Saturday, 7 June 2014

On the need for liberalism...


Jeremy Browne is a Liberal Democrat MP. He has written this in The Spectator and I agree with him:

An unambiguous liberalism best captures the spirit of our era – freedom and opportunity. Free people, free speech, free markets, free thinking. It is egalitarian, internationalist and healthily subversive. A new generation – both economically and socially liberal – is looking for inspiration.

The problem for Jeremy is that most of his party don't agree with him - they agree with tepid, smiling sort-of-socialists like Tim Farron. Indeed - as James Delingpole observed in the same publication - there is a gap in the market for a classical liberal party.

All the other terrain on the political map has already been fully occupied. Classical liberalism has not — and it’s about time it was. It’s the only political philosophy which acts genuinely in the interests of the ‘many, not the few’. 

On the face of it (and given the public debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage over the EU) is seems odd that two writers identify the same need for a genuinely liberal political party but one finds the answer in the Liberal Democrats and the other in UKIP.

The problem for James and Jeremy is that neither of the two parties in question are interested in being that real liberal party. UKIP are becoming a very different and essentially socially reactionary party, unconvinced by free trade, tempted by protectionism and distrusting of anything foreign. The libertarian moment for UKIP has passed as Nigel Farage realises that his audience are nationalist and conservative not liberal and internationalist.

For Jeremy the problem is just as stark. The rump of the Liberal Democrats will reject any more moves towards economic liberalism preferring instead to paint a smiling face on big government social democracy.  The Liberal Democrats here in Bradford oppose free schools, support rent controls and are enthusiasts for the nanny state - I cannot see them embracing Jeremy's four freedoms.

I wrote not long back about searching for that real liberalism where I asked for a party with an international focus, a preference for the local over the national and markets over planning. Above all I want a party that prioritises personal choice rather than social prescription. The market doesn't offer such a party in the UK.


1 comment:

Curmudgeon said...

Couldn't agree more. But many of us will continue to vote for UKIP as a disrupter of the established order even if it isn't everything we would like it to be. See this blogpost by Chris Mounsey as to why libertarians should vote for UKIP.