Mark Argent
Creativity design composition spirituality work with organisations

Politics:: articles since 2015 General Election
Ideas or leaflets?

12 July 2015, first published in Liberal Democrat Voice

Something that stays with me from Monday’s East Midlands leadership hustings (6 July) was Tim Farron saying that under him, our arms would ache with the quantity of leaflets we have delivered, while Norman Lamb pointed out that our pounding at the polls was not through any lack of leaflets, and that he wanted us to do more to stimulate liberal ideas, as the party had done in Jo Grimond’s time.

I shouldn’t over-do the contrast: more activists deliver leaflets than write articles, so maybe Tim was right to focus there at a hustings for party members. But if we are to hit above our weight, we need to be coming up with the game-changing ideas which are then taken up elsewhere.

A shocking article a few months back in the Cambridge Evening News showed someone surrounded by all the election leaflets they had received (from all parties), and suggested that the deluge was a form of harassment.

Leaflets matter, but there has to be something of value behind the slogans and sound bites. We need to be more than Labour-lite and Tory-lite.

Kirsten Johnson said something along these lines on Lib Dem Voice a few weeks back, suggesting that we need to be on a y-axis and not just on the same plane as Labour and the Conservatives.

Our history and mindset does enable us to take up a creative space that is distinct. Bringing that to the fore is vital. In hindsight, perhaps one of our failures in the last election was to be too focused on what we might bring to a coalition, probably with a much harder negotiation because we would have fewer MPs, so we held back from things that were truly distinctive.

Here are just a few possibilities:

Some leafleting is vital, but we also need the creative thinking which engages on other levels, and can enable us to punch well above our weight. I want to find myself looking in The Economist, The Guardian and The Independent and seeing Liberal Democrats quoted as sources of the ideas we are being encouraged to take up.