Monday, 16 July 2012

Social Liberal Conference 2012

I took a day trip to London this weekend. An insanely early train from Stockport got me to London about 8am - rather early, so I wandered round talking pictures of fire station pubs and The Old Vic, amongst other things.

When eventually everyone else arrived, including two of my favourite Lib Dems, Kat Dadswell and Daisy Benson, the first event was the inaugural Beveridge lecture from Nick Clegg. He went through the five giant evils that Beveridge wanted to slay :

  1. Squalor
  2. Ignorance
  3. Want
  4. Idleness
  5. Disease

and added another - Environmental / Ecological impact as, his reasoning was, the impact from environmental effects falls dis-proportionally on the poor when compared to who's generating the pollution or C02. This was an important point and worth considering. 

On a personal level I was stunned to see people who tweet more than me - realising that perhaps I'm on the right (i.e. left) side of the bell curve of twitter addicts :)

We then moved on to a quite bizarre session, for me, with Ed Davey and a lady who mostly seemed concerned about the money supply and who was lending to whom - I think her upshot was we should go back to wooden sticks with notches on them because we couldn't trust banks. I think - it was a bit confused. And very distracted by a tweet from Kavya Kaushik who said Ed Davey reminded her of Wayne Rooney, thereby meaning me and Kat couldn't see anything else for the rest of his talk - unfortunate.... We're very serious people really! 

After all this silliness I made my way to a breakout room where I was really happy to have Daisy Benson in my session and also meet Duncan Stott who I've spent a while admiring his tweets and posts on Lib Dem Voice. It was great to actually meet in real life, and also Kel Blundell who was chairing the session. It was on Well Being through the generations. Lee Chalmers was on the panel, and kicked off with talking about Maslow's Theory of Needs and how to try and meet them all for everyone. Duncan had key questions on this with regard to community, as in how can you foster a sense of community to help wellbeing?  I believe it was Prateek Buch who came back on this to advise politics can help with this - and I totally concur with that - campaigning and talking to people is one of the best ways to get to know your community -  others around me agreed.

The next session was on housing - and Alex Marsh has posted his excellent speech on his blog here , and I was chosen for a question so asked how we as Lib Dems can combat NIMBYism when campaigning locally, so as to meet the policy objective of more housebuilding.

Martin Tod was brave enough to respond to this question and advised that in Winchester, they had used a consultation to ask about longer term plans for the area, lead people to think about their future, their kids future etc. Several people advised me afterwards that it was a good question and I think this could be key for Lib Dems, matching our often well-intentional policy ideals (such as more housing) with our local campaigning / community politics mindset.

If we can crack it, then we may have both vote winners and a better society. Isn't it worth doing some of the intellectual heavy lifting and trying different approaches to figure out how?

After this session, we had a final session in the auditorium. One of the moments from this was Evan Harris making a point about people being proud to be Liberals and or proud to be the Social Democrats and then Amy Darymple breaking in to say "Some of us are too young to be either". 

I and several others tagged in this post clapped and agreed with her. She's right. We are Liberal Democrats. And Proud.

Clearly after that drinking ensued and the rest shall remain private, but a great day and good to spend some time getting to know people better, and meeting people I've known online for a while. Great day - I will be back!

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