• The UK's chaotic politics: How the Lib Dems could contribute to a solution

    October 12, 2018 11:41 AM

    “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.

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  • Ian Kearns: I left Labour for the Lib Dems because Jeremy Corbyn isn't radical enough

    September 21, 2018 1:08 PM

    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.

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  • SLF events at Lib Dem Conference

    August 20, 2018 1:11 PM

    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.

    Join us for our annual fundraising dinner on the eve of Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference. Lucy Salek will be our guest speaker for what promises to be an enjoyable and thought provoking evening.

    Panellists including Miatta Fahnbulleh (Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation), Ann Tyler (Chair of the Employee Ownership Association's charitable arm) and Gordon Lishman (Vice Chair of the SLF) will discuss radical solutions drawing on our longstanding Liberal commitment to democracy at work.

    In particular the panellists will respond to the IPPR's recent report Broadening Company Ownership in the UK and the Employment Ownership Association’s recent publication The Ownership Effect.

    The Rt Hon Sir Vince Cable interviewed by Faisal Islam, Political Editor of Sky News.

    James Patrick (author, Alternative War) will discuss the damage caused by Cambridge Analytica. Alexandra Runswick (Director, Unlock Democracy) will then examine the Electoral Commission’s verdict on the state of our weakened electoral system. How can we combat these emerging threats to our democracy?

  • SLF Council Election Results 2018

    August 17, 2018 3:16 PM

    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:

    James Baillie Gordon Lishman
    Natalie Bird Ryan Mercer
    Louise Harris Geoff Payne
    Iain Brodie-Browne Paul Pettinger
    Arif Erdogan George Potter
    David Grace Denali Ranasinghe
    Andrew Hickey Stephen Richmond
    Paul Hindley James Sandbach
    Neil Hughes Joe Toovey
    Tara Hussain Martin Walker

    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.

  • My passion for bold and radical Liberalism reaffirmed, as my time as SLF Chair comes to its end

    July 22, 2018 9:09 PM

    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. 

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  • Nominations Now Open for Biennial SLF Council Elections 2018

    July 03, 2018 12:35 PM

    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 [email protected] 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.

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  • The inspiration for European integration is part of British history too

    July 02, 2018 12:38 PM

    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:

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  • Kate Pickett to speak at SLF Conference

    June 22, 2018 1:21 PM

    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.

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  • Greening Government

    June 19, 2018 1:19 PM

    In the recent Social Liberal Forum book, David Boyle asserts that “free trade and anti-trust lay at the heart of Liberalism and Liberal economics from the start of the party”.  His essay overlaps with David Howarth’s contribution in returning Liberal and Lib Dem economics to its roots, rejecting the false claim that “neo-liberalism” in any way represents the liberal tradition.

    David writes that: “The original Liberal idea of free trade was not a simple license to do whatever you want, if you were rich and powerful enough.  It was thoroughly aware of Adam Smith’s original warning that collusion between entrenched businesses can end in “a conspiracy against the public”. Liberal free trade “was designed as a means of liberation – so that the small could challenge the big, the poor could challenge the rich with the power of the new approach, the alternative provider, the imaginative, liberating shift”.

    So, what went wrong?

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