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.Read more
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 seatsRead more
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.Read more
I am going to tell you a story. It happens to be true. But bear with me, there is a point to it.
The “Swinsty cormorant” was usually there, perched on a float around 100 metres out from the dam wall at Swinsty Reservoir in North Yorkshire, whenever I ran round it with my dogs. I used to be fascinated by the lone bird and would always look out for him to see if he was there. My imagination ran riot with why he was always there on his own with no mates in sight. I was captured by the romance of his loneliness, I suppose.Read more
The hopes and dreams of the 21st century have faded away. Britain awaits Theresa May’s hard Brexit, Donald Trump is American President and fear of nationalism is sweeping across continental Europe. The Western world is in the grip of a huge identity crisis. Identity politics is the nationalistic fuel behind both Brexit and Trump. The populist right present themselves as anti-establishment, while traditional social democratic parties sink into the electoral abyss. Decades of market fundamentalist policies have hollowed out our politics and our communities.
Into this crisis of progressive politics and liberal democracy come social liberals. Internationalism is under attack and British society continues to have vast inequalities of wealth and power. Social liberals have the ability to revive progressive politics, but in-order to do so we must change the political narrative and reclaim our biggest and most radical ideas.Read more
Whilst the Liberal Democrat Brexit Policy is a good short-term policy, it is one that will have to adapt as the fast moving situation changes. The Liberal Democrats are in danger of becoming a single-issue party with Tim becoming a Brexit bore.Read more
One of the saddest things about the lurch to extremism and the right wing of the political spectrum over the past few years—and especially these last few months—has been that attention has been taken away from the significant problems with capitalism and its reliance on continued growth that the 2008 crash had exposed.
The Classical Economists, in particular Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, had already theorised centuries ago that growth could not go on forever and that eventually states would enter the condition of being a “stationary state”. John Stuart Mill wrote that the “increase of wealth is not boundless….the end of growth leads to a stationary state”. In addition, John Maynard Keynes thought that economic growth should not be infinite and that eventually we should reach a place where we could focus on more spiritual issues.Read more
I must start with a confession: I am one of those people who voted for Brexit. However, I am not racist, nor am I uninformed. My reasons for voting to leave is that I have come to view the EU as an anti-democratic force imposing a neoliberal agenda that causes economic injustice and inequality for working people in member states.
I am not anti-European, in fact, I am a Europhile. However, I will refrain from using the age-old argument that 'many of my best friends are Europeans' and instead note that I speak passable Spanish, Italian and French. Indeed, being from County Kerry in Ireland, and having a Glaswegian father, some would argue that it's my English that needs improving.Read more
Green Party activist, Clifford Fleming, writes a guest post for the Social Liberal Forum
Almost exactly one week ago today Sarah Olney became the MP for Richmond Park, ousting the Brexit-backing Tory (turned Independent) Zac Goldsmith. The story that dominated the headlines: ‘voters had rejected a hard Brexit; Liberal Democrats were back in business’. But what really happened in this by-election and why did Olney win?
On Friday 4th November the Green Party made a decision not to stand against Olney. Following decisions from UKIP and the Conservatives to back Goldsmith, the ‘regressive alliance’, the local Green Parties (Richmond and Kingston) chose not to stand a candidate. Caroline Lucas even came to visit and support Olney, causing division amongst Greens. In the 2015 General Election the Green Party candidate Andrée Frieze came in 4th place, polling 6% with 3,548 votes. Sarah Olney won Richmond Park with 1,872 votes.Read more
Saying that 2016 has been a bad year for liberalism is a huge understatement. From Britain voting to leave the European Union to the election of Donald Trump; illiberal forces are rising around the world. Across continental Europe the populist right continues to gain support from France to Austria, from the Netherlands to Hungary. All of these examples have at their heart a wish to undermine liberal freedoms and equal rights, as well as a determination to oppose internationalism and immigration.
In Britain, Brexit triumphed on the back of dog whistle politics, fear, mistrust of political elites and communities who felt left behind. Theresa May appears to be sliding towards a hard Brexit, while at the same time indulging in a touch of populism that is only surpassed by the incoming President of the United States. Trump’s campaign was blatantly misogynistic, xenophobic and even disablist. Despite this, he still triumphed, primarily due to the quirks of the Electoral College system. The result was met with members of the so-called ‘alt-right’ hailing Trump’s victory with Nazi salutes. But the worst may not yet be over, as the French Front National seems likely to make it to the second round of next year’s Presidential Election.Read more