Tag Archives: policy making

Organised, radical liberalism is winning liberalism

Big, radical messaging works and when we do it, we win.

That’s the message we should all be taking away from our stunning successes in recent weeks, where saying “bollocks to Brexit” and focusing on the result we want rather than on process and detail has won us MEPs in numbers we could never have dreamed of in January, including an amazing two wins in my own North West seat.

This didn’t happen by accident though. Many of us within the party have been campaigning for the clearest possible anti-Brexit line since 2016, and helped get policy and message in the place …

Posted in Lib Dem organisations | Also tagged | 11 Comments

Reform the Reformers – Part 1 Policy making

The business world has its special expressions for what politicians call ‘reform’. ‘If you are standing still you are going backwards’ for example. In Japan there is the business concept of ‘kaizen’, translated as ‘continuous improvement’.

The UK Liberal Democrats are a reformist party. People join the party because they wish to improve things and solve problems.

By contrast some people join political parties to preserve the status quo, or a prior status quo. It’s not so common in business. I sometimes wonder if the CEO of the communist East German state company that made the famous plastic 2-stroke Trabant car, had a business philosophy of ‘continuously staying the same’.

The Liberal Democrats might find even greater success if they focused even more on their primary job of ‘reforming’. That means doing even more to solve problems and make improvements for the general public. Liberal Democrats are keen to tell the public about their liberal values and democratic principles. It is not always easy for the public to make the connection between Lib Dem values and principles, and improvements to their lives; how those principles and values solve real problems.

There is scope for improvement here.

The Lib Dems will surely do better if they are perceived more as a problem-solving service for the public. Indeed, at a recent Liberal International meeting in Berlin a spokesperson for the German FDP explained that this conclusion at a strategy meeting a few years ago led to their revival as a political force.

With the UK Lib Dems the deployment of our values and principles in solving problems, is undertaken by a relatively open policymaking system. This is where one might look for the scope for improvement.

The rules of an organisation reflect its culture.

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Creative commons government

As much as it saddens us we need to be realistic about our electoral chances over the next few years. We have the opportunity, especially with the ongoing collapse of the Labour Party, to do quite well, but we have a very tall mountain to climb – to come back from just 8 seats to a position of potential government is a tall order.

That doesn’t mean that we should give up, of course, but it does mean that we should look at alternative ways of having influence over the politics and governance of the country. If our prospects of getting into government soon are minimal, then we should consider how we can get other parties to implement our policies.

Policy is perhaps our greatest strength; because of the unusually broad selection of views inside the party, particularly in the sense of the left to right spectrum, our policy is more robustly examined before adoption than policy in many other parties. When Labour or the Conservatives release policy, it speaks of a specific author and outlook, and it is only at first exposure to the public and discerning voices that compromise is forced upon it. For the Lib Dems, compromise is something we do before we let other people see our policies.

This means that our policies are remarkably acceptable to a broad sweep of people, and how much the Lib Dems managed to achieve as the junior partner in the coalition government is not just testimony to the hard work of our MPs and party members working to support them, but also to the consistency and practicality of our policy positions.

If our goal is to make the UK a more liberal place, then we should focus on achieving that goal regardless of if we are in power or not. That means not just campaigning, but drafting policy with the intention of it being used by other parties, and even encouraging other parties to adopt it.

Posted in News | 15 Comments

Opinion: How we made policy on asylum issues

Advocates disrupt transfer of asylum seekers from VillawoodEver wondered how party policy is made? I was on the “Immigration, Asylum and Identity” Policy Working Group, and the process has taken a whole year. Living in the north east, I daren’t begin to add up the cost of the fares, and food on the move, for meetings every 10 days on an evening in London, but it was an opportunity to get some good and Liberal policies for the Party for those asylum seekers who seek sanctuary in the UK.

Between March and …

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LibLink: The Lib Dems’ policy shortage

Lib Dem Voice’s ubiquitous co-editor, Mark Pack, has been writing for Total Politics.

He says:

Performers who make the leap from stage show to the TV very often run into a simple problem: TV eats up material at a fearsome rate. A stage show can be repeated around the country for months with only a few tweaks as events or audience feedback requires it. TV, however, requires completely new material each week.

A similar problem has befallen the Liberal Democrats when it comes to policy. In opposition sticking to saying only a few things repeatedly was an advantage;

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Keeping Party policy fresh, relevant… and ours

Yesterday, I outlined some of the issues that impact on how we make policy as Liberal Democrats, and some very interesting comments came from that, for which I am grateful. Today, here are some thoughts of my own, which build on those comments and on my own thinking…

Whilst Federal Policy Committee has been attempting to reconcile the variety of tasks to be addressed, the Party has seen the emergence of a number of ginger groups. Added to the long-established, but increasingly dormant, Liberal Vision, which appears not to have developed much beyond being a small group of libertarians with …

Posted in News, Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: What price authenticity in our policy making?

As a mental health social worker, I have been trying to keep up with the debate, both within and without the party,  on the progress of the Welfare Reform Bill.

There are many commentators far more expert than I able to say how many different aspects of the legislation accord with party policy, or wider liberal views about the freedom and agency of the individual, or how far it falls short in respect of protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities.

This post is not about the detail of that.

I want to pose a question to LDV-reading colleagues as to how …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

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