Tag Archives: social liberal forum

Latest Social Liberal Forum publication: Universal Basic Income as a tool for tax and benefit reform

At the recent SLF Annual Conference in July, a well-attended fringe session discussed the benefits and drawbacks of Basic Income.

My contention, as Chair of this session, was that we now need to be looking more closely at Basic Income, given increasing robotisation and technological change that will massively shake up conventional work, and given that our welfare system is creaking and needs modernisation. Basic Income is a policy that seems fundamentally socially liberal, and so it seems to naturally deserve attention from the SLF and all who are socially liberal.

Therefore the SLF is very pleased …

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Follow the Social Liberal Forum conference today

The annual Social Liberal Forum conference is always nourishing for the Liberal soul. There’s always some proper intellectual heft behind its discussions and deliberations.

It takes place today in London. By the time you read this, I’ll have been up since before the crack of dawn. That 6:25 flight from Edinburgh is not my favourite way to travel but I couldn’t justify the cost of the sleeper.  The last time I was on this particular flight, it didn’t even leave until after 11.

The theme of the Conference is “The Retreat from Globalisation.” That takes the morning and the afternoon will include a leadership hustings (free to all Lib Dem members to attend) and a look back at the General Election.

Here’s how the day will unfold:

Morning theme: The Retreat from Globalisation

10am: Refreshments
10.30am: Welcome
10.35am: William Beveridge Memorial Lecture “Is a liberal and democratic society compatible with globalisation?”, William Wallace
11.30am: Global conflict, Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman
12.10pm: Global warming, Ed Davey MP and Mark Campanale

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Leadership hustings – a chance to discuss the future of the party with Vince Cable

The first Leadership hustings will take place this Saturday in London.

Why a hustings, I hear you ask, given that there is only one candidate? Technically nominations close next Monday, so until then the advice is that we cannot assume that there will not be a contest (although, of course, the chances of a challenge are minimal).

The Social Liberal Forum Conference is holding the hustings at 1.30pm at Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA. Vince Cable has agreed to take part. If any other candidates do come forward before Saturday then they will, of course, be invited.

Whilst any party member is welcome to attend the hustings for free, we would love it if you could sign up for the whole day’s conference. In the morning the theme will be ‘The Retreat from Globalisation’ with some eminent speakers, while the afternoon will be devoted to more local issues including the Leadership election and a review of the General Election. You can register here: www.socialliberal.net/slfconf2017.

Posted in Leadership Election | Also tagged | 8 Comments

SLF Conference London 15th July – all Lib Dems invited – we need to talk!

 

The theme for this year’s conference “The Retreat from Globalisation “ was conceived 6 months ago. The country had voted for Brexit and the US had elected Donald Trump, albeit on fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. Since then however Liberals have seen off the threat from the far right in both Holland and France, but more recently in the UK general election both of the pro Brexit parties, the Tories and Labour, made big gains.

So how do we make sense of what is going on and where do we go from here? There are no simple answers so I would like to invite you to our day conference in London on Saturday 15th July. At the time of writing it looks like Vince Cable will be confirmed as our new leader soon unless a surprise candidate puts themself forward. Vince has confirmed that he will be attending and for most of us this will be the first opportunity we have to find out the direction he wants to take the party. In return we can ask questions which, depending on you, may or may not include a controversial matter that the Radical Association has (successfully?) campaigned on recently.

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Will it be a hustings or a Meet the New Leader event?

Sal Brinton has explained that:

There will be a series of official Leadership hustings around the country (they are currently being arranged, so watch out for details near you), as well as some online or streamed events. In the last Leadership Election these hustings were very popular, as well as the SAOs who may also have social media Q&As with the candidates.In the event that there is only one nominated candidate we will discuss with them continuing with some of these dates as Meet the New Leader events.

The Social Liberal Forum has been quick off the mark. Our annual conference this year will be held on Saturday 15th July in London.

We had already rearranged the programme to include a slot for a hustings, and this will become a ‘Meet the New Leader’ event if there is only one candidate.  The latter seems the most likely outcome at the moment, but not all MPs have declared whether they are in or out, and someone may yet put their name forward to ensure a contest. We will know for sure by next Wednesday.

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Latest Social Liberal Forum Publication Now Available: “Northern Discomfort: An Analysis of the Lib Dem performance in the 2017 General Election”

Having had something of a break over the General Election period, the Social Liberal Forum is back with its nose to the grindstone, publishing new content to stir the interests of  liberals—in particular social liberals– everywhere.

