Friday, 28 April 2017
Liberal (Democrat) consistency.
For the start of my recent holiday (see previous post) I dug out my copy of the London A-Z to find out how to get from the hotel* I had booked to the theatre** I wanted to attend. The cover price of the guide was 3/6d, so I've clearly had it a while, and probably not used it much, because out of it dropped the agenda for them meeting of the Liberal Party Council on 21st February, 1970. Oh happy days.
On the back of the agenda I'd written the notes I'd made on the themes for our campaign in the General Election expected within the next twelve months. (It actually took place on the 18th June that year) Here, without embellishments (other than in brackets) is what I had written:_
The Liberal party cares
Show then you care; Vote Liberal (was to be our slogan for the election)
The real danger to democracy is the threat to Liberal Values.(plus ça change)
1. Care for the future for you and your family
a) environment (there well before the Greens, or even the Ecology Party, were founded)
c) law and order
d) social services.
2. Care for our industrial society
b) prices and incomes tariff restrictions
national wage agreements
national deferred profit sharing
incentive schemes for the civil service
c) Trade Unions.
3. Britain's World Role
b) U Europe - democratic
4. Politics, people and power
Admittedly it is not all that clear from the notes what we proposed to do about all these things. (eg the Trade Unions, but I did not then and do not now believe in union bashing. I believe unions can and should, as in France and Germany, be given a positive role in industrial and commercial organisations, including participation in management and employees having a share in the profits).
One thing I would no longer go along with is "incentive schemes" for civil servants, (or anybody else for that matter.) I suppose this was meant to be compensation for the lack of profits to share, but, as we now know to our cost, such schemes lead to misleading targets and distortions. In all spheres employees should be paid a fair rate for the job and then expected to give of their best, the overwhelming majority of whom will.
But on the whole I think that agenda gives a fair indication of Liberal policies to which we and the Liberal Democrats we became have stuck to consistently for the past 47 years. We were and are well ahead of our time.
PS It's interesting that other items on the agenda included the Cabora (sic) Bassa Dam Project, two resolutions on cannabis, and the 1970s Cricket Tour (In those days Peter Hain was an enthusiastic Young Liberal, but, alas, did not follow up on this early promise.)
*Avonmore Hotel, Cartwright Gardens, WC1H 9EL Within walking distance of King's Cross and St Pancras, relatively inexpensive (for London), clean and incudes a cooked breakfast.
** Arts Theatre "The Wipers Times". Poignant but funny account of a troops' newspaper in the First World War. Co-written by Ian Hislop.