New toolkit released to equip anyone to host a “Basic Income Conversation”

Liberal Democrats are right at the forefront of campaigning for a Basic Income – an idea that Christine Jardine called “our generation’s NHS”, and potentially the foundation of a new, post-COVID social contract.

The Lib Dems for Basic Income campaign group has been working since the very early days of the pandemic to build energy in the party, and throughout that work has been supported by a small organisation called the Basic Income Conversation, hosted by the progressive thinktank, Compass. For example, we’re working together to host an event with Michael Tubbs, the man who as Mayor brought a Basic Income to Stockton, California.

Now the team at the Basic Income Conversation has produced a toolkit to help Lib Dems and everyone else in the country host conversations about the idea, equipping us all to bring together neighbourhood, community, friendship and family and build understanding of what it could mean for our country from the grassroots up. It’s a really well-designed community resource, and I’d encourage everyone to check it out.

Please visit the Basic Income Conversation website now to download the toolkit.

* Jon Alexander is a member of the council of the Social Liberal Forum and of Sevenoaks, Dartford and Gravesham Liberal Democrats

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  • Paul Reynolds 31st Mar '21 - 10:13am

    The ‘toolkit’, and the help for people to evangelise over UBI, is a model of effectiveness in generating a grass-roots based campaign of persuasion.

    There are many wider lessons for the Party, and it really worth looking at how this is done.

    As for UBI itself, the key passage in the many documents provided is perhaps:

    “Basic Income is a regular payment everyone receives.


    The right basic income would guarantee financial security for all. It has five core characteristics:

    •Cash: it’s money you can spend on whatever you want.•Regular: so you know the next payment is coming.
    •Individual: Each person gets their own basic income, paid to the individual not the household.
    •Unconditional: You don’t have to work or make any promises to get your basic income, there are no strings attached•Universal: everyone gets it.

    – Everything else, well that’s to be decided. Including how much it is and how it’s paid for.”

  • Peter Martin 1st Apr '21 - 8:59am

    LIb Dems might be better using their limited resources in producing a “How to host a conversation and win support in constituencies like Hartlepool toolkit”.

    The betting at the moment is for the Lib Dems to finish fifth behind not only the Tories and Labour but the Northern Independence and Reform Parties too. It would probably be sixth if the Monster Raving Loony party were standing.

  • Really can’t see why any Liberal would be against a UBI, in some form or other. It would enable us to effectively eliminate poverty, and all the social ills to which that contributes, not to mention eliminating all the free-market distortions to which the current expensive, bureaucratic, and unwieldy hotch-potch of means tested benefits engenders. There is now an abundance of evidence that it would not, as one Tory detractor claimed – be ‘a charter for the workshy’. Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists is a good popular guide to the evidence against that view; for an academic treatment of the long (predominantly Liberal!) history of the idea, see the Cambridge economist Peter Sloman’s book, Transfer State.

  • Julian Tisi 7th Apr '21 - 4:34pm

    “Really can’t see why any Liberal would be against a UBI”
    I really can’t see how an idea that simply doesn’t inspire the masses and which was pretty unheard of outside close circles until very recently should be so easily accepted, despite having not been rolled out in any meaningful country anywhere, ever. Add in the sheer uncertainty over what exactly we mean by UBI (is it really universal? do we claw back from those who can afford it? How much will it be? How much will it cost? How will it affect the low paid? etc. etc.) and I can see how some remain sceptical.

  • Matt (Bristol) 7th Apr '21 - 5:20pm

    I always feel I’m linked to Julian Tisi by multiple indirect routes he probably isn’t aware of.

    With regard to Terry’s comments, sentences like ‘can’t see why any Liberal would be against’ are an endemic curse in this party. I support a UBI (broadly speaking) and it emerges from liberal and social democratic thinking quite nicely, but it’s not an inevitable progress and is a choice within liberalism, not its apogee. Keynes and Beveridge, for eg, considered other routes to similar goals more appropriate.

    As a democrat, I’d say a UBI without major democratic reform and scrutiny, would always be at risk of just becoming another tool in the hands of oligarchies to bride and coerce the population, as with any form of welfare.

    It is depressing whenever the latest fad becomes the uttermost definition of Liberal Democracy this week. Makes me feel old and I’m only 42.

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