The launch of the Social Liberal Forum in Harrogate was a truly excellent meeting - I don't think I have ever come across so much enthusiasm at such an event. Kicking off the discussions, Matthew Sowemimo spoke with great conviction about the importance of tackling child poverty in a far more ambitious way than Labour have done. The main speaker at the event, Steve Webb told his personal story about why he joined the Liberal Democrats. He argued that we all join the party with specific enthusiasms and causes for which we want to fight, and he said that we need to restore some of the passion to the way we tell people what we stand for. A wide range of contributions came from those attending the meeting. These included: the need to examine the best ways to tackle anti-social behaviour; putting industrial democracy back at the forefront of our economic policies; giving a higher profile to fuel poverty; the need to spend more on social housing; and a desire to talk about policy to those with similar perspectives from outside the Liberal Democrats. Lynne Featherstone made a powerful contribution arguing that in the current economic crisis, we need to articulate a vision which shows we don't just want to go back to how things were before the crisis, but that we offer a very different, and better, future. The engagement of party members in the overall aims of the SLF was really encouraging, and in the months to come, we will be working on developing the ideas put forward.
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