Let’s first get things straight; I identify myself as a Liberal heart/soul and subscribe to Liberal values & traditions. I also happen to believe that Liberalism is about centrist/pragmatic policies rather leaning towards the alt-left or alt-right of political ideology. I was a member of the Liberal Democrats for 10 years, then moved on to the Greens recently. But I continue to see a complete lack of vision/leadership so it no surprise to see the feeble performance/representation of Liberal parties in the British politics. Why? Well there is a few reasons;
- Party policies/positions tend to be more geared towards idealism rather than pragmatism. At least this is the dominant perception that has never been effectively refuted.
- Reactionary politics geared squarely towards popularity – lead from behind approach – rather than based on a pre-defined/well articulated vision consistent with liberal values & party views.
- Party leaders by and large have failed to inspire/revitalise the Liberal vision/values and articulate in no uncertain terms what they stand for.
- Instead of promoting a grass root approach in formulating policy, party structures suffered from 1 or more of the following deficiencies, particularly when considering national level politics;
- A “trickle down” approach in formulating policy where views of top leadership (committees) are fed down the chain of command to regional offices and control topics to be debated in policy working groups.
- No effective mechanism for representatives at the local/regional level to help incubate policy at a grass root level; party conferences on the other hand are merely used to discuss isolated proposals as side issues without proper assessment.
- Party structures that have become rigid bureaucracies driven from the top that fulfil narrow agendas focused primarily on donor contributions, upping membership numbers this compounded with plenty of obstacles to assess/utilise member talents particularly the new generation. These are also structures that discourage decent where party lines become hard lines with little opportunity to be challenged.
- Politicians more inclined to tweet than take action, where social media has become an obsession and used mainly for lecturing or self promotion than to engage/debate issues. We need to get out of that box and become more creative in using social media and online forums to have a 2 way conversation even with people we do not necessarily agree with.
Here is a link to older posts related to the Liberal Democrats which can provide some context to what I am proposing in this posts – having come a full circle in my view
OK, so where to go from here. Well let me propose a few pointers as to the kind of Liberal Party we deserve in modern day Britain, one that aspires to Liberal/Progressive values and is prepared to defend them and operate within their boundaries, so here goes;
- A Party that is powered & led more by political activists rather than mere members there to make up the numbers.
- A Party that embraces the new generation and provides real opportunity for them to train and lead.
- A Party that embraces change and is NOT afraid to challenge itself or be challenged by other member views within the party thus allowing views/ideas evolve rather than stagnate.
- A Party focused on setting/meeting a well defined set of performance targets/metrics rather than focusing on personal stature/experience and keen make relevant changes where these targets have NOT been met.
- A Party geared towards developing policies that are grass root based and where local/regional offices play a vital role in policy formulation including on national policy.
- A Party keen on continuous engagement with the public at all levels and using all possible tools/platforms not just during election time.
- A Party keen on developing a strong profile/expertise and a well articulated vision/agenda on Foreign Policy (NOT just focused on Europe), the Economy as well as Immigration/Integration and Multiculturalism as key policy areas & key challenges of the future.
- A Party with centrist views that seeks pragmatic solutions rather than ones driven by ideological/religious prejudices or pure idealism.
- A Party keen to embrace/lead the way towards new politics NOT only based on “Vision” but equally important on “Tone” away from divisive politics and personal attacks/accusations that is harmful to our Democracy and which have also filtered through into the public domain & media. Basic standards of debate must be re-assessed in parliament so that a new approach is agreed/formalised.
- A Party high on a well articulated pragmatic vision/values and low on meaningless branding, generic views or being critical without providing substantive counter arguments /vision.
- A Party keen to engage/form alliances with other parties where policies intersect and one that does NOT engage in divisive politics that is harmful to our Democracy rooted in the belief that Country (NOT Party) always comes first/last as the main thrust of our efforts/dedication.
- A Party that serves as a multicultural hub representing the true identity of 21st century Britain and ensures that solutions are reflective of this identity and are adopted based on merits.
- A Party that see’s Europe/EU as an opportunity and an extension of our own identity/strength in standing up for our shared values in the fight against all forms of extremist ideology. An EU we’d be keen to develop a strong partnership with (IN or OUT) of the organisation and engage in reforming this great institution.
(p.s. I may (will probably) add more to this list and also welcome contributions which I will also share)
We are facing very big challenges in this day and age, not least of which is the rise of alt-right extremists/xenophobic ideologies. It is therefore crucial that we develop defences that allow us to challenge these vile views based on merits of the argument and our own Liberal/Democratic values; these values that have thus far been poorly represented by the current “Liberal” parties. It is therefore high time we consider developing a new party (or at least a new vision of Liberal Politics in this country) one that is able to attract talent from across the political spectrum so that we start building a Britain of the future, one that embraces change that is inline with our long standing values. We also need to be cognisant of our history and the lessons learnt so that we do NOT repeat the mistakes of the past.
So you can view this post as a conversation starter about the future of Liberal Politics in Britain and the way forward in articulating/strengthening Liberal values in this country.
Liberal Parties Need to Finally Start Being a Viable Alternative in British Politics or We Need to Build a New Party to Help Get Us There
Hope this helps
P.S. I will be updating this post when I have further thoughts and use as a focal point to distill my thoughts on this important issue.