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A miscellany of Liberal Democrat (and liberal) ideas and history

  • Budget box
    Article: Nov 1, 2018



    Commenting on the 2018 Budget, LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Howard Sykes said:

    "We saw nothing to tackle the massive funding crisis facing local police services, or anything of substance to address the gaping holes in our social care and school budgets.

  • 2018 Conference cover
    Article: Aug 15, 2018

    Lib Dems Brighton Conference - Demand Better

    Saturday 15th to Tuesday 18th September 2018 - Brighton Centre

    The Agenda and programme for the Party's Autumn Conference has been published and over the coming days and weeks we will review some of the Agenda for our readers.

    Members can still pre-register for this Conference at

  • Nick Tyrone - 2017: A look at the year ahead of us
    Article: Dec 30, 2017

    Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats' trial book group comes to the end of its initial four-book run with a book published a year ago: Nick Tyrone's 2017: A look at the year ahead of us, of which the publisher writes:

    "2016 was a tumultuous year that changed the world. For many, it was a terrible twelve months, filled with celebrity deaths and unfortunate political results at the polls. For others, it was the year that the little guy struck back against the "establishment". 2017 reviews the year just gone and then looks at the year ahead of us, making predictions about what is to come. Along the way, Nick Tyrone will take us to Burnley and Norwich, Dublin and Venice, Brussels and Washington, talking to Leave voters on the Kentish coast and Beltway insiders about what Brexit and Trump will mean for the months directly ahead."

  • Shaun Roberts, Lib Dem Director of Campaigns, in Halesworth (December 2017)
    Article: Dec 11, 2017

    On Saturday 9th December, Shaun Roberts (the Liberal Democrats' Director of Campaigns) was the guest speaker at a joint Special General Meeting of Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats and Waveney Liberal Democrats, held in Halesworth. Shaun told us about his history in the party, about the party's campaigning in the general election, and about his plans and hopes for our future campaigning. There was a lively question-and-answer session afterwards, which carried on more informally into the excellent buffet lunch, and which touched on issues as varied as media bias and how to get the point across about Brexit without putting people's backs up. Thank you very much to Shaun for coming to talk to us, and for being so entertaining and informative.

  • Edward Luce - The Retreat of Western Liberalism
    Article: Nov 25, 2017

    It's nearly time for the third get-together of Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats' new Book Group. We'll be meeting on Saturday 2nd December to talk about Edward Luce's book, The Retreat of Western Liberalism. Luce is a UK journalist, and the chief US commentator for the Financial Times. From the publisher's blurb:

  • Liberal History Journal
    Article: Nov 15, 2017

    The Liberal Democrats have many special-interest groups, one of which is the Liberal Democrat History Group, which organises events and discussion meetings and publishes material of interest in this area. They produce a quarterly journal, the Journal of Liberal History, of which the current edition is the 96th issue. The Autumn 2017 issue contains (amongst other things) articles on:

  • Nick Clegg - How to Stop Brexit
    Article: Oct 28, 2017

    Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats Book Group will be holding their second get-together on Saturday 4th November, when we will be discussing the ambitiously titled How To Stop Brexit (And Make Britain Great Again) by Nick Clegg. From the blurb on the inside cover:

    "Keep calm - but do not carry on.

    "There is nothing remotely inevitable about Brexit - except that it will be deeply damaging if it happens. Extricating Britain from Europe will be the greatest challenge this country has faced since the Second World War. And as negotiations with the EU expose the promises of the Brexit campaign to have been hollow, even some Brexit voters now wish to exercise their democratic right to change their mind, seeing that the most pragmatic option is to ... stop. It would certainly be the best thing for Britain.

  • Vince Cable
    Article: Oct 17, 2017

    The latest updates from the Twitter feed of our party leader, Vince Cable (@vincecable), which you can also access from the link in the "National Politics" section of the menu on the left-hand side of this website display. Unless you have a web privacy blocker enabled in your browser, you should see Vince's most recent five tweets below; otherwise you will see a link to Vince's Twitter page.

