It has been 110 years since David Lloyd George delivered his radical liberal ‘People’s Budget’ speech. He described a time when ‘poverty, and the wretchedness and human degradation which always follows in its camp, will be as remote to the people of this country as the wolves which once infested its forests’. The wolves of poverty, wretchedness, human degradation and inequality are still with us. Far from them being remote to modern Britain their infestation of society is becoming more widespread.

Equality forms one of liberalism’s holy trinity of liberty, equality and community. It is fundamental to liberalism but also troublesome. Liberals have disagreed about what equality applies to and what it means. They agree that it applies to political rights and that it implies a strong commitment to principles of non-discrimination on grounds of gender, ethnicity, social origins and sexuality, but beyond that disagreement breaks out. Do Liberals believe in equality of outcomes or of opportunities or of life chances? Do they believe in reducing economic equality or merely in increasing social mobility? Do they want equality in specific aspects of life, such as health or environment, or do they want equality in the most general terms, that is of ‘happiness’?

Contributors include;

Mark Blackburn has worked in the retail and property industries for over thirty years, working on the shop floor and at board level. Among other positions he has been CEO of a Discount Retailer based in the North East and run his own chain of footwear stores. He now has his own property consultancy business. He has stood twice for the Liberal Democrats as a Parliamentary Candidate in Westminster North, London and Somerton & Frome in Somerset, where he now lives.  He has served the Social Liberal Forum as Director, Treasurer and Council member.

Chris Bowers is a two-term Lib Dem district councillor and three-time Parliamentary Candidate. He was the founder of the Environmental Transport Association in 1990, works as a communications consultant to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, and led the transport chapter in the Liberal Democrats’ revised climate change policy due for publication in late summer 2019.

Robert Brown was Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow Region from 1999 to 2011, Education Committee Convener (2003-2005) and Deputy Minister for Education and Young People (2005-2007). In the Scottish Parliament, he was spokesperson on social justice and housing, and later justice and civil liberties. He is now a Councillor in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire. He was a longstanding Policy Convener of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, responsible for a number of Scottish Liberal Democrat manifestos, and served on the Steel and Campbell Commissions which set out the Liberal Democrat vision for Scottish Home Rule within a federal United Kingdom.

Lord Peter Hain is a Labour Peer and was MP for Neath (1991-2015); a Government and Cabinet Minister (1997-2010); and prior to joining Labour in 1977 a leading Young Liberal from 1969.

Paul Hindley is a member of the Social Liberal Forum Council and a PhD student at Lancaster University studying politics. His research is focused on the neoliberal political economy. Paul is currently the Chair of the SLF’s Northern Group and its Publishing and Editorial Board. He is a Liberal Democrat activist from Blackpool and has previously been the Chair of Blackpool and Cleveleys Liberal Democrats, as well as being an Election Agent in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections. He has a strong interest in political theory, social justice, political reform and economic democracy.

David Howarth is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge. He was MP for Cambridge (2005–10) and served the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Justice. Before that he was Leader of Cambridge City Council and served for a decade on the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee.

Dr Kirsten Johnson is a pianist, composer and recording artist of international acclaim.  She has recorded fourteen discs of solo piano music with Centaur, Nimbus, Delos and Guild. This includes the complete piano music of Arthur Foote and Amy Beach, and world premiere recordings of Albanian piano music and Dmitri Kabalevsky’s op. 1. Dr Johnson received her Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, conducting much of her research in Albania and in the Bodleian Library, Oxford University.  She was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and has lived in England since 1994.  Please see for further information on her music career. Kirsten Johnson stood in both the 2015 and 2017 General Elections for the Liberal Democrats. She is currently the Parliamentary Spokesperson for the North Devon Liberal Democrats. Her concern over inequality and lack of mental health provision, coupled with broader social justice issues, compelled her to become involved in politics.

Rabina Khan is one of the most influential politicians in the troubled East London borough of Tower Hamlets where she serves as a Liberal Democrat councillor and ran a close second in her bid to be Mayor. Born in Bangladesh, raised in Rochester, she is known for her passionate support of causes such as stopping youth knife crime and building more social housing.  Khan was the first Muslim woman to hold the portfolio for Housing and Regeneration (2010 to 2015).  Khan often speaks on current issues on radio and TV, and is published regularly in The Independent, also The Guardian, Huff Post, East London Advertiser and delivered lectures at Cambridge University, The Housing Federation and the Royal Society for Arts for BBC Radio 4.

Gordon Lishman CBE is Treasurer of the Social Liberal Forum and a former chief executive of Age Concern. With others, he developed the original ideas of community politics and was co-author with Bernard Greaves of “The Theory and Practice of Community Politics”. He is a Lib Dem councillor in Burnley. Gordon has been Chair of the Liberal International’s Human Rights Committee and, a very long time ago, worked for the Liberal Party Research Department on economic and industrial affairs.

Dr Steven McCabe has lectured at Birmingham City University since 1987 and has taught economics, management and strategy to a wide range of discipline at degree and postgraduate level as well as supervising PhD students.  As well as teaching, Steven completed a PhD on a part-time basis at the University of Birmingham which explored the use of quality management techniques. He has written extensively on the subject of management and quality and has produced numerous papers, chapters for books and three textbooks. Steven is currently Associate Professor in IDEA (Institute of Design and Economic Acceleration) as well as Senior Fellow in the Centre for Brexit Studies at BCU. He is engaged in research and/or consultancy examining culture and pre-determinate conditions for success in sectors such as manufacturing, construction and creative arts as well as writing and commentating on politics and, most particularly, the potential impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. 

Beverley Nielsen is Associate Professor and Director of the Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration at Birmingham City University where she is also Senior Fellow at the Centre for Brexit Studies and has worked in various roles including as Director Employer Engagement and lecturer in design management. Beverley served as a county councillor between 2009-13 and was elected as a District Councillor in May 2019 taking on the portfolio for economic development and tourism as part of a joint working partnership between the Liberal Democrats, Independents and Greens. She stood as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor in the first election in the West Midlands in 2017. She co-authored ‘Redesigning Manufacturing’ with Professor M.B. Beverland and economist Vicky Pryce (2015, Palgrave Macmillan) and  co-edited ‘Brexit Negotiations After Article 50’ with Professor A. de Ruyter (2019, Emerald Publications).

James Sandbach is Co-Chair of Rights Liberties Justice (the Liberal Democrat Lawyers Association) and a member of the SLF Council. He has worked in policy, advocacy and senior leadership roles for legal advice and disability charities, and is currently Director of Policy and External Affairs for LawWorks and trustee of other advice organisations. He has been a Parliamentary Candidate in four elections and is an elected Councillor.

Stuart White is Tutorial Fellow in Politics at Jesus College, Oxford. His research focuses on how to assert the priority of democratic citizenship within the economy. He is the author of THE CIVIC MINIMUM (2003) and EQUALITY (2006) and is currently working on a book on republican political economy.

Chris Willmore is Professor of Sustainability and Law at Bristol University.  A Quaker, Chris qualified as a barrister and has been involved in overseas human rights work. She is a Lib Dem, and has been a councillor since 1983, serving at various times in the past as council leader, and on national party committees including policy committee.


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