Browse > Home /

| Subcribe via RSS



What are the Lib Dems for?

By Editor
March 14th, 2015 at 12:12 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in conference, Liberal Democrats

HAT TIP:  In case you missed it Mark Littlewood (former Lib Dem spin doctor and co-founder of Liberal Vision) had an interesting article in the Telegraph yesterday, to coincide with the start of the Lib Dem Spring conference. Kind it is not. Accurate it is undoubtedly is.

The essence of Littlewood’s point is that the Lib Dems have no message to the voter – other than to promise to be less mean that the Conservatives and more financially hard-headed than Labour… “to water down the convictions and ideals of our main political opponents“. This is certainly borne out by speeches being made up and down the country by Lib Dem MPs, highlighting what the Lib Dems have stopped the Tories doing over the past five years and why Labour can be trusted to go it alone for the next five.

And that is the problem, he says, no one knows what the Lib Dems are for.

“Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically immoral or wicked about such a proposition, but it certainly doesn’t get the pulse racing. There simply aren’t going to be millions of voters trooping to polling stations in May because they are passionate about injecting just a dash more moderation into our government. On the big questions facing Britain, the LibDems don’t sound radical at all. Is the overall tax burden too high or too low? Does the state intervene too much or too little in our lives? Is our relationship with the EU too close or too loose? Very often, the Lib Dems seem to believe that we have the balance of everything more or less right and just need a very small tweak here or there.”

[Agreed. Whether you like them or hate them, you have to accept that the parties on the rise, UKIP, Greens, SNP have conviction and passion by the bucket-load and none of them are in any doubt that things need to change for one reason of another].

Littlewood suggests that even if 20 or 30 Liberal Democrat MPs do make it back to Westminster, and by some chance find themselves back in coalition “it is hard to be at all sure what on earth they would do with it”.

Quite. So, what is the point of voting for them? – it’s like ticking the “don’t know” box on a multiple choice question. Perhaps Liverpool will provide some answers.

You can read the full article here.

Tags: , ,
'

Fun, facts and fag-packets at Forest event

By Editor
February 27th, 2015 at 11:21 am | No Comments | Posted in Personal Freedom, Uncategorized

The Hands Off Our Packs “Stop the Nonsense: Plain Speaking on Plain Packaging” event was held on Tuesday night. What a joy it was.MArk Littlewood southampton FC

All Forest shindigs are must-go-to events as far as we are concerned. They are lively and fun; the speakers are invariably excellent value; the alcohol flows; and the pavements/terraces/balconies are alive with smokers and non-smokers alike celebrating life, the universe and everything else.

This event was no less fun, informative and innovative than we have come to expect. We had intended to write up the event in  more detail, but Dick Puddlecote has pretty much said it all – so just go read his post.

[PS his added note was an eye-rolling moment..

“*An interesting note on David Cameron and his view of plain packs. He came out with a quip during yesterday’s PMQs which went something like this – “Now we are committed to plain paper packaging of cigarettes, it will give more space for the opposition to write their policies on”. Yep, it looks like David Cameron doesn’t have a first clue about the policy he is legislating on! “

Let us just add our salute to Simon Clark (Forest Director) for coming up with such an innovative format (8 or so quick fire speeches- each lasting no more than 2 or 3 minutes).

Hats off to our very own Angela Harbutt who kicked of the formal speeches delivering the plain facts from Australia and ending up with an ask that MPs “consider the facts – not the wishful fiction of state-funded lobby groups and self-serving Whitehall bureaucrats”.

We should also salute Mark Littlewood, formerly of this Parish, and now Director General of the free-market Institute of Economic Affairs. Not only did he deliver a suitably rousing finish to the formal part of the evening, he managed to namecheck (yet again) his much-beloved Southampton Football Club!

Not without merit…(though he rarely needs an excuse in our experience).  He simply pointed out that he had acquired a (very robust and rather snazzy) “SaintsFC cig box” into which he drops his chosen cigarette pack. Given the interest in the room that evening , we suspect many more will be doing likewise (acquiring their own bespoke cig case – not necessarily creating a Saints FC one.)

Forest has promised to put a video of the speeches up on YouTube in the coming days. But here is a close up pic of the much-discussed cig case.

ML cig case

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Fringe Event: “Why aren’t the Liberal Democrats more liberal?”

By Editor
September 15th, 2013 at 8:00 am | 1 Comment | Posted in conference

Looking for a good Conference fringe event for Sunday evening? Look no further. Topical debate, lively speakers.

“Why aren’t the Liberal Democrats more liberal?

Date/Time: Sunday 15th Sept 1815-1930

Place: Alsh 2 Room, SECC Conference Centre.

Chairman: Mark Littlewood, Director General, IEA

Speakers:

Jeremy Browne MP

Emma Carr, Deputy Director, Big Brother Watch

Julian Huppert MP

Chris Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Stephen Tall, Co-Editor of LibDem Voice

Hosted by Liberal Vision and the Institute of Economic Affairs.

