Saturday, September 14, 2013

The battle for the footloose idealists

While I have Liberator 135, the issue that was sold at the Liberal Party's 1983 Assembly in Harrogate, on my desk, let me quote from an article that has surprising contemporary resonance.

This comes from an article by Michael Meadowcroft, the newly elected Liberal MP for Leeds West:
The task for Liberals is as it was in 1974 and in 1979 and was barely tackled. It is to win the battle for the hearts and minds of those thousands of concerned, worried, caring and potentially political individuals who exist up and down the land. 
These are the footloose idealists who reject the pessimism and the ruthlessness of the new Conservatism and who find it hard to stomach the authoritarian left and the impotent right of the Labour Party. 
They are the people who will commit themselves to some worthwhile cause and if we don't reach them they will just as easily end up in Friends of the Earth, the peace movement or the local community centre -worthy causes to be sure, but not with the potential of being able to confront Thatcherism and within a few years to have the cane to remove it from office. 
Win people with conviction and they will win others. Try to appeal directly to the crowd and the message is thereby diluted.
This still seems spot on to me, which is why the politics of the Transparency and Lobbying Bill have been so odd.

Take Tom Brake's first article on the subject for Liberal Democrat Voice. At its centre was an attack on 38 Degrees and told us to read an article by Chloe Smith if we wanted to know more.

38 Degrees can be irritating, but its supporters are just the sort of people that Michael Meadowcroft was talking about. For all their faults, they represent a more likely source of new Lib Dem activists than do people who take the word of Conservative ministers as gospel.

But 30 years ago we also had a telegenic leader who dreamt of appealing to over the heads of his activists to the voters.

I suppose the moral is still that you should subscribe to Liberator.

No comments: