Vince’s next speech

Vince’s conference speech had a lot of good policies and ideas, but the party is still failing to  communicate a compelling vision. We are not giving enough people a good reason to vote  Lib Dem at the national level, despite the gaping hole in the middle of British politics. Here is a speech Vince could give to start communicating that vision.

Building a Future for Britain*

Britain is getting poorer and weaker. This is not what we were promised. Low wage growth has seen real incomes fall and, thanks to Brexit, our economy has gone from the strongest in the G7 to the weakest in just a year. An astonishing and disturbing collapse in our fortunes.

Our country is being failed by both the Conservatives and Labour. Theresa May offers no answers. Everything she does is aimed at saving just one job – her own. Jeremy Corbyn offers no end of answers – if only we had the money to pay for them all. We don’t.

Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to Building a Future for Britain.

A Britain confident enough to play its part in the world, working in partnership with others. A Britain that’s open for business, not putting up walls to keep everyone else out. A Britain where those who put in the work reap the rewards, and those who need help receive it.

If you want a job, or a better job than you have now, the Liberal Democrats will ensure you have the access to gain the skills you need – regardless of your age or situation. We will help you to improve your life to Build a Future for Britain.

If you have a job, the Liberal Democrats will ensure it is well paid. We will tackle the scourge of the gig economy to Build a Future for Britain.

If you are in business, the Liberal Democrats will support you, help you and ensure that you can trade across the EU and more widely throughout the world to Build a Future for Britain.

And if you need support, whether through disability, illness, old age or simply bad luck, we will support you. Some people need long-term support. Others need a safety net and a leg up.  We will support you, to Build a Future for Britain.

Poor productivity means that a French worker generates as much economic value by Thursday afternoon as the British worker will have at the end of the day on Friday. The Liberal Democrats will invest in skills and infrastructure to turn that around. We will  keep Britain in the EU, giving businesses the confidence and certainty they need to start investing their own savings again.

A Liberal Democrat economy is a high wage economy. Businesses should not for a moment think that they will be able to rely on cheap labour to generate profits. Rather, we will expect businesses to play their part, to invest in the technology and training they will need to flourish. And we will help and support them in doing it.

This is the Liberal Democrat vision for our country. Businesses trading across the world. Highly productive, skilled employees earning higher wages. More homes, better transport links and high speed broadband for all. Properly funded education from cradle to grave. And support, treatment and care for all who need it.

Building a Future for Britain means being honest with the people of our country about how much it will cost, and how it will be paid for. Fantasy economics fails everyone.

Building a Future for Britain means working in partnership with other countries around the world, not making ourselves smaller and weaker.

We can turn our fortunes around. We can Build a Future for Britain. But we need your help. If you share our vision then help us. Join us. Work with us to build the Britain we all want to see.

* Other slogans are available. If you like this slogan, thank Richard Flowers. If you hate it, it’s all mine.

* Iain Roberts is the former leader of Stockport Liberal Democrats and Lib Dem Campaign Manager in Greater Manchester Mayoral election and for Cheadle constituency in the General Election

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27 Comments

  • David Becket 9th Oct '17 - 3:38pm

    Well said, but it is not just Vince’s speeches that will lift this party, it is our outdated approach that needs to change, still acting like we did years ago.

    Start with Conference. A good place to debate liberal ideas, but useless as far as attracting the media and general public concerned useless. One debate at Bournemouth hit the right note, the emergency debate on Universal Credit., the rest were a waste of time. Let us throw out the tired bureaucracy and bring in debates on live issues with Lib Dem Solutions.

    We can start at Southport. Spend Saturday with Consultative Sessions covering the main policy areas identified by Vince, chaired by the appropriate spokespersons in that area. Follow that up with an On Line consultation for members who cannot attend, and produce draft policies for the September Conference.

    That also cuts down the inordinate length of time this party takes to make policy. The world moves on whilst we count angels on pin heads.

    If the media ignores us we have to make a bigger noise, and that means making use of every member. Focus Leaflets, My Councillor Web sites and social media should all be singing with the same concise voice, ways of achieving that include:

    Regular Press Releases sent to every Local Party and owner of a My Councillor Web Site.
    These are for use in our material and forwarding on to the local press.

    Pithy comments on current issues, with Lib Dem solutions, for use in leaflets or electronic media from ALDC and our Policy unit.

