Tag Archives: compass

Radical, distinctive and quite possibly the start of something big

How do we get off 8%? We’ve been at or around that figure in the polls since well before the 2015 election, and despite our very clear and principled stance on Brexit, we’re still stuck.

Maybe we just need some ‘events, dear boy’. We’ve had precious few parliamentary by-elections, which were the lifeblood of the party’s momentum in the 1960s, 70s and 90s, and we haven’t had the kind of Iraq War issue that puts us on the right side of public opinion and leaves the Conservatives and Labour on the wrong side. But do we just wait for such an event to arise?

No, we have to grasp the nettle and do something, and if you’re going to be in Southport for the Lib Dem conference, please come to a fringe meeting that involves doing just that. It’s only for an hour, and at 6.15pm on the Saturday night before the alcohol starts flowing. But it’s aimed at starting the ball rolling towards the party finding a handful of policies that can define us as a caring, distinctive and radical social force in British politics.

Entitled ‘Radical Liberalism – defining what we stand for’, it builds on a paper Paul Pettinger and I wrote in the autumn, and which was the subject of a piece we jointly wrote on LDV on 27 October. Many of the responses from LDV readers were very helpful, and have helped shape the meeting we’re organising in Southport in association with Social Liberal Forum and Compass.

The two central thrusts of that paper – which are also the two thrusts of our meeting – are that we need to be defined in policy terms, not in relation to other parties, and we need to frame our policies so others who support what we stand for in elections where we can win (and their preferred party can’t) feel able to vote Lib Dem. There is also an implied willingness to work with people of other parties who have a similar mindset to ours, be it pre- or post-election, public or behind-the-scenes. As elections get closer, the media will try to present a Lib Dem vote as a closet vote for another party; we will find it easier to rebut such coverage if we can say ‘We’re clear what we stand for – if you agree with it, just vote for us!’

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 23 Comments

The Progressive Alliance Needs Mothers’ Voices

I am launching a group called ‘Mothers for a Progressive Alliance’ with the backing of Compass on Saturday 18 November in Central London and am inviting Lib Dem members to attend to contribute to the discussion.

The concept of the Progressive Alliance gained prominence during the Richmond Park by-election in 2016 when Sarah Olney won the seat from Zac Goldsmith. Parties, campaigners and voters came together to work for Sarah Olney’s success. It was an example of what can be achieved when political conflict is set aside for something bigger.

The Progressive Alliance is a stepping …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 17 Comments

A Lib Dem route to victory: a case for a Progressive Alliance

The recent Richmond Park by-election was a huge victory for Liberal Democrats, further boosting our credibility and standing in the country with voters and the media. But it was also a great success for Progressive Alliance campaigners, who supported Sarah Olney’s excellent campaign.

The decision by the Green Party to stand down and endorse us, along with calls from a group of leading Labour figures for Labour to do the same, helped to recreate the conditions where we could win back the seat by leading a non-conservative bloc of voters to victory. These moves – by Labour figures and the Greens – were made in support of progressives in different parties organising together more generally.

The cross-party pressure group, Compass, is currently publishing a series of essays from members who would like to see a Progressive Alliance from each of the different progressive parties. Written before the announcement of the Election, I’ve set out some of my thoughts from the perspective of a Liberal Democrat about why we need a Progressive Alliance, which are published on the Compass site today. Drawing upon psephology, demography and historical precedent, I believe a Progressive Alliance presents by far our best route to implement electoral reform at Westminster, our best chance to prevent a hard Brexit, and best opportunity for liberals to sustain influence over the long term. I’ve not reproduced many arguments here, and hope you will take some time to have a look, when you take a break from the campaign trail.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 56 Comments

Opinion: Creating a new Alliance

There has always been a need to blend parliamentary, representative politics with the social activism of extra parliamentary movements. Recent examples of informal action outside the confines of the parliamentary system include UK Uncut on companies avoiding corporation tax and the Occupy movement. Liberal Democrats and their antecedents have an honourable history of involvement in single issue campaigns and community movements.

Indeed, it can be argued that “community politics” grew out of the widespread social campaigning movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Given this history you would expect Liberal Democrats to be at the forefront of such campaigning today but we …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 38 Comments

Opinion: Make a clean break – You shouldn’t flirt behind your partner’s back

On Saturday evening at Brighton, I attended a meeting organised by the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) with the controversial title ‘Disengaging with the Tories before 2015’. A number of equally controversial speakers were featured, including Neal Lawson (Chair of Compass), Stuart Weir (former Director of Democratic Audit) and Green MP, Caroline Lucas.

Between them, they suggested essentially that we break up the coalition as soon as possible and form a progressive leftist coalition. (Lord Renard and Tim Farron were also there and

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 20 Comments

Plan C: The Social Liberal Forum’s economic prognosis

There has been a very welcome recent revival of policy thinking in the Liberal Democrats, despite the large cuts to the party’s official policy research staff. This has included a new think tank (Liberal Insight) and good work by Richard Kemp and the local government sector in encouraging imaginative plans for making use of the new legal powers going to local government.

Added to this is the Social Liberal Forum’s further foray into economic policy-making, following up on some of their successful events with their first policy pamphlet. Prateek Buch’s “Plan C – social liberal approaches to a fair, …

Posted in Books | Also tagged , , , , , and | 7 Comments

The Independent View: What now for any progressive alliance?

Rounding off our trio of post-election views from the other parties (see here and here), we have Compass’s Neal Lawson.

So what now for any progressive alliance? Let’s start with an honest assessment of the hole we are in. Labour is now as divided between pluralist and tribalists as it is between those who think the markets needs come before those of society and those who turned social democracy on it head under New Labour. Labour did OK in the North but badly in the South, it did OK in Wales and atrociously in Scotland. The Greens have …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

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    Immigration can be limited within existing EU rules but this government chose not to do that and the leave brigade used the EU as a...
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    @ JoeB, Steve Keen wrote "Debunking Economics" quite a few years ago and he has moved closer to MMT since then. He's conceded that MMTs...
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    Peter Martin, I have read Steve Keen's book 'Debunking Economics' (even the technical bits in the appendix(. He makes a lot of sense, although I...
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    About half the people commenting on this thread were warning - in one way or another -that we were heading towards calamity
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    Our objective should be to build a modern progressive movement that looks forward not back .We should be aware others are misusing the term liberal...
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