We are very grateful to Michael Mullaney for writing his excellent analysis of the General Election results, especially as it focuses on the fate of the party in significant regions of  England.  We now hold only one seat in the north of England (Westmorland and Lonsdale) and looking at the north, the Midlands, Wales and East Anglia combined, we defended only seven of the 16 second places we were defending, and lost our seats in Leeds Northwest, Sheffield Hallam and Ceredigion.

The story of this General Election is undoubtedly the fall in vote share to 7.4%–wonderful as it may be to have increased our tally of MPs by four– and the party facing irrelevance in large parts of the north, and other parts of the country.   This is particularly distressing, as our policies would make such a difference to people living in these regions of England.

At the end of his piece, Michael says,

….there is a large potential market place for centre-left progressive politics.  This gives us the opportunity at the next election to present the public with a progressive, social liberal agenda.

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Naomi Smith’s speech at the Progressive Alliance launch

Last night, a rally attended by over 900 people launched the Progressive Alliance’s campaign to support single anti-Tory candidates in a number of seats around the country.

The event was addressed by Labour’s Clive Lewis, Greens leader Caroline Lucas, Zoe Williams, Paul Mason and Make Votes matter. The Liberal Democrat speaker was former Social Liberal Forum Chair Naomi Smith. She has sent us her speech. Here it is:

I’m Naomi Smith, former Liberal Democrat PPC for this constituency (Cities of London and Westminster), former chair of the Social Liberal Forum and very proud Remoaner!

I’m not standing this time round, but am campaigning in St Albans where with a 63% remain vote, we’ve got a good chance of taking the seat from the Brexiteer, Anne Main.

Of course, we’d have a much better change if an electoral pact between the progressive parties have been brokered. I’m pleased, of course, that the Lib Dems have stood aside in two seats, but am disappointed it wasn’t more. I commend, as we all should, The Green Party, for having done so in a great number of seats. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

What has happened in South West Surrey, where the Labour Party and my own, failed to step down for the doctor running against Jeremy Hunt, tells us all we need to know about the culture changes needed in our parties.

SW Surrey, could have been the new Tatton, where if you remember in 1997, both Labour and the Lib Dems stood aside for the anti-corruption candidate, Martin Bell. This helped to highlight Tory sleaze and bring it under the spotlight during a general election campaign. How differently our parties behaved then. Had we not done that, Neil Hamilton may be restanding as the MP for Tatton in June. If we’d make like Tatton in SW Surrey this time, we could’ve made Tory under funding of the NHS a greater feature of the 2017 General Election.

To change those cultures in our parties is a longer term project. We need to engage in a process of building and reciprocating goodwill and trust. Milestones along that journey in my opinion, should include Labour moving its position on Brexit quite markedly, and for the Lib Dems to rule out working with the Conservatives.

Given the lack of leadership in our both our parties on this, it is now very much down to us, as progressive activists. But before I get on to what Liberal Democrat local parties can now do, let me just put in to context the vision and leadership shown by some:

On the other side of the debate, the organisation has been ruthless. The Regressive Alliance is real. UKIP are giving the Conservatives a free run in 41% of the seats the Tories are contesting. In 2015, UKIP stood 624 candidates. This time, they’re contesting just 377 seats. By comparison, our parties have managed to stand down for each other in around 40 seats. And while I highly commend those local parties that have managed to strike a deal, I sincerely wish it could have been more.

Let’s not fight fire, with dire.

It matters, because we know when we work together, we all benefit. The greatest periods of success for progressive over the last 100 years all involved some degree of cross party collaboration (1906, 1945 and 1997). Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. As long as progressive parties are estranged from one another, the Tories will always be able to present themselves as the providers of secure and stable government.

So what can we do now, right now, to help reduce Theresa May’s majority? Well, we have to try and offset the ill effects of the Regressive Alliance. I’m encouraging all Liberal Democrat supporters in marginal Labour/Tory seats to critically engage their candidates on the key issues of Brexit and that most progressive of issues, Equal Votes.

The reality for Lib Dem supporters is that the Conservatives are generally terrible on the things we care most about, from LGBT issues to internationalism and democratic equality. While we still have this horrendous first past the post system, we have to vote tactically and encourage others to do so  as well.

Tactical votes and non-aggression pacts are what we have left between now and 8 June. And it’s so important that we employ them. As the American philosopher Carl Friedrich said, ‘Democratic order is built, not on agreement of the fundamentals, but on the organising of its dissent’. Or in other words, what distinguishes the health of a democracy , is the vitality of its opposition. If Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders won’t yet collaborate, then we must. And it’ll be no coalition of chaos, but a rebel alliance, and I look forward to working with you all – tactical voting is now our key message, as we begin to build our progressive future. Thank you.

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