Farron: Lib Dems should reclaim the Beveridge consensus

17 Feb 2016

Tim Farron has been talking to the online Disclaimer magazine, saying that it's time to reclaim not just the Beveridge consensus but also the free market from the right, saying that the Tories are the champions not of a free market but one which is controlled by powerful corporations. He said:

I fully count myself as a Beveridge liberal. Mostly because he believed in ambitious government that could improve the lives of its citizens.

So I want us to say that we should reclaim Beveridge's ambition, his sense of mission of looking beyond what might be deemed possible towards what we believe is necessary. I want to reflect on the Beveridge consensus which was of course superseded 35 years ago by the Thatcherite consensus.

We should shoulder Labour out of the way and fully reclaim the Beveridge consensus as being Liberal by its birth, but we should then also seek to reclaim the free market from the Thatcherites.

Liberals of every shade should support the free market - but the Thatcherite consensus that has had its hold to an extent on all of Britain's parties, is fundamentally anti free market. Laissez faire and the absence of regulation, the privatisation culture in the broadest sense, is a betrayal of the free market. It is the triumph of the oligarch and the monopoly, it is the defeat of the little guy, it is the roadblock to innovation, it has led to the economic disaster that in government we are trying to fix.

So a new consensus will rest in large part on this party being the party of freedom in every sense, including freedom in the market place.

A new consensus must adopt the spirit of Beveridge and Keynes, and to my mind that spirit is one of ambition, an inspired and inspiring confidence that government can make a difference; that in the face of huge challenges, politics and economics can provide positive solutions to make things better, that government should roll up its sleeves, not wring its hands.

He also talks about the need to engage more young people in politics, the EU Referendum, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour generally and Syria. You can read the whole interview here.