I recommend a read of the article on Iain’s blog site that the link above takes you to.
I particularly liked this:-
The job of a leader is not to do everything himself or herself but to bring together a team who make our message new in this generation. S/he should not confine themselves to party members but draw on the best people who want a fair and free society. People who can say with us (and the authors of the Yellow Book) that they ‘believe with a passionate faith that the end of all political and economic action is not the perfecting or the perpetuation of this or that piece of mechanism or organisation, but that individual man and women may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’
Indeed, and they must be the aims of every Liberal. But thereby hangs the division between the Labour party’s version of socialism and how people like Iain and I define Liberalism. You see Labour want to create institutions to control people at a national, regional and local level. They want people to back Labour at all costs whereas we Liberals want to set people free from institutions that decide what is good for them. A fair and free and open society values and encourages political and social diversity it does not package it up so that local or national political rulers can hand out services, favours and power to their mates who are in their club.
And its not that I don’t understand why the Labour Party is so controlling of nature. I realise they are a product of their birth from the trade union movement which had to fight so hard to free workers from appalling working practices and they needed almost blind loyalty to achieve that. Trouble is things have moved on and I, as a long-time trade unionist, can see how badly the trade union movement is adapting to change. Labour adapts to change poorly too but as it does, if painfully slowly, the tensions between it and the trade unions, who gave it life, are very real.
There is room for a new political consensus on the left and Iain is right in thinking that Tim Farron could/should be a leader of it from the Liberal wing but despite all Labour’s attempts to change it can’t shake the shackles of being stuck with a deep wish to control and patronise via all-powerful leaders.