Ever since 1970 when the Liberal Party adopted a resolution calling for a dual approach to politics we have fought to introduce community politics. Some things we did well - our Focuses, our Good Mornings and our attention to detail brought electoral success. However much could not be done. The history of the last 40 years has been one of centralisation with both Tory and Labour Westminster governments taking power away from councils and communities.
This Government is changing this. We have already freed councils to spend the money they get from central government on local priorities and are consulting on the return of the business rate to councils. Now a number of bills, are returning power to councils, Councilllors and their communities. Only the Liberal Democrats have a true commitment to localism.
Winning with Localism is a campaign that will help all Lib Dems understand the oppportunities that are available to them. We hope that you will take advantage of all that it offers.
The "Winning with Localism" Team
The team that has been brought together for this intensive Lib Dem support programme is one of the most experienced group of council campaigners in the Party.
Contact your regional coordinator or Richard Kemp to discuss how the the team can help your council group or your constituency take advantage of the opportunities that our shared government has created.
Richard Kemp National Coordinator 07885 626913
Erica Kemp North West Coordinator 07595 036094
Isobell McCall South East Coordinator 07808 152456
Alex Folkes South West Coordinator 07984 644138
Chris White Eastern Coordinator 07850 8436223
Terry Stacy London Coordinator 07940 502683
Carl Minns Yorkshire & the Humber 07818 001367
Howard Sykes West and East Midlands 07867 507653
Gordon Lishman Political Development 07778 271177
The Localism Project
In 1970, Liberals adopted a political strategy called community poltics. It offered political direction after a crushing election defeat, with ideas and an approach that was distinctively liberal. It answered: what's the point of being a liberal and what do I do now?
The first principle is "start from where people are"! We engage people about the things that matter to them. We earn the opportunity to talk about things that are important to us when they trust us to deal with what's important to them.
We are what we do. Community politics is liberal bcause it builds on trust; helping people to take decisions that are right for them and their community, whatever community that is. It is about people listening to each others' views, modifying their own, and coming to balanced and fair decisions. It's the "politics of compromise".
The most basic liberal belief is finding fulfillment in your own way; having power over your own life and what afffects you.
Therefore, community politics is about participation; not just allowing but enabling, promoting, encouraging, reveling in participation that really changes things. It is about helping people acquire the habits, to learn the techniques and build the institutions of participation; making each person powerful when he or she wants to be and about what matters to them.
Is "community politics" still relevant? I don't much care! We are looking for a "new wisdom for a new age" (Keynes); the challenge is to invent it for ourselves!
To engage with Gordon Lishman and his work on Community Politics, visit Gordon's Blog at www.gordonlishman.org.uk