SLF Conference London 15th July – all Lib Dems invited – we need to talk!


The theme for this year’s conference “The Retreat from Globalisation “ was conceived 6 months ago. The country had voted for Brexit and the US had elected Donald Trump, albeit on fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. Since then however Liberals have seen off the threat from the far right in both Holland and France, but more recently in the UK general election both of the pro Brexit parties, the Tories and Labour, made big gains.

So how do we make sense of what is going on and where do we go from here? There are no simple answers so I would like to invite you to our day conference in London on Saturday 15th July. At the time of writing it looks like Vince Cable will be confirmed as our new leader soon unless a surprise candidate puts themself forward. Vince has confirmed that he will be attending and for most of us this will be the first opportunity we have to find out the direction he wants to take the party. In return we can ask questions which, depending on you, may or may not include a controversial matter that the Radical Association has (successfully?) campaigned on recently.

The day starts with the William Beveridge Memorial  Lecture given by Lord William Wallace, who has been involved in the peer’s “Left Behind” group looking at how the Brexit vote highlighted social division. We then look at the threat of terrorism to a Liberal society and how to avoid the mistakes being made in foreign policy in tackling this. The ever present threat of global warming – probably the most important issue facing us today which is likely to destroy life on earth – is scandalously ignored by the media in general election campaigns. However Ed Davey was asked about the momentous decision made by Donald Trump to abandon the Paris Climate Change agreement and he will be a speaker on this topic at our conference.

In the afternoon we will be analysing the general election results and trying to find a way forward for the party with contributions from David Howarth (former MP for Cambridge), Sarah Olney (former MP for Richmond), Daisy Cooper (former party presidential candidate), Caron Lindsay (from LDV), Joyce Onstad (candidate Hammersmith), Helen Flynn (chair SLF) and Seth Thevoz (historian and number cruncher).

And finally Vince Cable will give us his ideas for the way forward for the party. After the 2015 general election the party had suffered a big loss of MPs and our saving grace was the huge number of new members that joined the party under Tim’s leadership. Can we keep those members and recruit more? What impact will the politics of Brexit have as it divides Labour and the Tory parties? And what about us in the Lib Dems?

The Early Bird rate for conference ends on Wednesday, so please book now via the SLF website.


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

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