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Dear Ed,

Well, that's it. Your weekly series about Liberal Democrat political philosophy has come to an end.

I very much hope you enjoyed reading and sticking through to the end. If you did, and so think others might enjoy it too, would you mind sharing the sign-up form with them? It's here

If it's ok, I may send you a very occasional further update when there's relevant news, such as a great new article or book out about liberalism. If that's not ok, just see the links at the end.

Because of the nature of the content - looking backwards to the roots of Liberal Democrat philosophy, I'm well aware that it has somewhat neglected topics which we might, and even should, now think are important but which did not play a large part in the formation of the party's philosophy.

Issues around diversity and inclusion are the most striking example of this. Although Liberal Democrats and Liberals before them like to point to the party's innovation in many areas, and it is often true that the party played a key role in changing wider thoughts and attitudes, it's also true that this role has in the past been pretty limited when it comes to strands of thought such as feminism or racial equality. 

Path-breaking 19th century thinkers on women's rights, such as Barbara Bodichon, did interact with the more progressive Liberals of the time, but with one or two exceptions such as JS Mill's The Subjection of Women, it was really a case of Liberalism belatedly adopting that which her and others outside the party had pioneered.

Similarly, this series has by its nature tended to downplay what the party currently thinks. I hope the series has given you helpful context for many of our contemporary debates over policy. 

So for two pieces of suggested follow-up reading, I give you in particular:
  • The party's latest general election manifesto (along with the older ones if you're interested)
  • Women and Liberalism - a special edition of the Journal of Liberal History which includes an excellent piece on the relationship between liberalism and feminism, including the tensions between a focus on the individual and on the group, amongst other articles.
You might also be interested in Conrad Russell's An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism which is still very relevant and clearly set out. It can be a little hard to get hold of, so keep an eye out for when the second-hand price drops to reasonable levels!

Much more easy to get hold of is the classic by John Stuart Mill with Harriet Taylor, On Liberty - including as a free e-book. Also to be recommended is the concise volume Liberalism: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Freeden and the Liberal Democrat History Group's Liberalism.

If you're interested in more contemporary news about the Liberal Democrats, there's always my monthly newsletter Liberal Democrat Newswire.

Thank you once again to Duncan Brack and his colleagues for allowing me to rely so heavily on the Liberal Democrat History Group's work, including the now out of print Dictionary of Liberal History. If you are not a member of the group, you should be; membership comes with a subscription to the excellent quarterly Journal of Liberal History.

Best wishes,

Mark
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Sent by Mark Pack, 2a Heathville Road, London, N19 3AJ - contact information here.