Liberal Reform announces new Advisory Council and housing focus

Liberal Reform advisory councilAs part of the next stage of our development, Liberal Reform has set up an Advisory Council representing a broad group of campaigners and policy experts to advise the elected Board and help ensure our broad Liberal heritage is represented in the party.

I’m delighted that the following prominent Liberal Democrats have agreed to join the Council, with more to follow: Norman Lamb MP, Jeremy Browne, Baroness Jenny Randerson, David Laws, Miranda Green, Julian Astle and Baroness Kishwer Falkner.

Since Liberal Reform was formed a few years ago it has become clear that there is a real appetite in the party for balanced four-cornered Liberalism — personal, political, social and economic — and that all of these elements are needed for us to rebuild the party as a radical, progressive force.

We agree with Tim Farron in his recent article that “Our country needs a party to speak up for decent, centre-ground politics, offering hope and change as well as economic credibility” and that the election of Jeremy Corbyn means a huge swathe of decent, centrist, progressive voters are now open to hearing the Liberal Democrat message.

We also intend to identify a number of policy areas where we are seeking to develop radical policies. The first we’ve chosen to focus on, because of its importance, is housing – particularly for the poor and for young people.

While the party has been clear that we wish to build many more homes, it has been woefully short on ideas about how it could be done. In fact, Lib Dems have often been at the forefront at opposing home-building at a local level. The party has also tended to ignore the issues faced by private renters and has little to say about housing associations who control much social housing with often inadequate accountability.

The Liberal Reform working group aims to come up with bold new ideas to invigorate Liberal Democrat thinking on housing. If you are a Lib Dem member and wish to participate in our housing working group, or to contribute ideas, please email us on [email protected]

Liberal Reform is involved in two exciting events at conference this weekend, details of which can be found in our conference briefing, which is available here (pdf) and in hard copy in Bournemouth.

* Alan Muhammed is Liberal Reform Co-Chair & works as a Management Consultant. He is a former Guildford Borough Councillor & Lib Dem HQ Campaigns Staffer.

Read more by or more about , , , , , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Sep '15 - 11:52am

    Absolutely gutted not to see TCO’s initials beneath a redacted image.

  • Richard Underhill 17th Sep '15 - 12:11pm

    Stephen Hesketh 17th Sep ’15 – 11:52am ???

  • Why four corners of liberalism? Why not three? Or five? Or nine? Or 4,972?

    Who was David Laws to make up this “four cornered liberalism” nonsense in his Orange Book? Did Gladstone talk about “four cornered liberalism”? Did Lloyd George? Did Keynes? Did Beveridge? Did Grimond? No.

    “Four-cornered liberalism” is little more than a way for David Laws to try and legitimise the language of the right within the party, after realising that talking about “economic liberalism” went down like a lead balloon. Have Laws and the Orange Bookers not done enough damage to the party? Did they not take the hint from last May’s wipeout about what the great British public think of their “four-cornered liberalism”?

    Only if we heed the lessons of where “four cornered liberalism” leads us can we start to move on from the calamities of the last few years.

  • Toby Fenwick 17th Sep '15 - 1:23pm

    I’m pleased to be part of Liberal Reform on specific policy development- the housing and planning agenda is extremely important, and supply side interventions will be more successful and sustainable than caps or Corbynista expropriation.

  • Helen Tedcastle 17th Sep '15 - 2:08pm

    ‘Windjammer’ is right. This ‘Liberal Reform’ group seems to be another vehicle for the right of the Party or at least the most enthusiastic about the coalition to promote their brand of liberalism. This brand, judging by the description, seems to be ‘decency’ and ‘centrism’ as well as ‘hope and change’ tempered with ‘economic credibility.’

    This reminds me of the ‘ not left not right but cross’ slogan during the GE 2015. Nice but not too nice, hopeful but not too hopeful.

    In sum, a fudge.

  • Steve Comer 17th Sep '15 - 4:34pm

    “Balanced four-cornered Liberalism?” What sort of Orwellian newspeak is that.
    A rough translation of this phrase would appear to be “a craven acceptance of neo-con free market economics.”

    As for ‘centrist’ voters who did they vote for in May eh? Well too many of them put their ‘X’ against the Tory candidate’s name didn’t they? I’m sorry but too many people are in denial about the role they played in almost destroying what Liberals had spent four or five decades building up. A period of silence and contrition on their part would be most welcome, if only their over-inflated egos would just accept that!

  • Simon McGrath 17th Sep '15 - 5:11pm

    Hi Teena – I am on the LR Board and one of the people working on our ideas on housing. We are looking for input and ideas from people from all parts of the party !- I will e mail you and perhaps we can have a chat at Conference if you are going

  • Stephen Hesketh 17th Sep '15 - 6:20pm

    windjammer 17th Sep ’15 – 1:08pm
    Helen Tedcastle 17th Sep ’15 – 2:08pm
    Steve Comer 17th Sep ’15 – 4:34pm

    Sound comments representative of multi-faceted mainstream Liberal Democracy and plain old fashioned common sense. Thank you.

