The country needs a new liberalism – the Liberal Democrats must provide it

Liberalism’s ideas, implemented either by Liberal Democrats or by others, have been wholly vindicated. This has been so on free trade and market economics; on the nature of social injustice and the need for a compassionate, intelligent state; on civil liberties and on foreign intervention. Whilst not always heard – and, let’s face it, often unpopular – our party has stood for the best of its traditions in the best interests of our country. With a leadership election almost underway, what is the political landscape in which we find ourselves, and what will our next leader (and the party) have to do to make an impact at the next election and beyond?

It is often stated that the politics of the 21st century will be centred around the merits of an open society versus those of one that is closed. This carries weight; indeed, any lessons to be learned from Emmanuel Macron’s recent victories in France should not ignore that it was on this basis that much of the presidential campaign was fought. The Brexit debate entailed similar arguments, with no prominent defence of liberal immigration, whilst the recent general election offered a choice only between Labour’s state socialism and protectionist, patrician Conservatism. It should, however, be noted that these visions for Britain, combined, won 82.4% of the vote.

A new liberalism, fit to meet the challenges of the 21st century, is required; one which recognises that Corbyn’s Labour Party and Conservative Brexiteers may have accurately diagnosed the UK’s disquiet, but knows their solutions have been found wanting time and time again. One which precisely because of its belief in the European ideal – rather than in spite of it – fights for as close a relationship as possible with the European Union instead of seeking to reverse, at this point, the decision made by last year’s referendum. Most importantly, this new liberalism cannot seek to face the problems of the 21st century with solutions from the 20th – fruitless ideological battles between left and right.

The challenges facing the NHS are not simply a matter of resource, important as that undoubtedly is. Social care faces similar, if not more serious, challenges. The toxic debate around welfare and work, which stems largely from Thatcher’s 1980s, must be reset, and we must keep up with the pace of new technology and its implications for employment. Our freedom is threatened without precedent: whilst protecting and enhancing civil liberties, we must make it known that we will not tolerate any limitation or extinction of the freedom of others through violence – be it physical, sexual, domestic or terror-related. Doing so does not preclude advancing the proud liberal causes of prison and drug law reform.

A new liberalism could replace the five giants of squalor, ignorance, want and idleness and commit to a new Beveridge Commission to (in addition to Norman Lamb’s original proposal to examine the future of the NHS and social care) find solutions to the housing crisis; to invigorate education, fundamentally reform welfare and eradicate poverty; and to ensure the economy is rebalanced between the north and south and between large and small business, with a labour market fit for the future. It could tackle a sixth giant – fear – to make clear, once and for all, that voters can be sure of the country’s security.

The Liberal Democrats’ aim should be to govern. To achieve it we must be credible, distinctive and, above all, driven always by liberalism. We must recognise that the process will be a long one. Optimism about our country and its people should not breed complacency about our party’s fortunes. A new leader will bear the responsibility of gaining voters’ trust with the future of the country. That trust must be earned; if we fail to do so, nothing whatsoever guarantees us a future. I look forward to hearing leadership candidates’ proposals in the coming weeks.

* Scott Smith is a postgraduate student and Lib Dem member originally from Dundee, now living and studying in Leeds.

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43 Comments

  • By election in Soham today. Used to be a strong area for us, let us see whether the electors think they need us?

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Jun '17 - 10:55am


    The Brexit debate entailed similar arguments, with no prominent defence of liberal immigration,

    There was plenty of defence of liberal immigration, and it damaged us badly because it was read by ordinary working class people as “Rather than pay you oiks a decent wage, or have to put effort into training you, we’ll import workers from abroad who’ll work for less”.

  • The problem with liberal immigration policy is that is that very few people like it. Matthew raise the issue of the working classes, but the reality is that it’s not wanted by above 70% population. In truth it has never been popular and has only really advanced along side things that are popular.
    Macron didn’t win because he had a liberal vision. He won because his closest rival was basically a full blown scary bug eyed fascist. Not someone a bit right of centre or a bit authoritarian, but a BNP style far Right candidate. In Britain by contrast the closet we have to a mainstream far Right, UKIP, was reduced to 2% of the vote and the EDL who are essentially an extension of an old football firm.