  • Exit from Brexit
    Article: Oct 15, 2017

    Do you want an Exit from Brexit? Back the Liberal Democrats' campaign, and sign the petition here:

  • Conference
    Article: Oct 4, 2017

    There's still plenty of time to book for the East of England Liberal Democrats Regional Conference, which is being held near Bury St Edmunds on Saturday 14th October. You can download the preliminary agenda here.

    As well as a keynote speaker and an emergency motion yet to be announced, the packed agenda includes:

  • Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats Book Group
    Article: Sep 30, 2017

    At our first Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats Book Group meeting on Saturday 7th October, we will be discussing "On Tyranny" by American historian Timothy Snyder. From the blurb on the inside cover:

    "History does not repeat, but it does instruct.

    "In the twentieth century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were movements in which a leader or party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary people can find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

  • Conference
    Article: Sep 1, 2017

    The East of England Liberal Democrats' Regional Conference will be held in Suffolk this year, at the Red Lodge Millennium Centre near Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday 14 October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Make a date in your diary for what the organisers describe as a "one-day event [to] include "policy debates, fringe meetings, training, reports, and more". There is an early-bird booking rate available for bookings made before 18th September.

  • Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats Book Group
    Article: Aug 19, 2017

    Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats are to trial an informal monthly book group for members of the local party, to read and discuss topics that we think will be of interest to Liberal Democrats, small-'l' liberals, small-'d' democrats, Remainers and anti-Brexiters. We hope that our book choices will prompt discussion about liberalism globally, and about the specific problems that we face in the UK as a result of last year's EU Referendum result.

  • Conference
    Article: Aug 16, 2017

    Although there are other Brexit- and EU-related items on the Liberal Democrats' Autumn Conference agenda, some of our local members were disappointed to see a consultation on Europe rather than a full debate on our party's position. A conference addendum has now been published, which will allow members attending the conference to vote on whether to proceed with the planned consultative session, or whether (instead) to hold a debate on "Opposing Brexit". You can find the addendum, including the text of the potential policy motion, on the party's website in the section for conference papers.

  • Suffolk Coastal Lib Dems - Pub & Policy events
    Article: Aug 15, 2017

    Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats are more than half-way through their whistle-stop tour of the policy motions coming up for debate in September's party conference.

    So far, we have visited Saxmundham, Martlesham, Butley, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe, and further discussion events are lined up in Woodbridge, Grundisburgh and Earl Soham.

  • Vince Cable
    Article: Aug 9, 2017

    In this video from Lib Dem HQ, new party leader Vince Cable talks about the Liberal Democrats' view on Europe and Brexit. As the "Remain party", ours is the only party campaigning to offer the public the chance to choose "an Exit from Brexit".

  • Vince Cable Packed Hall
    Article: Aug 7, 2017

    Report from fellow East of England Liberal Democrats in Tring & Berkhamsted

    At a packed hall in the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, West Road, Cambridge, last week the new Liberal Democrat Leader, Vince Cable addressed party members as part of a nationwide speaking tour which has taken him from West Country to Scotland in two crowded and strenuous weeks.

    Vince Cable, remarking on the massive polarisation of British politics today, told members he was optimistic for the future of the Liberal Democratic Party, especially when looking at the extreme positions being adopted by both the Conservatives and the Labour Party. Theresa May was now in a loose coalition with the hard right DUP and the Labour Party was now in the tight grip of Momentum, with the moderate Labour MPs intimidated by bullying and scared of deselection.

  • Conference
    Article: Aug 3, 2017

    The party's Autumn Conference is taking place in Bournemouth in September. An important feature of any Liberal Democrat Conference is that members have a say in the party's policies, being given the opportunity to take part in the debate and to vote on whether or not each policy is accepted. There are also consultative sessions on topics related to the party itself.

