Tag Archives: four go in search of big ideas

What Liberals need to do for the ‘left behind’

‘Left behind’ is a relatively new term to describe communities in the UK who have, economically speaking, fallen behind the more prosperous parts of the country.  The reasons for this socio-economic phenomenon are varied, but amongst them are: de-industrialisation; the effects of globalisation; and power that is over-centralised to Westminster.

As Liberals, why should we care about the left behind?  Some may argue it is because there were large numbers of voters in these communities, generally speaking, who voted to leave the EU (though whether it was anything to do with the EU is arguable).  Therefore, getting them ‘on side’ would increase our chances of an ‘exit from Brexit’.

However, as Liberals who fundamentally care about social justice, we should now be responding urgently to these communities, as these are the very people who stand to gain the most from Liberal policies.  Liberal values are at the heart of progressive policies that respect and value the individual, regardless of background and personal characteristics, and seek to maximise opportunities for all, so that it is not only the individual who gains, but whole communities and ultimately the country.  By targeting the ‘left behind’ we can move society on more significantly than by targeting any other group.

Paul Hindley, in his chapter in the SLF’s most recent publication Four Go In Search Of Big Ideas, makes an eloquent case for a new system of social rights, that at this moment in time, would give the ‘left behind’ a stake in our society, some dignity, and hope. As he says:

The intractable problem of our political age is: how do liberals and progressives reach out to left behind communities? How do we defuse populism, tackle economic inequality and revive a positive sense of community in the age of Brexit and identity politics? If liberals cannot reach out to the most deprived and alienated communities, to the places that most need social justice, then there will be no meaningful future for progressive politics.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 64 Comments
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