Author Archives: James Belchamber

James Belchamber is Chair of South West Birmingham Liberal Democrats.

It’s time to stop apologising for the Coalition – and use it instead

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We need a leader without the stench of coalition baggage

This is a phrase I hear a lot in the party. I see it under every Facebook post about the next leadership election. But by trying to scrub ourselves of the Coalition are we missing a powerful argument, one that rings especially true in those 80 conservative-facing second places?

When we were almost wiped out in 2015, most voters that switched from us to the Tories did so because they liked the coalition years – a period of relative stability following a deep financial crisis – and they credited the Tories with delivering this.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 36 Comments

Instilling a fear of failure will return us to pointlessness

The Apple Lisa – a famous failure

I’ve worked in the computer industry for almost the whole of my adult life.

My first experience fixing one was at 11, maybe 12 years old. My childminder’s husband had a computer I was allowed to play on so long as I asked whenever I wanted to change the program (so I didn’t break it) but, of course, I did. And then, it stopped working. At that moment I knew I either had to fix it, or tell her husband what I did.

I fixed that computer bloody quickly. In hindsight, it was an obvious problem – but also, one I didn’t make again. But I’ve made a lot of mistakes since – indeed, you could say that the entire repertoire of my knowledge and experience is grounded in failure, learning from failure, and building that in to success.

In the computer industry we have a saying – “fail fast”. It’s probably also a saying in other circles, but it embodies a culture that all successful companies strive for – enabling people to take risks, try new things. Put simply, they’re empowered to fail.

Whole companies – start-ups – are empowered to fail. It’s expected; an investor will pick some “sure things”, some that are a little risky, and a few “moon shots” – companies financed to try something they will probably inevitably fail at, but if they do succeed they could disrupt and reconfigure an entire sector of the economy. And one of them will, inevitably, succeed.

Posted in Op-eds | 49 Comments

An enthusiastic, proud, grassroots attempt at values-based campaigning

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of participating in some conversations, on a dark corner of the internet, about values-based campaigning. Over the last few days I’ve had the delight of seeing this break out of the dark corner, when Henry Wright (candidate for Cherry Hinton, Cambridge) shared what he’d been creating and why he joined the Lib Dems in the first place:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 3 Comments

Engage the People

If we don’t engage with people who oppose immigration, others will

I want to start this article by clarifying that I am pro-migration. That is, I want to see the UK become a country as open to people coming and going as possible – ideally, entirely open. I consider this to be the only Liberal position on immigration, and I need to believe that all of us are seeking to make this as much of a reality as is practical. We are all on the same side here.

I’m also someone who has friends and family who are directly affected by the issues around immigration. This debate is very personal to me, and what I share here is out of a deep concern that we have sound, practical policies that make our country a more open, friendly and liberal place for everyone.

We’re getting something very wrong in the debate over immigration at the moment. Entirely reasonable, Liberal-minded people are making the argument that we should not engage with people who oppose immigration. That, instead of listening to people who take this position, we should tell them that they’re wrong.

This is counterproductive. Moreover, it’s probably not Liberal.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 28 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 28th Jan - 7:14pm
    Who do you believe?
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 28th Jan - 7:10pm
    Safe pair of hands.Yes. Little influence in the coalition. Yes. However you can expect his being part of the coalition will come up cos it...
  • User AvatarRob Harrison 28th Jan - 6:38pm
    @John Roffey You've highlighted a video from RussiaToday which includes a number of arguments about 5G which have been shown to be unproven. For example,...
  • User AvatarRichard 28th Jan - 6:06pm
    David Beckett "A safe pair of hands is not a pair that held an important role in the coalition". Agreed.
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 28th Jan - 5:34pm
    Thank you very much, David, for informing us at once of that very sad story. Can I also add something from last Friday's Times. The...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 28th Jan - 5:33pm
    In the mid 20th century it was considered inevitable that socialism was the way society would develop, so politics was mainly about how quickly it...