Just how broad can a broadchurch become?

The Liberal Democrat conference is taking place in Bournemouth

I feel as if I have been here many times before. An association, group, party, organisation, call it whatever you wish, sets in motion a change which causes seismic breaks in the norms of its existence. This challenges the beliefs and value systems of all members. At some stage the veracity of the term ‘broadchurch’ is put through the wringer only to emerge tattered and shredded at the other end.

I have seen this happen twice. I am a regular Church of England attendee. When, both, the ordination of women was allowed and gay marriage was recognised it split the church. Pure and simply put, there was no broadchurch which reconciled people’s hard held beliefs. There may have been compromise over allowing women to progress from doing the Sunday flowers to doing admin jobs but that was the extent of gender compromise for many. I have a gay vicar and many people skedaddled when he was appointed.

How does a party combine a wide array of beliefs among the leaders who come from a diverse political background? Let’s be clear, the concept of diversity would be extremely difficult to apply here because the ground being levelled isn’t based on the universal tenets of ‘everyone being equal’. Political diversity isn’t the same as diversity predicated on humanity. How do you combine anti-gay beliefs, Libertarian attitudes, anti-austerity and pro-austerity stances with calls for low tax or higher tax?

The Lib Dems have had a great opening rally to the start of their conference. It was an evening of celebration and rightly so too. But what is the end game?



  1. TonyH
    September 15, 2019 / 12:05 am

    Hi Jane. I’m a LibDem member (for 35 years!) The endgame is the same as it always has been: to work to spread Liberal values, in society, in Councils, in Parliaments and in government. You’re right, the rally tonight was fantastic. There is a real buzz about the party at the moment. Our new MP recruits are people who have all been working for Liberal values, even if they are in different parties. We believe there are Liberals in all parties – there always have been. Getting those people to come home to us is great. That doesn’t mean we will accept anyone; all the MPs who have asked to join us are ‘vetted’ very carefully to see how much they fit with our beliefs. But nor should we be too purist. If Philip Lee once voted for a dodgy motion 5 years ago, so what? As long as he signs up to Liberal values now, we’ll take him. We don’t all think the same on every issue, and nor should we. But the values endure: freedom, fairness, open-ness, internationalism, environmentalism. That’s Liberalism. Maybe its time you join us too. 🙂

    • ambitiousmamas
      September 23, 2019 / 7:49 pm

      Dear Tony,

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.

      I have been a member of the Lib Dems for 11 years now and, hence, my critical questioning. I have never been that part of the party which believed everything the leadership did or say. This is not to imply that you are. I am simply explaining my position.

      There was a buzz about the party in 2010 too. At the end of the day it is the electorate that will decide on whether our buzz converts into real change. People like Chuka, hero of the moment he may be, don’t inspire me.


  2. David Evans
    September 18, 2019 / 1:40 am

    Hi Jane,

    The key comes from the word balance, as in “The Liberal Democrats exist to build a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community …” from the Preamble to our Constitution.

    This clearly indicates that equality is never supreme, but there will be some occasions where liberty is more important and others when community is. How that balance is reached is therefore a matter of judgement. On occasions you may promote something that is much better for individual liberties or the community as a whole, but which adversely effects equality. This is accepted by Lib Dems because we know that there are other occasions where equality is improved but at the expense of one or both of the others. However overall, when all our proposals are implemented all three are improved.

    There will never be a situation where everyone is equal in every individual aspect – the young (on average) will always be able to run faster than the old, the better educated (on average) will always benefit more from increases in University provision than the less well educated, etc. etc.

    Ultimately, Liberal Democracy is a mechanism that allows society to cope with diversity and the inequality that brings.
    It is not just for now, with an end game, because the game will never end.

    Hope this helps,


    • ambitiousmamas
      September 23, 2019 / 7:44 pm

      Dear David,
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
      I agree to some extent with what you say. However, while Liberal Democracy is a mechanism for enabling and bettering diversity and inequality, it can also be a mechanism for doing the opposite. As an example, austerity politics was enabled by the Lib Dems in coalition.
      What you say about the ‘end game’ would be correct within the context of a tightly drawn policy with a clearly defined outcome but, in my opinion, not so when the game is so widely framed that a consensus for an outcome is unclear.

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