
- Hugely unequal distribution of wealth/education/opportunity
- Inadequate education system
- Lack of work opportunities for the young
- Social divisions – loss of connection and a sense of isolation
- What one improvement to people’s lives should we aim to deliver through building a Liberal Britain?
- Seriously good quality education – free!
- Everyone has a job and gets minimum wage.
- Stop zero hour contracts.
- Get rid of public schools.
- Build up community and break down class divide.
- Controls over rent and help with purchasing a home.
- Devolution, more local decision making.
- How would you complete this sentence? “In building Liberal Britain we need to revolutionise our…”
- Education system to provide more equal opportunities for all
- Education so that all have a fairer chance in life.
- Hierarchical class system so that Britain is a much more equal and just society.
- “In sum, for me, Liberal Britain is a country where…”
- People matter.
- British values of fair play, tolerance, democratic values and freedom are brought back.
- There are equal opportunities for all.
- Diversity is celebrated, everyone has a fair chance and no one is left behind.
- All are equal and free to be themselves.
- Every child, independent of class, has the same opportunity to be well educated, can thrive and fulfil their full potential (i.e. bring about more social equality).
- The state works against entrenched vested interests and in favour of supporting the disenfranchised and socially excluded.
You can have your say on your vision for a liberal society on the Liberal Britain website. You can also have your say in person at the Your Liberal Britain lunchtime fringe at Autumn conference on Monday 19th September.
* Kirsten Johnson is the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Oxford East and a member of the Federal International Relations Committee.