What do we mean when we say, “I am a Liberal Democrat…”?

by Stephen Tall on August 26, 2015

The catastrophic election results have prompted the Lib Dems to undertake a process known as Agenda 2020, ‘a party-wide consultation to help inform our policy-making over the next five years. This is a chance for us to have an in-depth discussion about our values and beliefs, and about the challenges the UK is likely to face in the next Parliament.’

Earlier in August, a paper published by the Federal Policy Committee offered a definition of the Liberal Democrat philosophy. I was both surprised and impressed that a paper agreed by a committee, especially a committee of liberals, had managed to arrive at something as succinct and successful as that statement. It manages to be inclusive of the different strands of thinking in the party (economic and social liberals) while largely avoiding bland wooliness — that is no half-hearted compliment!

Now the FPC has published a collection of 11 essays in which a range of individuals have been invited ‘to write about their views on the Liberal Democrat philosophy, core values, beliefs and approaches — either how they saw it now, or how they thought it should be developed or be better expressed … Our aim was to enable readers to focus on and discuss what we mean when we say ‘I am a Liberal Democrat’ — what we believe, what we think is important, and what underlies our support for specific policies.’

Contributing authors include David Laws, Jo Swinson, David Boyle, Sarah Ludford and, erm, me. You can read it here, or scroll down to the foot of this page.

My 1,500 word essay makes an unapologetic pitch for our party to remain resolutely within what I term the liberal mainstream (I’ve given up on using the phrase ‘liberal centre’, too toxic and usually misunderstood) — to put it another way, that the party should remain committed to ‘a stronger economy and a fairer society’.

Partly because it is a belief which genuinely springs from the party’s philosophy. And partly because it is precisely our liberal, rational, pragmatic, flexible, grown-up, balanced, centrist (yes, the C-word!) disposition which gives us the voters’ permission to get a hearing on those outlier enthusiasms which drive many of us activists — wealth and land taxes, civil liberties, drugs legalisation, the EU, environmental sustainability, localism, immigration, prisoner rehabilitation, constitutional reform — but about which the voters tend to be at best lukewarm.

Agenda 2020 consultation: The Liberal Democrats' core beliefs, values and approach – Essay Collection (Augu… by Stephen Tall

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[…] What do we mean when we say I am a Liberal Democrat? by Stephen Tall  on Stephen Tall. Stephen’s contribution to the Agenda 2020 […]

by Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #429 on August 30, 2015 at 7:01 pm. Reply #

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