    Our Social Media offering is better than the Tories, but not as good as Labour. Tories have twigged this, we must up our Social Media game.

    Ensure that every local Focus has at least one National Item, and that should not always be Brexit

    Our Web site is better, but do not have Donate across the top of the page. Today’s news item should come first. Put it to one side like the others do.

    This is in the same vein as the Building the Party for Tomorrow from Jim Williams and Mark Pack. We need to move forward with a new approach.

  • Iain Roberts 9th Oct '17 - 3:54pm

    Good points David. By coincidence I’ve written about conferences of all the parties perhaps no longer being fit for purpose (https://www.placenorthwest.co.uk/resources/party-conferences-fun-but-whats-the-point/) though you’re ahead of me in coming up with alternatives.

  • …………………….Jeremy Corbyn offers no end of answers – if only we had the money to pay for them all. We don’t……….

    The idea of ” Highly productive, skilled employees earning higher wages. More homes, better transport links and high speed broadband for all. Properly funded education from cradle to grave. And support, treatment and care for all who need it.”…

    Ref your, “Building a Future for Britain means being honest with the people of our country about how much it will cost, and how it will be paid for. Fantasy economics fails everyone.”

    OK, Iain, How much will it cost?

  • “The Liberal Democrats will invest in skills and infrastructure to turn that around.”

    I appreciate the intentions but the problems are much, much bigger than will ever be fixed by that time honoured phrase. How I wish it were that easy, but then, if it was every country would do it.
    it is an absolute myth that we are short of skills. We have a shortage of high quality vacancies and far too many vacancies for low skill jobs.
    Don’t believe CEOs who claim otherwise. They just want to shift their training budget onto the taxpayer. Anyone who claims a skill shortage is holding them back should be rebuffed with the response “well train someone then or raise the salary by cutting your own”.
    It’s no good stuffing the gullible with qualifications even though we have millions of college lecturers who say different. “Skills” are acquired on the job, specifically for the job, and that’s where we are weak, and it is high skill opportunities that are missing.

    Believe it or not, the contractor community has got to hear that politicians are desperate to be seen “doing something” (like investing in infrastructure) and are milking that as hard as they can with ludicrous and hugely expensive projects like Hinkley Point C and HS2.

    “If you are in business, the Liberal Democrats will support you,”
    Do you think this is the very first time this has been thought of?
    We have had TECs, BusinessLinks, Enterprise Councils and all the rest. You should ask some one who has been there.
    The problem is that you can’t give money to company A because companies B through Z will squeal, so they have to be given every form of assistance short of actual help. Innumerable intermediaries will leap on this (as they have for the umpteen previous attempts) and will make a fortune from gullible and desperate politicians by setting up ‘schemes’ which are useless but fleece the taxpayer.

    I apologise for negativity but this oped identifies what is needed but the solutions are far more difficult to work through than this superficial “invest in skills and infrastructure”.

  • Phil Beesley 9th Oct '17 - 5:52pm

    It’s a vision. I don’t think it will make many people happy. The vision doesn’t capture humanity.

  • Iain Roberts 9th Oct '17 - 6:05pm

    Expats – As I hope I make clear in my opening paragraph, I am not proposing new policy, but suggesting a way that existing policy should be packaged. The Lib Dem manifestos are fully costed. I’m not trying to propose new Lib Dem policy, but to package our existing policy into a vision that resonates with people.

    Palehorse – same as above. Of course there needs to be in-depth policy behind all of this, and there is – either already adopted by the Lib Dems or under development. The whole point of a vision is *not* to talk about the detail but to link it to the concerns people have in a way that gets their attention.

  • “We will tackle the scourge of the gig economy”
    Lol, didn’t Conference pass a motion endorsing the gig economy? Haven’t Cable, Swinson, etc all essentially said the gig economy is on balance a good thing in the past?
    God forbid employees and employers, people, are given choice and flexibility in how they work. Seriously, people here need to look at themselves and ask how the party can start actually convincing people of liberalism, rather than trying to co-opt bits of socialism or socialist rhetoric.

  • Colin Paine 9th Oct '17 - 7:20pm

    We’ll said Liberalise, I’m getting a bit fed up of soggy Corbyn-lite as well and it is not a distinctive position for us. And no, that does not mean ditching welfare or the NHS.