  • Paul Reynolds 17th Sep '15 - 6:21pm

    Hello Steve Comer. Just a small point for esteemed LDV readers. When you refer to neo-con free market economics, I think you mean Neo-Liberal free-market economics. The Neoconservatives do not support free markets. The movement started in the US in the 60s, and I met some of them who were involved in assisting the Islamic mujaheddin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Whilst anti-communist, most were broadly against the actual collapse of the Soviet Union and communism on the grounds it would lead to the rise of Russia as a world power., supporting military containment instead. They follow ‘Straussian thought’, and support a major expansion of the US and NATO military forces, and promoted a many-fold expansion of the ‘security state’, even if it meant damage to the economy through borrowing to fund it, and the need to divert resources from the private sector…and welfare budgets. It was the Neo-cons who developed the close relations with Blair, and who promoted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are in favour of a very large US state, and in their ideology they place great emphasis on the ability of the US to expand spending due to the global nature of the US Dollar, which neutralises the effects of the monetisation of government borrowing (eg through quantitative easing). Do a Wiki search and have a look at the personalities involved, and what they are up to now. Neo-liberals are very different from this lot !

  • Eddie Sammon 17th Sep '15 - 7:00pm

    Balanced four cornered liberalism is a good phrase. It’s important to distinguish itself from libertarianism. I used to want a smaller state, but I think there’s just too many things to spend money on. There’s not as much waste as I first thought.

    Having said that, I was quite shocked to find out how many civil servants we have. I don’t know why the Business, Innovation and Skills department needs 3,090 civil servants.

  • Simon McGrath 17th Sep '15 - 7:39pm

    @Steve Comer – like most lib dems LR supports a mixed economy with free markets ( with controls of course) at its heart.

    What alternative do you suggest ?

  • Graeme Cowie 17th Sep '15 - 7:40pm

    I don’t really care what you call it, how many edges or corners it has.

    The point of “four cornered liberalism” isn’t to shoehorn in an economic ideology. If it is, then as someone whose economic inclination is centre-right it’s clearly not working very well internally in the party.

    The point seems to me simply to be a shorthand that focuses the positive aspects of liberalism in different spheres of public and private life. It’s about positively defining a world vision rather than defining liberalism in opposition to other creeds.

  • The outright hostility on here towards liberal economics from members of a nominally Liberal party is slightly baffling

  • Michael Yates 18th Sep '15 - 1:44am

    Firstly, Economic freedom is a liberal idea, not a conservative one. Classical Liberals like Gladstone supported and defended it. Secondly, I would hardly call Keynes a liberal in any sense of the word. Thirdly, we did so badly in the last election because of the rise of English conservatism in the south and Scottish nationalism. Fourthly, liberal reform is a group within the Lib Dems wanting to stand for the ideas of Locke, Mill, Bentham and Smith.

  • Michael Yates:
    From Wikipedia
    “Keynes was a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, which until the 1920s had been one of the two main political parties in the United Kingdom, and as late as 1916 had often been the dominant power in government. Keynes had helped campaign for the Liberals at elections from as early as 1906, yet he always refused to run for office himself, despite being asked to do so on three separate occasions in 1920. From 1926 when Lloyd George became leader of the Liberals, Keynes took a major role in defining the party’s economics policy, but by then the Liberals had been displaced into third party status by the Labour party.”

    So you want to say that a lifelong member of the Liberal Party and architect of its postwar economic policy was “hardly a Liberal in any sense of the word”???? I suppose you are going to say the same about Beveridge?

    The reality is that “economic liberalism” was not the mainstream of Liberal Party economic thought for the whole of the 20th century, but “social liberalism” was. There is this strange idea that somehow “True Liberalism” was corrupted by the SDP in the 1980’s, but I was a Liberal before the SDP came along and so was my father, and that is not what I remember… The other problem of course is that neo-liberalism has an extreme wing which is strong in the USA and would dismantle all the functions of the State; pensions, welfare, health service etc. In Britain there is a wing of the Tory Party that would go this way and so views of the whole “economic liberal” project are tainted by these attitudes which I very much hope are not shared by any members of the Liberal Democrat Party

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Sep '15 - 10:00am

    Michael Yates

    Thirdly, we did so badly in the last election because of the rise of English conservatism in the south and Scottish nationalism.

    What you say about the south is complete and utter rubbish. We did badly in the south because whereas we were previously seen as opponents of English conservatism people were led to believe that we had become supporters of it. Some people who had voted for us on the basis that we were the strongest opponent to English conservatism went off to Labour or the Greens. Others voted Conservative because they believed our ending the position of being the main opponents to the Conservatives made us irrelevant, so they supposed elections had reverted to being a choice between Labour and the Conservatives, so they voted Conservative not because they particularly liked them but because they believed the Conservatives to be the more competent of the two (as our Leader had energetically been suggesting).

  • As a Radical Liberal who believes that the right of our party have some impressive but wrong-headed thinkers, I am relieved that they are continuing to promote the “four cornered liberalism” rubbish. As the foundations for moving the party towards Economic Liberalism permanently, they couldn’t have made a worse choice.