  • Perhaps “a new liberalism could replace the five giants of squalor, ignorance, want and idleness” plus innumeracy. 🙂

  • Theakes: today’s election at Soham is the Soham North ward which we have not won at any election since the ward was formed in 2003

  • Our Liberalism can only be adequately projected if we have reliable communications, both internal and external.
    However that is not always the case. Today (Thursday) I tried in vain to phone the Scottish Liberal Democrats HQ in Edinburgh. I was met by a voicemail message saying the office was closed.
    Eventually I managed to get hold of someone in the ‘media team’ who explained that some of the HQ staff were away in London and the rest were enjoying a much-deserved rest after the General Election, (two weeks ago !).
    Oh I see, a supposed professional political organisation just abandons its Scottish Headquarters for weeks on end and that is supposed, is it, to be OK ?

  • David Becket 22nd Jun '17 - 11:56am

    Whilst the country needs a new liberalism is our party in a fit state to provide it?

    We need a radical programme to tackle the issues facing the country. I will not try to list them but give one example. Land Value Taxation. We have talked about it for years so lets get started. Domestic Rates are in a mess and Business Rates are killing the High Street, so lets start work.

    Having a radical programme needs a vision to take it forward. We need a leader with a vision who can communicate a positive agenda. The last leader who came close to that was Charles, under whom we had the highest number of MPs and Councillors.

    Who from our current candidates can communicate a positive radical agenda?

  • Matthew – perhaps inevitably, we didn’t really have much of an opportunity to put across a positive message about immigration throughout the Brexit debate, and I think a real defence of it has been missing for a long time. However, I do agree that we have too often allowed defence of immigration to be portrayed as a defence of the status quo. I think we should defend immigration proudly and robustly – necessary as it is for the health of our economy – but strive to facilitate growth in wages and living standards for all.

  • Glenn – I’m not sure I agree with you about either immigration or Macron! I think that immigration has for so long been used as a scapegoat that its unpopularity is probably inevitable. That’s precisely why I think we ought to defend it vigorously whilst offering solutions to the real problems for which immigration is often used by the right (and, often the left) as a scapegoat.

    As for Macron, I don’t think he won simply because of his opponent. I’m sure Le Pen’s candidacy emboldened his vote, but I’m not convinced she was the sole reason. Given his victories in both the presidential and parliamentary elections, he has a real opportunity now to implement the liberal reforms France needs; if he succeeds, I think we may have a lot to learn from him indeed.

  • David – how embarrassing! I had missed “disease” of course, though I suspect innumeracy probably comes under ignorance. 🙂

  • David Becket – I think we’re largely in agreement. As I say, I’m looking forward to hearing the candidates’ pitch for how they plan to build and communicate an overtly liberal platform.

  • Peter Watson 22nd Jun '17 - 12:28pm

    @Scott Smith “we didn’t really have much of an opportunity to put across a positive message about immigration throughout the Brexit debate”
    There was plenty of opportunity to do just that. The Remain campaign, including Lib Dems, did not try to put across a positive message about much at all.
    But what about the months and years before that? EU immigration came up in the televised 2010 Leaders’ debates, Clegg vs. Farron, etc. and it has been acknowledged as an issue long before then. Those raising the issue and expressing their concerns were, and are, dismissed as racist or xenophobic (with implications that they are also old, uneducated and ignorant).
    I believe that the referendum was lost because of the failure to find a positive message, other than one about nebulous “benefits to the economy”, that resonates with individuals who feel that they are not sharing in those benefits and to whom those making the claims may as well be saying “I’m alright, Jack, so **** you.”.

  • Peter Martin 22nd Jun '17 - 12:38pm

    To achieve it we must be credible, distinctive and, above all, driven always by liberalism.

    OK but what is liberalism? I think we all know what social liberalism is. Tolerance and acceptance of religious and sexual minorities. Acceptance that women have an equal role. That’s a war that may not completely have been won. There are a few dinosaurs left! But we’ve made lots of progress in recent years.

