Following a brief recent history of the national Social Liberal Forum from Kat Dadswell, John Commons, the Chair of the Manchester party, spoke on why he felt that Social Liberalism and by extension the Social Liberal Forum were particularly needed in the North West region. Former MP for Rochdale Paul Rowen made the point that we shouldn’t be made to feel that opposing Conservative policies is a bad thing – we need to be on the side of our neighbours and residents in the North West.
John Leech MP (Manchester Withington) then gave us his views firstly on what a step forward it is for people from all over the region to come together in this way to discuss policy for a change! A number of members suggested we back John Leech’s soon to be proposed EDM on asking the treasury to look at ways to peg the tax threshold to the minimum wage – no one would pay tax unless they earn at least the minimum wage. John has been speaking to Vince about the matter.
John Leech also spoke on a number of issues where he felt that Lib Dem MPs would like to be able to push the Conservatives more on. On the matter of the government’s welfare reform plans, he said members should operate a “tough love” policy with our MPs, both through members’ lobbying and through conference holding the MPs and the leadership to account and showing exactly what the party expects of its MPs. “The more pressure we bring at conference, the better we can make things in Parliament.”
A steering committee of 10 members was elected, including members from all over the region. The NW branch of the SLF hope to meet every other month somewhere in the region and will be meeting next in October in Preston, details to follow.