SLF Council member Paul Pettinger writes about his experience of attending Green Party conference on behalf of the SLF:
In October 2018, the SLF had a stall at the Green Party of England and Wales’ annual conference in Bristol for the first time.
Relations between Lib Dems and Greens have improved in recent years and in no small part thanks to the sacrifice of local Green parties who have stood down for Lib Dems in Conservative Lib Dem marginals, such as in the 2016 Richmond By-election and a host of seats at the last General Election.
These local arrangements have not only encouraged former Green voters to vote tactically, but also allowed Lib Dem candidates to use the endorsement to better squeeze other anti-Conservative voters, something made much harder since the Coalition.
At the 2017 general election the contribution of Greens probably made the difference between the Lib Dems winning or losing in Tim Farron’s seat, as well as Layla Moran gaining Oxford West and Abington. More generally, many social liberals and Greens agree on today’s biggest issues (Europe, environmental issues, electoral and constitutional reform), and there are demonstrably many social liberals in the Green Party.
Pluralism should be a strength of progressive politics, not a weakness, and it is in the hands of progressives to determine whether this is the case or not. To date, SLF members have not needed to be Lib Dem members. Back in the summer a constitutional amendment was passed at our AGM allowing Green members to join the SLF. Consequently, we decided to organise a stall at their annual conference.
Our attendees were struck by the open minds and friendliness they experienced. I am pleased to report that since the summer several Green members have joined the SLF and I would like to extend a warm welcome to them. I look forward to working with all SLF members over the year ahead towards forging a society that is more liberal, equal and green.
“Massive money laundering and a major tax haven; failing police effectiveness including official as well as unlicensed corruption; insufficiency of judges, too few prosecutions that are often ill-prepared; insanitary over-crowded prisons with endemic drug-taking and rioting; use of drug-pusher children; and epidemic of teenage knife crime; foreign assassins; declining health provision; too few schools with growing teacher shortages; crumbling railways; increasingly deficient regulatory system with conflict -of -interest ‘revolving door’ hop-on hop-off recruitment; lack of effective party leadership; government reliant on a bunch of crony unaccountable fixers; growing demagogic populism carrying ever-more fascistic overtones; increasingly impotent representative bodies at all levels; and many more deficiencies besides.”
This is a fair description of many third world countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Yes, but it also defines contemporary England and especially its capital London.
Thus throughout the UK varying degrees of chaos threaten the very essence of what have been accepted as the canons of representative democracy. A brief survey is revelatory.Read more
Ian Kearns is the former Deputy Director of the IPPR thinktank and an author. He made a speech at this year's Lib Dem autumn conference which is well worth reading in which he talked about why he had left Labour for the Liberal Democrats.
He has also written in the Independent on the same topic and about how it was the importance of the social liberal tradition that drew him to the Liberal Democrats. We reproduce the article below with his kind permission:
There is nothing that this country needs today that cannot be drawn from a social liberal rather than a socialist tradition.
After many years in the Labour Party, and after many months of agonising, I left the party in June of this year to join the Liberal Democrats. This is why.
At home, the idea that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is radical is a myth. Its 2017 manifesto was a travesty of a document for a party that claims to believe in a more equal society.
The biggest single spending commitment in it was the £11.2bn set aside to abolish university tuition fees and reintroduce student grants. The majority of those who would benefit are from the wealthier end of the income distribution. They need help, for sure, and this could be achieved by switching to a graduate tax and some additional support from general taxation but, in the same manifesto, Labour failed to commit to reverse the closures of Sure Start centres and refused to reverse all the Tory government’s welfare cuts. They refused to do this, even though we know life chances are largely locked in by age three or four, the problem Sure Start was designed to address, and even though those on welfare are some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Corbyn’s manifesto demonstrated that he is prepared to pour money into the middle class while screwing the poor, including the youngest of the poor, if that’s what it takes to get elected. And on top of that, his catastrophic position on Brexit would reduce tax receipts and lead to further cuts in the public services relied on most by the least well off. Labour can’t defend the poor while being complicit in making them poorer.Read more
For Liberal Democrat autumn conference this year in Brighton, the SLF are running an exciting programme of fringe events as well as our Annual Dinner with this year's guest speaker Lucy Salek. Read on for more details.
