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The right sort of Lib Dem group announces launch

February 13th, 2012 Posted in Liberal Democrats by

We are delighted over here at Liberal Vision to welcome a new group to the Lib Dem family (drum roll please…) LIBERAL REFORM.

A while ago we wrote about a new group that was considering forming a grass roots organisation aiming to bring together (and facilitate discussion and policy development) amongst those in the Liberal Democrats who are sympathetic to economic liberalism. At the time Mike Bird (one of the founders of Liberal Reform) said:

“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”.

There has surely been a need for a grassroots membership group that speaks to the mainstream of the party embracing the free market, for quite sometime.  According to a Lib Dem Voice survey from April last year, 35% of Lib Dem members and activists describe themselves as ‘economic liberals’, now a bigger presence in the party than those who would describe themselves as  ‘Social Democrat’  (noting that less than half describe themselves as “centre left”). So the time is right for a group such as Liberal Reform.

It is very telling that Liberal Reform is taking one of Nick Clegg’s best ever quotes as their lead statement. Mike Bird (co-founder of Liberal Reform) is quoted today as saying

We agree with Nick Clegg’s statement at our Autumn Conference in 2011 that “we are not on the left, and we are not on the right. We have our own label: Liberal”.”

So go check our their brand-spanking new website, sign up on their supporters page and join us in wishing them all the very best.

10 Responses to “The right sort of Lib Dem group announces launch”

  1. Lev Eakins Says:

    I’m very pleased this is being launched – finally, economic liberals can come out of hiding and gather with like minded souls.


  2. Jack Hughes Says:

    Great idea. Looks like they emphasise all freedoms – not just economic freedom.

  3. Steve Comer Says:

    Presumably you prefer ‘the Right sort’ of Lib Dem Group to ‘the Left sort’ of Lib Dem group?
    Just remember what happened to the FDP in Germany when it abandoned its Liberal roots and became obsessed with the free market. They created the political space which the Green Party have filled for 30 years.

  4. David Christie Says:

    I know that its a common refrain of some Lib Dems to say ‘we’re not left or right, just liberal’. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that moving towards economic liberalism (i.e. free market economics) is, in modern ideological terms, a move towards the right.

    The Lib Dems effectively moved right when they went into the coalition with the Tories, and alienated most of their core vote in the process.

    Won’t cementing this rightward move just alienate the party’s core vote even further?

  5. chessnuts Says:

    @Steve Corner – Free markets is synonymous with liberalism. Maybe you mean, when they abandoned their social-democrat roots?

  6. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Guys- I joined the Lib Dems because I was believed the Iraq war was not just wrong but illegal.I also believe that most (if not all) drugs should be legalised. I was firmly against the introduction of ID cards..and mass introduction of CCTV … I also believe in open international trade and a reduction of all trade barriers and free movement of labour and individuals. I sign up totally to free speech and defend the right of any individual to say something even (or especially) if I disagree with them …Detention without trial has to be constantly questioned and challenged… a free press must be defended (and those within that who break the law punished)… I could go on…..

    All of the above are liberal views. are they not ?

  7. David Christie Says:

    @Angela Harbutt – all of the things you’ve described are classically liberal views, yes. However, the bit about ‘open international trade and a reduction of all trade barriers’ might not necessarily fit in with social liberalism. This is because social liberalism permits a certain degree of interference in the free market in order to reduce poverty.

    The Lib Dems seem to be moving back towards their roots in classical liberalism (which fits in with the politics of the coalition, because Thatcherite Conservatism includes many elements drawn from classical liberalism). This has alienated lot of the Lib Dem core vote, because the core vote tend to be social liberals not classical liberals.

  8. Psi Says:

    @ David Christie

    You appear to be suggesting that protectionism reduces poverty?

    Is that what you are saying? I want to be clear.

  9. David Christie Says:


    Not in all cases, but it can in some. I think the main example where protectionism can reduce poverty is in the developing world.

    Rich western nations often force poor third world countries to open their markets to western goods, which undermines these third world countries’ own industries. If they were able to use protectionist measures, they’d be in a better position to grow their domestic industries, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty.

  10. Charlie Says:

    We say we are Liberals but how close do we remain to Cobden, Bright, JS Mill and Gladstone? Up to the 1920s the Liberals were the party of craftsmen, industrialists, the Dissenting Academies, engineers, Methodists and Quakers.It was Quaker goldsmiths which founded Barclays Bank. Labour are very good at stating there was no social mobility before 1945, completely ignoring the craftsmen and yeoman farmers who created the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions were the greatest increase in peaceful social mobility in the last 10,000 years.Prior to the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, aquiring wealth was largely achieved through conquest or monarchs and nobles giving lands the Church.

    I would suggest that those craftsmen who set up the Dissenting Academies had a better understanding of what academic knowledge and skills required to be successful in business than the Labour Party post 1945.

    I suggestreading ” TheDay the Universe Changed ” by James Burke pub by BBC 1985 ch 6. In 1720, of a population of 5.5 Million, nearly 2 million were wage paying tenant farmers plus there were yeoman farmers( owning less than 120 acres).On the Continent, peasants existed and they were landless. Consequently, in the early 18 C, there was a large middle class.The Liberal Party was the party of the well educated, prudent, hard working, technically skilled and aspirational classes who believed in liberty, the rule of law together with the absence of corrutption and patronage.

    Gordon Brown had the spending habits of Louis the XIV and many aspects of public sector employments, especially QUANGOS appear similar to livings granted to the Anglican clergy in the 17-19 C.

    It is time the LDsr examined the Whig and Liberal traditions of the 18C to early 20 C and once again become the party of the aspirational, technically educated, hard working and prudent crafstmen and SME owner.