“I wonder what he meant by that?” asked Metternich on hearing the news that Talleyrand had died. When a new political pamphlet is published, with the parties limbering up for the 2015 general election, there will inevitably be those who question its intentions. Especially because Liberal Reform openly presents itself as committed to the ‘four-cornered freedom’ – personal, political, social and economic – identified in David Laws’ introduction to The Orange Book, a volume published in 2004 yet which still divides opinion within the Lib Dems.
So, unusually, I’m going to begin by saying what this pamphlet is not. It is not a rightwing / neoliberal / Tory / free market / Thatcherite* manifesto (*delete according to taste). Nor, for those who study Lib Dem ‘Kremlinology’, is it a power-grab by an internal faction designed to subvert the party’s democratic policy-making. Sorry to disappoint those who are looking either to praise or to bury it on those grounds (though I’m glad if such false premises enticed you to start reading).
That’s what it’s not – so here’s what it is. This pamphlet is, quite simply, a collection of essays bringing together a diverse group of individuals – all of whom are, with one exception, Lib Dem members – with fresh ideas about how to create a more liberal society.
Six are parliamentarians of whom one is a government minister (Norman Lamb); two are backbench MPs (Stephens Lloyd and Williams); one leads the party in the Welsh Assembly (Kirsty Williams); and two represent us in the Lords (Baronesses Kramer and Tyler). Fourteen are active Lib Dem members, including two parliamentary candidates: Layla Moran, aiming to win back Oxford West and Abingdon from the Conservatives, and Antony Hook, looking to represent the South East of England in the European Parliament.
Read the publication in full below.The-Coalition-And-Beyond-Liberal-Reforms-for-the-Decade-Ahead