Community politics: a study of the Liberal Democrats in local government

Meadowcroft, John J. 1999. Community politics: a study of the Liberal Democrats in local government. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Community Politics implies a bottom-up approach to politics, working inside and outside existing political institutions to create a participatory democracy. First adopted by the Liberal Party in 1970, this political strategy is based upon the principles of subsidiarity and devolution of power. It has remained a key component of the third party's strategy throughout the last three decades.

This thesis examines Community Politics and its practical application by the Liberal Democrats to contemporary local government. The first part of the thesis traces the historical development of Community Politics from the Social Liberal tradition of Thomas Hill Green, through Jo Grimond's reinvention of the Liberal Party as a radical, non-Socialist alternative to Conservatism, to the radical Young Liberal activists of the 1970s. It then goes on to present a theoretical analysis of Community Politics, which investigates the dilemmas and contradictions of a strategy founded on the ideas of locality and the collective for a liberal party in a modem, urban democracy. The second part of the thesis is an empirical analysis of the recruitment of Liberal Democrat councilors and of their representativeness. Research data is used to assess the claims that Liberal Democrat councilors offer a distinct quality and type of representation that corresponds with the aims of the Community Politics strategy. The third and [mal part considers Liberal Democrat politics in the context of the local authority party group and the level of democracy in the organisation of these groups, before finally exploring the policy and practice of Community Politics in Liberal Democrat controlled authorities.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


politics, Thomas Hill Green, representativeness, democracy, Liberal Democrats



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Date Deposited:

25 Jul 2023 16:02

Last Modified:

08 Aug 2023 15:08


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