Latest Social Liberal Forum Publication Now Available: “Northern Discomfort: An Analysis of the Lib Dem performance in the 2017 General Election”

Having had something of a break over the General Election period, the Social Liberal Forum is back with its nose to the grindstone, publishing new content to stir the interests of  liberals—in particular social liberals– everywhere.

We are very grateful to Michael Mullaney for writing his excellent analysis of the General Election results, especially as it focuses on the fate of the party in significant regions of  England.  We now hold only one seat in the north of England (Westmorland and Lonsdale) and looking at the north, the Midlands, Wales and East Anglia combined, we defended only seven of the 16 second places we were defending, and lost our seats in Leeds Northwest, Sheffield Hallam and Ceredigion.

The story of this General Election is undoubtedly the fall in vote share to 7.4%–wonderful as it may be to have increased our tally of MPs by four– and the party facing irrelevance in large parts of the north, and other parts of the country.   This is particularly distressing, as our policies would make such a difference to people living in these regions of England.

At the end of his piece, Michael says,

….there is a large potential market place [in British politics] for centre-left progressive politics.  This gives us the opportunity at the next election to present the public with a progressive, social liberal agenda.

Amen to that sentiment, and the SLF will be working hard to ensure that social liberal policies remain front and centre of the Liberal Democrat agenda.

You can find this new publication here on the SLF website.

Also the SLF Conference on 15th July in London, whose theme is “The Retreat from Globalisation”, will present the first opportunity for liberals everywhere to come together and discuss their own experiences of GE 2017.  You can find out more about the conference and how to book tickets here.

* Helen Flynn is an Executive Member of the LDEA. She is a former Parliamentary Candidate and Harrogate Borough Councillor and has served on the Federal Policy Committee and Federal Board. She has been a school governor in a variety of settings for 19 years and currently chairs a multi academy trust in the north of England.

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  • The party must argue robustly why protectionism of either right or left is dangerous, and make the case for economic liberalism and globalisation, whilst refusing to pander to nationalist anti immigrant sentiment.

    We must also argue against Corbynite economic policy, argue against renationalisation, trade union power and the anti corporate bigotry of Labour. The North needs a positive pro globalisation voice more than anywhere – foreign investors and foreign ownership will provide opportunities here, not nationalised industries clinging on to obsolete left wing unionised jobs.

  • Richard Underhill 23rd Jun '17 - 4:02pm

    When do the pending boundary changes come into force?

  • Andrew McCaig 23rd Jun '17 - 9:15pm

    I think if we have learned any lesson it is that policies from the extreme wing of the Tory Party are not popular in the North of England…

  • We must have a proper industrial policy applied specifically for North and Midlands in our next manifesto.

    But I would prefer developing new industries and renovation rather than keeping propping up failing industries (but we must prop them up in the short run to make the transition period less painful). In Germany, Dortmund was an example of successful renovation. Lets follow that model.

    Potential new industries: electronics, renewable energy equipment, life science (larger than just pharma), robot and automated technology, space and aerospace. We can even bring back volume clothing and footwear industries using robots.

    We can have plans to develop these sectors to reduce our reliance on foreign import. They can be led either foreign firms or domestic firms, but we must develop regional supply chain to support these lead companies.

  • Thomas,
    I appreciate your sentiments but the problem is “how”. Governments can’t just spoof up these industrial sectors from nothing. If that were possible every country in the world would already be doing it. These are the activities that every nation wants for its citizens.
    What is needed is a whole new national philosophy. No current party is thinking that big, certainly not the LibDems, who, as I read these pages simply wants to be the party of Santa Claus pulling gifts from a sack which magically refills itself.

  • David Evershed 24th Jun '17 - 11:28am

    Labour ate our election lunch.

    Remainers voted Labour. Graduates voted Labour. Northerners voted Labour. Social reformers voted Labour.

    Free traders will vote for being outside the protectionist EU – so not for Lib Dems.

    To differentiate ourselves from Labour and to attract free traders, Lib Dems need clear liberal economic policies to add to clear liberal social policies.

    We need to emphasise the benefits of free markets, competition, global free trade, entrepreneurship and the government keeping out of the way of successful business sectors to show our liberal economic credentials.

  • Sue Sutherland 24th Jun '17 - 12:56pm

    I thought it was interesting that in some safe Labour seats in the North there was a swing towards the Tories. This was happening in the early returns from the North East because I remember thinking that May might get her majority.

  • What a very disappointing report. Largely just a statement of statistical fact and then a massive jump to an opinion of a solution. Liberals see a massive vacuum in the center of British politics. Trouble is that maybe that’s because very few voters are occupying it at the moment. It’s a vacuum where a party can get asphyxiated. The country has become polarised and one pole strengthens the other. Rather than trying to fill a traditional center ground we need to understand the drivers at the heart of these poles and try to engage with them. That is the sort of analytical report I am waiting to see from the LibDems.

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