Tag Archives: david hall-matthews

LibLink: David Hall-Matthews on Liberalism in anxious times

David Hall-MatthewsIn its quarterly journal Juncture, IPPR has published an article by David Hall-Matthews entitled “Liberalism in anxious times: Constructing a clear, positive liberal vision for society“.

David’s starting point is Nick Clegg’s resignation speech in which he said that liberalism was under threat, and not just in the UK. Is that true?

Globally, Putin’s neo-dictatorship and ISIS terror are fundamentally illiberal – but they are no more significant than recent liberal turns in international relations, such as the increasing economic strength and political integration of the BRICs.

In the UK context, is the astonishing success of the Scottish Nationalist party (SNP), with its broadly social-democratic approach, really a threat to liberal values? For Clegg, having fought a centrist, makeweight campaign, all radicals are a threat. He went as far as to cite ‘unity’ in his speech as a fundamental liberal value, though it could be argued to be the opposite of liberal respect for difference. Ed Miliband, too, found himself forced to decry the SNP as a nationalist danger, primarily for tactical reasons. Both ultimately found it difficult to convince floating voters that their differences from the SNP were greater than their common values.

After the general election debacle, and with a Lib Dem leadership campaign underway, there is an opportunity, as well as a necessity, to set out a clear, positive liberal vision for society.

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Where next for Lib Dem ‘muscular liberalism’?

Over on the BBC News site, BBC political correspondent Norman Smith has written a piece looking at how the Liberal Democrats will continue to exert their influence in a more public way within the coalition after the combined effect of the AV referendum, the local election results and the success of the party’s push to re-think the NHS reforms.

As Norman says:

From the top to the bottom of the party, there is a hankering for clear yellow lines running through government policy.

However, where those lines should be drawn to best reassert the Lib Dems’ independence, is much harder to agree.

There …

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Opinion: The Social Liberal Conference was a major success

The SLF conference was a major success. Yes, it was “full” – David Hall-Mathews careful not to refer to the event as “sold out”. Yes, lots of people debated and tweeted like crazy on subjects ranging from NHS reforms to the history of the American fridge. But it wasn’t the numbers or amount of talking we did which was the most important. It was the fact that there is still a groundswell of progressives alive and well in the Liberal Democrats. In fact, since entering government with the Conservative party, and with a recent “win” (yet to see how it …

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LibLink: David Hall-Matthews – Barnsley: a Lib Dem communication failure

Over on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free site, chair of the Social Liberal Forum, David Hall-Matthews, has a piece urging Liberal Democrats – both members and the party’s leadership – to be a little more vocal in our trumpeting of Lib Dem successes in government; not just those things we are doing, such as raising income tax threshold, but also those things we are stopping the Tories doing.

The whole piece is well worth a read, but I thought this line was particularly good: “Losing protest votes – or those who thought the Lib Dems were to the left of Labour …

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Conference preview: consulting on the future, inequality and digital policy

This weekend’s Liberal Democrat conference in Sheffield starts on the Friday afternoon with three policy consultation sessions: Facing the Future, Information Technology and Intellectual Property and Inequality.

The Facing the Future policy working group is chaired by Norman Lamb MP and, as Norman explained on this site last autumn, is intended to set the party’s broad policy framework for the next few years. Having such a key party leadership figure chairing the group is good news as it raises the chances of the group’s deliberations and outcomes having an impact on what the Liberal Democrats in government subsequently do.

The big challenge for the group is to avoid the fate of previous similar broad policy reviews which generally have done a good job at the technical details of what policies need reviewing and in which order, but have tended to have either very muddled overall messages or messages that sink largely without trace. (It’s a time for Facing up to the Future of Challenge, Opportunity and Responsibility while Moving Ahead to Meet the Challenge, Make the Change a policy wonk might almost say.)

Norman LambThe success of this group is all the more important this time round as without a clear direction, the party’s policymaking processes are likely to get over-shadowed by the day-to-day decision making impetus from government – where the policy teams are coalition rather than Liberal Democrat teams.

Norman’s presence as chair of the group is therefore particularly welcome, and it’s the absence of a similar senior leadership figure from the chair of the other two groups that illustrates their main challenge.

The Information Technology and Intellectual Property group (chaired by Julian Huppert, and which I’m a member of) and the Inequality group (chaired by David Hall-Matthews) both need to get their own recommendations right. But almost as important is to have recommendations which Liberal Democrats in government then pay some attention to. In both cases, the more closely the policies are drawn up with regular discussion with those in government, the more likely they are to have an impact on what happens.

Take the example of the Inequality group, which amongst other issues looking at those of social mobility and how important, or not, overall levels of equality are. The consultation paper says both are “crucial” and that tackling the former “would not necessarily” lead to improvements in the latter. That, and the chairmanship of David Hall-Matthews, give a fairly strong clue as to the recommendations the group is likely to produce. The key test, however, will be the degree to which any such recommendations influence the words and actions of Liberal Democrat ministers, especially Nick Clegg whose emphasis has been very much on only the former.

In my experience, policy working groups are very open to the views of others in the party where they are clearly put and with some evidence or experience to substantiate them (not a hurdle all submissions pass, alas!). So although some of the bigger questions may be beyond the direct reach of individual party members, I’d strongly encourage people to take part in the consultation processes.

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference Agenda and Directory 2011

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