    But what about economic liberalism? Is it the liberalism of Keynes? Or, the liberalism of the ordoliberals and neoliberals? There’s a huge difference. It’s economic problems that causes the problems of the EU and Brexit. We need to get back to thinking about them.

  • Scott.
    I don’t think so. Immigration is simply not popular and never has been pretty much anywhere in the world. Name a single country where mass immigration is welcomed by the locals. At best it’s tolerated when it’s attached to other policies that people do want. Unfortunately people are a bit tribal and prone to risk aversion. It also means they don’t like feeling displaced.
    IMO Macron won because the French system is very different to ours and left him only with Le Pen as his closest rival. This meant that a mixture of liberal, mainstream conservative and left wingers opted for him by default because the alternative was a very scary person. I’d vote for Dave Davis or Boris Johnson if the only alternative was Tommy Robinson. And I’m basically a hippy, vegetarian lefty. I’d also have voted for Macron if the alternative was Le Pen.

  • Matthew Hemsley 22nd Jun '17 - 12:49pm

    Couldn’t agree with you more on immigration. No one has really have made the positive case for it. In the late 90s and early 00s when the economy was well, rather than defend the impact of immigration, most tried to ignore it in the hope that the minority complaining about it could be “ignored” (for want of a better word). So post-recession, it was easy for more people to latch onto that argument as no-one had been out there explaining why it was wrong.

    We can change public perceptions on immigration, but only if we are prepared to talk openly and passionately about why it is a good thing.

    I think the same applies to market economies, which are certainly coming under threat in the UK. Corbyn obviously hates them, but the May brand of Conservatism (Red Tories) are far too willing to intervene in the market rather than promote competition. We are going to lose the argument by not being willing to fight for our beliefs.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 22nd Jun '17 - 12:51pm

    Glenn, You say that you do not think mass immigration is very popular anywhere in the world. Yet I am sure the vast majority of people would be extremely angry, if they themselves, or their children, were denied the right to go abroad, to whichever country they chose, to work or study, or to retire. They would feel that they were being denied a basic human right – to move in search of a better life. So a belief in the right to free movement is actually very popular – it’s just that not everyone accepts that what applies to them and their family should apply to all citizens of the world.

  • Bill le Breton 22nd Jun '17 - 12:56pm

    I don’t get this love affair with Macron. I warned here nearly a year ago he’d win and it would be bad. You all need to read this critique from Christian Lendner,

    “Macron’s ideas for EU reforms will do economic and political harm to the bloc.” and his ideas will lead to “a Soviet Union-style system, in which at some point, the systematic losers will turn against the European Union and the euro.”

    Lendner also thinks Greece needs a spell outside of the Eurozone to get its economy back together. Hurrah.

    http://www.politico.eu/article/christian-lindner-german-liberal-chief-targets-conventional-wisdom/

    Is Macron’s Party part of Liberal International?

  • Richard Easter 22nd Jun '17 - 1:12pm

    “Liberalism’s ideas, implemented either by Liberal Democrats or by others, have been wholly vindicated. This has been so on free trade and market economics.”

    So why are voters overwhelmingly going for protectionist candidates, who want more state involvement / control – whether it is from the left (Corbyn, Sanders) or the right (Farage, Trump)? Even Brexit was marketed as taking back control (i.e. state power) to fund and improve state institutions like the NHS.

    The trade narrative in America is about loss of jobs due to punitive offshoring, immigration being used to cut wages, and loss of sovereingty to ISDS panels – with huge opposition to NAFTA and TPP, – which mirrors the view of TTIP and similar over here.

    Equally a market economy has not worked for natural monopolies and essential public services, which merely replaces a state monopoly with a corporate one, often owned by an overseas bank or foreign country, or run by a criminally inept corporation like G4S.

  • Catherine,
    Do you feel oppressed by the Japanese, coz you can’t retire to Japan or become a Japanese citizen? I do not see mass anger public anger at Japan. I certainly don’t feel oppressed by countries with controlled immigration.

  • Catherine J C , it is ‘brave’ to suggest that anyone, worldwide, who wants to move to live and retire in a country with a better standard of living than their own should or can be allowed to without let or hindrance. Have you thought through, even for one minute, the implications of such a policy?

