New edition of Liberator

The latest edition of Liberator magazine (issue no.359 – June 2013) is being delivered to subscribers this week.

Here’s a summary of the new magazine’s contents:

  • The editorial column Commentary says the concept of the ‘centre ground’ is wrong on so many levels. The sooner Nick Clegg stops talking about it, the better.
  • The insider gossip column Radical Bulletin begins with an examination of Tim Farron’s appointment as chair of the 2014 European and local election campaign, amid confusing arrangements for the party’s campaign management.
  • ‘When will the party start campaigning again?’ – Tony Greaves (a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords) says that the Liberal Democrats are returning to a derelict state in many parts of the country. They must re-learn how to campaign and why.
  • ‘When will Clegg ‘get’ local government?’ – Chris White (a Liberal Democrat county councillor in Hertfordshire) says that the party can recover and UKIP can be beaten, but not while the Liberal Democrat high command obsesses over 2015 and ignores local campaigns.
  • ‘Lining the pockets of Africa’s elite’ – Rebecca Tinsley (founder of the human rights group Waging Peace) says that giving 0.7% of GDP as foreign aid is simplistic. Too much ends up in the wrong hands but actions that cost little would achieve more.
  • ‘Well, that didn’t work’ – Prateek Buch and Geoff Payne, introducing the forthcoming SLF Conference, say that the manifest failure of coalition economic policy endangers Liberal Democrat MPs’ jobs, yet they seem surprisingly unengaged in the debate about how to move on.
  • ‘Sett to fail’ – John Leston (a former Liberal councillor, and chair of the Young Liberals 1979-80) says that, as the government proceeds with its counter-productive policy of culling badgers, opposition is mounting.
  • ‘Live long and prosper?’ – Claire Tyler (a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords) says that an ageing society is the biggest challenge facing social policy, but the government’s response is inadequate.
  • ‘Travels through Coalitionland’ – Michael Meadowcroft (a Liberal councillor in Leeds for fifteen years and former Liberal MP for Leeds West) applauds Alex Marsh’s collection of incisive essays about the Liberal Democrats in coalition.
  • Letters.
  • Reviews.
  • Lord Bonkers’ Diary – Lord Bonkers (Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10) regales readers with another week’s goings-on in Rutland.

If you missed any of our previous editions, they are available online here.

You can subscribe to Liberator here. Liberator is now also available in versions for Kindle and iPad; subscribers can opt for the print version or electronic or both, all for the same price.

Liberator welcomes your articles, letters and book reviews. Please read our style guide before submitting any copy.

The Liberator Collective may be e-mailed at: [email protected].

Liberator now has a blog, to help readers get their Liberator fix between issues. Liberator is also on Twitter: @Liberator_mag

Finally, don’t forget to visit The Really Useful Links Page. It’s the best collection of political weblinks anywhere for the discerning Liberal Democrat.

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This entry was posted in News.


  • paul barker 18th Jun '13 - 2:44pm

    I assumed the “New” issue would have the usual mix of moaning, pessimism, attacks on Clegg & a piece from Tony Greaves harking back to The Lost Golden Age when he ran things. Looks like I was right.

  • Bill le Breton 19th Jun '13 - 10:06am

    Paul, my understanding is that the Leadership and the paid staff are desperate to revive campaigning in the Party, but seemingly unable to achieve this. Tony’s piece is a positive set of suggestions for getting that to happen.

    The Party’s central strategy is to run a 75 by-election ground war in holds and a few possible gains, and to do everything possible on the ground and in the air campaign to get our record in government across in order to underpinning our joint claim that ‘a vote for us is a vote for a stronger economy and fairer … etc.’.

    That is all very wise and it is exactly what council groups with control or influence have always done, but it relies on passive activism – forgive the paradox, it is unavoidable.

    The message is a less than palatable central command, ‘Do what we tell you and do it here.’

    This is a bleak prospect for the Five50 seats not in the charmed territories of the 75 targets, it is prescriptive, it is backward facing, it assists the hollowing out of the party, it is reminiscent of the factors that led to the decline of the Party’s organizational strength in the 1920’s.

    The revival of the Party that began in the autumn, following the 1989 Euro-elections, was based on the People First Campaigns. If you were around at the time, I am sure will will have copies, but if not … This was a package of 20 or so individual campaigns. They were forward facing, about change and improvement. They were related to national institutions as well as local communities. They were fully researched and left many of the conclusions and actions to the local campaigners – not centrally directed.

