The launch of the Northern Liberal Network

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For Blair and Brown there was the famous Granita Pact. For Laura and Lisa there was the Hope Pact. Earlier in the year, Laura Gordon posted on Lib Dem Voice to announce the launch of the Northern Liberal Network. The formal launch will be at Spring Conference, which appropriately is being held in York.

Upon seeing the original post by Laura, I knew I had to get involved. I grew up in Redcar, a seat described by some as one of the keystones of the Red Wall. What a lot of people fail to realise is that the Lib Dems held the seat between 2010 and 2015. Other Red Wall seats include Bradford East and Burnley – another two seats that used to be held by the Lib Dems.

Our party has a lot to offer places like these. They deserve better than a Conservative government which won’t care about them and they deserve better than a Labour party which has ran councils across the North in a way that should disgust everyone involved in politics. The problem wasn’t our policies which would have helped provide an additional £50 billion in capital investment, extra money for bus services and further devolution. It was that we failed to make a clear offer to voters in the North. The Northern Liberal Network will work tirelessly to make sure this does not happen again.

The purpose of the Network is not simply to be a policy talking shop. As mentioned above, our policies would have benefited those in Northern areas anyway. What we are instead proposing is a forum to exchange ideas and ultimately, to advocate for a strategic direction. We plan on engaging with businesses across the North and to run our own regional campaigns – devolution within the party if you like. The main thing is we want to bring those with strong links with the North together so that we can start a conversation about the major challenges that we face as a party and as a region.

At Spring Conference, the Northern Liberal Network will be launching. The launch will take place on Friday between 20:15 and 21:30. We will be having great speakers including Dick Newby, Laura Gordon, Kamran Hussain and Lisa Smart. This is the start of the big conversation we need to have as members in the North.

Coming to the event will provide you with the opportunity to meet fellow Lib Dems from across the North and hopefully you will come away from it with encouragement and optimism about where we go from here. If you want to get involved more formally, we are looking for people to join the Committee so feel free to chat to any of us about it at Spring Conference or beforehand.

* Tom Purvis is a member of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats and is standing in the next local elections

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • The Lib Dems must have a message problem. Labour are ‘Disgusting’ but how have the Lib Dems took advantage how have they benefited. Tom Purvis has just watched Olivia Blake win his old leaders seat when Labour were at an all time low and Labours chunky Council majority was barely touched in the Local Elections plus a sound percentage victory. Why are people not coming over to the Lib Dems?

  • @ Silvio

    Where do I start …

    Bad leadership (worse than labour) esp Swinson

    Not supporting and revoking article 50 (against the will of the people )

    Viewed by the electorate as a wishy washy party …. fringe policies that could be out argued by a high school debating team .

    Not connecting with the electorate

    Student fees (rem the generation we hiked !)

    Do I need to go on …..

    Labour are bad we are WORSE , change or we are dead in the water .

    Malc Poll

  • I will also add to the list above …

    …. voting through universal credit .

  • I’d happily and willingly sot on this committee, I work fridays so cant get to conference ‘on that day ‘

    Put my name next to chairman and how I seek the required votes / nominations .

    Malc Poll

  • Alex Macfie 6th Mar '20 - 6:56pm

    To be fair, Laura lost in Sheffield Hallam by 712 votes, with a swing to the Lib Dems. Labour was probably helped by the fact that Jared O’Mara wasn’t standing.
    Regarding Article 50 & Revoke: We would not have been remotely credible if we had disavowed our principles on this issue. The people who were against us over that issue were never going to vote for us in the last election anyway. And those who were basing their vote on Brexit were always going to vote for the real McCoy, not some pale imitation of a Brexiteer party, with a leader who was a Brexiteer at heart (as Labour was presenting itself in pro-Brexit areas of the country).
    I am automatically suspicious of anyone who talks of the “will of the people”. There is no such thing; “the people” are not a monolithic bloc who hold one opinion. It is a phrase principally used by dictators, due to the implied expectation of slavish obedience to what somebody has decided the majority want, with dissent being forbidden. It is 100% democratic to seek a mandate to overturn and change a previous mandate, thus change the so-called “will of the people”. Indeed this happens every time the government is defeated in an election.
    I don’t think our leader was the problem as much as the overall strategy. We were on the back foot due to the relentless two-party squeeze and vicious trolling by our opponents. We desparately need strategies to defeat these in future, whoever our leader is.

  • @ alex

    I have never mentioned “will of the people” o r ” the people ” other than fleetingly mention tue referendum. , …. and I’ve not got any intention of getting into definition of words according to oxford english dictionary.

