• UBI to save us from a virus, does it make sense?

    March 19, 2020 12:18 PM

     

    Is UBI the Answer to Our Economic Crisis?

    By Stephen Richmond

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  • Liberal Britain 2035: Health, Wealth, and Power

    March 10, 2020 1:35 PM

     

    After the Election: The Way Forward for Liberalism

    By Ian Kearns

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  • Beyond The Tribes

    March 05, 2020 8:18 PM

     

    Beyond the Tribes

    By Ian Brodie-Brown

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  • Carthago delenda est

    February 25, 2020 9:09 PM

      Carthago Delenda Est

    By Neil Hughes

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  • Rethinking Economic Liberalism

    September 19, 2019 9:07 PM

    Rethinking Economic Liberalism

    By Stephen John Richmond

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  • Unite to stop No Deal Brexit

    August 21, 2019 10:59 PM

    Over the past week we have watched with increasing alarm as tribalism between progressive activists in different parties has grown following Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for a ‘caretaker government’.

    We call upon all MPs to support a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government and its relentless pursuit of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. We seek a government under any leader who can command a majority in the House of Commons against a No Deal Brexit on 31st October, as well as allowing for a ‘People’s Vote’ Referendum on Brexit, which would include the option to Remain in the EU.

    We are open to the possibility of a new General Election taking place, if there is not a common agreement for a People’s Vote amongst the different parties and MPs.

    If Jeremy Corbyn can assemble the necessary independent and rebel Conservative MPs to become Prime Minister, including with Liberal Democrat support, then we call upon the Liberal Democrats to support him.

    We welcome the media reports of Liberal Democrat sources which state that the party has ‘no objection in principle’ to supporting Jeremy Corbyn in-order to stop a No Deal Brexit.  We encourage the Liberal Democrats to keep saying this.

    If Mr Corbyn cannot assemble the necessary MPs to command a majority in the House of Commons, then we call upon the Labour Party and other political parties and MPs to find an alternative unity candidate.

    Jo Swinson’s proposed candidates of Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman are entirely sensible, we should also be prepared to consider other candidates for Prime Minister.

    The priority is to stop a disastrous and socially unjust No Deal Brexit. The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party, as well as other progressive parties, must work together to stop No Deal.

    The time has come to put aside tribal differences and to put an end to the looming catastrophe facing this country and the social hardships that would come with it.

  • Open Society Alliance revisited

    July 27, 2019 5:06 PM

    Recently we published a blog post: "An Open Society Alliance must be founded now". We have received an important response to that article and as a result we have created a new section in this website: "On the Left", which you can find on our top navigation menubar. So to read that article and the response it got you can click on that, or this link here.

  • The Lib Dems need to Seize the Opportunity of a Political Lifetime

    July 22, 2019 9:43 PM

    By Paul Hindley

    The Liberal Democrats have a new leader, congratulations Jo Swinson. Jo takes over the party at a crucial time in British politics. In a matter of months, the situation of the party has been transformed. It has over 700 new councillors and for the first time in over a century defeated Labour and the Conservatives in a nation-wide election. The party has gone from polling in single figures to polling in the late teens and early 20s, even topping an occasional opinion poll.

    British politics is in flux. For the first time in British political history, both Labour and the Conservatives are simultaneously having existential crises. This is coupled with the Brexit crisis which continues to undermine our country, its standing in the world and our economy. The Liberal Democrats are faced with the opportunity of a political lifetime; the first realistic opportunity to break the mould of British politics since the 1980s.

    We Liberal Democrats must seize this opportunity to become the biggest progressive party in British politics and replace Labour. Most Remain voters are on the left of politics. If we want to consolidate our position with Remain voters, then we must adopt more centre-left economic and social policies. In the European Election, for example, 15% of paid-up Labour Party members voted for the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats are a radical social liberal party, not a conservative-lite party.

