Author Archives: Sean Davey

Opinion: Where now for liberalism?

Over the next few days, weeks and months there are a few grim but necessary processes which the Liberal Democrats (not to mention Labour and UKIP also) will have to go through: electing a new leader, debating the purpose and ideology that guides the party, and ultimately regrouping to lick our collective wounds.

Perhaps more important than the theatrics of these things unfolding, is the question well what’s next? The decimation of the party as a parliamentary force – following on from the sustained loss of local government Liberal Democrats over the past five years – has disrupted the status quo, and now more than ever a new generation will need to rise up to carry the torch of Liberalism.

Unlike Labour and the Conservatives with their safe seats even when relegated to the opposition benches this does not simply mean a new leader, a new direction and “rising stars”. For the Liberal Democrats we really are back to building ourselves up as a party of local and national government.

In re-building the party we have a stark choice: change versus more of the same. I suspect  this phrase will be banded about plenty in the ideological and strategic battles for the party’s soul and direction, but change must come in the ‘who’ as much as the ‘what’ and ‘why’.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 41 Comments

Opinion: People power – a different kind of coalition

In the face of rapidly declining membership of political parties we – along with the other parties – face a challenge to survive.

In the past we have prospered as a membership led organisation, supported by a national network of volunteers and activists. Our revenue is derived from a combination of membership fees, donations and small scale fundraising.

Above all else we are members of a party that exists to promote and further our values by electing Liberal Democrats to all tiers of government – local and national. We are not a pressure group or a single issue party.

In light of drastically …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 38 Comments

Opinion: A New Year, a new direction for Liberal Youth?

Liberal Youth action dayWith nominations closing on January 4th, Liberal Youth will be electing a new Chair, and several new members of the Exec team leading it forward in 2013. Thanks to the hard work and diligence of Acting Chair Harry Matthews these elections (and positions) will be online and open to all Lib Dem members who are aged 16-25, or registered students.

The New Year offers an opportunity for renewal and a new direction for our youth wing, but equally there is a risk of simply “rearranging the deckchairs …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Opinion: Preaching to the choir – regional Liberal Democrat conferences

This weekend I sacrificed both of my two possible lie-ins for London Regional Conference and a Liberal Youth executive meeting respectively.

Both left me feeling frustrated, and cynical about the future of the party for one main reason: our insularity. Regional conferences are diligently organized – usually by the same people – but feature a similar rotation of speakers, uncontroversial debates and excessive coffee breaks.

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | 16 Comments

Opinion: Strong communities are the key to reducing anti-social behaviour

From littering to binge drinking to sexual harassment, as a society we suffer when individuals show a lack of restraint and self-discipline when interacting with each other and with their local environment.

How many women do you know who have suffered sexual harassment? From wolf whistles in the street to full-on physical harassment, too many of my female friends don’t feel safe to walk down the street at night, and, more often than not, have experienced harassment of some kind in

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: Reshuffle to the Right

The official line is that today’s reshuffle is all about prioritizing the economy – with reasonable evidence for this with Ken Clarke staying on with an economic brief; Cameron beefing up the Whip office and thus backbench discipline; and appointing someone with previous experience of that role – Patrick McLoughlin – to Transport to push through infrastructure projects like HS2.

But the commentary from Twitter to the BBC is already painting this as a move to the right. Lib Dem tweeters are suddenly gloomier about the lifetime of this coalition, but here’s what I think: the Tories have inadvertently given us …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 90 Comments

Opinion: Moderates vs Radicals: the battle for the Liberal Democrat soul

Why did you join the third party? The party with no hope of winning the election? The party who now linger at 10% in the polls, under constant attack on all sides?

Many commentators openly wonder why there is a Liberal Democrat party at all. In an unforgiving two-party system these doubts are not so easily dismissed: how is it that as a small, stubborn party polling just a core vote barely in double digits we are able to sustain our existence, and why do we?

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 57 Comments

Opinion: could the Armed Services help run schools?

