After a month off for the Parliamentary recess, The Torch is back. Our founding principle was to rebalance the news so that liberal perspectives weren’t forgotten, and over the past few months, we like to think we’ve begun to do that. And for the new political year, the first task for this has been providing coverage of the Liberal Democrats’ conference in Bournemouth, where Sir Vince Cable was giving his first speech as leader.
Expectations were high for Sir Vince, with his party having made its first gains in the Commons in 12 years last June, and with members hungry for more. With the party having reaffirmed its commitment to remaining in the EU and a ratification referendum on the deal – dubbed by members as an “exit from Brexit” referendum – there was much that was to be said.
When it came down to it, Sir Vince played a blinder, speaking about intergenerational inequality, the need for adult politics, and positioning himself as the people’s champion for rescuing Britain from the disastrous extreme Brexit supported by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.
In doing so, he put forward a distinctive, liberal platform for the Liberal Democrats, re-energising them to face the twin dangers of Jeremy Corbyn to the extreme left and Theresa May to the extreme right. It was a vision concerned with fixing inequality, with renewing public services, and with maintaining Britain’s place in the world, including policy ideas like mass housebuilding, and rightly shouting about past policy successes like the apprenticeship revolution that Sir Vince himself made happen in government.
It stands in stark contrast to the other two parties who seem mired down in supporting a Brexit which would make the country poorer.
As the Liberal Democrats return from Bournemouth, they can be proud that they have managed to occupy the centre-ground, and we at The Torch look forward to hearing more from them. The opportunity is now there for Sir Vince and his party to make a dramatic comeback in the polls if they pursue the correct course of radicalism, liberalism and compassionate politics – let’s hope they take it.