    If we are to seize this opportunity, we must embrace a clear centre-left identity. Yes, the party has won over many progressive voters with our opposition to Brexit, but what is there to keep these voters once Brexit is no longer a major issue? Britain is still a country which is riven by social hardship from precarious employment, to stagnant wage growth, to squeezed living standards and millions using food banks. We have to acknowledge the role that the austerity economics of the Coalition Government had in making these problems worse. To this end, the Liberal Democrats must be unequivocal in their opposition to austerity and their support for Keynesian economics, as well as reversing the cuts to welfare spending and local government.

    Beyond this the party needs to embrace clear radical policies that will advance social justice and will help to keep and win over further left-leaning Remain voters. These should include support for a universal basic income, as well as a universal inheritance. We should support policies to increase workplace democracy by giving employees greater rights to establish worker cooperatives. We need to continue our policy of increasing funding for the NHS and the education system. At a time when our planet is facing a climate emergency, we must be in the vanguard of advancing green politics and combating climate change. Now is the hour for radical political reform not just of the voting system, but of where power lies within the United Kingdom. We should seriously consider supporting a written constitution and a vision to federalise power to the nations and regions of our great country.

    There are some basic steps that we can take right now as a party. We need to do more to make the social case for our membership of the European Union. This includes defending the workers’ rights protections that come from the EU, as well as the regional development funding which is vital to the poorest parts of Britain. We also must make the big picture case that the EU is first and foremost a project to ensure peace between the nations of Europe, which had only known war for most of the last two millennia.

    An alliance between Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage would endanger many of the liberal and progressive values that we have taken for granted for many years. The extreme right is on the rise in multiple countries; Britain must resist the rise of the populist alt-right. Only an “Open Society Alliance” can achieve this; the Liberal Democrats must work with other progressive Remainer parties to forge a new movement which is pro-European, pro-electoral reform, green and anti-austerity.

    If you take anything away from this blog article it should be this; after our policy of wanting to Stop Brexit, our next most important policy is wanting to end benefit sanctions. Liberalism is not just for fortunate middle class people, it is for everyone. Benefit sanctions are Draconian and leave the poorest and most vulnerable people in our country destitute and reliant on food banks. They are authoritarian and are the enemy of social justice. It is already Liberal Democrat policy to scrap them. This policy (alongside our opposition to Brexit) should feature in every one of our campaigns and be on every Focus leaflet.

    The time is ripe for a political realignment with the emergence of a new radical centre-left party. Only the Liberal Democrats are in a position to achieve this. The party must embrace its radical social liberal history as well as new progressive big ideas. Liberal Democrats must strive not only to end Brexit, but also to end poverty and powerlessness within British society. This is the perfect recipe to reach out to the majority of Remain supporters.

    Jo Swinson clearly has big ambitions for the party. The Liberal Democrats must seize this moment to become the political embodiment of progressive liberal Britain. We must become Britain’s leading progressive party. Our opposition to Brexit and social injustice demands nothing less.

  • An Open Society Alliance must be founded now

    July 21, 2019 10:19 AM

    By Chris Bowers, Iain Brodie Browne and Paul Pettinger

    There are moments in politics where you just have to stop and say: the emperor is wearing no clothes. And the latest YouGov poll for The Times showing just half of Labour voters in 2017 will vote Labour at the next general election is one of those moments.

    The implications of this are profound. Labour is set to lose a raft of seats simply because its Remain voters are abandoning the party in droves. But where those seats go will depend on whether the Remain vote can coalesce around one Remain candidate. And this might be the Remain parties’ one chance or avoiding a long winter of populist right-wing government that could undo much of the liberal society we take for granted.

    The puts the onus on the Remain parties to create an electoral alliance, which could become known as the ‘Remain Alliance’, or perhaps ‘Open Society Alliance’ is better as it’s about more than just remaining in the EU – it’s about creating a modern, compassionate, democratic society in which everyone has a voice. Unfortunately, time is not on our side. If there is to be a General Election this autumn – and the more people talk about it, the more likely it becomes – there will be limited time to piece together this Open Society Alliance. But something that can help create such an alliance would be a short declaration of principles that could cut the need for lengthy policy negotiations.

