Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Putting #WhyIAmIN Into What the Lib Dems Stand For 2014.07 #LibDemValues

Tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg puts the positive case for being in the European Union, in the first of two debates with UKIP Leader Nigel Farage putting the negative case for Little-Englanderism (the other two ‘Leaders’ can’t decide, so they’ve bottled it). That makes two headlines for What the Lib Dems Stand For: “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society” and “IN Europe, IN Work”. So how do those two fit together? Here’s my go at something slightly more than a slogan, but still punchy. If you like it, please borrow it to stick on a leaflet or add to a speech. If you don’t, please send me something better!

Last year I wrote a series of articles on What the Lib Dems Stand For, looking for something to fit in a box on a leaflet or in a minute’s speech – something to enthuse and inspire Lib Dem believers, something to attract and persuade potential supporters, something that’s more than a slogan or a soundbite but short enough to get in one go.

I opened it up into a meme, and many other Lib Dems took part as well – you can find the links to where I’ve published theirs, too, below. That’s still open: if you can do better, whether saying ‘Change this little bit because…’ or suggesting your own from scratch, I want to hear from you, too (my email link’s on the sidebar. I’d like to hear if you make use of mine, too).

Especially now we’re sharing power, it’s important to assert our values. I wanted to answer: What makes us different, and makes us stay? How is that reflected in our priorities in Coalition Government? How does that pick out the central message of the Preamble to our Constitution? How does that expand on the party’s ‘core message’ slogan of “Stronger Economy, Fairer Society”? And how can we best express it in language that feels natural to us and anyone listening to us? All the while making a positive case for us, not just ‘…But the others are worse’? I’ve tried to do all that together. Does it work for you?

Adding ‘IN’

Last year I tried to combine everything at once, with the added challenge to make it short and to make it make sense, rather than just being a storm of buzzword-salad. It works pretty well for me telling the story of how the three big freedoms of our Preamble fit together with fairness, but even then I knew it had to leave some things out, and the biggest one I couldn’t seem to fit in was internationalism. And what’s our big theme for this year’s European Elections? Who could have guessed?

My main change today is… Adding more words. Compared to last year’s, below, it’s up 16, taking it further from my target of 150 to fit in a medium-sized box on a leaflet or just one minute in a speech. What do you think of “being in Europe to be in work, to fight crime and tackle climate change”? Does it work? Does it fit? Is it too specific compared to the more values-based rest of the text? I based it on our three main campaigning messages about Europe, because I couldn’t find a way of getting the ‘drawbridge down’ sort of values behind them to work in just a few words. Can you?

And yes, now it makes the “Freedom from ignorance” bit look a bit short, but I’m not adding even more. Though if you don’t like semi-colons and want to break it up a bit more to make it easier to read, the pedant in me doesn’t like it, but you can use full stops instead to make the “Freedom from poverty” and “Freedom from conformity” bullets punchier.

The ‘What the Liberal Democrats Stand For Challenge’ So Far

This aims to be something short and simple that Lib Dems members can look at and think, ‘Yes, that’s some of why we bother’, and that other people can look at and think, ‘Oh, that’s what the Lib Dems are for, and I like it’. Feel free to borrow it for a box on your Focus leaflets, to be part of your speeches, for your members’ newsletters, your Pizza’N’Politics evenings – wherever it’ll do some good. And here’s what I’ve done with it so far, including many other Lib Dems’ own versions…

Happy 25th Birthday, Liberal Democrats – and What the Lib Dems Stand For 2013.1

Why we should sum up What the Lib Dems Stand For, and how it’s developed over the years.

What the Lib Dems Stand For 2013.2 – a Challenge and a Meme #LibDemValues

Setting out my ‘What the Lib Dems Stand For’ based on the Preamble, practice and core messaging, and challenging other Lib Dems to come up with their own.

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge 2013.3 – Eight Answers (so far) #LibDemValues

After receiving the first set of responses, rounding up eight different Liberal Democrats’ versions of what we stand for – so far…

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge 2013.4 – What It’s All About #LibDemValues

Inviting people to use my short declaration of ‘What the Lib Dems Stand For’ and explaining what each bit of it means.

What the Lib Dems Stand For 2013.5 – Why I Am A Liberal Democrat #LibDemValues

This one’s very different – longer and more personal: how did I get here? Why did I become a Lib Dem in the first place? And why do I stay?

The Liberal Democrat What Do We Stand For Challenge 2013.6 – Another Eight Answers #LibDemValues

Another eight different Liberal Democrats’ versions of what we stand for in the second set of responses people sent in.

Last year’s slightly shorter version:
The Liberal Democrats stand for freedom for every individual – freedom from poverty, ignorance and conformity.

To make that freedom real needs both fairness and economic responsibility: an economy that works, that encourages enterprise, and where everyone pays their fair share.

So freedom from poverty requires responsible spending, not debt, built on fairer taxes where lower earners pay less tax and the wealthiest pay more, and building green jobs for the future.

Freedom from ignorance needs better education and training, so people have the opportunity to realise their potential.

And freedom from conformity, supported by freedom from poverty and ignorance, means everyone should have the liberty to live their lives as they choose – without harming others; with equality before the law; with a better say, because no government always knows best.

That’s why Liberal Democrats are working for a stronger, greener economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Once again, there will be more.

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

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