  • Daisy Cooper, at Martlesham Heath (Suffolk) on 22nd July 2017
    Article: Jul 23, 2017

    On Saturday 22nd July, Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats hosted a very well attended "party information afternoon" at Martlesham Heath Pavilion, followed by "thank you drinks" for our parliamentary candidate, James Sandbach. Suffolk Coastal members were pleased to be joined by members from Ipswich, Mid-Suffolk, West Suffolk and Waveney -- and especially delighted to welcome members who are new to the party.

  • Vince Cable
    Article: Jul 20, 2017

    Vince Cable is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, unopposed at the close of nominations. Read his manifesto here.

  • Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, Flintshire
    Article: Jul 13, 2017

    Are you looking for a short break with a difference? For peace and quiet, and an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life? For a chance to hold and read the books that were owned and even annotated by a great Liberal leader of yesteryear?

    Look no further than Gladstone's Library, in Hawarden (Flintshire), which is described on their website as "Britain's finest residential library, and its only Prime Ministerial library. It was founded by the great Victorian statesman himself and, following his death in 1898, became the national memorial to his life and work as well as one of the few Grade I-listed buildings in North Wales".

  • Suffolk Coastal Focus May 2017, p.1
    Article: Jun 1, 2017

    Hard Brexit, with the probability of massive trade tariffs, threatens throughput at our local port of Felixstowe, jobs, living standards and the economic growth we need to support the NHS, schools, and public services. Local business leaders say that proposed restrictions on migrant workers will mean losing labour for key sectors like agriculture and hospitality.

  • EU flag & bird of liberty
    Article: May 21, 2017

    Liberal Democrats recognise the result of the 2016 referendum on the European Union, which gave the government a mandate to start negotiations to leave. But the referendum didn't ask for people's views on the shape of our future relationship with the EU on issues such as trade, travel or security.

    We believe that leaving the single market, ending freedom of movement and abandoning the customs union will make the UK poorer, and that this hard Brexit is not the outcome that many leave voters wanted. Already, the value of the pound has fallen, inflation has risen, growth in the economy has slowed, and the government has increased borrowing to fill the gap in lost tax revenue. A hard Brexit is the wrong choice for the country, and Liberal Democrats will fight to prevent it.

  • Article: May 20, 2017

    In the introduction to the Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2017, Tim Farron stresses that Theresa May's Conservative Party is likely to win the General Election on 8th June, while the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn offers only a continuation of the weak and ineffectual opposition that we have seen in the current parliament. Yet governments without strong opposition are bad governments.

  • Article 50 triggered
    Article: Mar 29, 2017

    So, Article 50 has been triggered. Mayday. But the Liberal Democrats' fight goes on. Read what the party thinks will happen next, from Nick Clegg, our European Union Spokesperson, at

  • Liberal Democrat Policy
    Article: Mar 15, 2017

    An important feature of Liberal Democrat conferences is the opportunity not just to debate and decide on party policy, but actually to shape it. Each conference schedules a number of sessions for consultation of policies that are still at an early stage of development, with the aim of stimulating discussion. One such policy area featuring at this weekend's conference in York is "Rural Communities" -- a subject that is very relevant to us here in Suffolk Coastal.

  • Parliament Logo
    Article: Feb 28, 2017

    Baffled by the procedure of the Brexit Bill through Parliament? Confused about the role of MPs in the House of Commons, and of peers in the House of Lords? Puzzled over the difference between the Government and Parliament, and what it means for Parliament to scrutinise Government?

    Sign up for Parliament's online course at FutureLearn, called "Introduction to the UK Parliament: People, Processes and Public Participation". The course started yesterday (27th February), but you can sign up at any time before it ends. It lasts for three weeks, and should take around two hours per week to complete -- and it's free of charge.