  • Tony Greaves 22nd Jun '17 - 2:12pm

    Oh dear. “liberalism” has become a fairly meaningless word, used by everyone from the free market right to more libertarian socialists, and to refer to anything that Donald Trump is against!

    What we should be talking about is “Liberalism”. This is the philosophy (yes the ideology) on which the Liberal Democrats are founded, and the sets of values which underpin our policies at any given time.

    So let’s stand up and be proud of our capital L.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jun '17 - 2:27pm

    Scott,

    You write a plucky and keen article, but fail to mention the most important thing about Liberalism is it’s flexibility , the most important thing about our party is Democracy !

    There is no one stance , in Liberalism, on most things.

    Because it is a philosophy of , mostly, the radical centre, historically, but often centre left, and also, sometimes in certain countries that have known dictatorship, it is even centre right, it is in the mainstream.

    It thus has movement , but never to the extremes of left or right.

    The mistake people make, is to think , their Liberalism, is Liberalism. Those on the social liberal left do it, those on the classical liberal right do it , in this party , and left and right libertarians do it too much !

    Similarly , the beauty of this party is as well as a great philosophy that provides scope, it has Democrats in it’s name !

    This comes from the SDP. It means we have a good dose of social democracy, to toughen us up and provide ambition for government, as most social democratic parties have developed from experience in government.

    Even if that influence is lessened, the word should mean we emphasise Democrats, as being who and what we are , and Democracy as where we see a deficit in this country, and in the leadership question , or it’s being forced , in this party !

  • Helen Tedcastle 22nd Jun '17 - 2:39pm

    “A new liberalism could replace the five giants of squalor, ignorance, want and idleness”

    Why ‘new’? Why ‘liberal’ with a small ‘l’? I’m afraid adding the word ‘new’ to a rather centrist philosophy – remember ‘new’ Labour – means ‘liberalism’ can often be, and has been, appropriated by our opponents.

    Blairites claimed to be ‘liberal’ on social equalities eg: Harman’s ‘Equalities Act’ but this barely hid their deep authoritarian instincts. Their economic policy was likewise neo-liberal. Cameroons claimed to be ‘liberal’ also on social equalities, and on economics they were neo-liberal like Blair.

    In my view, the party needs to ditch any talk of reviving the ‘new’ neo-liberal consensus on the centrist right, exposed as it has been in the last 18 months as a hollowed out shell, and reclaim its true heart – Liberalism.

    So it’s not a question of replacing the five giants listed by Beveridge but finding genuine Liberal solutions for them in our own day.

  • @ Helen Tadcastle Quite right, Helen.

    On the branding issued Tony has a point. I’d be happy to re-brand as The Liberal Party to signify a fresh start and to detoxify the lingering Coalition legacy. Most of the old SDP are either dead, joined the Tories, joined Labour, or just confused with, as Lorenzo almost says, a dose of I don’t know what. The problem is that the party is seen as wishy washy with a bit of this and a bit of that. It has to be said though, the one surviving big beast of the SDP could give us breathing space and credibility over the next couple of years.

    To be fair to Corbyn J., he did articulate a coherent analysis of modern inequality. Whether one agrees with him or not it did inspire many people. We did no such thing. Given we polled as many votes this time as in 1966 it ought to be get on or get out time. Fifty years to get back to where you started is too long.

  • Joseph Bourke 22nd Jun '17 - 3:36pm

    Liberalism has always moved with the times. The Gladstonian Liberalism of the 19th century was rooted firmly in the commitment to free trade and in juxtaposition to the vested landed interests of Conservatism.

    At the dawn of the 20th Century a new radical Liberalism or Social Liberalism was needed for the times, rooted in the values of individual freedom and represented by the achievements of the Asquith government in developing the nascent welfare state from 1906-1914.

    After the second world war, the Attlee Labour government implemented the Beveridge report and successive governments adopted a economic policy based on the Keynesian consensus.

    The Thatcher years saw a return to the small state leanings and parsimony of the Gladstone era rather than the Imperial ambitions of 19th century conservatism.

