The Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011: making progress on core LibDem beliefs

Over the festive season we’re running a series of posts on the main Liberal Democrat challenges for 2011. You can find all the posts as they appear here.

Getting economic policy right may be at the heart of the government’s long-term fate, and crucial for the country, but even if everything goes right the benefits are long-term ones – so to keep the coalition working well over the next year will require a steady supply of other good news and much work on internal communications.

Ask Liberal Democrat activists why they are active in politics and why for the Liberal Democrats and the issues of political reform, civil liberties and the environment come up time and time again.

At any time reforming our political system, protecting our environment and restoring civil liberties should be priorities for Liberal Democrats, but after the tuition fees votes significant progress on this trio is also important for internal party reasons. For the coalition to have long-term support, tuition fees needs to be seen as the exception rather than the norm and hence the need for rapid evidence of core Liberal Democrat beliefs being delivered in other areas.

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentOn political reform much rests on May’s referendum, but it is not the only significant news scheduled for 2011. Major progress on the plans for electing the House of Lords – and by proportional representation no less – is also due, with the opportunity for Liberal Democrats to show how their role in government is pushing aside the stream of excuses from many peers as to why democracy really is all a bit too new an idea for the Lords.

On civil liberties, the limits on detention without charge and control orders are both due for decision soon. For the former it is likely to be good news – a reduction back down to 14 days – and on control orders it looks as if they will be abolished with other arrangements similar to those applicable to suspected football hooligans (e.g. restrictions on travel) widened to include some terrorist suspects.

The environment is likely to bring less immediate political benefit to the Liberal Democrats for the policies that Chris Huhne has been laying out are ones that bring only few positive short-term headlines. That is in part the nature of the environmental policy for which he has responsibility and also reflects the limited resources in government. Relatively speaking his environmental areas did very well out of the spending review – but relative success against a grim backdrop is important and welcome – but also not the sort of success that really fires up people.

By contrast, the abolition of child detention for immigration purposes has been a good clear example of how persistent Liberal Democrat demands inside government have won out over resistance from some Conservatives and civil servants and delivered a result that is both important in terms of substance and important in terms of what motivates many Liberal Democrat activists.

However, to the outside world – especially the outside world of normal people with only passing interest in party politics – the contribution the Liberal Democrats are making to such decisions is often hard to spot. Hence tomorrow’s challenge is about messaging and communication.

Read more by or more about , , , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

7 Comments

  • David Evershed 22nd Dec '10 - 12:01pm

    Traditional Liberal (if not Social Democrat) principles are surely

    1. Freedom of the individual

    2. Free Trade as the basis of economic success

    3. A health service free at the point of delivery and a welfare service to support those unable to look after themselves (as per the Beveridge Reports)

    Policies should be developed out of the principles

  • Steve Travis 22nd Dec '10 - 12:42pm

    David, all good solid stuff. I would add to that the dispersal of power and break up of monopoly and monopolistic positions (both private and pubic), and the need for clarification on what constitutes welfare. Cicero has some interesting thoughts on this topic.

  • david clayton 22nd Dec '10 - 8:59pm

    The only challenge you have in 2011 is keeping the party in one piece.
    http://www.torbayliberaldemocrats.org.uk/adriansandersmp/?p=373
    You have to decide if you intend to support the destruction of the welfare state by a fanatical free market party or if there is something more to you than a prop for the tories.
    I have said before that as a Labour member the party that could once be relied on to add some critical thinking to UK politics has become a craven support for a very unpleasant government.

  • Your contributions are hard to spot because:

    -they are minimal
    -Andy Coulson won’t let you talk about them
    -they are minimal.

    Good luck with winning the media war, now Murdoch has eaten your most powerful force for significant change in the cabinet [NC has already been done in with the fees].

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Raw 22nd May - 10:42am
    Suzanne Moore, reflecting on the wedding and sermon in today's Guardian, captures many of the contradictions and inequalities of modern Britain. If Liberal Democrats are...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 22nd May - 10:27am
    Ian Sanderson (RM3) 22nd May '18 - 9:49am. Switzerland also has a long history of referendums, partially affected by the Roman Catholic Church. Referendums around...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 22nd May - 10:10am
    Devolution in Scotland has produced the situation where the Scottish parliament has voted on the issue of what happens about powers returning from the EU...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 22nd May - 9:59am
    First let me express my sympathy with Elizabeth for what she went through, and to others with comparable experiences. I was in Dublin last week,...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 22nd May - 9:49am
    Switzerland has been mentioned (ironically with a total population close to my 5 million figure.) It has much less centralised structure than most countries. I...
  • User AvatarIan Sanderson (RM3) 22nd May - 9:42am
    To answer the question: Devolution- what is it good for? It can deliver more responsive and efficient government than trying to run 50 million people...