Author Archives: Anthony Fairclough

Let’s be the party of the empowered individual

We Liberal Democrats are supposed to be the Party of the empowered individual; how can we help people to become that, to build a sense of security and community? And are we doing it?

My view is that we could start by articulating the simple liberal ideas behind our campaigns, policies and positions. We must bring change, but we must use this to illustrate what liberalism is about too.

In today’s public debate there’s often seems little attempt to challenge assertions, or argue with points; merely to deny the right of alternative viewpoints to exist, to campaign, or to argue. Motives are questioned, the (wo)man is played, not the ball.

On the first or second Saturday after the referendum, a man screamed “Who’s the f***ing Fascist!?” at me because he objected to our petition on unilateral protection of EU nationals’ rights. As he shouted this, my then 6 month old son was strapped to me and I was holding a clipboard and pen. I did indeed wonder who the Fascist was.

The reaction to last week’s horrific events has been depressing. There’s a lot of justifiable anger – but the political prism this is seen through seems to be one of fundamental division:

Posted in News | 13 Comments

Working to build a liberal core vote in Merton

Merton photo 2

Merton Liberal Democrats were very pleased and somewhat surprised to be among the first winners of the Party’s “referendum pledge challenge”.

The vast majority of the winning groups are areas of (often recent) historic strength for the party with an organisation to match – so it was a real boost to us to see the local group’s name up there.

Last summer, bolstered by our newbies, we agreed a selection of campaign themes that articulated who we were and what we wanted to achieve as a group. This included the EU referendum/staying in the EU. A co-ordinator was appointed for each theme, to keep a watchful eye on developments in the area, and make sure we never forgot the themes in the heat of campaigns.

On the prompting of the EU campaign co-ordinator, all our street stalls during the London elections were about the referendum from an early stage. We’d also agreed that we would ask about the referendum as a secondary question when doing voter ID, but in many places we found it an easier conversation starter to go with the EU, before moving into asking for support for the London team.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 1 Comment

Opinion: Simple, liberal ideas for London

london by Harshil ShahLondon is widely regarded as a liberal city. It is not, however, a Liberal Democrat city.

The party now controls just one council and has only 6% of the councillors, as well as 2 London Assembly members. And yet, at least anecdotally, London should be our city. It’s diverse and often cosmopolitan.

One of the most striking aspects of the 2014 British Social Attitudes survey was that over half of Londoners welcomed immigration as good for the economy – almost double the number of people who did so in the rest of the UK. In Merton, a losing UKIP councillor blamed the “more media-savvy and educated” Londoners for her party’s lack of success. Although she was widely mocked for this statement, the results would suggest that large parts of London are not natural UKIP territory.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 35 Comments

Opinion: “Workin’ 9 til 5”

How would you feel if you told your boss you wanted a pay increase that kept up with inflation this year, and he then stopped paying you, and hired someone else to do your job, until you changed your mind? I suspect you wouldn’t be best pleased to say the least.

Nonetheless, this is pretty much what the most recent Lib Dem guidance on trades unions is suggesting.

MPs, parliamentary candidates and activists are advised, if asked about the Trade Union Freedom bill, to write something along the lines of:

“I do not believe that strikers should be paid for not working, nor that employers should be prevented from employing temporary replacement workers – it is surely reasonable for employers to take action to keep their businesses running while a strike is going on. Finally, the proposed lifting of restrictions on secondary action are a serious step backwards. They would invite a return to the disputes of the 1970s, which would not be in anyone’s best interests.”

Playing on the stereotype of militant unionists and the three-day week might be necessary to combat the claims of the Tories that we’re actually just ‘reds’ by any other name, but is it really liberal?

Posted in Op-eds | 27 Comments
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