Compass is co-sponsoring a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats’ spring conference in March aimed at establishing a radical platform within the party, and doing so in a way that will allow or progressive cross-party co-operation.
The meeting is being hosted by two Lib Dems who have worked closely with Compass, Paul Pettinger and Chris Bowers; Chris was a co-editor of “The Alternative”, alongside Caroline Lucas and Lisa Nandy, which explored ways of creating a progressive alliance and Paul is a member of the Compass Management Committee and wrote a recent paper on why a progressive alliance is essential for the Lib Dems.
The meeting follows on from a paper Paul and Chris wrote in October entitled “The Place for Radical Liberalism in the 21st Century”, which set out to establish an identity for the Lib Dems with policies that could be framed to appeal to all progressives and thereby help facilitate anything from tactical voting to possible post-election co-operation.
Chris says, ‘Following our drubbing at the 2015 election and only modest recovery in 2017, we Lib Dems are still on a long road back, and have to convince many people that we are a progressive party after our five years in coalition with the Tories. That’s why we must define what we stand for in a way that establishes us as a radical party, true to liberal roots and with a platform that Labour- and Green-leaning voters can comfortably support if their only realistic option is a Conservative or Lib Dem MP.’
Paul adds, ‘We have a great tradition of radicalism in the party, so we’re not trying to move away from what UK liberals have long stood for. We also support a proportional voting system, so we have to be willing to work with others, and that means framing what we stand for in a way that maintains our identity but at the same time allowing for other progressives to share much of our agenda.’
The meeting ‘Radical Liberalism – defining what we stand for!’ is promoted by the Social Liberal Forum and Compass, and takes place in the Executive Board Room at Ramada hotel in Southport on Saturday 10 March at 18.15. It will take the form of a three-person panel with short speeches and Q&A. The hotel is not in the accreditation-only conference zone. This means the meeting is open to Compass members who are not Lib Dems. Please arrive promptly to avoid disappointment.