Introducing the Social Liberal Forum

New members have been asking about Lib Dem organisations that they can join.  You are welcome to submit similar items on behalf of other organisations.

Social Liberal ForumWhat we believe

The Social Liberal Forum exists to foster debate within and beyond the Liberal Democrats, with the aim of developing social liberal solutions to the challenges facing the country, and which find popular support.

The ethos that underpins the Social Liberal Forum has remained unchanged since its formation in 2009, and is best described as the belief that a democratic and open state has a positive role to play in guaranteeing individual freedom.

Like all liberals, social liberals believe that individuals should have the freedom to develop and grow as they wish. The creation, protection and nurturing of this freedom should be a central objective of all governments.

This involves guaranteeing individual freedom from state interference. But is also entails public action, sometimes in the form of action by the state, to protect individuals against inequality, poverty, unemployment, ill-health, disability, lack of education, climate change and more.

We believe that the British state is not well constituted to achieve these ends at present, because it is over-centralised and authoritarian, and for those reasons it can be inefficient and unresponsive. We therefore argue that power exercised by the state should be decentralized, participatory democracy encouraged and a greater emphasis placed on social justice and environmental sustainability.

About the organisation

Social Liberal Forum membership is free and is open to anyone who shares a belief in social liberalism, whether they are members of the Liberal Democrats or not.

Every two years, we elect a council, who among themselves elect a Chair and Executive Director. The Council sets the organisation’s strategy and an executive committee of volunteers executes that strategy. The next Council elections will be held in 2016.

SLF at Party Conference

As a forum, social liberals collaborate to draft and submit policy to federal party conferences, where we can often be found debating on the conference floor. Some of our policies have since been adopted as government policy. As well as being involved in writing policy, we also have a stall in the exhibition at Party conferences, and run fringes. If you’re coming to Bournemouth, do pop by and say hello!

SLF Annual Conference – 4th July 2015

We hold our own annual conference every summer where we host the William Beveridge Memorial Lecture, which is usually given by a leading Liberal Democrat parliamentarian. Previous lectures have been given by Nick Clegg MP, Steve Webb MP and Tim Farron MP. This year, it will be given by Baroness Claire Tyler. The theme of the conference is Rebooting Liberalism and the agenda is packed full of interesting speakers and sessions, and will include an official hustings for the Liberal Democrat Party leadership. This is a great opportunity for you to ask questions of both candidates.

You don’t have to be an SLF member to come along, and our early bird ticket rate of £25, including lunch, ends soon.

* Cllr Gordon Lishman is a member of the Federal Board and Acting Chair of the Social Liberal Forum, although neither body can be assumed always to agree with him,

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Lib Dem organisations.
Advert

36 Comments

  • I trust we’ll see a similar advert for Liberal Reform

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th May '15 - 7:12pm

    It’s up to them to provide us with copy, but, if they do, of course.

  • I would suggest that much inequality occurs because people lack the academic qualifications to enter better paid skilled employment . Below are two specifications for applying to become apprentices, National Grid and Thames Water .

    National Grid
    Electrical and Instrumenation

    http://careers.nationalgrid.com/apprentice-engineer-training-programmes/advanced-apprenticeship-programme/electrical-instrumentation/

    What you need
    We’re looking for people who have a genuine interest in engineering. A hard worker, you’ll combine practical technical skills with a responsible attitude and a love for the outdoors – whatever the weather – as this is where you’ll spend the vast amount of your time. In addition, you’ll need to provide proof of one of the following qualifications*:
    5 GCSEs or equivalent qualifications
    • You must have Maths and English Language minimum of Grade C GCSE.
    • Plus one from technical subject areas – IT, Technical Drawing, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Science or any other Engineering subject. (minimum of Grade C GCSE)
    • Plus two additional GCSEs in IT, Technical Drawing, Engineering (or any other Engineering subject), Science, English Literature, Geography or History (minimum of Grade C GCSE)
    OR
    • Engineering Diploma Higher level (Grade A – C) WITH GCSE Maths (Grade A – C) and English Language (Grade A – C)
    And:
    • have good communication skills to deal with colleagues and the public

    Thames Water
    • For both schemes we require a minimum of 5 GCSEs grades C or above.
    For the mechanical and electrical apprenticeship you must have grade C or above in Maths, English and Science.
    For the Instrumentation, Controls and Automation apprenticeship we require A-C in English & Science and a Grade B or above in Maths.

