Who Will Be Ambitious For Britain? Not The Tories Or Labour - But There Is A Third Way!

10/10/2016 17:00

Margaret Thatcher must be turning in her grave. As politically dreadful as she was...and the government she led destroyed whole one could doubt that she was personally ambitious for Britain.

She couldn't stand, as she put it in the late 1970s, seeing "Britain in decline." Move the clock forward a decade or so.

Tony Blair must wonder what's happened to the legacy of his broadly successful and social democratic first term from 1997 to 2001.

I remember him speaking, at the tail end of the Major years, of the Tories lack of ambition for Britain, how they had run out of ideas and were bereft of any kind of vision for the future of our nation.

And, though the shine soon came off, it did indeed feel like a 'new dawn' had broken on the early morning of May 2nd 1997 when we, almost as one, had chucked out the 'bastards' of the Major years and elected a new government which at least appeared to have a plan, a programme, a project which would enhance and make better our general wellbeing.

And, as my party's leader Tim Farron has done, we can give a fair amount of praise to that first term new Labour government for its achievements...peace in Northern Ireland, devolution, significant investment in health and education, a broadly ethical foreign policy (a reminder that I'm on about Blair's first term here...there's no doubt something significant and, in my view, hugely negative changed in Blair from late 2001 onwards) and so on.

Move the clock forward again to today, to 2016.

Neither of our major political parties seem to have any ambition for the United Kingdom.

Theresa May's rhetoric may sound like she's setting out some great vision.

She speaks of a 'Great Meritocracy' and so on.

But look at her actual programme (or, at least, what we know of it) and not only is it pretty thin gruel but even what there is seems to be hugely regressive and needlessly harsh.

Increasing selective education by allowing many more new grammar schools.

Saying 'Brexit means Brexit' but, clearly, having no real clue at all what that actually means.

And, turning to the dark UKIP-like underbelly of this Tory government, the suggestion...which seems to be being rolled back by Ministers...that companies should list their non-British born employees and, indeed, that schools should list their non-British born pupils.

This kind of hard-Right politics is insular, divisive, backward-looking.

This is nasty, cruel, black-hearted fare.

No-mandate May's conservative programme is about as far as you can get from Ronald Reagan's vision of a nation as a 'shining light upon a hill.'

So, what of the Labour Party?

Well, who thinks Jeremy Corbyn's far-Left Opposition has a compelling and ambitious programme for Britain?

Whilst there are some good people in Labour-who understand the need for them to be both pro-business and pro-enterprise, as well as pro-fairness and equality-they are not those in charge of their party any more and it would appear won't ever be again.

Those in charge of Labour today are not people who want equality of opportunity-as I favour-but, rather, equality of outcome.

They want a hard-Left, Socialist Britain.

They have become unelectable and, therefore, leave Britain with little choice economically and politically.

But, you know, there is a third way.

A way that is neither the hard-Right nor the far-Left.

It is the Centre-Left Liberal Democrats.

We are the rational radicals and the pragmatic progressives.

We combine the best of two great political traditions: Liberalism and Social Democracy.

Not for us outdated or extremist ideology.

We are now the only Britain-wide political party who believe both in the need for an enterprising economy that creates good, well-paid jobs for all, as well as a genuinely fair society with a strong welfare state, a properly resourced National Health Service and real opportunities for all regardless of their background or present circumstances.

We also believe in our global obligations.

We are, proudly, an internationalist party who recognise the need to help the least, the last and the lost wherever they are found.

We are ambitious for a UK which is a strong part in the European Union and, whether in or out, we will make that case.

And we are the only party who knows that we need liberal not authoritarian responses to many of the challenges we face.

We Liberal Democrats are ambitious for Britain and, indeed, for the world.

Ambitious for a UK which is open, tolerant and united.

It is because more and more people increasingly recognise this that so many people are joining us and voting for us.

We Liberal Democrats are the only party which stand for hope, rather than fear.

So, be hopeful.

If we have the faith and commitment we can change course.

We can and must build a better Britain, in a fairer world.

Lets do it together!