  • Article 50
    Article: Feb 6, 2017

    Tom Brake, speaking in the House of Commons on 1st February 2017, on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (video available here):

    I hope that I am wrong, but I believe that the decision that the country took on 23 June will result in the biggest self-inflicted wound since our disastrous intervention in Iraq. That wound is festering and it will leave the UK permanently economically weaker, even after it has healed. I believe that, when Members of Parliament believe that a course of action is going to be a catastrophe, they have a duty to harry, assail and oppose the Government, not to acquiesce.

  • Article 50
    Article: Feb 6, 2017

    Sarah Olney, speaking in the House of Commons on 31st January 2017, on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (video available here):

    In this country, we have settled, through a process of trial and error, on a system of parliamentary democracy as the most effective form of governance. The importance of Parliament's role was once again asserted by the Supreme Court last week. The responsibility of parliamentarians is clear: to take decisions in the best interests of the country with particular regard for the needs of their constituents. I believe that leaving the European Union will be hugely damaging for this country; the British people, through the referendum, narrowly expressed a different view. It is now up to Parliament to take account of the result of the referendum and decide what is in the best interests of the country.

  • Article 50
    Article: Feb 5, 2017

    Nick Clegg, speaking in the House of Commons on 31st January 2017, on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (video available here):

    As this is the formal beginning of a process that will most likely lead to the end of Britain's leading role in the heart of Europe and the European Union-a cause I have espoused and defended all my political life both in opposition and in government-I have to confess that of course I feel sad that we have come to this point, much as I was surprised and saddened, as many people were, by the outcome of the referendum last summer.

  • Article 50
    Article: Feb 5, 2017

    Tim Farron, speaking in the House of Commons on 1st February 2017, on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill (video available here):

    [...] Liberal Democrats have always been proud internationalists. It was the Liberals who backed Winston Churchill's European vision in the 1950s, even when his own party did not do so. Since our foundation, we have been champions of Britain's role in the European Union and fought for co-operation and openness with our neighbours and with our allies. We have always believed that the challenges that Britain faces in the 21st century-climate change, terrorism and economic instability-are best tackled working together as a member of the European Union.

  • Conference
    Article: Jan 21, 2017

    Membership of the Liberal Democrats continues to rise, as the nation learns more about Theresa May's plans (or lack thereof) for Brexit. We are not like the Conservative party, who have U-turned on their previous position and now plan to take the UK out of the single market. We are not like the Labour party, whose position on membership of the European Union remains unclear. We, the Liberal Democrats, remain consistent and united. We will fight to keep the UK in the single market, so vital for our country's future, and we want the public to have a say on the final deal.

  • Guess Who?
    Article: Jan 2, 2017

    Here are the answers to our weekend quiz on the words of Liberal Democrats, Liberals and liberal thinkers…


    New Year's Eve ~ Liberal Democrats from recent years

    1. Tim Farron (2013)

    2. Paddy Ashdown (1989)

    3. Menzies Campbell (2007)

    4. Charles Kennedy (2004)

    5. Vince Cable (2009)

    6. Nick Clegg (2012)

    Revisit the quiz here to read the quotations.

  • Guess Who?
    Article: Jan 1, 2017

    It wouldn't be the festive season without a game or a quiz, so this weekend we are offering you a short, two-part New Year's quiz about Liberals, Liberal Democrats and liberalism, in the words of the politicians and thinkers who have shaped the party and its views. Who said what?

    Today -- Liberal thinkers and politicians from times past. Yesterday -- Liberal Democrats from recent years.

  • Guess Who?
    Article: Dec 31, 2016

    It wouldn't be the festive season without a game or a quiz, so this weekend we are offering you a short, two-part New Year's quiz about Liberals, Liberal Democrats and liberalism, in the words of the politicians and thinkers who have shaped the party and its views. Who said what?

    Today -- Liberal Democrats from recent years. Tomorrow -- Liberal thinkers and politicians from times past.