    The reality is that too many people are leaving comprehensives , especially in inner city areas, who lack the GSCEs to apply to enter the better apprenticeship training schemes. Training is like a relay race; employers cannot make up for poor schooling. If we want to reduce social employment , then all school leavers must have the academic grades and attitude to enter apprenticeships and at the moment probably 30-40% lack these attributes.

  • @Charlie we need a return of the tripartite system and polytechnics, a reduction of the school leaving age to 14 and an expansion of on the job training

  • Daniel Henry 18th May '15 - 8:05pm

    I can’t agree Charlie.
    Even for those with qualifications there seems to be a lack of opportunity out there.

    During the recession I spent a few years, alternating between low paid jobs and unemployment. Many of my friends who graduate find themselves in a similar situation, struggling to find graduate jobs.

    Education is important but I see inequality more down to a lack of opportunity for people.

  • Graham Evans 18th May '15 - 9:20pm

    @ Daniel Henry That’s precisely the problem. Too many young people with reasonable GCSEs and A levels opt for university in the belief it will get them the sorts of job which were open to university graduates thirty years ago when only 5% of the age cohort went to uni. When 45% go then the jobs market looks very different, plus the fact that technological change has removed many middle management roles. On the other hand FE colleges which would have once concentrated on vocational courses for those with reasonable O levels and GCSEs now devote much of their energy to rectifying the failures of the schools, particularly in maths and English.

  • Samuel Griffiths 18th May '15 - 9:23pm

    Great to hear from Social Liberal Forum! Very pleased to see you guys are still about. We need more articles like this, especially in the troubling times ahead related to recapturing the values of a liberal party.

  • so SLF believe in liberalism then! Everyone should join who considers themselves a liberal. Liberalism is not, and never has been, libertarianism. So glad SLF exists. Without it a lot of people would have given up long ago.

  • @Stevo Liberalism is a broad church and whilst there are large parts of the SLF viewpoint that I subscribe to, some of it I do not. SLF does not equal Liberalism.

  • Samuel Griffiths 18th May '15 - 10:15pm

    Whilst you are certainly correct that liberalism is a broad church, TCO, it is also one that is often contradictory. Social Liberal supporters should certainly be forgiven for championing a sect of liberalism they wish to see supplant the others. I can happily agree with Stevo on his statement.

  • Daniel Henry
    Most sought after degree is chemical engineering. A cousin who graduated from Southampton with 2(1) in Mech Eng had several job offers even a a few years ago. The question which degree from which university and whether one has the experience and attitude for the job. Somone who is wet drip is not much use working civil engineering contracting or mining.

  • @Samuel Griffiths “Social Liberal supporters should certainly be forgiven for championing a sect of liberalism they wish to see supplant the others. ”

    Why should they be forgiven? Wishing to see a narrow orthodoxy supplant all other viewpoints as the one truth of Liberalism, paradoxically sounds as far from Liberalism as you can get.

  • Liberalism is not one thing. The are different types of Liberalism, always has been and always will be. In the UK we are unified by the preamble of the Liberal Democrat constitution, which defines what a Liberal Democrat is. If you think someone does not belong in the party on the grounds of their ideology, then check in the preamble whether that is the case.
    This general point about the different varieties of Liberalism also applies to Conservatism and Socialism as well.

  • TCO 9;50pm
    Totally agree. In the Netherlands people can leave school at 14 if they enter an apprenticeship but still have to continue the academic studies. The massive expansion in arts and social science degrees which has taken place in the UK post 1945 has not occurred in Germany or Switzerland. The expansion of post 16 and higher education post 1960s has primarily benefited middle class arts lecturers who would not have had the ability to obtain posts at top universities not necessarily the graduates. The number of under employed arts graduates from lesser universities and ex-polys has been increasing for decades. At the same time many STEM departments have declined or even closed. Anthony Sampson, a founder of the SDPs has written extensively on this subject , especially in his 1982 Anatomy book. University departments which undertook applied science and engineering for companies , especially at Salford, Aston , etc ( CAT Colleges) often could not publish because of commercial confidentiality have suffered because of assessment based upon publications. As Sampson has stated the UK is good at Nobel prize winning research but lack sufficient universities such as Aston, Salford. In Germany there are Fraunhofer Institutes. Immigration has reduced wages by increasing competition for un and semi-skilled jobs especially in the construction, agricultural and hospitality/ catering industries. As the Unions primarily represent public sector workers and have hardly any members in skilled private employment, they appear indifferent to technical training. The most effective way of someone who is un/semi-skilled to increase their wages is to obtain the education and skills which enables them to enter better paid skilled employment NOT increasing the minimum wage which makes minimal difference.

