Opinion - Review of Mid-Derbyshire's Pie and Passion Social Event with Michael Meadowcroft

October 11, 2017 1:53 PM
By Adam Wain

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Last Thursday I attended Mid-Derbyshire's Pie and Passion social event. The guest speaker was long time Liberal and former Leeds City Councillor and MP Michael Meadowcroft and around thirty Liberal Democrats from across Derbyshire had crowded into the back room of The Grapes Inn in Belper to hear him speak… but first there was pie, and very tasty it was too, with plenty to go round.

Once everyone had had a chance to eat, Roger Shelley introduced Michael to the audience. Michael spoke very engagingly for about half an hour.

Following an initial observation that as Liberal Democrats we seem to work hard promoting policies that are unpopular and even harder promoting policies that are very unpopular, Michael went on to outline what to him are the basic tenets of the liberal philosophy, many of which should resonate well with voters and suggested we should be pushing these to the forefront of our campaigning.

The main areas he covered were:

  • A focus on human values rather than economic values.
  • Support for workers co-operatives and other mutual based organisations, as distinct from Labour's support for state ownership and the Tories support for the shareholders.
  • Land tax and the redistributive potential of taxing land ownership rather than property.
  • Localism and support for strong, empowered local government, during which Michael outlined the surprisingly (to me anyway) massive reduction of local authority responsibility since the late 1940s and the fact that Labour and Tory governments have both consistently centralised power in Westminster.
  • Internationalism. Michael explained his take on the apparent conflict between believing in both localism and internationalism.

Following his talk there was some time for questions from the audience. These covered a wide range of topics including how we make ourselves visible nationally and his views on the General Election targeting strategy.

One interesting suggestion that came out of the Q and A session was that our focus leaflets should include information on the liberal beliefs that underpin the policies covered. The intention being to help people understand that we have a unique philosophy of our own, and that we don't just sit somewhere in the middle between the two main parties.

All in all, a very enjoyable and thought provoking night and I look forward to the next similar event.