Tag Archives: neal lawson

Achieving electoral reform – the common good comes before personal ambition

Anyone who has stood as a paper candidate knows that this is a selfless task that normally has nothing to do with personal ambition. This is the basis on which I stood in three General Elections. I was regarded as a good candidate for hopeless northern seats – and endorsed as such by Richard Wainwright MP! In October 1974, when the Liberals stood in every seat for the first time, the Region told me that there was nobody else for Rother Valley. As the first candidate since 1918, I saved my deposit after we managed to address folded leaflets (by hand) to the 93,000 electors. I suppose that was the fulfilment of a very modest ambition.

I do see myself as achieving a few things in my time but that is different from fulfilling personal ambition. I still hold the percentage vote share record for Barnsley Central, where I stood in 1983, but, as Yorkshire and the Humber Region know full well, that’s nowt to boast about. My final outing in Eccles in 1992 was utterly unmemorable!

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Opinion: This is the Social Liberal moment

After months of planning, and not inconsiderate last-minute scrambling, the Social Liberal Forum’s first ever conference took place at City University on Saturday; envisioned by Hackney’s Geoff Payne and put into action by the outstanding team he led, the conference (#SLFconf on Twitter) was a massive success from so many perspectives.

Firstly, there was the interest generated by having two Cabinet Ministers and the Party’s Deputy Leader speaking – Vince Cable’s speech was carried live by the BBC and Sky news was also filming throughout the day. Of course the Ministers were a significant draw, but the packed-out audience was …

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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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The Saturday Debate: Can a progressive alliance between the Lib Dems and Labour work?

Here’s your starter for ten in our Saturday slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

‘Can a progressive alliance between the Lib Dems and Labour work?’ That is the question asked in this month’s issues of Total Politics magazine, debated by Neal Lawson of the left-leaning Compass pressure group (who argues Yes) and Labour MP Michael Dugher (who says No).

Neal’s is a thoughtful piece, which recognises the ebbs and flows of history — but does not view them as inevitable. After al, it was only 13 years prior to the Coalition being formed that Paddy Ashdown …

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Compass votes to let Liberal Democrats join as full members

We’ve covered in various forms the moves by the traditionally Labour pressure group Compass to reach out across party lines (such as in this guest post from its chair Neal Lawson and in this review by Paul Walter of one of his articles). Compass this week took a further step by opening up its membership:

68% of our members have voted in favour of constitutional amendments which end the rulings that restrict membership to those already in Labour or entitled to be so.

The vote represents a clear sign as to the future direction of progressive politics, a resounding

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The Independent View: Confusing, exciting and terrifying times for those on the liberal left

These are confusing, exciting and terrifying times for those on the liberal left. By the liberal left I mean those of us who want to see people flourish, to make the world as they see fit – to do it individually but also collectively and therefore democratically and all that requires in terms of greater equality of power and resources.

The confusion is that few of us saw the Conservative-dominated Coalition coming and even fewer are aware yet of its effect on each party and British politics. But it will be profound.

Looking back I find it incredible that my Party, Labour, …

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Opinion: The next big idea – humanity

The cacophony from Facebook, the blogosphere and all the rest of the Twitterati sometimes drives out what is most significant.  But every so often someone writes something that you know is important for the future.

Neal Lawson is an indefinable character.  His Compass campaign group is a fountain of new ideas designed to revitalise the Labour Party.  He is no friend of the Liberal Democrats, but neither is an enemy or party to the destructive game of name-calling and innuendo that characterises the Labour campaign in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

I also believe his article in the Guardian, with a slightly …

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Opinion: Neal Lawson and the Good Society

On Comment is Free, Compass’ Chair Neal Lawson has outlined his ideas for the “good society” which he sees as a vision for the centre left. This follows on from an early December essay entitled “Welcome to New Socialism”  in the New Statesman penned with John Harris, which I reviewed previously on Lib Dem Voice.

In his CiF article, Neal Lawson fleshes out his philosophy for the “good society” mentioning Aristotle and the need for a more meaningful existence beyond what he succinctly sums up as our “learn-to-earn-to-spend culture”.

The philosophical bit is all very laudable and nothing with which most …

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Opinion: A new direction for the centre-left

Compass director Neal Lawson and the Guardian’s John Harris have written a very thoughtful and forward-looking article for the New Statesman. It proposes a new direction for the centre left, which they call “New Socialism”.

The authors start from the premise that the Labour party suffered a stunning defeat in May. Currently, they say, the party is “sleepwalking from the car crash”. Old Labour ran out of steam. New Labour ran itself into the sand. Now, however, “the party seems to have switched off”, while “social democracy” dies throughout the world. Labour has “almost forgotten how to think, or even …

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CommentIsLinked@LDV… #ldconf special bumper edition

Alix Mortimer of the LDV parish rounded up some of the best commentary on the Lib Dem conference here on Sunday – let me try and bring the story up-to-date …

First up, James Graham has had an active conference, popping up a couple of times at the Guardian’s Comment Is Free blog. One was penned jointly with Neal Lawson of Compass – A camp site not a big tent – and made an unabashed pitch for social liberals and liberal socialists – whether they count themselves as Lib Dems, Labour, Greens or even nationalists – to come together in a progressive alliance. Here’s the mission statement:

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Compass want Lib Dems at its conference

As a visitor to LibDemVoice you may or may not be aware of the work of Compass – the influential pressure group that campaigns for a more democratic, equal and sustainable world. Compass is about building a broadly based Liberal Left politics and as a Liberal Democrat activist we wanted to introduce you to our important work and to invite you to attend our National Conference on Saturday 13 June.

We believe that both the Tory and Labour leaderships want to turn back as soon as possible to the failed politics of the pre-crash – both in terms of the old economy …

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