The government has recently confirmed that its 'high risk, high reward' research agency, the Advanced Research and Innovation Agency (ARIA), will go ahead. This was initially the pet project of Dominic Cummings (alarm bells!) but seems to have survived his departure from Whitehall. The buzz has all been about the potential to cut red-tape and bureaucracy in order to unleash scientific innovation. For a scientist and science fiction nerd like myself, it sounds quite exciting but, Liberals should be wary of anything that reduces oversight and accountability - especially from this government.

The full details of how the agency will work haven't been made clear yet but as the idea is copied direct from DARPA, a US Defence research agency, we can get a sense of where it's going.

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Here at justLiberals we love a practical, grassroots approach to politics - it's all good and well Liberals pontificating over the best policies (and debating the minutiae of those policies), but at some point you need to go out and win an election.

This is why we're pleased to see the Lib Dems for Basic Income, the Basic Income Conversation, the Social Liberal Forum and the Compass Lib Dem Network come together to work out how to turn this new policy (passed overwhelmingly by members at conference last year) into part of a winning campaign. Joining them are:

  • Jane Dodds, the Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
  • Wendy Chamberlain, the Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Group
  • Luisa Porritt, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London
  • Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Canadian Liberal MP and host of the Uncommons Podcast.

This will be Chaired by the excellent Dr Ian Kearns, Director of the Social Liberal Forum. Sign up now.

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The Tories have just announced a new "free speech champion" and have set new demands on student unions to guarantee a platform to any visiting speaker. Layla Moran, calling this out as a distraction on Question Time, was immediately attacked by the libertarian press (see Spiked Online's take) as "proof" that Liberals aren't truly Liberal. The attack was so swift and loud that Lib Dem HQ deleted their tweet of the clip, much to the glee of right-wing blogs.

It's a shame to see Liberals running from a fight (even if the phrasing was a little clumsy). There is a war going on and, although it's been called a culture war (or a 'war on woke'), it's actually a fight to redefine Liberalism along simplistic, libertarian lines. Liberals must not shy away from it any longer.

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Liberals can disagree on a lot (as the joke goes, put four Liberals in a room and you'll land up with six different opinions), but one thing that unites every Liberal is the concept of Individual Liberty. In very broad strokes, most of what Liberals do - at a local level, with oppressed groups, internationally, or wherever else - is about empowering individuals: equalising power between people, and distributing power away from where it's been concentrated.

I suspect many Liberals have forgotten their own power - and to recover, we must find it again. Let's start with a thought experiment.

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This is the justLiberals recommended reading list, sourced from articles shared on our subreddit. If you think something should be on the next list, share it with the community!

In this edition:

  • The Problem with the Concept of a 'Good Immigrant'
  • Why food parcels are the wrong way to feed hungry children
  • 'Our souls are dead': how I survived a Chinese 're-education' camp for Uighurs

These are not necessarily by Liberals, but we believe these are great additions to a Liberal's reading list - and we hope they are thought-provoking and insightful for you.

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In most elections, the right outspend the Left. This is just a truism, and of no surprise to anyone acquainted with modern politics. In addition, the news media is strongly biased toward right-wing ideas and right-wing politics. In response, the Left reaches for their army of volunteers - doing for free (inspired by Left-wing ideals like equality, freedom and justice) what the right have to pay for. Even in this uneven ground, the Left - through sheer strength of message - can win out against what seem like unbeatable odds. It's this hard work, by many selfless volunteers, that has formed the bulwark against those that would lead by hate and fear, manipulated by false narratives and backed by wealthy donors.

Yesterday, the Tories wrote a decree banning this second, volunteer-led, approach to campaigning - and in so doing, tipped the scales massively in their favour.

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