  • Your Liberal Britain logo
    Article: Dec 27, 2016

    Are you bored with the television, but looking for an excuse to stay flopped on the sofa now that Boxing Day has been and gone? Why not try drafting a vision statement for the future, in the last of our short series about consultations in which you can take part? The Your Liberal Britain exercise continues its polling of members' views on the future direction of liberalism in the UK, this time by asking the question: "What would Britain look like in 2030, if we Lib Dems had our way?" The aim is to come up with something that is realistic and achievable, but recognisably liberal, reflecting the values of the Liberal Democrats.

  • Words from the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution
    Article: Dec 5, 2016

    The latest figures from our local party Membership Officer show that new members continue to join Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats, with an extra boost even in the short time since Sarah Olney's stunning success in the Richmond Park by-election. We welcome all of our new members, and hope to see you at an event soon -- please check out the home page and events calendar on this website for news, and get in touch if you have any questions.

  • Lib Dem celebration
    Article: Dec 2, 2016

    Many congratulations to Sarah Olney, who has won the Richmond Park by-election to become the ninth Liberal Democrat MP in the current parliament, overturning Zac Goldsmith's previous 23,000 majority to achieve a 1,872 majority of her own, after a campaign emphasising the Liberal Democrats' opposition to the government's approach to Brexit.

  • Brexit - what? when? how?
    Article: Nov 23, 2016

    The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement warned today of "government finances [...] £122bn worse off than previously expected by 2020".* Yet despite the UK's confirmed forecast of spiralling debt**, downgraded growth** and increased uncertainty, long predicted by Remain campaigners, the government remains implacable in its insistence on proceeding with an undefined Brexit.

  • Your Liberal Britain logo
    Article: Oct 21, 2016

    Early in August, Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats held two discussion sessions as part of the Your Liberal Britain exercise being run nationally. The findings report from stage one of that national exercise has now been published, collating responses from 6,902 individuals, and you can download it from:

  • The New European - October 2016
    Article: Oct 17, 2016

    "Pop-up newspaper" The New European appeared in the wake of the EU Referendum, initially for a run of just four weeks, to cater for the interests of the 48% of voters who had seen their hopes for a European future thwarted by the referendum's pro-Brexit outcome. That initial four weeks turned into eight, then more, as publisher Archant (based in Norwich) found that they had unearthed a public appetite for a newspaper that presented high-quality journalism with a pro-European, pro-EU perspective. The newspaper is now available in print (by post or on news-stands), in a digital edition, and via iOS and Android apps, and the subscription periods currently on offer stretch out to 26 weeks.

  • House of Commons Parliamentary Debate (Catherine Bebbington/Parliamentary Copyright
    Article: Oct 15, 2016

    On Monday, Liberal Democrat European spokesperson Nick Clegg addressed the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, on "Next Steps in Leaving the European Union":

    "Can he [the Secretary of State] tell us on the basis of what constitutional principle he believes the Prime Minister can now arrogate to herself the exclusive right to interpret what Brexit means and impose it upon the country, rather than protect the rightful role of scrutiny and approval of this House?"*

  • Conference
    Article: Oct 14, 2016

    Don't forget to book for the Suffolk Liberal Democrats' County Conference, to be held on Saturday 29 October from 10 a.m until 4 p.m at Henley Community Centre, Henley (near Ipswich).

    As well as discussion of the Liberal Democrat Draft County Manifesto, the conference will include debates, campaigning workshops, briefings for candidates, and keynote speakers. The fee is just £10 per person, to include a buffet lunch plus refreshments (Liberal Youth members £5), and you can download full details and an application form here.

  • Nick Clegg at Conference
    Article: Oct 3, 2016

    One of the striking images of the recent Liberal Democrat conference in Brighton was the long queue of people clutching stark white-and-grey hardbacks, waiting for a scheduled book-signing session by Nick Clegg. Publication of his book, Politics Between the Extremes, was originally delayed so that an analysis of Brexit could be included, but it was eventually published just before the conference started, and it flew off the shelves at the Waterstones bookshop in the exhibition area.

  • 20,000 new members: Join the real voice of opposition today
    Article: Sep 30, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats are the only party fighting to keep Britain in Europe, and the only party who are truly open, tolerant and united.