    Liberal Democrats will find much in common with Tories like Lord Heseltine, Ken Clark or Anna Soubry and Labour MPs like Chukka Umuna, Yvette Copper or the Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. That is because we do not own Liberalism. The battle for free trade and a market economy has been long won and Liberal ideology has permeated all political parties.

    In the 21st century there are new battles to be fought. An end to the debilitating class struggles represented by much of the Labour and Tory parties thinking; an outward looking economy and education systems that furnishes the skills needed to compete in a globalised world where capital moves freely; a welfare state that is a reliable and ever present safety net from cradle to grave in a world where jobs for life are a thing of the past.

    The kind of radical changes that Asquith and Lloyd George brought in and Beveridge and the post-war labour party subsequently are needed again, to tackle the housing crisis, job insecurity and the inequalities of global capitalism.

  • I don’t get the love affair with Macron any more than Bill le Breton.

    It defies belief that any individual can build a national party from a standing start in a year. Yet that is what we are asked to believe. A more credible explanation is that he has immensely powerful albeit shadowy backers with the funds and organisation to get results.

    The finger of suspicion points at Rothschild and supporting financial interests. Macron, it is alleged, is a politician-as-product, manufactured to serve their interests but getting elected by masquerading as a centrist. Michael Krieger, himself a former Wall Street trader says Macron’s banking career was only possible if “someone extraordinarily powerful was pulling all sorts of strings for this guy”. He concludes that “The bottom line is Macron is a total fake”.

    https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/04/25/meet-emmanuel-macron-the-consummate-banker-puppet-bizarre-elitist-creation/

    We shall see.

  • Laurence Cox 22nd Jun '17 - 7:45pm

    @Bill Le Breton
    No, Macron’s party is not part of LI. I thought that MoDem might be, but France is one country with no members of LI.

    I’m not sure that I like the look of this new FDP leader. He looks like an economic liberal or even a libertarian to me. Anyone who is prepared to block debt forgiveness for Greece, which even the IMF thinks is essential, is definitely on the Right. This quote from the article is very revealing:

    “As it sought to broaden its appeal over the years, the FDP had strayed from its traditional focus on self-determination anchored in individual freedom. Lindner has taken it back there, while also embracing a conservative approach to law and order.”

  • Gordon – Trudeau is a better example to follow. He already stopped ME airstrikes and limit Canadian involvement to just ground training (well, Libdem must promise to do so) and is going to legalize marijuana next year. He is also adopting an expansionary economic policy with active infrastructure investment.

    I also support rolling back internet surveillance. We must take Obama’s speech about surveillance in 2007 as an inspiration (even though he broke his promise)

  • Andrew Carey 22nd Jun '17 - 8:08pm

    “To achieve it we must be credible, distinctive”
    Alas, at the last election the Liberal Democrats led on their endorsement of the EU, an organisation whose primary fiscal purpose is the transfer of public money to people who own qualifying agricultural land, and whose prime legislative purpose is a zollverien to protect those very same people from competition.
    The Liberal Democrats should have gone for an endorsement of the 1851 principles of unilateral free trade and free movement and given a big middle finger to the EU. That would be asking too much in the way of classical liberalism I know, but at the very least the Liberal Democrats could have led on policies which were actually liberal, like safe standing, legalising cannabis and decriminalising brothels. These won’t improve Britain as much as genuine localism and a liberal planning system, but it would have shown intent.

  • Scott Smith 22nd Jun '17 - 9:08pm

    Glenn – I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to say that immigration is universally unpopular. I simply think it’s been a very convenient scapegoat for successive governments who’ve failed to tackle economic problems, as well as failing to adequately make the positive case for it.

  • Scott Smith 22nd Jun '17 - 9:20pm

    Richard – I’m not sure whether you’re arguing against free markets or disputing that they’ve been accepted! The problem from my perspective is that they’ve become the status quo over recent decades and have been taken for granted (as well as having downsides, too). I think we’re perfectly placed to defend them against both Labour socialism and the Tories’ tendency towards corporatism.