    Poly’s used to offer evening and weekend lectures which enabled people who were apprentices/draftsmen/clerks to obtain degrees ( engineering , architecture, law, surveying, accountancy, chemistry,banking, insurance ) and enter the professional middle classes. Once degrees became full time at polys, people had to take 3-4 years off work to obtain a degree which if they had families ,they could often not afford to do. Also , people could rise through the ranks in the RN, Merchant Navy , Army and RAF ; as these have declined , so has opportunity. In the 18C , Cook went from a sailor in the MN to Captain RN, FRS and Gold Medallist of RS! At Trafalgar many commanders and captain in the RN had risen from the ranks!

    Jobs which required 5 O levels or perhaps 2 A levels now need degrees. What has arisen is a situation where one needs to obtain a degree to enter the professional middle classes yet we are not producing enough 16 year olds who have the ability to enter apprenticeships in the high value advanced manufacturing /service economy.

    Overall, the number of routes for advancement have declined . If one looks at history, the rise and fall of civilisations have often been due to the mastery of technology and trade. Even the Mongols success was mainly due to the combination of archer, horse and composite bow . In 1953 S Korea was poorer than Ghana but since then the people have been obtaining the technical skills which makes Samsung possible. I would argue the modern day inequality is largely down to the differences in ability to obtain the education and technical skills required to enter well paid highly skilled employment. Countries which have directed their energies in obtaining skills in applied science and engineering have prospered( Japan has only won a small number of Nobel prizes in science).

  • Sara Scarlett 19th May '15 - 5:32am

    Social Liberalism is a vital school of thought in Liberalism.

    However, it is only one school of thought of very many. This post, perhaps, underestimates how much government intervention SLF are comfortable with and certainly frame themselves in a way no one could disagree with. For what it’s worth, I think Social Liberal Forum have correctly identified a lot of the problems of policy and the party but I find them to be notedly less apt at identifying the solutions.

    The Libdems are a party short on allies and all parts of Liberalism are in dire need of being brought together.

  • Charlie

    “At Trafalgar many commanders and captain in the RN had risen from the ranks!”

    I would need to check but I think they all had. Only the Army allowed commissions to be purchased.

  • @Psi I think some “gentlemen” would have started their naval life as a midshipman, rather than a rating/able-seaman, and then been promoted on merit.

    This also happened in the Army but promotion took a lot longer that way as higher ranking positions were filled in the first instance by those who had bought their place.

  • Samuel Griffiths 19th May '15 - 9:46am

    TCO wrote: “Why should they be forgiven? Wishing to see a narrow orthodoxy supplant all other viewpoints as the one truth of Liberalism, paradoxically sounds as far from Liberalism as you can get.”

    Let’s not forget that neo-liberalism was created as an ideology in a reactionary movement against the more progressive social liberalism. Whilst they can certainly unite under the broad church over many issues, it is simply not correct to pretend they are somehow compatible viewpoints. Let’s hope the social liberals can redirect the party, the last five years have really shown the need for them!

  • Sara Scarlett 19th May '15 - 10:06am

    “If you think someone does not belong in the party on the grounds of their ideology, then check in the preamble whether that is the case.”

    And if you still don’t think they belong – then what? Hound them out of the party?

  • TCO
    Sir John Harvey Jones said the RN up to the time of Nelson was the finest management training organisation the World has ever seen. The midshipmen were expected to do everything the ratings did and were taught the theory of navigation and gunnery while at sea. All officers led by example. Promotion was based upon aural exams which assessed practical problems such as ” The ship loses certain sails , 2 miles from a shore, the wind is blowing a certain strength onto the shore , – what orders would you give “. Literate ratings could be promoted on merit into positions of authority such as petty officer and then be commissioned, such as Captain Cook RN FRS. It would interesting to compare the number of officers who came up from the ranks in 1805 and today within the RN.

    The army varied . The long wars against the French from 1789 produced good officers because bad ones were killed. The introduction of Rifle units where officers and ranks much closer together and required high levels of fitness ( one unit marched 63 miles in 26 hours including pack and rifle ) and marksmanship, produced units similar in outlook to the Commandos. Buying a position does not necessarily the officer is incompetent . Wellington bought his position and officers from the Royal artillery and Royal Engineers were trained at Woolwich Academy, where Faraday was a lecturer and maths was taught by Cambridge Wranglers.