    As for those claiming Keynes wasn’t a Liberal: you are supposed to be Economic Liberals, not Neo Liberals aren’t you?

  • It is concerning to note that Jeremy Browne is one of the people giving advice to Liberal Reform as his ideas on liberalism are way outside of main political thought in the Liberal Democrats. Also I thought he had left the party because it wouldn’t support his ideas on what liberalism is.

    @ Michael Yates

    Economic liberalism is often seen as supporting markets unfettered by the government. It is wrong to believe that Gladstone supported such a thing. Liberals and Whigs before them were opposed to protection for the powerful such as tariffs on food to protect the great landowners, or lots of government jobs for the children of the aristocracy and therefore in those terms savings were to be made in government spending to cut support for aristocratic families and tariffs reduced so the government wasn’t subsidising the landed interest and cheaper food would be available for the poor, who with enough food to eat would have better health and maybe more money to spend on other things and therefore greater freedom. It was not a belief in reducing the role of the government for its own sake. Liberal governments supported increasing the powers of local governments to provide services such as roads, sanitation, water, lighting, gas and electricity. It should also be remembered that Gladstone intervened in the free market for land, housing and rents in Ireland.

  • Stephen Howse 18th Sep '15 - 12:46pm

    Michael BG makes a good point – liberalism has always been about support for markets tempered with intervention where necessary, and liberal politicians have never shied away from intervening if it means a resultant increase in individuals’ freedom. That’s the liberalism I subscribe to, and that’s the liberalism to which our party constitution subscribes too. Those arguing against this ‘four-cornered’ approach, with economic freedom balanced against other sometimes competing freedoms, are arguing against liberalism and against what their own party stands for.

  • Julian Astle wrote in The Guardian in June 2011 —
    “…There is a secret club at the centre of British politics. Numbering no more than 15 frontline politicians and a similar number of key advisers, it includes the last remaining Blairites and the “Cameroon” Conservatives and “Orange Book” Lib Dems ..”
    “…Clegg is a modernising politician who understands why people have turned away from state socialism and laissez-faire Thatcherism. Unlike Cameron and Blair, he made the schoolboy error of thinking the best place for an ambitious liberal politician was in the Liberal party.”

    We are now told that Julian Astle is a leading light alongside David Laws, Norman Lamb and Jeremy Browne of this group of “Alchemists” within the Liberal Democrats.   Have all these people made the same “schoolboy error” as Clegg and failed to see the obvious attractions of joining the party of Cameron and his supporters?

  • Michael Yates 18th Sep '15 - 2:25pm

    Churchill was also a member of the liberal party for several years. Just saying. I just want to see this party of ours stand for something actually Liberal and not become as wannabe Labour party which is what a hard swing to the left will do. We are better than that.

  • @ Stephen Howse

    “Michael BG makes a good point – liberalism has always been about support for markets tempered with intervention where necessary, and liberal politicians have never shied away from intervening if it means a resultant increase in individuals’ freedom.”

    I think you have misunderstood me. I was saying that Liberals and Whigs have a great tradition of intervention and they did not support free markets, because free markets are good and state provided services are bad. They intervened to assist the poor, to increase the freedoms of the poor, not to protect those with the wealth and power. I don’t see economic liberalism as defined today, as having a place in a British liberal party because the world has changed and conditions are not the same, what helped the poor then, does not work now, about 35 years of history has proved it. If you think it has a place then you need to define it so that it helps the poor and doesn’t increase the power of the rich and powerful.

    @ Michael Yates

    “I just want to see this party of ours stand for something actually Liberal and not become as wannabe Labour party which is what a hard swing to the left will do. We are better than that.”

    I agree that I want the party to stand for liberalism, and that means increases the freedoms of the poor and the left behind and not protecting the interests of large businesses and huge corporations.

  • Stephen Hesketh 19th Sep '15 - 1:17pm

    John Tilley 18th Sep ’15 – 12:50pm

    Fellow members and readers, whichever side of the argument you feel yourself to be, the link provided by John in his post is well worth following.

    Julian Astle’s Guardian article offers a frank and fascinating insight into power at the top of Britain’s political parties. All democrats should read it!

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.

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 ...?


Recent Comments

  • Peter Martin
    @Jenny and Michael, Jenny is right to question whether more spending power will always cause growth. The problem is that our economy depends, many would say ...
  • David Langshaw
    It is not insider dealing as long as the information that the Hindenberg team analyses is all in the public domain, and the conclusions it reaches can be regard...
  • Nonconformistradical
    "The government could tax the wealthy more and use this money to increase pay in the public sector." Seconded. It seems far too easy for the wealthy to indulge...
  • Michael BG
    Peter Hirst, The cost-of-living crisis is real and will be worse after April when the energy price goes up by £500 and lots of people will receive £1050 le...
  • Martin
    Thanks Mel and Nick. Note, I wrote it looks rather lie insider trading not that it is insider trading. I still find it hard to understand how short selling w...