  • @ Liberalise “rather than trying to co-opt bits of socialism or socialist rhetoric.”

    …….. and you could have added …….. “rather than trying to co-opt bits of neo-liberalism and pseudo Tory rhetoric”

  • Nom de Plume 9th Oct '17 - 7:51pm

    It is difficult to suggest a liberal direction for Britain until we know where we stand with regards to Brexit. A lot of waiting around for something to happen.

  • Richard Easter 9th Oct '17 - 8:11pm

    I’d like to see the party be the party of Nordic social democracy and have a vision of Britain more like Iceland or Norway. In some cases that will mean some Corbynite policies, some of the direct democracy positions of Douglas Carswell, and some of what both Caroline Lucas and Zac Goldsmith have to say on Green issues, coupled with a strong commitment to civil liberties and PR.

    If the party is serious about Europe then it should look to mould the UK towards that of the EFTA nations – which I feel is the best fit for us politically and economically, whilst still keeping in with Europe, rather than attempting to either throw our lot in with some mythical Commonwealth trade deal, the appalling NAFTA / son of TTIP or worst of the lot – deals with Saudi Arabia and other autocratic hell holes.

  • It’s a well presented summary, Iain. But, as David Beckett comments and the link to your comment on party conferences notes the message does not get across via conferences, nor for that matter do local party focuses have much impact on national polls.
    There is no substitute for mass media and this is where Vince Cable has an advantage – he gets a hearing, particularly as an expert on economic matters. The party has to play to its strength and that means (just as your presentation outlines) – “It’s the economy stupid.”
    We also need to be cognisant of the political climate and the pent-up desire for a change from the status quo – particularly among the younger generation. This entails a good dose of radicalism that offers hope for a better future.

  • Daniel Howitt 9th Oct '17 - 9:01pm

    I am not a strong believer in the EU, its has and will continue to ignore the deadlock at its heart…the nation state v the European state. The EU in its current form will never have changed, not Nick Clegg, Tony Blair or any leader. As Catalian is showing now, the ideal of localism and stronger identity towards one respective flag and identity is stronger than a blue flag with some yellow stars on it. We have to accept that the EU will punish us, because the political will over rule the economical…only when the cost is thousands of jobs and the second rise of nationalism and populism…will it change what needs changing

  • Nom de Plume 9th Oct '17 - 9:21pm

    @Daniel Howitt

    The Catalan vote was not against the EU, it was against Spain. There is no European state. It is not ‘the nation state v the European state’ – this is only exists for those who do not understand how the EU works. A particularly British attitude. Indeed, it could be argued that the EU is an ideal vehicle for small states to function effectively in a globalized world. Pooling sovereignty were it is needed and keeping most for the nation state. The success of the Baltic states and some of the Central European states are good examples. I doubt the EU will collapse due nationalism (very much hope it doesn’t!) and I maintain that leaving the EU was a mistake.

  • @ Palehorse

    Do you have evidence that there is a shortage of “high quality vacancies”?

    I agree we need to encourage business to train people to do the job they want done. My answer is a 1% Training Levy on all organisations who pay £1 million in salaries a year and imposing a tax on the employment of skill foreigners to pay for the training of a UK person to do the job in the future.

    @ Iain Robert

    Please can you point out in our 2017 manifesto costing document what we promised to spend on providing all necessary training costs for people, how much we wanted to spend on assisting companies to export, and how much and where we wanted to spend it on new infrastructure?

    Please point out where in our 2017 manifesto it states we support either a £9 or £10 National Living Wage per hour and set out how much we want it increased every year after 2020? Please point out what support we want to provide those unemployed in need of long-term support? Please point out what our policies are to make employers pay for their employees training?

  • I don’t think it was what Vince did or didn’t say at Bournemouth that is failing to inspire; it was the catastrophic loss of trust by our actions in Coalition that turned people against us. Not just on University fees, but our silence on the Tory narrative on Welfare and our slavish adherence to the austerity agenda.

    Rebuilding is a long-term project, starting with winning at local government level and proving that we can be trusted again. We have made a good start, and a growing membership will take us further.

  • David Evershed 10th Oct '17 - 11:34am

    The source of the problems which Iain Roberts identifies is the UK failure to increase productivity over the last decade.

