The Social Liberal Forum operates in England and Wales and exists to nurture progressive values, working with social liberals across all parties and none to build a new radical liberalism.
Social liberalism is about creating a truly sustainable society based on individual liberty and social justice, where power is devolved to the lowest possible level, where we protect the planet for future generations and where all have access to the wealth, power and opportunity to achieve their potential - free from poverty, conformity and hardship.
These are values that many Green party members and supporters share. So if you're one of them we'd like to say hello and that we hope you'll consider joining us.
Although the SLF started out as a grouping within the Liberal Democrats, we have always recognised that tribalism within progressive politics in the UK has played into the hands of the Conservative party - which is why membership of the SLF has been open to non-Liberal Democrats for many years.
And in summer 2018 the SLF passed a resolution to formally invite supporters and members of the Green party to join us. At the same meeting we also changed our constitution to commit the SLF to a “progressive alliance of people, ideas and campaigns”.
It is dispassionately the case that many social liberals and Greens fall on a similar part of the political spectrum. Social liberals and Greens have big ideas that the wider progressive movement need to prosper in the 21st century.
In particular, the SLF admires the contribution made in recent generations by Green philosophy, and recognises the risk taken by many Greens in trying to introduce equal votes and make a progressive realignment happen.
For us, there is no denying that the number of local Green parties standing aside candidates in a swathe of seats at the 2017 General Election in England and Wales helped deny the Tories their majority and that Green politicians and thinkers have done sterling work in pushing for radical, sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our society.
A Common Cause
In the past, the SLF has been a vehicle for centre-left liberals in the Liberal Democrats to push back against the march of free market fundamentalism and during the Coalition we unambiguously and consistently challenged its austerity economics and many of its reforms, including to the NHS and cuts to welfare (not least the heartless ‘bedroom tax’).
We continue to work to restore the Lib Dems’ role as a reliable force in progressive politics but we also believe that the common cause of building a just society and a sustainable economy crosses party boundaries.
More generally, social liberals are the successors to Britain’s radical liberal tradition, as are many Green members. This is a tradition that won us political rights, built the foundations of the welfare state, and has continually advocated for greater international cooperation to better tackle global issues. And these battles are far from won, including obtaining fundamental political rights.
Ensuring equal votes should be a basic prerequisite in any democracy, yet in ours many voters – including many Green and Lib Dem voters – are routinely disenfranchised due a voting system that invariably fails to match votes and seats.
There should be room for greens and liberals to assert their distinctive philosophies – and be genuinely represented – in a properly pluralistic political landscape. Yet we will not achieve this if we allow tribalists among us to put up barriers, rather than combine forces to advance common priorities.
And more generally, progressives in all parties should be working more closely for mutual benefit and in ways that honour the best of our values. Far too often we directly compete with or are estranged from one another, to the advantage of those with whom we have far greater differences. If we are to forge a future that is more equal, liberal and green, those that want it need to collaborate.
Several members of the SLF Council are already Friends of the Green Party and we would like to ask Greens who share our outlook to consider joining the SLF too.
By bringing together social liberals from both the Lib Dems and the Greens, the SLF can grow and ensure our voices are better heard. Let’s put aside tribalism and rivalry and do what our real enemies fear the most – work better together.
You can join the SLF as a member with voting rights for just £2 per month (£1 per month for those on low incomes) or you can sign up to receive our emails for free.
We also hold an annual conference every year to discuss and debate ideas for tackling some of the biggest issues facing our country today - open to members and non-members alike. In recent years the SLF conference has focused on topics including a new economics, globalisation and inequality.