Author Archives: Jon Alexander

Social Liberal Forum event: What kind of UBI? Tonight 7pm

As the dust settles from last week’s successful local elections, we at the Social Liberal Forum are already looking forward to the next task: supporting (and challenging!) the Liberal Democrats to develop the best possible UBI policy, and get it adopted at this year’s Autumn Conference.

Working with Lib Dems for Basic Income, we’ve secured the opportunity to host an event with Paul Noblet, who has been chairing the party’s official policy working group. This is due to publish its recommendations and open a short consultation window imminently – and we’ve got Paul to join us and give you a chance to get under the skin of them.

To make the event even better, we’ve also got Jane Dodds, Leader of the Party in Wales and the party’s most prominent basic income champion (see her new video series here), and Christine Jardine MP, who represents the Liberal Democrats on the main cross-party group on UBI, to act as first responders.

They’ll also be joined by Max Ghenis of the US-based UBI Center, who the SLF commissioned to model a radical, “clean slate” approach to UBI in the UK to challenge and inspire the working group during its process. That report is now live and available on the SLF website here.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Jane Dodds launches Basic Income YouTube series

Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds has launched a YouTube series in the runup to the Senedd elections to showcase the many ways in which a Basic Income could change the lives of people in Wales.

Published on the Welsh Lib Dems YouTube channel, “Basic Income Conversations with Jane Dodds” is a series of informal one-to-one conversations in which Jane asks men and women from all corners of the country about their day-to-day lives and how they think a Basic Income would make a difference to them and their communities.

In the first, she hears from Mary, a shop assistant and mother of one from Cowbridge, who reflects on the difficulties her and other working families face trying to make ends meet. “There are rural communities where they go without so much, they go without basics just to get by. And they’re all working families and that’s what I can’t get my head around. They’re all working so hard”.

Mary said the first time she heard about Basic Income was when the Welsh Lib Dems started talking about it and now she is all for it (and hopefully for the Lib Dems too, as a result!).

Jane Dodds has been a vocal supporter of Basic Income for many years and was delighted when the party adopted it as official policy at last year’s conference. “In this campaign I wanted to speak to regular, hard-working people across the country because I wanted to hear their stories and how they thought the financial security of a Basic Income could make a difference to them”, she told Lib Dems for Basic Income.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 36 Comments

New toolkit released to equip anyone to host a “Basic Income Conversation”

Liberal Democrats are right at the forefront of campaigning for a Basic Income – an idea that Christine Jardine called “our generation’s NHS”, and potentially the foundation of a new, post-COVID social contract.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Basic Income could be the key to success in the 2021 elections

As Spring Conference starts, I have to be honest – I’m simmering with frustration.

As I’ve explored at greater length here, I feel the party leadership is at serious risk of missing the enormous opportunity that the sweep of elections in 2021 represents – failing to provide a foundation for electoral success when the key tool to do so is in their hands.

Basic Income is that tool.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 26 Comments

Event review: How to win with Basic Income

Nearly 200 Lib Dem activists signed up to join the “How to win with UBI” online event on Tuesday 9th March, organised in partnership between Lib Dems for Basic Income, the Social Liberal Forum, the Compass-hosted Basic Income Conversation, and justLiberals.

This was the first of three events being co-hosted by this partnership of organisations to explore what is arguably our biggest new party policy for some time.

The second event is What Kind Of UBI?, on 29th March, and this will be followed by an exciting conversation with Michael Tubbs, the man who introduced a …

Posted in Events and News | Tagged | 5 Comments

What might a “Citizens’ Britain” local election campaign look like?

At the end of last year, Ian Kearns and I published a short report called Citizens’ Britain: a radical agenda for the 2020s. The title was in homage to Paddy Ashdown’s book of the same title from 1989, and the core of the approach remains exactly the same: we see the task of liberalism today as being to put more power in more people’s hands. We quote Paddy to start the report:

“A society cannot be free and is very unlikely to be successful for long unless the men and women in it have real power to determine their own destiny. The one thing that unfailingly gives me satisfaction in politics is to watch those who have been taught they are the subject of others’ power, rise to meet the challenge of power in their own hands – and then be unbelieving at what they are able to do.”

With elections coming up all over the country, I wanted to share an idea as to what it might look like to put this spirit at the heart of Lib Dem communications. I reckon it would look something like this…

Now, obviously this footage is a bit out of date, but I reckon you’ll get the idea. It’s taken from interviews I did with three Lib Dem activists about their activism during the first lockdown last spring: Josh Babarinde of Eastbourne Lib Dems; Jo Conchie, now standing for Police and Crime Commissioner in Cheshire; and Liz Barrett, recently elected as a Councillor in Perth.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 41 Comments

How Ed Davey could lead for a Citizens’ Britain in 2021

At the end of last year, Ian Kearns and I published a short report called Citizens’ Britain: a radical agenda for the 2020s. The title was in homage to Paddy Ashdown’s book of the same title from 1989, and the core of the approach remains exactly the same: we see the task of liberalism today as being to put more power in more people’s hands. We quote Paddy to start the report:

A society cannot be free and is very unlikely to be successful for long unless the men and women in it have real power to determine their own destiny. The one thing that unfailingly gives me satisfaction in politics is to watch those who have been taught they are the subject of others’ power, rise to meet the challenge of power in their own hands – and then be unbelieving at what they are able to do.

The tools and the methods do change with the times, however. So in the spirit of making this tangible, and building on what they are already doing, here are three proposals for Ed and the HQ team as they rebuild the party.

1. Care is a good focus – but do it with people, not just for them

It’s clear that Ed is staking a lot on the issue of care, and with good reason. His own story makes him highly credible, and it is a huge priority issue with the public (even ahead of Covid, according to some research).

A Citizens’ Britain approach could equip us to work on this in a big, inclusive, participatory way. I’d love to see us launch a “National Care Conversation”, gathering stories of personal experiences from carers and those who depend on it; generating ideas for the future of care from everywhere (perhaps working in partnership with the brilliant Social Care Future campaign); and then tasking an independent Citizens’ Assembly, representative of the national population, to make recommendations as to what policies should be enacted.

We could then respond to these recommendations at our conference, with a view to adopting them as our policy. This would frame us as the party that aimed to put power in more people’s hands, in the context of this vital issue.

2. Talk about power

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 8 Comments

What can the Lib Dems learn from the Tories digital campaigning?

During last year’s election, I took a brief secondment from my usual role to join the team at the political consultancy Datapraxis – this is where the relationship started that resulted in the Winning For Britain report I co-authored with Ian Kearns earlier this year, and that I know many in the party have found useful.

Another of the organisations I got to know during that time was Valent Projects and in particular its Director, Amil Khan. An investigative journalist and social media strategist, Amil was digging into what the Conservative Party was doing online – and what he was finding was fascinating, in two ways. First, there was some seriously questionable activity going on, which will surprise very few people. More importantly, though, they were using digital in some very different – and very smart – ways.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 28 Comments

Now is the time to stand up as champions of deliberative democracy

Our party is back on the right track. Covid seems to have brought us to our senses: the reaction of local parties, of MPs, and of peers to Covid has been impressive, and it does seem that there is a renewal of our central commitment to the idea of the empowered citizen as the most important element in a healthy politics.

The next step is to make ourselves the party of deliberative democracy, and to do so right now, by calling for a Covid Citizens’ Reference Panel to deliberate on and input into government policy as we transition over the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 20 Comments
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