    The country’s wealth can only be increased through higher productivity. Productivity in the UK has fallen even further behind the USA, France and Germany over the last 10 years.

    For details see the Hosue of Commons Library briefing paper on UK productivity at
    http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06492/SN06492.pdf

  • Loooking at the comments, As a Liberal can we not for a change start looking outwards rather than wasting precious time bickering about details? We’ve been given a good working model. Lets use it.

  • It does worry me Caron that this sort of conversation does tend to be an all-male affair – to which of course I have just contributed! Worth thinking about.

  • Iain Roberts 10th Oct '17 - 1:40pm

    Hi Michael – do you think maybe part of the reason the Lib Dems are failing to engage with people is that we get too stuck into the minutiae of how to do things. The idea that we need to work out every last detail of our policies and only then start thinking about the vision is an interesting one, mainly because it’s an approach rarely adopted by successful political parties.

  • @ Iain Roberts

    I am sorry I didn’t make it clear why I was asking my questions. You wrote (6.05pm yesterday) “As I hope I make clear in my opening paragraph, I am not proposing new policy, but suggesting a way that existing policy should be packaged”.

    My point is not that I oppose your suggestions, because I do support all the ones I asked questions about. My point is they were not set out in our 2017 manifesto and costing document. Of course behind this is the un-asked question – are they even set out clearly in the policies we passed at conference (and just ignored by the manifesto writing team)?

  • Steve Trevethan 10th Oct '17 - 5:53pm

    Offer to imprison senior executives of corporations who are guilty of malpractice?
    Ditto senior politicians? (cf Iceland)?
    Offer to keep UK out of optional wars etc. which are organised by and for the U.S. Empire and which result in migrations of Biblical proportions and domestic terrorism? (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc.)
    PS. The last will save big money!

  • REPRISE OF THE BEST BITS Britain is getting poorer and weaker. This is not what we were promised. Our economy has gone from the strongest in the G7 to the weakest in just a year. An astonishing and disturbing collapse in our fortunes.

    Our country is being failed by both the Conservatives and Labour. Theresa May offers no answers. Everything she does is aimed at saving just one job – her own. Jeremy Corbyn offers no end of answers – if only we had the money to pay for them all. We don’t.

    Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to Building a Future for Britain. IN EUROPE. By staying part of one of the world’s most noble and successful enterprises, which protects us, protects the environment ….etc

    Some very good bits here Iain, great quip about all the answers Corbyn has, but much of the rest reads like the kind of platitudes we get from all the other parties, to be honest. Plug Europe, that’s what I say

  • Why aren’t we speaking out about that lady in Saudi Arabia who is being given another prison sentence? We will be given more credit if we show post-Brexit we are more not less concerned about human rights. We can be the beacon that the world so desperately needs.

  • Iain Roberts 12th Oct '17 - 9:48am

    Michael BG – yes, we have policy that would cover all of these areas. You might want to suggest that the policy could be further improved, and you’d probably be right. That should be an ongoing process. But we shouldn’t be waiting for a perfect policy platform to communicate our vision.

  • @ Iain Roberts

    To answer your earlier point, we should not make claims for what we are proposing that are not borne out by our manifesto when claiming there is no new policy.

    To return to my original point. None of these claims of yours are set out in our manifesto and our policy:
    “the Liberal Democrats will ensure you have the access to gain the skills you need;
    “If you have a job, the Liberal Democrats will ensure it is well paid;
    “If you are in business, the Liberal Democrats will support you, help you and ensure that you can trade across the EU and more widely throughout the world;
    “And if you need support, whether through disability, illness, old age or simply bad luck, we will support you. Some people need long-term support (implied we will provide it);
    “we will expect businesses to play their part, to invest in … training” (implied we will ensure they do it).

    None of these claims are supported by commitments in our recent manifesto, so why on earth should anyone believe if we were the government we would do anything to make them happen? We didn’t do between 2010 and 2015.

    Politics is about not only talking about what you want but providing how we will get there. For us this is particularly a problem because the majority of British voters do not trust us after inflicting austerity on the country. I highly rate honesty.

    Perhaps you could just admit that you were mistaken; you thought all these things were in our manifesto and policy but now you have checked you can admit you were mistaken they are only aspirations and not policies. (If you are not mistaken please post where we commit to these things and how we will achieve them either in our recent manifesto or in the body of policies pasted by conference.)

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