by Michael Meadowcroft
Alan Beith, in his comments on Freedom, Liberty and Fairness: Liberal Democrat Values for the 21st century (Liberal Democrat News, 5 August 2011) made the powerful intellectual case for Liberal Democrats to use this booklet and other literature as briefing for attracting recruits; I want here to go practical, with the tale of one Leeds contact, Vitus Asaga.
My doorbell rang at 6pm one evening. On the doorstep was one articulate young man who had come to sell me a martial arts course! Any who knows me would agree that this would be a considerable literary challenge. I duly laughed but the conversation continued.
The man eventually asked what I did and I told him I was a politician. This produced the oft-repeated arguments about the uselessness of politics and politicians. We carried on the discussion, dealing with the points one by one until his martial arts colleagues began to gather at the end of the drive. I told Vitus that, obviously, he would have to go with them but, if he wanted to carry on the discussion he should come back later.
To my surprise, the doorbell went again at 9pm and there was Vitus! The political debate continued until he left with the values booklet, having given me his e-mail address. We exchanged e-mails, following which Vitus helped his local Liberal Democrat candidate in his Leeds ward.
We also met up and discussed many current issues and Vitus wanted to write a review of the booklet, which he duly did:
I'd like to start off by asking if you remember this which explains a certain system needed to secure true freedom: "freedom from want and fear of want" and "freedom from idleness and fear of idleness" If you do not recognise this as William Beveridge's definition of the scope of liberalism then I suggest you read the book about which i am writing this letter; if you do recognize this, you know the history of your party and also recognize your values and what you stand for, then I suggest you help to get the message to as many people as possible.
As i write this letter to you I cannot say that I have extremely good standing in either bloodline, academic or finance, just your regular young man who once avoided the subject of politics like the plague.
This though changed when by chance I just happened to meet Michael Meadowcroft and we got to start talking, about politics and one thing lead to another.
I ended up with a copy of his new book FREEDOM LIBERTY AND FAIRNESS.
I will not say ever since I met him I became a model citizen and started voting and taking a keen interest in politics since to me this is no democracy - I believe in a system of governance in which you have a voice, while at the moment all we have is a system of governance that allows us to choose who speaks on our behalf. That being said after reading the book I realized page after page that this made sense, not only that but to my recollection i could not argue with any of it, not only that, I was able to demonstrate for my self that some of what he was saying was absolutely true... in accordance with one of the earlier pages.
During a debate with a colleague who was rooting for Labour because of what they were promising, I asked him what their ideals where he replied "what ?" I asked again "what do they stand for?" He just blinked and stuttered and was subsequently kept on the back foot for the rest of the debate.
My point is that what the Lib-Dem's stand for is what I'd say the majority of people would want, so till this day I am dismayed that I hadn't really heard any of it, it has not been made known to anyone. So as far as I'm concerned there's two things you could do, circulate this book as much as possible and circulate key quotes from this book as much as possible.
As i said I'm still not much into politics but thanks to this one book I am a lot closer than I've ever been and what's more, even more importantly, if I was ever to get involved I would be carrying the Libdem tourch to my grave because even if another party manages to deliver on a promise without a solid foundation of principles and moral beliefs I wouldn't trust them to keep it up.
Vitus is exactly the kind of person we need to attract and which politics needs. We need to have more confidence in our values. I would say the same about Liberalism as the great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said when asked to defend the bible: "Defend the bible? Just let it out!" Our discussions continue!
"Freedom, Liberty and Fairness - Liberal Democrat Values for the 21st Century," Beecroft Publications, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9527025-7-3, £5. Available by post at £6 - cheques made out to Michael Meadowcroft, Waterloo Lodge, 72 Waterloo Lane, Leeds LS13 2JF.