Why a “Movement for Moderates” needs radical Lib Dems at its heart

Moderation is in crisis in Britain. Extremists have taken over our politics, while those who aim to speak up for the moderate majority find themselves with little influence over the levers of power. 

The problem for moderates today is that there can be no return to the old post-war consensus, built on the notion that ever-increasing prosperity would gradually trickle down to everyone. That theory died in the financial crisis 10 years ago. No one today can drum up any enthusiasm for ‘third way’ centrism, even when tempered with a solemn promise that it’ll be kinder and more sensible than the alternatives. 

Today, Britain can only be healed by a new social contract, one that leaves no one behind and gives hope to every individual and community. This requires a huge shake-up in how we organise the affairs of our country, but the only plans on offer so far are founded on extremist dogma. Those of us who want moderation to thrive again must put forward our own compelling vision for change. That’s what Lib Dems can offer — a radical, progressive plan to reshape Britain. 

So don’t be misled about the nature of this Movement for Moderates. Lib Dems propose real change, inspired by our almost maniacal devotion to the dispersal of power and privilege, in both the private and public sectors. Our programme sets out to disempower the autocrats and extremists — and to unleash the forces of moderation — by giving communities and citizens the means to control their own destiny. 

At a community level, we want to empower towns, cities and regions to set their own spending and investment priorities. Neglected areas must be given the resources to restore their fortunes. 

In place of business rates, we propose to tax the value of commercial land, so that when a community invests in local amenities, it receives a fair share of the rise in property values. 

And to ensure newly empowered local politicians are fully accountable to all of the people they represent, we want them elected proportionally in multimember districts that truly reflect their communities. 

At an individual level, we aim to give people real power to choose their way in life. This starts by investment in education, from the Early Years Pupil Premium through to generous support for lifelong learning. We’ll also ensure the NHS and social care services can deliver robust and reliable healthcare to all our citizens. 

We support individual enterprise, but we also believe in redistributing unearned wealth to lift up everyone in society. At work, we are big fans of employee ownership, and co-operative and social enterprise. And to give people real choice in the labour market, we aim to establish a ‘citizen’s dividend.’ We should use this to ensure that everyone — not just the well-off — has the resources to support themselves when changing jobs, pursuing new opportunities or taking a career break for family reasons. 

There’s much more to this plan that I don’t have space to go into here — not least our commitment to international collaboration and thus our opposition to Brexit. Running through all of it is the Lib Dem vision for a society where everyone is valued and empowered to choose their path. This is what makes it the radical, ambitious programme for change that can inspire Britain’s moderate majority. 

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • interesting. However, I would suggest that there is a big difference between the post WWII consensus and the Post Cold War consensus that produced the Third Way. One was built on a philosophy that recognised national borders and the primacy of elected sovereign governments that reflected the broad aims of the electorate/population. Hence it produced things like welfare states, mixed economies and border controls. The other on market forces, proactive internationalism and corporatism which run counter to the former, thus resulting in notions like regime change, privatisation and technocratic governance that often depicts the input of the electorate/population as populist threat. One is representative in the civic sense of electing delegates , the other in a legal sense of electing council. One trusts people. The other compels them.

  • Sadly, any post-war consensus was killed in 1979, maybe earlier. It was finally buried by the End Of History and New World Order ideas that arose in about 1990. How we miss the wisdom of the electorate of 1945.

  • Neil Sandison 23rd Sep '18 - 12:37pm

    The difference between a Liberal Democrat Movement and Labours Momentum is about choice and diversity and non conformity .
    Socialism is about uniformity and conformity divergence from the will of the masses is deemed as heretical ,hence the attack on non conformist Labour MPs who dont tow the line.
    Liberal Democrats in their constitution underpin indevidualism with the sentence ” no one should be enslaved by conformity ” .A new social liberal contract that enshrines the right to be different ,to take on new models of employment and income generation ,That recognises that most businesses in GB are small colaborative or social enterprises and that co-operative effort might well be the best model for a community enterprise be it food production, energy generation or as a visitor destination deserves same level of support as is currently lavished on multinational businesses .

  • Lorenzo Cherin 23rd Sep '18 - 2:33pm


    When our politics is extremely divided, to be moderates is radically different.

    I say this often. When I do, it is the moderates who get it.

    Moderation is as relative as is radicalism. And extremism.

    To some they see these as somehow reasons to ignore this, pretend otherwise and veer to radical, as if somehow eternal and clear, or extreme, though never admitting they are. Our party stalwarts do this on the word radical, Labour now with extremism.

    I am so in favour of a genuine Liberal moderate connection in these awful , barren, political scenarios today, so convinced something must be done by those of us who do feel this, I am thinking of starting up a tendency in the party, to discuss and unite and disagree with those who think otherwise.

    These kind of articles are too few, my constant support for the need to see moderation as in itself, radical, faced with the level of nastiness of the extremes in national, international political discourse and power, met with yawn or criticism here too often.

    Phil, colleagues who agree, see that moderation in all things, including moderation itself, said by the often imoderate Marcus Aurelius, says it, we can be radical moderates.

  • In a competitive global trading environment, we need a benefit system that protects people from the misfortunes that come with it. A generous top up system that ensures everyone has sufficient to live on for at least six month might work. A minimum wage for everyone regardless of whether they are working.

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