At conference, I had the pleasure of meeting many members of the party who, to my surprise, reacted positively and largely in agreement when I described myself as a classical liberal and sympathetic to free market economics.
A few weeks before conference, I had heard that some party members were considering forming a grass roots organisation that aims to bring together and facilitate discussion and policy development amongst those in the Liberal Democrats who are sympathetic to economic liberalism, i.e. the ‘Orange Bookers’.
I believe that there is definitely a demand for such an organisation, and a large number of people, myself included, have already put themselves forward saying that they are ready to get involved and help out in any way they can. Things are very much still in the planning stages at the moment, but that is why any support would be all the more welcome.
I asked Mike Bird, who first proposed the idea, to send me a few paragraphs outlining what he hopes to achieve. Here is his response:
The aim of this organisation is provisionally to promote economic liberalism within the Liberal Democrats. We hope to be a ‘big tent’ of opinion, and will welcome anyone who feels that there are areas in which the party could be more open to promoting a free market. We seek to co-operate with other groups within the party, and would like to integrate ourselves as part of the liberal mainstream in this country.
Our outlook is not solely economic: we wish to see our party advocating four-cornered liberalism – liberal economics, in a framework of personal, political and social liberalism.
This is an unploughed field in British politics: other parties have appropriated the language of economic freedom (while often lacking it in practice), but it is in our heritage. We shouldn’t let anyone else monopolise that. Capitalism is about much more than big business, and it can’t be left to social conservatives to represent the dominant economic system of the United Kingdom.
We hope you’ll be hearing much more from and about us in the near future. Contact me if you’re interested!
Mike Bird (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All of us at Liberal Vision wish them the very best.