First of all it is no exaggeration to say that the British public are hugely proud and supportive of our armed services, and so we should be of the men and women who dedicate their lives to national service. But in modern times the military is facing a number of challenges which are rapidly changing the function they serve.

With a Conservative Defence Secretary enacting the biggest round of cuts since the end of the …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

Wanted: the next generation of Community Champions

Most young people aren’t interested in politics. So how do we build Liberal Youth branches, bring new members into the party, and engage the next generation? I believe that one way we can start is by getting back to community politics.

The art of politics, in so far as it is electioneering, is of obvious importance to what we do as a party, but it shouldn’t be everything. If we only focus on getting the next Lib Dem elected then we will only ever attract a narrow pool of talent, which, however bright, will be made up of those young people who see themselves with a future in politics.

Posted in Events | Tagged | 1 Comment

Liberal Youth storm Spring Conference

Last Friday night Liberal Democrat conference was blown away by 19yr old Londoner Yahaya Kiyingi’s heartfelt and incredibly delivered rally speech about Liberalism, opportunity and the next generation.

Yahaya talked about his family moving from Uganda to London, growing up in one of the poorest areas of his borough, but aspiring to where he is today through the principles of opportunity and empowerment which define our Liberal identity.

Everyone, starting with Nick Clegg wanted to meet him and sing his praises afterwards, and as Simon Hughes told conference “You are why we are in politics Yahaya”.

But Yahaya’s narrative wasn’t just a …

Posted in Conference and News | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Opinion: Reasons to be Cheerful

Waking up to the encouraging string of headlines as I did on Monday, I’m suddenly wondering if this is the point where we as a party have started getting it right?

If there are three uncontroversial elements to Lib Dem identity then equal marriage rights, campaigning against Trident and defending the individual (Nick Clegg launching the #thisisabuse campaign) are surely good starting points?

Conference is this weekend, so you could be forgiven for thinking these brilliant policies appear pre-emptively in our packs – but no, it’s almost as if we are a party of government: the Deputy Prime Minister appearing

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Vested interests on Cameron’s doorstep

Private Eye has welcomed a newcomer to its Rotten Boroughs column in its past 26 issues: Cotswold District Council.

Here in the idyllic Cotswold constituency, neighbouring  David Cameron’s Witney, there has been massive fraud, resulting, so far, in the prosecution and  sentencing of former Cotswold Water Park Society CEO Dennis Grant, who embezzled £700,000 of the charity’s funds. Now an independent, external police force has been brought in by the County Council to investigate further allegations.

One of the key campaigners leading the way in exposing these dealings is Liberal Democrat Councillor Esmond Jenkins. Elected to represent the Water Park ward …

Posted in Local government and News | Tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Opinion: Why conference season is showing us up

“Tory bashing” has been a key phrase this autumn as the Liberal Democrat rank and file use conference to let off some steam. The Daily Politics’ Andrew Neil notably dropped his warm, fuzzy style when grilling Tim Farron over his premonitions of ‘divorce’ – but we seem to be retreating back to ours. “Cuddly Liberal Democrats,” as the Prime Minister put it to his own party conference.

And David Cameron may be outlining the message of the Conservative party for 2015 – with a theme of “Leadership for a better future,” his party are opening up a dialogue between the …

Posted in Op-eds | 21 Comments

Recent Comments

  • David Blake
    @Paul Reynolds In the list of abbreviations, it gives 'dir' as director and 'cons' as consultant/consultancy. Does that fit? Myself I think it's easier to gi...
  • Mary Fulton
    The police forces should certainly apologise for actions against the LGTB+ community in England and Wales since 1967 (and since 1980 in Scotland and 1982 in Nor...
  • Alex Macfie
    Remember that ordinary voters are typically not partisan ideologues. In the Kennedy years we were able to appeal to younger voters with a radical agenda but wit...
  • Robin Stafford
    For those interested in health and the NHS, Roy Lilley's blog is worth a look. A strong supporter of the NHS thought not uncritical. https://myemail-api.cons...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Simon R, Yes well done! :-) It was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment. I usually have difficulty in persuading contributors to this site to think in ter...