SLF Conference 2014 – Governing as Liberal Democrats

Social Liberal ForumThe Social Liberal Forum have organised their next conference to take place in London on this Saturday  19th July. You can register via the website. We have an excellent line up of speakers and all Liberal Democrats of various shades of opinion are very welcome to attend, and for that matter anyone outside the party who is interested in the Liberal Democrats.

The theme will be “Governing as Liberal Democrats”, an important topic as we gear up for the 2015 general election where the outcome looks likely to be close and the Liberal Democrats may well continue to hold the balance of power.

Whoever wins the next general election will have huge problems to tackle in the next Parliament. Although the British economy is undergoing a recovery at the moment, there appears to be no light at the end of the austerity tunnel just yet; even Labour now appear to believe that they need to make big cuts in public spending. What recovery we do have at the moment appears to depend to some extent on a bubble in the housing market, so what would happen if that bubble bursts? How would the squeeze in living standards be affected by a rise in interest rates?  Vince Cable will be addressing some of these concerns on the economy and Tim Farron will give the annual William Beveridge Memorial Lecture with the title “Building a new consensus”.

We will be covering other key general election issues as well. Ed Davey will put the case for energy policy, Meral Ece will be leading the discussion on immigration policy, Julian Huppert and Sarah Ludford will be tackling the highly topical and controversial issue of surveillance and civil liberties, while Prateek Buch and David Boyle will debate choice, diversity and competition in public services. Mike Tuffrey and Kate Parminter will be assessing the state of Green liberalism which has taking a battering with policy U-turns on nuclear energy and Coalition support for fracking, and in the context of industry lobbyists pushing the Tory party away from their previous green commitments. Kelly-Marie Blundell will be chairing a session on welfare policy, when Claire Tyler and David McAuley from the Trussell Trust will be discussing where the Lib Dems now stand in their historic commitment to reduce poverty. Duncan Brack will be outlining the progress being made in putting together the 2015 general election manifesto and how we can get involved in that process.

And finally we have a session on “Prospects for Social Liberalism”. We will hear from Lousewies Van Der Laan from the Dutch D66 (Liberal) party, which recently topped the polls for the first time in the recent European elections. Other speakers include David Howarth, one of the leading thinkers of Social Liberalism,  with Naomi Smith, co-chair of the Social Liberal Forum, and Simon Radford who has been writing some excellent articles recently about Social Liberalism.

It is hard to cover everything in one day. We have rooms available to discuss topics not on the original agenda, and during a lunchtime fringe meeting Helen Flynn will be launching her new pamphlet  “Re-Framing Education Policy – developing a coherent, progressive and sustainable education policy” which will be on sale at £3.

We look forward to seeing you there.

* Geoff Payne is the former events organiser for Hackney Liberal Democrats

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