Liberal Democrats meet this weekend at Glasgow for the Autumn Conference. It is only a few days since the eyes of the world were looking to Scotland with one big question in their minds. Anyone who cares about politics will now look at the Liberal Democrats with another question in mind.
Has the Liberal Democrat Party disappeared? The Liberal Democrats were known as a radical campaigning party, a party of its grass roots, a liberal party, a democratic party. Has it become another version of New Labour: another unnecessary and unwanted pale imitation of the Tories? Or will the radical thinking re-emerge. Will Liberal Democrats once again show themselves to be a party that listens, a party that thinks and a party that campaigns for what is right?
Members attending the Lib Dem conference at Glasgow this week will be offered two views on Public Services: the liberal one, and the neo-liberal one.
Some of us have spent much of the last year going to weekly meetings of a working group developing Party policy on Public Services.
Unfortunately both the process and the outcome were very frustrating to me and several other members of the working group.
The resulting policy document is pretty lack-lustre and seems to accept as party policy the Tory agenda on the marketisation of public services. This has never been Lib Dem policy in the past, and in our view what is needed now is a more radical Liberal Democrat Party, not an anodyne ‘don’t lets rock the boat’ party
Seven members of the working group have produced an alternative report which we believe contains some exciting policies. We submitted it to the Federal Policy Committee who have attempted to suppress it. We shall therefore be promoting it at a fringe meeting at Glasgow on Saturday.
“Serving the Public: an alternative report on Public Services” is available to download.
Our Fringe meeting:
“Is there an alternative to the market in delivering excellent public services?”
is 12.00 – 13.00 on Saturday 4 October
and takes place in,
Crowne Plaza, Congress Road,
Glasgow G3 8QT