Strengthening a Progressive Alliance: what can social liberals bring to the party?

Tuesday, 02 May 2017

Talk of progressive alliances is all around us. The fear of five years of right-wing Tory rule with the prospect of a hard Brexit, regressive environmental policies and growing inequality, and all the serious social and economic consequences that will bring has been the stimulus for the initiatives.

As the SLF statement asserts:

“We believe agreements should be based on common aims. In our view, these must include a cast-iron pledge that progressive candidates will vote to keep Britain in the single market and support the introduction of a proportional voting system for Westminster election.”

For some time I have been pondering; what else do we bring to the party? Speaking at the SLF fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat Conference Lisa Nandy, the impressive Labour MP, acknowledged our policy contribution in civil liberties and constitutional matters, people often do when they are trying to be nice to us, but I would argue that there are some other key areas where we have much to offer.

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Progressives in different parties must work together

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

As the most important General Election for a generation approaches, the Social Liberal Forum are calling on people across the UK’s progressive parties to work together to stop a Conservative landslide victory and the hard Brexit that would follow.

We call on members of the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Nationalist parties, the two Green parties and the Women’s Equality Party to explore and forge progressive alliances at a local level.

We recognise that such arrangements could be made within seats or across a cluster of seats. We believe that whether parties step down for each other or merely plan non-aggression pacts – targeting their firepower on the Tories and not each other – this must be decided locally, with parties and candidates planning what works best in their areas.  

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Five Radical Policies for the Liberal Democrats in the General Election

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

With an early general election called for 8 June, it is vital that the Liberal Democrats offer a radical policy platform to the country. Europe will obviously be a central issue in the election campaign. However, it is not enough just to be an anti-Brexit party. The Lib Dems must once again be an anti-establishment party, which draws on the radical liberal heritage of Mill, Lloyd George, Beveridge and Grimond.

Here are five radical policies that will transform Britain and gear it more towards opportunity, empowerment and social justice.

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What the Brexit vote tells us about the state of the parties in parliament

Monday, 10 April 2017

Even though the Liberal Democrats were defeated on the final Brexit Bill, they showed themselves, in both Houses, to be united and principled in their opposition. A far cry from most Labour MPs and Peers. 

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Trident: still useless, expensive and dangerous

Friday, 17 March 2017

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference will debate nuclear weapons again on Saturday. David Grace has tabled an amendment to end Trident and cancel its replacement, below he explains why. 

Would you buy an explosive, poisonous device to protect your house against intruders (when there aren’t any) or would you first fix the roof, repair the boiler and get a new car? If it was hard to make up your mind, what if you were told that the device would take 10% of your income for 30 years and might not work? No brainer, eh?  So why the hell do the Tories, Labour and the establishment of the Liberal Democrats want the device? It’s called Successor and it’s the replacement for Trident.

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Why we should seek to bring religious selection by schools to an end

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

On Sunday, Liberal Democrat Federal Conference will consider a motion about state funded faith schools and is invited to choose from three options regarding religious selection in faith school admissions. Liberal Democrat members should support Option A - which seeks to phase out religious selection - to signal that the party opposes discrimination and support improved integration.

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SLF Response to the Budget

Thursday, 09 March 2017

While making many hat tips in the right direction, unfortunately, this was mainly a Budget of half measures and missed opportunities. 

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In Defence of Freedom of Movement

Friday, 03 March 2017

Since the EU Referendum, much of the debate about Brexit has revolved around European freedom of movement. With Britain poised to embark on a ruinous hard Brexit, progressives must not pander to the casual xenophobia and nativism of UKIP and some on the Tory right.

Given the vitriol of the political right towards immigration, it has never been the easiest thing for progressives to defend. However, it is essential that we do defend it. Hard Brexit will do nothing to heal the deep divisions caused by the referendum. If you believe in a free and a fair world then you must support freedom of movement. It boggles the mind how any liberal or social democrat could oppose it.

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The Richmond Park By-Election in Perspective

Wednesday, 01 March 2017

Introduction

In the course of writing various analytical pieces on Lib Dem electoral performance in recent years, I’ve become rather used to ending up as a voice of doom and gloom. “You’ve rather cornered the market in depressing Liberal Democrats”, observed one colleague. This is slightly different. It’s actually a welcome change of pace to be the bearer of good news. For the Liberal Democrats, the Richmond Park by-election was an unambiguously good result. In an age where expectations are constantly being managed up or down, this pamphlet seeks to put the by-election result in perspective.

Much of this was written in the immediate aftermath of the Richmond Park by-election of December 2016, but held over for release until after the Stoke-upon-Trent Central and Copeland by-elections of February 2017, for revision and reconsideration in light of subsequent developments. In the event, very little needed tweaking, though as I add the finishing touches to this with the next by-election having just been triggered in Manchester Gorton, I am more convinced than ever of the points made about the predominance of by-elections in Labour-held seats

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The European carbon market isn’t working – and social liberals should be worried

Friday, 24 February 2017

Climate change remains one of the greatest threats to liberalism in our midst. Global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) continue to rise, albeit at a slowing rate, and their atmospheric concentration marches towards what the global scientific community considers a safe limit for human civilization. Alongside Trump and Brexit, 2016 may go down in history as the year atmospheric concentrations of CO2 breached 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in at least 800,000 years. The absolute limit to have even a 50 per cent chance of keeping global average temperature rises below 2 degrees is 450 ppm although many scientists recommend 350 ppm.  

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