    Our membership is now at its highest level in over a decade. Not only did we have a surge in membership following the general election last year, but we have had 20,000 new members join us since the EU Referendum in June. 20,000 people who share our belief that we, as a country, belong in the European Union. 20,000 people who, like us, are open, tolerant and united and who, like us, want to build a United Kingdom that is open, tolerant and united.

  • ALDE Logo
    Article: Sep 25, 2016

    One of the highlights of a Liberal Democrat national conference is the opportunity to attend fringe events featuring representatives from other liberal parties across the EU. The resultant panel discussions and presentations are always engaging, and offer a fascinating window on the wider world.

    At the 2015 Autumn Conference in Bournemouth, the focus of these fringe events was on rebuilding small liberal and democrat parties whose political presence has been demolished after leaving coalition, based on the experiences of European parties such as D66 (Netherlands) and the FDP (Germany). At last week's 2016 Brighton conference, with the Liberal Democrats already solidly increasing membership and gaining in local elections, the focus had naturally shifted to the UK's role in Europe, and to the Brexit negotiations.

    The Liberal Democrats party is a member of ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, who actually attended our Brighton conference last week and convened their ALDE Party Bureau there, issuing the following statement on Brexit:

    "The ALDE Party Bureau, convening in Brighton, UK on 17 September:

    • taking notice of the outcome of the referendum, full-heartedly supports the efforts of the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Tim Farron to keep the United Kingdom in the EU, and ultimately giving the British people the chance to decide on the deal;
    • underlines that the aim of any negotiation must be to keep the relations between the United Kingdom and the other members of the European Union as close as possible, to the mutual benefit of both;
    • reasserts its commitment to the four freedoms of the EU and undertakes to preserve these as much as feasibly possible to the mutual benefit of both the European Union and the United Kingdom."

    The full statement calls for specific areas to be considered during Brexit negotiations, and you can read it here. But it is good to have external reassurance that the Liberal Democrat party's position is endorsed by our friends and sister parties in Europe.


    Source: [accessed 25 Sep 2016] [accessed 25 Sep 2016]

  • Baroness Sally Hamwee (
    Article: Sep 13, 2016

    Our guest speaker at the last AGM of Suffolk Coastal Liberal Democrats, back in November, was Baroness Sally Hamwee. In the House of Lords recently, Sally and her fellow Liberal Democrat peers Brian Paddick and Paul Strasburger have been scrutinising the Investigatory Powers Bill. The scrutiny is ongoing but, so far, particular elements of concern include the Bill's authorisation of bulk interception, bulk equipment interference, bulk acquisition of communications data and bulk personal datasets, constituting an intrusive and inefficient collection of data about individuals. In the course of her argument, Sally quoted a recent Edinburgh Fringe work by playwright Tim Price, which offers food for thought:

  • Autumn Conference 2016 - Nuclear Weapons policy consultation paper
    Article: Sep 9, 2016

    One of the main features of Liberal Democrat conferences is the debate and discussion of party policy. Before a policy paper is presented for debate to be voted on by members, there is a long consultative process. And one of the topics to be discussed in this process at next week's Autumn Conference is nuclear weapons.

  • EU Lib Dem signpost to future
    Article: Sep 7, 2016

    It's all very well to criticise when government ministers parrot the empty chant of "Brexit means Brexit" but, on the opposite side of the fence, what exactly do Liberal Democrats mean when we say that we want to stay in Europe? This isn't just an academic question posed by journalists and politicos - it has cropped up in conversation at recent Lib Dem meetings and social events in Suffolk Coastal.

  • Your Liberal Britain logo
    Article: Sep 4, 2016

    The Your Liberal Britain team reports that more than 6000 people have completed their questionnaire so far. But how do you rank so many replies, to ensure that the recommendations accurately reflect the views of the participants? The team have come up with a solution -- the "Great British Face Off".