Everyone agrees the Liberal Democrats need rebuilding, but how should we go about it?
We can’t assume we have any automatic right to recover. There are plenty of examples of parties around the world, in Northern Ireland, and indeed in our in past, who fell and didn’t come back for decades, if at all. We can’t rebuild on the basis that it’s inevitable and we just need to be nice and get on with things. Rebuilding will be hard – and needs a clear strategy.
Nor should we simply aim to rebuild the party in its previous image. Our local government base (as a percentage of all councillors) peaked in the mid-1990s. Our membership had been dropping for years long before coalition or even Nick Clegg. Our gender diversity was never great in Parliament and had stalled at a better but still poor level in local government for over 25 years. And we’ve never elected a BAME MP in a general election.
But there is a clear strategy available to us, and evidence to support it. Former Cambridge MP David Howarth and I have penned a new pamphlet, The 20% Strategy: Building a core vote for the Liberal Democrats.
It sets out why we need to build a bigger core vote, who we should target for the core vote – and how to get there.
The pamphlet will, I hope, trigger wider debate in the party – to improve its analysis, extend its ideas on action and increase the take-up through the party of a core votes strategy. So I do hope you read, critique and comment on it.
Commenting without reading the pamphlet first however.. we need to become a party which is not right, not left , not centre but liberal.
No one offers anything to young people, the under 25s, this is ground we must grab and grab quickly.
People not relying on state benefits is a good policy, and earning enough to live on is a good policy however only the Liberal Democrats can make a case for doing it fairly, and in a timely fashion which is generational by the way as the conservatives are not interested in helping people on low incomes and Labour will just agree with anything which they believe will paint them as a party who cannot manage the economy.
We have proven we can manage the economy, we have proven we are the party to promote new technologies in climate change and renewable s, and we now must become the party that supports young people to get on in life, earn income to live on and have to rely on the state for benefits.