What have the Liberals ever done for us?

The Liberal Democrat History Group has just produced a new publication – What Have the Liberals Ever Done for Us?

From the very earliest days in the seventeenth century through to today, the Liberal values of liberty, equality, community, internationalism and environmentalism have underpinned what Liberal governments achieved in power, what Liberal and SDP and Liberal Democrat MPs fought for in opposition, and what Liberal Democrat ministers achieved once more in government.

This booklet is a concise summary of Liberals’ and Liberal Democrats’ greatest achievements over 350 years of Liberal history. Chapters cover human rights, fair votes, government reform, gender equality, international, economy, education, welfare, health and environment, together with a comprehensive timeline. As Ed Davey writes in the preface, ‘When you need to put your feet up after door-knocking, or to energise yourself for the next delivery round, read it to remember what we stand for and what we have done with the votes that people have lent us – and be inspired to campaign for even greater achievements in the future.’

We are launching the booklet at the History Group’s fringe meeting at Bournemouth, where Layla Moran MP, Sarah Olney MP, Wendy Chamberlain MP and Baroness Barker, chaired by Lord William Wallace, will choose their favourite Liberal achievements. The meeting takes place after the rally, at 8.15pm on Saturday in the Meyrick Suite in the Conference Centre. (Register here for Zoom access for those not at conference.) The booklet will be available to purchase at the meeting (at a special price!) and from the History Group stand in the exhibition (and, after conference, via our website).

The latest Journal of Liberal History has also just been published – issue 120, marking 30 years of continuous publication. Contents include:

  • William Gladstone and the question of slavery, 1832–33. Most newspaper coverage of Gladstone’s views on slavery have been inaccurate, to greater or lesser degrees. John Powell analyses what Gladstone actually said and thought about slavery during his early years in politics.
  • John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. Part of our ‘Introduction to Liberal history’ series, a concise summary of the well-known work by the most famous of the Victorian Liberal philosophers. By James Moore.
  • The Liberal Democrat performance in the 2023 local elections. In terms of seats and councils won, the party did extremely well in May 2023 – but was it really a breakthrough or just a consolidation? John Curtice, the nation’s favourite psephologist, analyses the results.
  • Shirley Williams: Liberal lion and trailblazer. Report of our meeting at spring conference, which featured Mark Peel, Tom McNally and Julie Smith. Report by Neil Stockley.
  • Book reviews. Torrance, A History of the Scottish Liberals and Liberal Democrats, reviewed by Jim Wallace; Bogdanor, The Strange Survival of Liberal Britain, reviewed by Iain Sharpe; O’Brien, The Campaigns of Margaret Lloyd George, reviewed by Russell Deacon; Liddle, Cheers Mr Churchill: Winston in Scotland, reviewed by Ian Cawood.

This issue of the Journal can be purchased from our exhibition stand at Bournemouth, or online via our website. If you take out a subscription (print or digital), we won’t ask you to renew until October 2024, so you’ll receive this issue, plus a full year’s subscription (four further issues)!

* Duncan Brack is a member of the Federal Policy Committee and chaired the FPC’s working group that wrote Rebuilding Trade and Cooperation with Europe.

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