The Speech I’d Like A Liberal Democrat Leader To Give

But if they won’t, I guess I’ll write it

Nick Barlow
6 min readMar 7


Vince Cable gives a speech at a Liberal Democrat Conference. A large number of people in seats look towards a stage where a man is giving a speech. His image is projected on a large screen above the stage, which is flanked by two sloping prop brick walls.
Liberal Democrat Conference (source: Wikipedia/Creative Commons)

I was talking recently with some friends who are still members of my former party about the sort of things I’d want to hear from the party and its leadership if I was to ever consider rejoining. With the party’s Spring Conference coming up, I decided to organise these thoughts into the sort of speech I can’t imagine Ed Davey ever giving — though I’d be the first to applaud him if he did.

Thank you, Conference.

I want to start this speech in a different way. I normally answer questions elsewhere at conference, but I’ve received one recently that I think is important to answer in the most public way possible.

That question is “what are you doing as party leader to ensure that this is a welcoming party for liberals with gender critical beliefs?”

And my answer is this:

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Because, Conference, “liberals with gender critical beliefs” is an oxymoron. Like “liberals with anti-semitic beliefs” or “liberals with racist beliefs” it describes a group of people who do not exist.

I’m sure there are some people — like those who asked me this question — who believe they exist, but they’re wrong. If you’re a liberal you believe in respecting the rights and identity of others, you believing in supporting those oppressed by society, you believe in what it says in our party constitution that no one shall be enslaved by poverty, by ignorance, or by conformity.

If you are trying to prevent trans people living their lives in peace, if you are part of a movement that is seeking to legislate away the rights of anyone, if you are lining up with Trump, Putin and all the other fascists to depict a persecuted minority as the enemy within, then you are not a liberal, and I promise you that this party will not be welcoming to you.

Let me be clear here. If you are a transphobe, a sexist, a racist, a homophobe, an anti-semite or any other form of bigot, you are not welcome in this party. We have taken too long to say this, but I am saying it now: you are not a liberal, you are not welcome as a member in a liberal party, and the exit is right…



Nick Barlow

Former academic and politician, now walking, cycling and working out what comes next.