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A liberal narrative: small and local

November 14th, 2011 Posted in Liberal Philosophy by

Angela Harbutt’s recent post on the direction of the Lib Dems suggested that the party should focus on the small and local.

Before the merger of the Liberal party and the SDP, the former was very much about local decision-making and championed ‘small is beautiful’. As other parties adopted the language, and policies, of decentralisation the Liberal Democrats searched for other ways to differentiate the party.

But there is no reason why the party cannot take these two areas and turn them into a compelling narrative. To do this it would need to review its policies. What was suitable for the 1970s may no longer be appropriate. If liberalism is about people controlling their lives, and if the party is liberal, then it needs policies that make it more likely that people have a say over what happens to them. How this happens may vary depending on the circumstances. It would mean the party would have to commit unequivocally to plurality and diversity. Different areas of the country will want different things. If people are able to ensure services and policies that they want in their area then this is less a postcode lottery and more about reflecting the fact that people are different and depending on their situation make different choices.

Once these policy details are worked out, the party would have a clear and consistent story to tell. Told properly it could have significant electoral appeal. After all, whatever side of the political divide you are on, everyone wants to be in charge of their own destiny.

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