Nominations for SLF Council closed on Saturday 4th August. By an amazing coincidence and without any strong-arming whatsoever there were exactly 20 candidates for 20 places on the Council. As such all candidates were automatically elected.
The new Council for the next two-year period is:
Clicking on a council member's name will take you to the manifesto which they provided as part of their nomination (where available).
The new SLF Council's first meeting will be on 1 September 2018 and the new council will be responsible for electing the officers of the SLF.
Last September, Paddy Ashdown said that since the coalition, the Lib Dems had not managed to have even “one big, dangerous idea”. He said in a blog for Lib Dem Voice:
Unless we are prepared to be realistic about where we are, return to being radical about what we propose, recreate ourselves as an insurgent force and rekindle our lost habit of intellectual ferment, things could get even worse for us.
It prompted him to launch the Ashdown Prize in March this year, and the winner was announced in June—Dorothy Ford, who proposed an idea on food waste which will be debated at the Autumn Conference. In a blog on Lib Dem Voice, Caron Lindsay said that though the idea was “worthy”, it was “neither radical or new”. This dearth of new ideas has been besieging the Lib Dems since 2010, and little seems to be changing.
At the Social Liberal Forum, we have been keeping the flame of new liberal ideas burning since the Lib Dems went into coalition with the Tories in 2010. We feel that new ideas and renewal/rethinking of old liberal ideas is vital to being the radical force that Liberalism should currently be and always has been.Read more
Nominations are now open for the biennial election to the SLF Council. The Council is the governing body of the SLF and meets about 5 times a year, currently in Birmingham. SLF will pay travel expenses to meetings on application to the Treasurer.
Nominations can be made by any member of the SLF. Self-nomination is allowed. All nominators and nominees must be paid-up members of the SLF on 4 August 2018. You can join SLF as a full member by clicking on the “Join” tab at the top of the page.
Nominations should be sent to the Returning Officer, Roger Hayes, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 9 Beaufort Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT1 2TH by 12pm on 4th August. All nominations will be acknowledged when received.
Nominations should be accompanied by an A5 manifesto (max: 2MB). Manifestos will be published on the SLF website prior to the opening of the ballot.Read more
Two years on from the EU referendum and Walter Benjamin’s haunting observation that “the very past itself is at stake” seems appropriate.
What sort of future Britain will have depends, to a large extent, on how a working majority of voters and politicians understand her past. For, as the UK’s former judge on the European Court of Justice, Sir Konrad Schiemann, noted in a 2012 lecture on the EU as a Source of Inspiration, “what you find inspiring depends to a degree on where you come from and what you’re looking for”. Born in 1937, Schiemann was probably the last CJEU judge to have experienced the Second World War. Growing up in Berlin hiding from British bombs and then, via Poland and the Lancashire Fusiliers, landing up as a law student in Cambridge, Schiemann is clear where his generation were coming from and what they were looking for. His generation of Brits (and many of those that followed) understood the preamble to the European Coal and Steel Community as being part of their history too, despite Britain not having been a signatory to it.
Here is an extract of what the leaders of West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries declared in 1951:Read more
The Social Liberal Forum exists and campaigns to create a society where everyone has access to the wealth, power and opportunity to enable us all to lead full and rewarding lives, unfettered by social hardship. We speak for and promote a vision for social justice. So we are thrilled to announce that Kate Pickett, co author of The Spirit Level and the newly published book, The Inner Level, will be speaking at the annual SLF Conference on 28th July this year.
The Spirit Level, published in 2009, was a highly influential book, going on to sell 150,000 copies. It demonstrated conclusively the pernicious effects of economic inequality. In more unequal countries, outcomes are worse for almost everyone in areas such as public health, education, obesity and social mobility.Read more