    The fresh thinking at that time was that they let local campaigners choose what they wanted to campaign on and then, through the then newly formed ALDC, the Party responded to what local activists were doing by monitoring the campaign action and supporting that action with national campaigning and national support.

    That approach has fallen into disuse over the years. Inspiration underpins activism.

  • Steve Griffiths 19th Jun '13 - 11:22am

    Well said Bill Le Breton and Tony Greaves in his Liberator piece.

    If you want to get former activists (like me) campaigning once more in those other Five50 seats, we would need something more than “Stronger economy and a fairer society” to work with. Politics is a hard slog door step knocking sell to the electorate, in order to get your points across and you don’t get much time on each door step. You do it by using a local campaign issue, or a simple national issue like “one pence on tax for education”, or “tuition fees” The “Stronger economy and a fairer society” is airy-fairy motherhood and apple pie and difficult to put across on the door step, but then the advertising/publicity geeks that now advise the Leadership are I think clueless about door step campaigning. Many of us were at it for decades and we achieved many local successes getting the party to where it was before 2010. Maybe it’s time for us to be listened to once more.

  • Matthew Huntbach 19th Jun '13 - 2:59pm

    Steve Griffiths

    The “Stronger economy and a fairer society” is airy-fairy motherhood and apple pie and difficult to put across on the door step.

    If only it were just that. However, if you look closely a lot of it turns out to be cheerleading for the philosophy of the Conservative Party. I’ve been explaining here why the party’s latest campaign initiative does not inspire me to get back involved with it.

    I appreciate why we joined in the coalition, and to t his day have defended the party for doing so. I knew it would be difficult for us, but my problem is almost everything come out from the national leadership makes it worse, and so undermines the defence I would like to use. Constant exaggeration from the leadership of the influence we can have as very much the junior partner in the coalition is undermining us, because people see these boasting words and then see the reality of a very right-wing government, and so see us as having abandoned what we used to stand for and having gone over to what was considered right-wing Conservatism when I joined the party. The more the leadership pumps out the message of being very happy and content where it is, the more it gives the impression of being just a local brand of the Conservatives, as the National Liberals very quickly became under similar circumstances in the last century.

    I was part of the team, as a councillor for twelve and group leader for six years, of the team that built up the party in the London Borough of Lewisham from it being a “black hole” for the party to us being a serious challenger across the borough, coming a not-too-distant second in the Parliamentary elections in 2010, and of having 18 councillors where when I started we had 3. Now I can’t be bothered, I’ve been so put off and undermined by the national leadership that all I’m doing is paying the minimum membership fee, and that’s because I don’t see why I should be forced out by the leaders, since as a liberal democrats I believe leaders should be servants, not bosses.

    I’ve been vocal about my discontent, but many others are just leaving quietly. Throughout I’ve tried to say what I believe the party is doing wrong in its national publicity and how it could do it better. What I say is based on my own experience, what other people who are or were potential voters for us say or think, what I’ve found worked and didm;t work in the past.

    Now I’m nothing in my influence on the party’s growth compared to Tony Greaves, but if so many of us who are speaking from experience and are on that ground pessimistic and angry about what the leadership is doing, is that really something that should be ignored, with us written off as clueless old-timers?

  • paul barker 19th Jun '13 - 8:05pm

    Come 2015 we will need 2 parallel campaigns, for seats in the 75 Targets & for votes everywhere else. The campaigns will need very different methods, the priority in the 550 is to get out at least one leaflet delivered, on top of the Freepost one.
    We have plenty to be proud of, increased pensions, raised thresholds & more apprenticeships for a start.
    We have to start now by freeing ourselves from The “Mind-forged Manacles” of the “Polls”. How can we believe Polls that average 10% when we just got 14% in the toughest Local Elections our Party has ever faced ?

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Jun '13 - 1:02pm

    paul barker

    We have to start now by freeing ourselves from The “Mind-forged Manacles” of the “Polls”. How can we believe Polls that average 10% when we just got 14% in the toughest Local Elections our Party has ever faced ?

    We usually get a higher share of the vote in local elections than we have in the polls, the ratio between the two is normally about that between the two figures you quote here. Also, these local elections were only in the non-metropolitan counties, where overall our usual share of the vote is higher than it is nationwide.

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