See you there we hope!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Liberalism: Is the tide turning?

By Editor
June 1st, 2013 at 1:28 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Liberal Democrats, Libertarians

An exciting couple days for all us liberals out there. Not one, but two hat tips:

First, the good news that “we are not alone”. Liberalism is not just alive in the UK, it is positively thriving. A major feature in the Economist, of all places, states “Britain’s youth are not just more liberal than their elders. They are also more liberal than any previous generation“.

Young Britons, it turns out, are classical liberals. The Economist reports:

“…as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility. In America they would be called libertarians.”

This totally uplifting piece goes on to say

““Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last,” says Ben Page of Ipsos MORI, a pollster. All age groups

Graph courtesy of YouGov/Economist

Graph courtesy of YouGov / Economist

are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. They have a more sceptical view of state transfers, even allowing for the general shift in attitudes”

And it isn’t just IPSOS MORI saying this. The same article reports

“Polling by YouGov shows that those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks.  They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatisation of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, “has only become so large by offering customers what they want”.”

Do go read the article in full to get a warm fuzzy feeling all over.

But what to do about this?

Second: Mark Littlewood (who get’s a mention in the above Economist item as will be noted by conspiracy theorists everywhere) seems to have the answer. Writing in the Times [paywall] on Friday he suggests “The Lib Dems should try being real liberals“. In his hard hitting comment piece Littlewood (former spin doctor of the party and LV founder and blogger) points out the all-too-obvious malaise within the party:

“There is no acute leadership crisis, just a general sense that they are sinking. It is near impossible to discern what their recovery strategy is. Mr Clegg and his close advisers encourage the party faithful to “hold your nerve”…. But that sounds more like psychotherapy than a plan.”

Front Cover of the Economist : June 1st 2013

Front Cover of The Economist : June 1st 2013

Well said. But, this isn’t just a piece pointing out the parlous state of the party right now, he has a sensible, practical solution. Here are the key bits:

“First, they (Lib Dems) need to stop doing and saying things that have little resonance outside their declining base of party activists.”

“Second, the Lib Dems need to take a leaf out the books of many of their sister parties on the Continent. Many European politicians rightly view them as rather an odd, mixed bag with a left-leaning social democratic agenda. Not very liberal at all, in other words.”

“…the Lib Dems often come across as no more coherent than a confederation of residents’ associations. Few voters understand any driving philosophy behind their policy, merely that it is “middle of the road”.

“The party does have a strong commitment to civil liberties hardwired into its DNA, but on lifestyle issues, such as smoking, drinking or reading magazines with airbrushed photos of female models, it can’t resist the urge to agitate for greater state intrusion and control.” [see a previous post on LV “Norman Lamb: Doh!” for more on that one].

“…this actually makes a strategy of being a small state, pro-business party even more attractive — mainly because most Lib Dem MPs find themselves in close fights with the Tories”.

“A consistent, clear, genuinely liberal narrative, in which the State plays less of a role in our lives, and individuals have greater freedom to keep their own money, run their own affairs and make their own choices does not guarantee electoral success. But it surely offers a much better prospect for the Lib Dems than anchoring their ship somewhere in the centre of the ocean, as they slowly slip beneath the waves.”

Whether the appearance of his comment piece in the Times on Friday is coincidence, or deliberately timed to coincide with the Economist report, only Littlewood will know. But taking those two articles together we see not only that there is a real, and growing appetite, for classical liberalism in the UK, but there is a compelling case that Lib Dems should not just be spectators to this upswing, but capitalise on it. Britain looks ready to embrace a real liberal party – but is the party ready to be it?  Here’s hoping so.

(PS Young liberals out there might like to find out more about Liberty League and Freedom Week by clicking on the links.)

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Cracking edition of Question Time

By Editor
March 25th, 2013 at 11:54 am | 2 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

If you missed Thursday’s edition of Question Time, do take a moment, if you can, to catch up on iPlayer. On the panel last week were Michael Gove (Con), Emily Thornberry (Lab), Natalie Bennett(Greens), Anthony Horowitz (writer extraordinaire) and Mark LittlewoodQuestion_time_logo (IEA).

Many will know that Mark Littlewood was founder of Liberal Vision so we were especially pleased to see him on the panel doing just a grand job – most particularly on the issue of press regulation. Though to be frank he served up aces for every question posed (budget/press regulation/education/Cyprus).

Many on twitter report that it was one of the finest editions of QT in a long time – and we certainly wouldn’t argue with that one.

ps Anthony Horowitz occupying the usual lefty writer slot was a very pleasant surprise indeed – sounded like a good liberal through and through. His comments on Hacked Off were truly top drawer.

Tags: , , ,