Tag Archives: lib dem policy

How can we be seen as relevant again?

We have to offer people what they need, and I don’t think we are doing that.

The Southport Conference earlier this month, besides passing many useful motions, agreed a Strategy, grandly entitled, ‘Ambitious for our party, ambitious for our country.’ We are good on noble ideas. ‘Create a political and social movement which encourages people to take and use power in their own lives and communities’ – that’s a natural extension of our famous Preamble, ‘We seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community’.

But is anybody heeding us out there, even in the less than half of the population which takes some interest in politics?

Well, let’s be fair. Even in our diminished state, 7% in the national polls, we attract many more voters in Local Government elections. Our councillors are often known as work-horses who eat up local problems. Community Politics is still a big belief for us – ‘we will empower the individual in his or her community’. A current article here by Oliver Craven emphasises the point.

But I’ve come to believe that it is not enough for us to campaign locally to make a big impact. That’s because there’s precious little ‘community’ in our deeply divided country today for us to work with.

This week is what Christians call Holy Week, leading up to Good Friday, but fewer and fewer British people go to church to find a community. In the workplaces, ever fewer people join trade unions as more people take ill-paid non-unionised jobs. So the Conservatives win elections in formerly working-class areas, and Labour penetrates prosperous south-east towns.

Who feels part of a community in Britain today? Not, certainly, working families on the minimum wage who with curtailed benefits can’t afford even the basics and have to resort to Food Banks. Not people forced out of privately-rented homes into emergency accommodation, sometimes ending up living in another city. Not those trying to make ends meet through ill-paid temporary jobs or chancy self-employment.

There’s little sense of community either for sick folk obliged to stay in hospital for want of social care, or stuck caring for family members themselves at home, or for lonely old people sitting on park benches to talk to somebody. There’s no community for the depressed or for the oppressed.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 76 Comments

17 days to shape Lib Dem policy on immigration

The first events of the Southport Conference last Friday afternoon were three policy consultation sessions. These sessions are the intermediate stage of the policy development process. The first is the establishment of a policy working group which looks at the key issues and takes evidence and then produces a consultation paper to be discussed at Conference and which is also accessible online for members to comment on.

The three papers discussed at Spring will be finalised in light of the consultation and then put to Conference for a final decision.

I went to the session on Immigration. I  should have read the consultation paper weeks ago when it first came out, not on the way down on the train. However, when I did read it, I pretty much spontaneously combusted. I am pretty much a “people should be able to live wherever they want” sort of person. I am not daft enough to think that that is going to fly in the current political environment but I do think our policy should reflect the fact that people are falling in love with life partners from all over the world and we should do all we can to keep them together. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 48 Comments
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