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ALDE Congress in Warsaw: A Europe for everyone

Hotfoot from the Richmond Park by-election, I arrived at ALDE Congress in Warsaw on Friday. This was my second trip to this annual event, which sees the Alliance of Liberal and Democratic parties across Europe get together to discuss the hot topics of the day. I was part of a 40-strong Lib Dem UK delegation. I wondered how welcome the UK delegation would be in light of Brexit – but I was pleased to find a buzz around our recent by-election win.

The annual meeting showed the obvious benefits in the current climate of sharing campaign ideas and tactics on countering the rise of far right parties – a prevalent theme across Europe. Some good practice and tips included the need to have a positive vision (the Remain campaign struggled with this), to communicate in primary colours, and tap into feelings and identities which matter to the electorate.

A reoccurring topic for debate was the rise of technology and the associated rise in unemployment, an issue that Trump took advantage of, without putting forward any obvious solutions. Technology does not have a neutral impact, so how do we encourage politicians to debate and influence so that there are more winners than losers in the future? The same applies to distributing the benefits of free movement and markets more fairly. The response is in part a continual skills revolution, ensuring that young people are skilled as they move from education into employment, and that experienced workers have access to lifelong learning.

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