    What would this declaration of principles look like? It would have to be short – the longer it is, the greater risk of natural Remain parties rejecting it because of a technicality which overshadows the overall ethos. It would probably have to be limited to four policy pledges and one parliamentary commitment:

    • A proportional voting system for the next and future Westminster elections (the exact voting system could be prescribed or not, depending on how much of an obstacle doing so or not doing so would be).
    • An immediate programme of efforts to tackle climate change that starts the process of having Britain net zero-carbon on a far more ambitious timetable than the May government has mapped out.
    • An end to Brexit, either through straight revocation of the UK’s Article 50 letter or through a people’s vote that offers the option to Remain.
    • A non-Brexit dividend, in the form of a package of measures to tackle the effects of austerity, including an emergency funding package for councils.
    • Anyone elected on the Remain Alliance platform would be committed to voting for the above four principles, and then voting to call a General Election as soon as all four were through Parliament, in order to have a fresh Parliament under a fair voting system.

    It may be that this set of principles may have to be proposed by a non-party-political entity (could be an ad hoc group of private citizens) so it isn’t associated with any one party. If involvement from a political party were not an obstacle, the Social Liberal Forum would be an obvious body to lead the creation of this alliance from the Lib Dem side.

    The existence of this alliance platform would have the advantage that all the Remain parties – Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru – could sign up to it, which would make it easier for voters to identify Open Society Alliance candidates.

    It would also make it easier for parties to stand aside in areas where two competing Remain parties risk splitting the vote and letting the Conservatives or Brexit Party in. The party standing aside would know that their core beliefs were represented by another party that had committed to the four Open Society Alliance principles, and it would gain by another party standing aside in its favour elsewhere.

    The one fly in the ointment would be if two or more parties in a marginal constituency campaigned on the basis of being in the Open Society Alliance. In constituencies where no Remain party could still come close to winning, or one would win anyway, this wouldn’t matter. But, in the current landscape, there may be as many as a quarter of all constituencies where a Remain party could win if Open Society Alliance supporters got behind just one candidate. If such unifying candidates could be identified, they would then use the term ‘Open Society Alliance’ in their campaigning, but this begs the question as to who would decide this? There may not be time to go through all this.

    Therefore, an Open Society Alliance declaration cannot on its own bring the Remain parties together. But what it can do is certainly facilitate greater tactical voting in key seats and help emphasise the common purpose between supporters of an Open Society Alliance. In so doing, this will make it easier for parties to come together, to explore ways of stopping the Johnson/Farage ‘regressive alliance’ exploiting the undemocratic nature of our first-past-the-post electoral system, and winning a snap election, and, let’s face it, doing even more damage than just taking our country over the cliff edge of a no-deal Brexit.

    What’s currently happening in Brecon and Radnorshire, where Plaid Cymru and the Greens have stood down in our favour to support internationalist politics, could, with enough reciprocation, be reproduced across Britain to stop Johnson and Farage in their tracks. A declaration of key principles might also allow certain pro-Remain Labour candidates to say they support the Open Society Alliance (as long as they were willing to vote for the four principles and the short Parliament if they were elected). If they didn’t, they’d have broken their promise, and we know what happens to politicians and political parties who break their promises.

    The potential gains are massive. With Labour’s vote crumbling and many Tory Remain supporters anxious about Farage and a no-deal Brexit, an alliance of Remain parties could easily hold a healthy balance of power, which could be enough to see off Brexit and bring in PR.

    With the possibility that Boris Johnson could cut and run, figuring an election in mid-October is his best chance of getting a working majority, work on an Open Society Alliance for the next General Election has to start now. This should be a priority for our new party leader, and this process should be supported by drawing up a declaration of principles that all the Remain parties would be asked to sign up to.