  • Scott Smith 22nd Jun '17 - 9:25pm

    To those pointing out that I didn’t define liberalism – that was partly intentional! The piece wasn’t intended to be a manifesto of any sort, and the exact solutions to the problems we face will require debate and fresh thinking. Plus, whilst there are a lot of differences between liberals of different sorts (and of course I have my own views) there are certain things with which I’m sure most of us agree.

  • Scott,
    Lot’s of things are unhelpful, but still true. Mortality is not helpful, but it’s still a reality.
    And are government really scapegoating mass immigration or are they simply trying to play both cards at once because they know it isn’t very popular with the electorate, whilst the ideal is politically attractive because the way the 20th Century linked the American dream to the idea of modernity? Sort of the world as a bustling New York mixed with Hollywood. What if politics are really just tribal groupings?
    I just sometimes suspect people are tribal. They form groups. Local customs and values become a group norm, because people like to fit in . This is why voting patterns, religions and so on end up forming into localised clumps.

  • Matthew Huntbach 22nd Jun '17 - 10:36pm

    Scott Smith

    Your message of 9.20pm seems to be suggesting that we should be a small-c conservative party i.e. defending the status quo.

    Now, I think the problem with our party is that right now we are seen as just that, and hardly anyone likes us for that reason.

    The status quo is NOT liberal. People do not feel they are free. The move towards a free market economy has caused the opposite to most ordinary people: more stress, more feeling of having no control over one’s life. Almost everyone I speak to says the same thing – working life is not like it used to be, it is much worse.

    The only people who seem to think the free market economy really does bring freedom is the super-rich, who have enough money to be able to play it, and fall back on if things go wrong. For most ordinary people, however, an economy in which there is more protection and hence more security is actually going to give them more freedom. As an obvious example, people were much less stressed and worried about how they will live when we had council housing available to all who needed it.

    I am not saying we should move to a rigidly state-controlled society. Just that the simplistic idea that privatising everything and having a minimalist state is the core of “liberalism” just isn’t working out.

    The old Liberal Party used to recognise this – in fact it was built up around the recognition of this and on working out ways to tackle it. That was why it defined the core of what it stood for as “none shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity” rather than anything like what people now seem to think “liberalism” means. The modern Liberal Democrats, however, seem to be stuffed with people who are uncritical fans of the free market.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 22nd Jun '17 - 10:54pm

    I would suggest that as long as some , like David Raw, insist on making nonsense of a part of this party’s tradition, as he does above, all the efforts in this thread , and comments that are positive like Joseph Bourke, and apposite, like , from Mathew Huntbach, are as for nothing.

    How can we unite , when SDP members are traduced to dead , or gone?!

    Well, the Chairperson of Nottingham Liberal Democrats, and a former by election candidate in Richmond in Yorkshire, just like David was as a general election candidate, in her seventies and going strong, is ex SDP along with Sir Vince and many in the party .

    The social democracy they espouse is as good as anything in Liberalism, and it is unsurprising that Norman Lamb was in both parties !

    Democrat is staying as a word, get over it , or the party is going to be further seen as what it is becoming, undemocratic !

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Jun '17 - 2:00am

    Lorenzo Cherin

    Your comments suggest you have no idea whatsoever of what the real SDP and real Liberal Party were like when the two merged.

    To put it simply, they were roughly the opposite of what your comments suggest you believe them to be.

    I write this as someone who was a member of the Liberal Party when the two parties merged, and who voted against the merger.

  • Firstly we need to recognise that it is unlikely we will be in the EU and have mass immigration from the EU into the UK. We need to become the party not only of people who don’t care where they live but also the party of those who want to live where they live now.

    Our priority must be reducing inequalities and the best way of doing this is for everyone who wants to work to have a job. We also need to ensure people are trained for the jobs they wish to do. We should not accept the excuse that we haven’t the trained people in the UK to do the job.

    However there is still going to be a need for some controlled immigration into the UK. If we can’t train enough people to work in the NHS then we can import them. If we can’t provide a career path in social care we can import people to work it. If we can’t provide a Citizens Income high enough to live on then we will need to import people to do seasonal work.

    @ Scott Smith
    I think a good example of a free market is the market in illegal drugs. We should never be a great supporter of free markets, because they make it highly likely that the consumer will be ripped off. We should be supporters of well-regulated markets where consumers and suppliers are both protected.

