Whilst watching the all-new Pointless (now in HD) I received an e-mail from Liberal Reform with their launch details. Here it is republished ad verbatim (without me putting in all the hyperlinks):
We are today delighted to announce that Liberal Reform has launched.
Liberal Reform is a new membership group within the Liberal Democrats, committed to fostering debate and variety in the Lib Dems, and promoting a rounded liberal ideology in Lib Dem policy. This includes the economic liberalism that the founding members feel is currently lacking in representation in the party.
The group views any pacts or attempts to align ourselves with other parties as electoral suicide, which prevents the Liberal Democrats from pursuing a thoroughly liberal agenda, and which can only benefit other parties.
You can read more about our proposals for four cornered freedom at www.liberalreform.co.uk
Co-founder Mike Bird explained:
”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.”
Advocating personal, political, social and economic liberalism, will distinguish us from other political parties. “
Commenting further, co-founder Zadok Day said:
“Only a message of four-cornered liberalism will keep us true to our proud liberal heritage, and give the Liberal Democrats a strong, distinct, platform in upcoming elections.”
As well as our website, you can join our Facebook page (which has attracted over 100 members in less than 24 hours of being live,) and Twitter.
I’m sceptical of these groups as I have mentioned before but one thing the party does need is more ideas. We all have our buttons that we think are the most important. Some think equality for gay and lesbians is the top priority. Some think it is equality with women and race. Some think taxing the rich to give to the poor. Some think having a first-grade NHS is the most important thing. Ending of the post-code lottery for services and so on. So having groups that act as smaller think tanks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It isn’t leading to the breakup of the party. Well not as currently constituted anyway.
As for any pacts or aligning ourselves with other parties as electoral suicide. I have to say I disagree with this. The rest of the world with a multi-party system seem to cope with coalitions in a mature way. Just because we aren’t used to it doesn’t mean that we can’t. The Liberal Democrats should and are able to standalone on their own two feet but if the numbers dictate that coalition is the best way forward for the country then we should not shirk our responsibilities.
So if these groups all put together ideas that can be discussed by the members at Conference then by all means it sounds fine. I know there is a lot of discontent around that these groups might breakaway from the party at some point but that would be a moronic and short-sighted move. One that would assure that the liberal centre-ground is not represented in Parliament for generations. I just don’t see this happening.
So I’m fine with these groups as long as they work towards the same goal which is to better the party as a whole and put more ideas out there that can become Liberal Democrat policy. We can only bleat on about the Pupil Premium and rise in Income Tax for so long. With such a diverse, talented and intellectual membership the party should be able to be put together a plethora of ideas that can be used to make the party stronger and more unique to the electorate going forward.
If that is the goal then good times. If it’s not then I worry. For the record I am not a member of any of these groups. I am neither cool enough nor smart enough.