On Saturday, when the Social Liberal Forum Conference in Manchester was discussing on how we get growing again five years after the financial crash, Liberal Democrat Voice published a motion on the economy to be debated at Conference in September. While Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander’s motion contains a number of positive messages and policies, it paints an overly-optimistic picture at a time when living standards continue to fall and recovery is fragile and unbalanced.
In Manchester, we heard a very clear message from our members: that the Liberal Democrats must bring forward a coherent alternative to George Osborne’s economic strategy. Since the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010 the SLF has consistently stated that the Liberal Democrats must maintain independence as a political party, and develop policies that are distinctive, radical and progressive. While it is indeed important to highlight Liberal Democrat achievements in government, our 2015 Manifesto must look forward and not be bound by the previous Parliament in its scope. George Osborne’s dogmatic approach to reducing the deficit distorts economic recovery by curbing the ambition of the very policies promoted in the motion to be debated in Glasgow. Hence the Lib Dems must not endorse this particular approach to fiscal policy, a compromise made for the purposes of this coalition, as Party policy for the next election. The only party going into that election defending Osbornomics should be the Conservative Party.
In the coming weeks we will be listening to Party members, as we hope the movers of the motion will too, on this important debate. It is crucial that Liberal Democrats demonstrate we are capable of independent thought – the future of our Party, not to mention the British economy, depends on it.