Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Liberator Review : Unlocking Liberalism: Life after the Coalition, published by Liberal Futures

I am ashamed to admit I had not heard of the Scots Liberals who have come together under the banner of Liberal Futures until the Glasgow Conference when they were selling their most recent publication.
 
Unlocking Liberalism: Life after the Coalition, published by Liberal Futures. 
Taking a leaf of out Lord Bonker's diary, and there is no shame in copying the Liberal blogfather, I will post my review of the book which has appeared in the most recent edition of Liberator in instalments. I should reassure my colleagues in Birkdale that no Focuses or Christmas Cards were left undelivered because of the writing of this review -as they will discover if they read to the end. 
Introduction

Leave that bundle of Focus undelivered by the door, switch off the phone and send your apologies to all the time consuming meetings that have no outcomes; there are more important things to do. A new book of essays has been published by a group of Liberal Scots. Its self-proclaimed objective is ‘….to re-establish the anti-establishment, challenging, coruscating radicalism which is our party at its best…’ The editors Robert Brown, Gillian Gloyer and Nigel Lindsay have brought together an inspired group of thinkers who bring us the hope that there is life for radical Liberalism after the travails of the past five year.
The standout essay of the collection is Nigel Dower's on Liberalism
The standout essay of the collection is Nigel Dower’s on Liberalism. He takes the ideas associated with New Liberalism and the writings of Hobhouse and Green and makes them fresh and relevant for this generation; greened, decentralised and internationalist. He contrasts these radical liberal ideas, which are predicated on social justice, with the fashionable libertarian ideas which underpin the small state and ultra free marketeers and their allies in the Chicago School of Economics. It is an impressive contribution and lays a solid foundation for the ideas that follows. The essay stands comparison with David Howarth’s writing in ‘Re-Inventing the State’[i] which the Social Liberal Forum (SLF) has on its website to define their philosophy.

 

The dozen or more essays that follow examine five areas: The Financial Crash and its Aftermath, the UK, Europe and the World, Strategy, Power and Values and Geographical Justice in a Global Age. The Editors make clear the challenge we face, it is, as Lindsay says quoting Jo Grimond -to be on the side of the governed not the government. It requires a programme the offers ‘hope and opportunity, enhances freedom and life chances.[ii]

Tomorrow I will cover the sections which cover the grotesque disparity of  wealth and income and the negative impact that has on liberty. I think it will then become clear why David Steel, who contributed on essay to this collection, has asserted that the book ' provides much needed heart and encouragement'.

Order Unlocking Liberalism, cheques for £11 (incl p&p) made payable to Liberal Futures 4 Church Road, Bo'ness, EH51 0EL
 



[i] Reinventing the State
[ii] Has Democracy a Future NLYL 1975
[iii] Plan C available via SLF website

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