Thursday, 8 November 2007

Personal view of Leadership

Dear Colleague

Now that the leadership contest is underway with two excellent candidates I thought I would write to share my view on the issues.

It is no secret that in the last contest I support Chris Huhne. I felt then that he set a fresh and challenging agenda which would have taken our party forward. I was impressed by his intellectual rigour, his expertise in economics and his promotion of the green agenda. I have always believed that our party must be a party of ideas that can lead rather than follow the policy debate. In the last contest I felt Chris best fulfilled those goals.

Today the choice is different. The media have chosen their favourite and the parliamentarians have made their nominations. These things are of interest but should not be decisive. Liberal democrats should make up their own minds.

Once again I am less concerned with how telegenic the candidates are and more interested in the substances of their policies. As in all election economics will be at the heart of the debate and for us the challenge of global warming and the environment concerns are inevitably wrapped up in that. We must be effective champions of social justice and have clear and costed policies to make Britain a fairer society.

Over the last generation the state has become increasing authoritarian sticking its nose into areas of life that should properly be the domain of the individual and as heirs of the Liberal tradition we must challenge that trend. The same interference has been visited upon local government with an increasingly bossy and centralising state trying to control almost every aspect of our activities from London.

On the world stage Britain must develop an independent foreign policy which upholds our values and promotes our national interests. For me that means we must detach ourselves from the USA’s coat tails. I believe that our national interest would be better served by working together with our neighbours in Europe.

There is one final issue which deeply concerns me and impacts significantly on our relationship with the USA and our role in the world. That matter is the renewal of Trident.

David Steel led our party when I was the parliamentary candidate in Southport in 1983. He too has identified the significance of this issue. He has recently written:

"With the end of the cold war, with our armed forces requiring better equipment in the fight against terrorism, and with service families seeking improved housing, it is (as former defence chief Lord Brammall argued in a House of Lords debate) unsustainable to commit billions of pounds on a new generation of so called independent nuclear deterrent. Chris Huhne will be bolder on that issue."

I share his view. As Chris has written:

The old Cold War presumption of a threatened Soviet first strike no longer makes any sense. The current threats come from 'rogue states' or 'terrorists' and do not require a system like Trident to provide a deterrent."

"It would be ridiculous to replace the system with something of equivalent power, strength and lack of vulnerability. It will also make us dependent for decades to come on the US for maintenance".

By now you will have realised that I intend to support Chris Huhne again as I believe he best addresses the key issues I have outlined above. I hope you will read his manifesto which can be found at: And judge for yourselves

Iain BB

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