Tag Archives: liberal movement

Former Conservative Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell joins the Liberal Democrats

Stephen Dorrell was Health Secretary in John Major’s government and as recently as 2014 was Chair of the Commons Health Select Committee.

Tonight, in an article for The Times (£), he announced that he had joined the Liberal Democrats.

However, we belittle the distinct political traditions of Liberal Democrats, social democrats and liberal Conservatives if we pretend that voices in the “centre” are all the same. The argument for realignment is different. Democratic politics requires its practitioners to build coalitions of people whose views are not identical, but who share political objectives and a commitment to see them translated into reality.

Brexit is the immediate illustration of the issue. Liberal Democrats, liberal Conservatives and social democrats share a strong belief that the UK’s interests are best served by remaining a member of the EU and building in Europe the world’s most effective champion of liberal values. These values, enshrined in the EU treaties, are not, as Vladimir Putin says, “obsolete”; they are the essential ingredients of the success of western civilisation, and liberals should organise to defend them wherever and whenever they are threatened.

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Finding our way again

What was it like becoming an activist in 1978? Well, you were given a bundle of newspapers to deliver. No change since then apparently?  You might also be lent a copy of The Theory and Practice of Community Politics, which you thought about, discussed and, importantly, set about acting upon in all the communities to which you belonged.

Neither the people who had developed this new form of Liberalism and fought for the Party to accept it, nor those who followed this theory and practice in the 80s and 90s, would have thought  that forty years later they would be accused of having no values or philosophy and of just callously saying anything to get elected, which is how this kind of activism is attacked today.

The idea of Community Politics was to create a movement.  It was sufficient in many areas to campaign directly in the many communities to which people belong, at work, at home, in their neighbourhoods and in wider non-geographically based communities.  But it also adopted a second avenue (in what was called the Dual Approach) which was to seek election to councils and parliaments where policy could be changed so as to help achieve the central objective – which was to help people take and use power in their communities.

Our philosophy went back to Mill and especially to T.H. Green and from him to the New Liberals.

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  • User AvatarGeoff Reid 19th Oct - 8:28pm
    My son lives and votes in Sheffield Hallam. He rang up to say that he was recovering from the shock of discovering that he had...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 19th Oct - 7:58pm
    @ Rob Cannon My information (The Guardian) is that Mr Lloyd voted today with his former Lib Den colleagues. Please correct me if I am...
  • User Avatartheakes 19th Oct - 7:54pm
    Eastbourne MP supported the amendment today! Or am I missing soemthing?
  • User AvatarRoss McLean 19th Oct - 7:46pm
    Jared O'Mara apparently turned up in Parliament today. I'm going to say something I never thought I'd say, but well done him. He obviously thought...
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 19th Oct - 7:26pm
    Rob Cannon, Stephen Lloyd is keeping his promise made to his constituents. He is Liberal to the core. Once he has discharged his promises I...
  • User AvatarRoss McLean 19th Oct - 7:21pm
    Thankyou Norman. @Rob Cannon - Nobody is stopping you asking what you want to ask. But FYI the party leadership doesn't make decisions about candidates....