Author Archives: Adam Bennett

Last year I left the Liberal Democrats. Here’s how a new leader could win me back

It’s never easy leaving home. Prior to last year I had been a Lib Dem my entire adult life, but I made the decision to leave the party following changes I had seen build up over a long time. We used to advocate radical ideas, but we had become too comfortable with campaigning to uphold the status quo.

However, my vote is still winnable for the Lib Dems. And frankly, left-leaning young people like myself are going to need to vote for the party again if it is ever going to build an electorally viable voting base. The experiment over the past decade of trying to attract liberal, ‘small c’ Conservatives has proven to be an unmitigated disaster, as well as having blunted the party’s radical edge.

So, what kind of policies and ideas could a new leader bring in to broaden the party’s appeal? For my money, there are three key targets which need to be hit in order to make the party an electorally desirable entity across the centre-left. I know these may make for uncomfortable reading for some in the party – but when your comfort zone is three disastrous elections back-to-back, a little discomfort can go a long way.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 25 Comments

Why the Liberal Democrats must adopt Universal Basic Income

To be quite blunt, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about where it’s all gone wrong for the Liberal Democrats. I’ve been a member of the party for seven years now, three-quarters of a decade no less, and in that time we have scarcely polled into the double digits.

Amongst the young, the people who you may think would be the natural supporters of an anti-Brexit, progressive party, the outlook is especially bleak. In the latest Times tracker conducted by YouGov, a mere 4% of 18-24-year-olds plan to vote Liberal Democrat at the next election. The number shoots up to a comparatively lofty 7% of 25-49-year-olds but it’s still nowhere near good enough for a party such as ours.

It’s time to face a stomach-churning truth. The Liberal Democrats are not a party that speaks to modern Britain, and we most certainly do not represent Britain’s future. Not the way things stand, anyway.

As someone who is (just about) inside that 18-24 bracket, I think I’ve got a decent idea about why the party has haemorrhaged youth support so drastically (and no, it’s not just about tuition fees – although that is a huge factor as I wrote for the New Statesman in 2015.)

In my view, it comes down to this. When my generation was growing up, we were all sold a story, the same story our parents were sold. Specifically, the story that if you work hard, apply yourself and ‘get on’, then you’ll do well. Our parents bought into that story because it was broadly true for them. But we aren’t buying into it because it’s a lie for us. Millennials are the first generation set to earn less than our parents, so I think we can be forgiven for thinking that the system has not worked.

And it is this broken system that, to me, explains my generation’s disinterest in the Liberal Democrats and our collective adoration for Jeremy Corbyn. The Liberal Democrats want to make the system fairer. But Corbyn wants to tear the system down. That is his appeal, and it’s why we are falling by the wayside.

But we can beat Jeremy Corbyn at his own game. Liberals can remake the system too, and liberalism can provide a much more empowering and inspiring future than socialism ever can.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 113 Comments

First Scotland, now the EU: how did young English progressives end up fighting to save the status quo?

“I believe that the way things are is not the way things have to be”. The first line of Nick Clegg’s opening statement in ITV’s ‘First Ever TV Election Debate’ was my political awakening. It unlocked my passion for politics and it made me not only want to change the world, but it made me believe the world could be changed. I followed that passion pretty religiously- I signed up to the Liberal Democrats, volunteered everywhere from my local party in Hertfordshire to Edinburgh for the Scottish Referendum. I even ended up working for Nick in Westminster, first as an intern and then as a Communications Assistant between 2014 and the crushing blow that was Election Day 2015.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Recent Comments

  • nigel hunter
    Davey has sacked Ludford as our European spokesperson.Is he reigning as 'supreme leader' in charge?When Ashdown was in charge we were a tolerant party with good...
  • Peter Davies
    On the name of UBI, National Income Dividend is the most philosophically satisfying as it provides a moral justification to counter the Moral Hazard argument. H...
  • David Raw
    @ Russell, you say, "I’m surprised to hear that the Green party doesn’t support PR". Actually, Russell, in the interests of truth and accuracy, the Gree...
  • Peter Davies
    There is only one form of PR that been this party's policy for as long as any of us can remember and that is STV. It doesn't have thresholds but parties do need...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Thank you for a so important article! To what extent has the fashion for, and implementation of, austerity been responsible for the contexts which increase m...