  • Lorenzo Cherin, Michael BG- I have to say that I am against a heavy free market system because I am a supporter of industrial policy. Britain really really needs a comprehensive industrial policy to reverse the de-industrialization, to boost national productivity, to take advantage of new technology and to improve the balance of payment.

  • Antony Watts 23rd Jun '17 - 8:28am

    Briefly, to try to stop the conversation wandering around.

    Immigration is a 0.5% problem, any nation that cannot plan for that is badly run. Focus on the needs, plan for them, build them.

    Remain is the biggest issue, and political niceties do not work here. The EU is a vision, not a policy. Either we worship it or we fail.

    Social Justice is a financial matter, not a caring matter. So its a matter of allocating government money to people things, not business or financial things. Social Justice is a major area where we need great clarity of both purpose and statement.

  • Antony Watts 23rd Jun '17 - 8:47am

    And to expand on this:

    We HAVE to reverse the continuous wealth slide toward the 5%, you have to get it back. Or revolution is at hand. You HAVE to abandon Brexit, I know its going to lose many face, but we have to do it. We have to work with the EU to make a better future for us.
    All Europeans should enjoy in their home country the right to basic goods (e.g. nutrition, shelter, transport, energy), to paid work contributing to the maintenance of their communities while receiving a living wage, to decent social housing, to high quality health and education, and to a sustainable environment.
    Europe’s future hinges on the capacity to harness the wealth that accumulates here and turn it into investments in a real, green, sustainable, innovative economy. What matters is not the boost of one European country’s ‘competitiveness’ in relation to another European country but the rise of productivity in “green future” sectors everywhere.
 In the increasingly digital economy, capital goods are increasingly produced collectively but their returns continue to be privatised. As we become more technologically advanced, to avoid stagnation and discontent you must implement policies for sharing amongst all its citizens the dividends from digitisation and automation.

  • Andy.
    Immigration runs at 200, 000 to 300, 000. Saying that it is a 0.5 problem dismissive of the cultural. political and infrastructural impact. The problem is that over 70 % of the population don’t want it at that level and this has consequences. Liberal’s are treating the fact that an actual fascist only came second in a French election as if this were a huge vindication of “openness”. In Britain rejection of the EU was undoubtedly driven at the very least in part by a rejection of mass immigration. The point to me is that liberalism and the chances of a fairer economic system are actually being damaged by a dogmatic insistence on a principle that has been repeatedly rejected. Saying that it’s all the fault of newspapers, or down to government, or mean people or attitudes does not actually alter very much because the reasons why people believe things or do things are not that easy to change. Politics is about pragmatism, balance, compromise and in a democracy it is about what the electorate will or won’t vote for.
    By the way I’m not saying that the Lib Dems should become more like the Tories or labour, but simply that we should take our heads out of the clouds and look at issues as they are rather than hope they will simply go away.

  • Should have read Anthony. Sorry about that.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Jun '17 - 2:08pm

    Mathew Huntbach

    I am beginning to find interacting with you more than frustrating!

    I say your comments were apposite, a compliment, you respond by criticising me yet again.

    For someone in teaching, you seem incapable of saying either well done, good on you, sorry, or I didn’t mean to offend you.

    You also go out of your way to nit pick and bother people trying for consensus.

    How can my defence of the good decent values of some beloved members from SDP days of yore , be , in your words ” simply…roughly the opposite of what you think them to be .”

    I think the values and contribution of …

    Barbara Pearce , chair of Nottingham Liberal Democrats

    To be of real value and worth noting

    As with those of…

    Baroness Shirley Williams, Lord William Rodgers, Lord Ian Wrigglesworth , Lord Robert McKlennan, Sir Vince Cable, Paul Holmes , George Kendall, Norman Lamb, Gwynoro Jones…

    And the countless members of the SDP , inspired by liberal social democratic values, in the tradition of the late , very great , Lord Roy Jenkins, the ultimate example of the overlap in the best of the two traditions…

    As a member of the Liberal Democrats who was too young then, but was in Labour, I share those shared values and am not wrong !

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