    We have politely clashed before ” Debate Is Good !” .. I thank you for engaging … and long may it continue!!!!! , tho we may view the same reflections but from different angles I respect you Point Of View .

    Malc Poll

  • I just happen to think its misguided in the north

  • @ Alex

    Are you serious telling me that labour was a pro Brexit party ?

    Corbin ” we have no stance … we are polictically neutral ” …

    Yeah that sends all the right vibes out to “the north” , why do you think we voted IN DROVES against that !

    Malc poll

  • Will of the people.

    Democratic mandate to be enacted so feel the wrath being felt

  • @ David

    That is the exact point I’m making !

    I live VERY close to 2 of the constituency you named .

    Thank you for writing us off till labour recover .

  • Tony Greaves 7th Mar '20 - 3:19pm

    How interesting again that a positive posting only results in another collection of repetitive and negative comments from people who seem to have nothing constructive to say (not even constructively critical!)

    I don’t know enough about this North of England lobby in the party to know if it is what is needed or on (what I think is) the right lines. I am not sure the priority is “engaging with businesses across the North” but I like the idea of campaigns across the North. We need to start thinking as Northerners and working together as Northerners – it’s the future.

  • Tony Greaves 7th Mar '20 - 3:20pm

    But count me in!

  • A little known fact is that all our Northern MPs in 2016 ( a time when we could use the plural MPs ) including Nick Clegg put their names to a document/research paper called, “Northern Powerhouse- Smoke and Mirrors” – which tried to show that despite the rhetoric of City Deals etc the amount of money lost through local government cuts considerably exceeds the largesse periodically announced from Whitehall. That remains the case.

  • @ tony

    “How interesting again that a positive posting only results in another collection of repetitive and negative comments from people who seem to have nothing constructive to say (not even constructively critical!) ”

    If it’s me you mean , name me , I’m not a southern snowflake and have been called far worse in my time .

    I don’t know enough about this North of England lobby in the party to know if it is quote
    “what is needed or on (what I think is) the right lines. I am not sure the priority is “engaging with businesses across the North” but I like the idea of campaigns across the North. We need to start thinking as Northerners and working together as Northerners – it’s the future.

    Your second paragraph is spot on the money

    And also @ tony

    “Count me in ”

    We arent that much different it would seem !

    Malc poll

  • Rodney Watts 10th Mar '20 - 6:55pm

    I am a Jewish Devonian who, for the last 12 years has lived in Co Durham. My wife was born in Bradford E, and had a great grandfather who was a miner in Bishop Auckland. So we do have some Northern connections. For some years we lived in a nearby mining village, where the folk were friendly but blamed the EU immigrants for taking British jobs, contributing to Tory gains in the region. This is the area where Chris Foote Wood was a tireless campaigner for 60 years, with 40 years as councillor but failed to become an MP. The ousting of the unpopular labour MP by the conservative may well present a future opportunity for LibDems.

    @ David Le Grice’s comments are pretty realistic for the general outlook. In 1992 in N. Devon we managed to oust a Tory and get Nick Harvey elected, but it was hard work and our community emphasis that paid off. Newcastle upon Tyne Council opposition leader is bowing out in May to give younger councillors an opportunity, and also to get back into more community work. Issues to do with the Bedroom Tax.(Particularly bad in NE) Poverty and social welfare will also have to be seriously addressed. Unfortunately I am unable to be in York.

  • Rodney Watts 10th Mar '20 - 7:00pm

    After 37 years as an activist I stopped membership in 2011 and joined again last April because of Brexit but deeply disappointed by leadership. Another leadership failing, that needs addressing, which has affected the North is the amplification/weaponisation of accusations of anti-Semitism (AS) against Labour and the way accusations have been handled internally. As I am Jewish, I did write to Tim Farron, saying that though David Ward in Bradford East said things that could be construed as anti-Semitic, he was certainly no anti-Semite. I was ignored. The Conservative leaning Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) and the so-called Campaign against AS, who are both more interested in defending the actions of Israel than rooting out genuine AS, prevailed.

    In the Blaydon constituency, where I am a member of the Gateshead LDBP, one of the GE leaflets was based on accusations of AS against Labour and I did protest, pointing out that the large Charedi Jewish Community in Gateshead (6-8000) do not recognise the BoD and would support Corbyn. We do have an excellent Labour MP, and she was re-elected comfortably. I feel that leadership tactics in this area were unwise, and that we should have been trying to cooperate with Labour, not vilify it. The BoD have recently been severely rebuffed by the charity Show Race the Red Card over their attempt to stop Ken Loach being a judge in a schools comp.
    I look to future leadership to rectify matters.

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