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Customer Review

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great range of authors, adding up to a well put case, 7 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: Why Vote Liberal Democrat? (Paperback)
The book is one of a series, covering also Labour, Conservatives, SNP, Plaid and the Greens. All the others are single person authored books (with the exception of a more general "Why Vote?" book), with chapter titles that give a list of long and worthy policy areas. They are souped up, lengthened policy manifestos. That sort of book certainly has its place but it is very good to see that the 2010 Liberal Democrat one takes a different tact.

Danny Alexander may be the main name on it, but he is the editor - and the book is a collection of twenty-six short essays plus a foreword from Nick Clegg. Many of the authors are also people who, in their different ways, are well known and respected with particular audiences outside the ranks of party membership and helpers.

Floella Benjamin and Colin Firth probably have the most public star value, but contributions from people such as the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, friend of Stephen Lawrence (and now Lib Dem councillor) Duwayne Brooks and Janis Sharpe, mother of Gary McKinnon, all have appeal to particular audiences and add up to a welcome picture of a party drawing broad support from people who know what they are talking about.

Danny Alexander and the team have put together a book that is more varied and interesting therefore than the other party titles in the series and deserve congratulations for that.

Nick Clegg's foreword starts with addressing the question, "What is Liberalism?" Not surprisingly freedom and fairness features in his answer, but he also captures that essential contrarian mindset which means, for all the changes in policy and society, one can easily imagine Charles James Fox being a member of the party even now, over 200 years after he was its leader. Clegg writes:

"[Growing up] we were expected always to assume that there is a better way of doing things if you only bother to look for it. That's the spirit I believe is right at the heart of Liberalism ... The Liberal Democrats have always been an anti-establishment party, demanding change right at the top and campaigning for power to be taken out of the hands of the elites."

Those interested in the balance between social and economic liberalism in the party will note the David Howarth-style approach of taking one as a means to the other when Clegg says:

"You are only free to do things you are capable of doing - things for which you have the resources and understanding. So any effort to increase freedom must also increase people's capacity, resources and understanding."

This squaring of the circle continues in Danny Alexander's piece which, coming from the chair of the group writing the party's manifesto, gives a clear indication of what its priorities will be.

The first specific policy statement to get a mention is the plan to make our tax system fairer, including raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 - a tax cut which appeals to economic liberals and whose primary target (taking the lowest paid out of income tax completely) appeals to social liberals. It will be paid for by, yes, a mansion tax (though in a rather modified form from the original proposals of autumn 2009) and by closing tax loopholes for the richest.

Fair taxes, better education, more generous pensions, economic recovery, political reform and a green tinge to it all are the policy areas picked out with specific proposals in Danny Alexander's piece.

Although the chapters that follow are from a wide range of authors, they form a coherent whole - presenting views of a range of experts but with a common set of liberal values frequently stated and applied. This is not a collection of technocrats all saying "we should get things right"; it's a collection of experts all saying "liberalism is the solution".

The pieces all fit together as a coherent whole, being about freedom and fairness. Values come out clearly in different pieces and are consistent riffs on the party's main theme, as when Floella Benjamin writes,

"While detailed Liberal Democrat policies make me confident I am in the right party, it is our different approach to politics which makes me sure I am a Liberal Democrat through and through."
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Apr 2010 22:35:00 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2010 22:39:43 BDT
This review has clearly been written by a Lib Dem activist and can hardly be relied on as an objective appraisal of the book. I suggest you read the other books as well and make up your own mind.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 May 2010 16:05:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 May 2010 16:05:46 BDT
J.I. Smith says:
The above comment has clearly been written by a non-Lib Dem supporter and can hardly be relied on as an objective appraisal of the review.

Ad infinitum...

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jun 2010 17:17:13 BDT
given the seemingly uber right wing policies the libdems are now following this book really is a waste of time and money i'm not with any party and indeed did vote for libdems but this governemet is not what i expected,a hit the poor and stuff them,type sort of government worse even than the tory one of the early 80's.

The libdems have lost me as a voter,i hope that its worth that for what little they got out of the tories but in the slimy world of modern day politics its just prooved when push came to shove the libdems are just the same as the rest of them,new politics dont make me laugh i cant afford too now becuase of these men and thier tory mates,next election i will vote green.
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Review Details



Mark Pack
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Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 510