    I would suggest that what made Britain different to other European countries was that far more people were promoted on merit and were able to better themselves in life. The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions were created by farmers and craftsmen, not the aristocracy.The success of Britain was because since the time of the Anglo-Saxons hard work, and ability was rewarded more than in other countries , where the aristocracy and Roman Catholic Church had control of most positions. Even in the Church sons of farmers such as Wiliam Wykeham and Wolsey could become bishops and Lord Chancellors , whereas in Europe such positions were for the sons of the nobility only.
    When I look at much of the welfare state , including education in the UK, it appears like the RC at the end of the Medieval Period , it does good but the primary beneficiaries are those employed by it , not the poor. The Chief executive of a NHS Trust or LA are very similar to the well fed Abbots, Abbesses, Priors and Prioresses of the 16 C.

    By making so many employment positions require a degree which can only be obtained by 3 or 4 years of full ti me education , the UK is reducing social mobility. The ending of evening and weekend education for degrees in vocational subjects has meant a massive decrease in the ability of someone to be able to rise from craftsman/ operative level into management.

  • @Charlie “By making so many employment positions require a degree which can only be obtained by 3 or 4 years of full ti me education , the UK is reducing social mobility. The ending of evening and weekend education for degrees in vocational subjects has meant a massive decrease in the ability of someone to be able to rise from craftsman/ operative level into management.”

    I very much agree. Are you a party member?

  • @Sara Scarlett the preamble is sufficiently loosely worded as to be almost impossible to use as a basis for exclusion.

  • Samuel Griffiths 19th May '15 - 11:11am

    Re: Preamble. Very much so! Though I think you and I, TCO, would hopefully be able to agree we are not looking to exclude anyone. I would imagine we are both rather looking at directing the flow of the parties future policy positions. After all, who follows a party is pretty irrelevant if we personally feel that the particular party no longer represents our values and politics.

  • @Samuel Griffiths absolutely. I think the point that Sara is making, however, is that our shared viewpoint isn’t necessarily followed by everyone who posts to this board. I have been called variously “Tory” and “Libertarian” (perjoritatively) and had my membership of the party openly questioned, usually with a recommendation to leave and join another party.

    I think we can agree that the Liberal approach to this is to allow each individual member to decide whether the direction of travel is compatible with their own views and philosophy rather than use unsubtle attempts to force them to leave.

  • Sara Scarlett 19th May '15 - 11:53am

    @TCO “the preamble is sufficiently loosely worded as to be almost impossible to use as a basis for exclusion.”

    Indeed.

  • @ Sara Scarlett” @TCO “the preamble is sufficiently loosely worded as to be almost impossible to use as a basis for exclusion.”
    Indeed.”
    Indeed not.

    If you don’t believe in the building and safeguarding of a fair, free and open society, in which no-one shall be enslaved etc, you aren’t in.

  • @david Evans but there’s now prescription as to how and that’s where most of the differences arrive

  • @David Evans for example, regarding economics the preamble states: “within a competitive environment in which the state allows the market to operate freely where possible but intervenes where necessary.”

    Who determines what’s as free as possible? Who determines what intervention is necessary? All moot points for discussion.

  • If people are genuinely hostile to the principles of the party – and I would suggest that, for example, racism (BNP-style racism) is incompatible with the idea that none shall be enslaved by conformity – then the correct cause of action is that, provided such views are “evidenced by conduct” to contact your local, regional or state party (as appropriate) and to ask them to consider the evidence and bring disciplinary proceedings for “Material disagreement evidenced by conduct with the fundamental values and objectives of the Party”.

  • Daniel Henry 19th May '15 - 3:51pm

    @ TCO
    “I think we can agree that the Liberal approach to this is to allow each individual member to decide whether the direction of travel is compatible with their own views and philosophy rather than use unsubtle attempts to force them to leave.”

    I agree completely.
    It’s always frustrating to see liberals (from both “sides”) be told that they don’t belong in the party – it’s just not how a party built on pluralism and diversity should operate!

  • “I think we can agree that the Liberal approach to this is to allow each individual member to decide whether the direction of travel is compatible with their own views and philosophy rather than use unsubtle attempts to force them to leave.”

