There’s an interesting discussion going on in the comments on this post of Jennie’s about whether there’s a need for a ‘radical liberal’ group of some description. This reminded me of this post I wrote last year on the same issue, even if I got myself a bit trapped in semantics about left, right and centre.
So, given that five or six people in a comment thread think it’s a good idea – hey, the SDP started with less than that – I think it’s time to take a step forward from ‘that’d be a good idea’ and actually do something about organising a radical grouping. Actually, it’s more than five or six, as I’ve seen similar ideas discussed elsewhere and get support from different people. There is, I believe, support out there for a radical liberal organisation of some sort, but the question is what sort of form should it take?
My thought is that I think a radical liberal grouping would benefit from taking a different approach to organising itself. In my view it would be best organised as a network or a forum where like-minded people can come together and discuss, argue and plan things together but without the necessity for having to convince the entire organisation of something before any action gets taken. One of the issues with trying to create an organisation that’s truly radical is going to be that not everyone is going to agree with everything that’s discussed and suggested, and it seems to me that the best way to deal with that is to embrace it and make it a feature. Indeed, you could argue that if everyone agrees with something, it’s not really that radical…
Rather than creating some new faction with a shopping list of policy proposals that everyone has to sign up to, my idea would to be to come up with a relatively short statement of radical liberal principles, and people who agreed with those could become part of the grouping. I’d expect that list to be centred around issues of freedom, civil liberties and libertarianism, anti-authoritarianism etc with dashes of decentralisation, internationalism and other issues. Once that’s done, then we can look at how we go on to build a network of the people who agree with it, and what shape that network could take.
So I guess it’s time to throw it open to the crowd – how does that sound for steps forward? What’s your vision of radical liberal principles?