Opinion: Liberalism Unlocked: After the Coalition

On the eve of conference, a major new book on Liberalism is being published. “Unlocking Liberalism: Life after the Coalition” is a book of essays exploring what Liberalism should mean today, and how it can be taken forward after the 2015 General Election.

With a foreword by Charles Kennedy, the book starts with a masterly essay on the philosophy of Liberalism by Dr Nigel Dower of Aberdeen University, a lifelong Liberal who is a past president of the International Development Ethics Association.  This is followed by contributions from David Steel and Graham Watson, who examine Scotland and Britain after the Referendum, and Britain’s place in Europe.

There are two essays by former Scottish Ministers – on ‘Human Rights Under Challenge’ by Robert Brown, and on the perils of coalition with the Conservatives by Ross Finnie

Economic policy is spotlighted in essays by Prateek Buch, and by Duncan Exley of the Spirit Level team, who look at the folly of high pay and how our economic system can be made fairer.  These essays are complemented by one on a Liberal Welfare System by Robert Aldridge, a Liberal Democrat councillor for thirty years and Chief Executive of Homeless Action Scotland.

The coalition is examined in terms of strategy, power, and values by a number of writers including Caron Lindsay, Willis Pickard and I, and there are thoughtful essays contrasting the relative wealth and power of London on one hand and the Highlands and Islands on the other by Tony Hughes and Kate Stephen.

“Unlocking Liberalism” is the first book focusing on how unfettered Liberalism can be re-established after 2015.  It is published by Liberal Futures, a body which runs Summer Schools and supports the development of Liberal thought.  Copies will be on sale in Glasgow for £9.50, or it can be had by post for £11 from

Liberal Futures,

c/o 4 Church Road


EH51 0EL

The editors of the book, Robert Brown, Gillian Gloyer, and I, will be happy to speak on the book and its subjects at local party meetings by invitation.

* Nigel Lindsay is a former Liberal councillor in Aberdeen and a longtime activist in the party, but consider himself an internationalist first and foremost.

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This entry was posted in News and Op-eds.


  • Sounds very interesting. Can you make it an e book so I can read it on my Kindle? Better way to spread the word in 2014

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '14 - 10:59am

    Economic policy written by Prateek Buch? The person who thinks inflation doesn’t really matter?

    When it comes to pragmatism I am afraid it is hard to get Caron Lindsay to listen to the concerns of 48% of the population, so I’m not sure about her contribution either.

    I’d recommend saving your money on this book.

  • David Faggiani 30th Sep '14 - 11:02am

    How does the post ordering work, sorry? It’s been a while 😀 Do you have to send a cheque?

  • Nigel Lindsay 30th Sep '14 - 11:32am

    John – an e-book is under active consideration if there is sufficient demand to justify the costs involved.
    Eddie – you have a remarkable ability to come to a judgement on a book without reading it first. Perhaps I could have your advice on next week’s lottery numbers?

  • I suspect that there are many views on how the Party should develop after it is free of the Coalition. However, given Cameron’s apparent determination to remove the vote from Scottish MPs on English only matters: that should the Party not be in coalition with the Tories after May – the number of seats saved by the Party is likely to be very few and that ‘liberalism’ is not a term that sets many voters hearts racing – it is likely that a more pragmatic approach will be needed if the Party is to survive.

    It seems to me that it will need a unique policy, that appeals to a significant number of the electorate, that separates it from its, now four, rivals – as is the case for each of these rivals.

  • “Unlock Liberalism: Life After The Coalition”?

    Sounds awfully similar to Liberal Reform’s “The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead” 😉

  • A Social Liberal 30th Sep '14 - 2:21pm

    Nigel – download the self publishing booklet on Amazon – they take a percentage of the sales but I don’t think there are up front costs.

  • I’d buy it on Kindle – much easier to take on holiday!

  • Book contains writing by both Prateek and Caron? Sounds like an excellent reason to read it.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '14 - 7:27pm

    I’m aware my first comment sounded a bit rude, but that’s what my first thoughts were, so maybe it is not entirely bad to communicate them?

    Prateek, my comment was based on you previously trying to get rid of the inflation target, unless you have changed your mind on this?

    Sometimes politics is personal and it doesn’t always feel fair to respond cheerfully to views you think are damaging.


  • I hope the book lives up to its title. I hope it adds up to a coherent vision (the name that gives me the most misgivings is D Steel).

    Planning for the future post 2015 is precisely what is needed now. Concomitantly, such a forward looking approach should also serve well in the run up to the 2015 election.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '14 - 7:49pm

    I’m sorry about my first comment. I should communicate unease with some politeness too, otherwise it looks intolerant and hateful, which I’m not and isn’t fair on others either.

  • Bill le Breton 30th Sep '14 - 7:52pm

    Eddie, being concerned about disinflationary pressures is not the same as ‘think(ing) inflation doesn’t really matter’.

    Here’s a very interesting piece from today’s FT on this; http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/09/30/1985642/global-disinflationary-pressures/

    There is a strong case to be made that inflation targets caused the crisis of 2008/9 and have made recovery more difficult. Much intellectual and formal analysis of economic policy was dropped in favour of inflation targets

  • Paul in Wokingham 30th Sep '14 - 9:00pm

    Certainly sounds very interesting – I am particularly pleased to see a contribution from Duncan Exley and will certainly be getting a copy.

  • I would also like to mention I’m interested in an ebook version.

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Sep '14 - 10:42pm

    George Potter, some people seem relaxed about eroding many pensioners incomes away with inflation. I used to be a retirement planner, so I know what I’m talking about, but some don’t seem to care.

    It’s not the target that matters so much, it’s the fact that some people want to print money or keep interest rates down without understanding the consequences of this.

    It’s a reckless form of radicalism that hits normal people, rather than simply the powerful. I don’t wish to argue with anyone, I am just saying it would cause a spike in depression and hardship with many pensioners.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Oct '14 - 2:17am

    I get exercised by experienced people with impractical ideas. They aren’t just simply opinions, such as what is your favourite food, they have real life consequences and it shouldn’t be so acceptable for people to try to try to introduce these ideas that are only popular among a small minority in the country.

    I can be rude at times, but I’m not backing off entirely. Something is wrong with politics and we need to start taking it more seriously.

  • Matthew Huntbach 1st Oct '14 - 1:16pm

    High inflation also erodes debts. Those who are always banging on about how membership of the Euro would take away Britain’s economic freedom are, underneath, advocating having it in the economic toolbox. High inflation IS what you tend to up with in societies where they want the services that government provides but aren’t willing to pay the taxes needed to pay for them. I quite agree it’s not a good tool due to the way it impacts hard on some but not others, of course it benefits those who do have personal debt.

    In the 1970s, Britain experienced a house price slump that was hidden because it worked by everything else going up in price with the high inflation of the mid 1970s, and housing staying at the same. This meant the necessary house price fall after the early 1970s boom happened without the problems of negative equity. We may end up having to accept something similar now. However, one of the consequences of this was that it encouraged the culture of people paying more for housing than they could comfortably afford with the expectation that this would be a temporary thing as general inflation would soon reduce the real level of debt. That attitude persisted for a long time after the drop in inflation rates made it no longer a workable one.

  • Kay Kirkham 1st Oct '14 - 2:02pm

    Another vote for a Kindle version.

  • Simon Banks 1st Oct '14 - 9:41pm

    I still don’t see an answer to David Faggiani’s question. If ordering by post involves making out a cheque, who’s it made out to?

    Alternatively, for those of us who can’t afford two successive long conferences in Glasgow, can’t hard copies be ordered online?

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