    This sounds like an inadequate approach even for a small group of amateur anarchists who have no intention of being elected to anything.
    If by accident they do get elected they will have no possibiity of organising a group on a local council or in any parliament anywhere to act in an effective way.
    This is precisely the sort of I’ll-informed, impractical dreamer’s approach that will NOT help us rebuild the party.

    UKIP has some council groups like this at the moment. Disorganised, rambling eccentrics who got elected to their local council because they are against membership of the EU. Which is a bit like taking cycle maintenance classes because you want to fly a jumbo jet.
    They will probably last as long as a Farage resignation.
    I understand that the thin-skinned snarling one has got his revenge on Mr O’Flynn today.

  • @John Tilley “This sounds like an inadequate approach even for a small group of amateur anarchists who have no intention of being elected to anything.
    If by accident they do get elected they will have no possibility of organising a group on a local council or in any parliament anywhere to act in an effective way.
    This is precisely the sort of I’ll-informed, impractical dreamer’s approach that will NOT help us rebuild the party.”

    What you describe above has been the way our political opponents have characterised us in the past – as merely being an umbrella group for the disaffected and a useful brand for residents’ associations. And like all caricatures there is an element of truth to it.

  • The Americans have some interesting sayings related to
    ” It is important to have F… You money ” , If someone can say FY to an employer and know they have skills which makes them employable and enough money for 6 months, then it gives people freedom.
    Another phrase is ” What colour is your parachute ? ”
    An employable skill in well paid employment and 6 months living expenses in the bank , affords people freedom. I remember during my first term of employment , I discovered that my monthly salary had doubled. So many junior staff had left, that the company doubled salaries. So those who had the skills to leave the company did me a good favour.
    The best thing anyone can do to a bad employer is obtain all the technical skills and experience one can and leave.
    I suggest another definitions of Liberalism
    “Defy intimidation and respect reason and tolerance “.
    ” Tolerance from a position of strength”. Someone who tolerates being mugged is weak, not tolerant.

  • Mavarine Du-Marie 20th May '15 - 7:00am

    So, it seems that there are six types of people needed to accomplish the sort of change many of us seek and the list are those who are:

    1. Activists
    2. Intellectuals
    3. Artists
    4. Insiders
    5. Supportive Elites
    6. The Masses

    An obvious example involves some of those outside the activist camp asking the activists to tone it down out of concern that they are making the larger movement look bad. But there are all sorts of other examples, ranging from some activists accusing others of not being active enough to those in many groups accusing the insiders (e.g., those attempting to work with interfaith groups) of betraying the movement.

    If this is right, we would do well to realise that diversity is a strength and that we need different people bringing different skill sets to the liberal movement. Disagreement is inevitable, but diverse approaches to common problems offer considerable benefit.

  • Mavarine Du-Marie 20th May '15 - 8:01am

    A far more attractive approach, involves a willingness to engage in a struggle to understand diverse perspectives, resolve disagreements in ways that do not necessarily involve one’s own perspective “winning,” and recognition that the benefits of diversity outweigh the discomfort it often brings.

    One challenges oneself to learn from others who have had vastly different experiences, and one is willing to grow as a result of such challenges even when growth involves modifying one’s previous positions.

    Conflict is encountered, experienced, and worked through. The in-group is much larger and more diverse, and this will certainly bring a number of challenges. But those who opt for this path do so because they value diversity and are not arrogant enough to think that theirs is the only valid perspective.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 22nd Oct - 1:54am
    Would very much agree with friends here who say this is all in good fun, and really worry when some who are known for their...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 21st Oct - 10:03pm
    I understand Facebook made 1.3 billion pounds profit in the UK last year and paid just over 15 million pounds in tax. I remember Mr...
  • User AvatarTeejay 21st Oct - 9:42pm
    "Your generation is being betrayed by mine. By those who look to the past, who see Britain as a museum." If there were to be...
  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 21st Oct - 9:36pm
    Jayne Mansfield: Satire is a legitimate part of campaigning politics. Your apparent failure to get this suggests you are the kind of person who tends...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 21st Oct - 8:57pm
    @ Alex Macfie, Sorry Alex, I think that as a party you need to decide whether Brexit is a serious matter and in order to...
  • User AvatarAdam Bernard 21st Oct - 8:50pm
    Harrow local party last week issued a statement on this - relevant part: "We believe that a special conference is an egregious waste of money,...