Author Archives: Ashley Cartman

Strategy Consultation paper – there’s something important missing

 

One thing I absolutely love about being a Liberal Democrat is the involvement we members have in formulating, developing and approving policy. This open and transparent process not only chimes with our values but also is a marvel to behold. At York last month, my first ever time at a conference, I voted in important policy proposals ranging from faith schools to nuclear weapons and partook in a consultative session on economic policy.  Nonetheless I feel this whole process is in danger of failing us.

A fast changing political environment needs a fast policy making process

In times past there was a reliable 4/5-year cycle all culminating in a general election. In the intervening period the party could spend time ruminating and developing policy. Unfortunately we no longer live in normal times. The tectonic plates of politics are shifting not only in the UK but also around the world. If we really want to redefine British politics and replace the old left/right dichotomy with a choice between open and closed then we need to be much more nimble.  The political environment no longer gives us the luxury of an extended period of reflection and policy consultation.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

There are issues more important than Europe

David Cameron famously told his party to ‘stop banging on about Europe’, are we in the Liberal Democrats in danger of doing the same? I fear we are.

With our seemingly exclusive focus on Europe we are missing a more fundamental concern for British voters, to paraphrase Bill Clinton’s campaign message ‘it’s the economy stupid!’

An Ashcroft poll conducted in September this year showed that although most voters agreed that negotiating the best Brexit deal possible was the top priority for the country as a whole when it came to issues facing themselves and their families it came fourth behind tackling the cost of living, improving the NHS and getting the economy moving. This doesn’t surprise me.

Like many I was dumbfounded by the result in June. For the first time I felt there were huge sections of our society that I neither knew nor understood. It would be easy to write off the 17,410,742 who voted to leave as xenophobic, racist, ignorant or just conned by an anti EU media establishment. That would be a mistake.

I have spent the last few months thinking about why, when to me the arguments for remain were clear, we as a nation voted to leave.  My belief is that confused by a torrent of dubious facts from both sides a significant proportion of the electorate assessed the ‘state of nation’ and concluded that it simply wasn’t good enough. With nothing to lose they voted accordingly.

Should we really be so surprised by this? Faced with falling real wages, declining social mobility, greater financial insecurity and government policy that rescued the banks but let the steel industry wither it really isn’t that shocking that so many voted as they did.

As Liberal Democrats we are certainly doing a great job articulating the publics concerns about Brexit. Since June we have become the rallying point for those deeply worried about the implications of a hard Brexit and a recent YouGov poll  showed that we could gain significant electoral advantage in the event of a snap general election. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 39 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 15th Nov - 11:41am
    I suppose it's a bit of an advance for Jane Dodds (and I give her credit) for admitting that the Welfare Reform Act of 2012...
  • User AvatarJohn B 15th Nov - 8:11am
    Thanks for your comment, Jonathan. You may have been tongue in cheek, but many on LDV seem to have a naïve view about working with...
  • User AvatarJonathan Maltz 15th Nov - 12:48am
    John B: my comment was tongue-in-cheek. All Labour can offer given their well-known intransigence is to guarantee that the Tories will be the largest party...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 14th Nov - 11:42pm
    Jo Swinson says that the party "must give voters a genuine remain option" in the election. Quite right. The problem is that the party is...
  • User Avatarcrewegwyn 14th Nov - 11:30pm
    Thanks Mark.
  • User AvatarGaryE 14th Nov - 11:04pm
    David makes a valid point for seats with few resources and low membership. If central funds can pay deposits then £500 pays for 15,000 A4...