Saturday, 10 July 2010

Historical origins of the coalition

I see Richard Grayson-the man soon to be the Professor of of 20th Century History at Goldsmiths-a former Director of Policy for the Lib Dems, has written a pamphlet for COMPASS about the political origins of the coalition. I confess I do not fully sign up to his analysis and rather take the line that Iain Sharpe took after a previous intervention form the Professor:

'I wince a little when I read Richard Grayson’s
reference to “two approaches” to Lib Dem policy,
“Orange Book” and “social liberal”.’ Iain went on
to say, ‘This makes me feel more uncomfortable
as I, and no doubt many other Lib Dems, don’t fall
neatly into either camp, and don’t find them
mutually exclusive.

But I do take his point about the areas in which the Party has to develop new policies:

In developing new ideas which go beyond the
latest manifesto, social liberals could be arguing for
a new political economy, which puts issues of power
in the workplace and the ownership of assets back
on to the political agenda in the way that the Liberal
Party once did. There is also the matter of sustainability
on which the coalition deal probably gave the
Liberal Democrats the most and where the party
has an undoubtedly strong team in government.
But far more ambitious plans than those in the
coalition agreement are needed to tackle runaway
climate change.
Meanwhile, social liberals have an opportunity
to lead debates on areas where the left has been
too timid. Social liberals should look to challenge
the free market orthodoxies which led to the
current crisis, and which leave people enslaved in
an economy where materialism dictates ever
longer hours worked so that people can acquire
more ‘stuff ’ that does not really make them

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