Tag Archives: liberalism

The country needs a new liberalism – the Liberal Democrats must provide it

Liberalism’s ideas, implemented either by Liberal Democrats or by others, have been wholly vindicated. This has been so on free trade and market economics; on the nature of social injustice and the need for a compassionate, intelligent state; on civil liberties and on foreign intervention. Whilst not always heard – and, let’s face it, often unpopular – our party has stood for the best of its traditions in the best interests of our country. With a leadership election almost underway, what is the political landscape in which we find ourselves, and what will our next leader (and the party) have to do to make an impact at the next election and beyond?

It is often stated that the politics of the 21st century will be centred around the merits of an open society versus those of one that is closed. This carries weight; indeed, any lessons to be learned from Emmanuel Macron’s recent victories in France should not ignore that it was on this basis that much of the presidential campaign was fought. The Brexit debate entailed similar arguments, with no prominent defence of liberal immigration, whilst the recent general election offered a choice only between Labour’s state socialism and protectionist, patrician Conservatism. It should, however, be noted that these visions for Britain, combined, won 82.4% of the vote.

A new liberalism, fit to meet the challenges of the 21st century, is required; one which recognises that Corbyn’s Labour Party and Conservative Brexiteers may have accurately diagnosed the UK’s disquiet, but knows their solutions have been found wanting time and time again. One which precisely because of its belief in the European ideal – rather than in spite of it – fights for as close a relationship as possible with the European Union instead of seeking to reverse, at this point, the decision made by last year’s referendum. Most importantly, this new liberalism cannot seek to face the problems of the 21st century with solutions from the 20th – fruitless ideological battles between left and right.

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Observations of an expat: I am a liberal

The Brexiteering Trump supporter narrowed his eyes, curled his upper lip, glared at me and sneeringly stuttered: “You..you..LIBERAL.

I removed the handkerchief from my pocket, wiped away what I believe was unintentional spit from just below my left eye, and gave him an infuriatingly rueful smile.

To many conservative-minded folk a liberal is a threat to their way of life. Liberal tolerance of other religions, genders and cultures forces conservatives into politically correct language which sticks in their throats. The liberal emphasis on equality threatens their supremacy and culture. And liberal generosity is seen as undermining livelihoods and threatening security.

The word liberal is derived from the Latin root liberalis which means noble, gracious and munificient; character traits which I would love to have. Liberalis is also the root for the word liberty which runs golden thread-like through modern western civilisation. “Give me liberty or give me death,” shouted Patrick Henry. The single word “liberty” was emblazoned on an early American revolutionary flag and it plays a key role in the Preamble to the US constitution.

Liberte is the first word in the catchy slogan of the French revolution, and in 19th century European liberalism was equated with parliamentary government and political reform based on equality.

Adam Smith regarded natural liberty as the highest form of human existence and liberal—or free—trade between nations was his ultimate aim. For the ancient Greeks a liberal arts education was the summit of learning and culture.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 14 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg: Blaming liberalism for the world’s political turmoil is just too easy

A powerful riposte from Nick Clegg to those who blame liberalism for all the evils of the world:

My schoolboy history taught me that while Mill was a man of the 19th century he also espoused remarkably progressive causes — free speech, feminism, the environment and workers’ councils. My guess is if he was alive today he’d be on the barricades in favour of a mass, state-funded housing programme while defending Britain’s long tradition of internationalism, including our place in Europe.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I? For much of my political career people have either ignored liberalism, falsely espoused …

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“Liberal” means “radical” now. Embrace it.

I am a Millennial and I am a Liberal. The former just happened to me, like my skin colour, place of birth and shoe size; I take no pride in it, nor do I feel shame. The latter fact is something I chose for myself, and I am immensely proud of it. I reject hatred and violence as political tools. Why, then, am I writing anonymously?

I teach in a university. In the past few years I have seen more and more of my colleagues deliver lectures in which “liberalism” (not neoliberalism) is used as shorthand for exploitation and racism. Fewer …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 32 Comments

Brexit, Trump, this will keep happening again and again until we realise our own failings as Liberals

I love being a Liberal. Liberals are smart, we embrace logic and reason and apply it to our everyday lives. Our Liberalism is an international brand, with our liberal friends in many nations, all striving to promote liberty and human rights. We also have a sense of civic duty, which compels us to get involved with politics and seek to try and change the world around us. These are all good things, things that led us to get involved in the first place, however they can also lead us into a self-indulging arrogance that results in an opaque view of the world.

The problem with being a Liberal is that I am too often part of a well-educated, middle class elite, who frequently often mistakes failures or loses with ‘people just not getting it’. We saw it with Brexit. If only the 52% understood they were being lied to – if only they could see past their parochial nationalism – if only they could be more engaged with understanding the arguments and with politics in general. We have now seen it with Trump – how can so many Americans be so stupid?

So let me put across the other side of the coin to my opening statement.

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Lord Malcolm Bruce writes… Liberalism revitalised

I want to respond to the challenges issued by Paddy and Vince during our conference.

Paddy said the party was “intellectually dead.” Vince said our position on another referendum was disrespectful to the electorate.

Let me take on Vince first. We and our predecessors supported UK membership of the European Community from its inception. The SDP was created largely because of Labour’s equivocation over British membership. We campaigned unstintingly for Remain and we remain convinced that the UK ‘s interests are best served by being a key member of the European Union.

Yes, by a narrow margin the country voted Leave but we have not changed our view and, given that there is no clear idea of what kind of relationship people want – in or out of the single market – let alone the hundreds of cooperative agreements built up over the last 43 years.

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LibLink: David Steel: We need liberalism more than ever

David Steel has written an article for the Scotsman explaining why liberalism is needed more than ever in the face of both domestic and international challenges. He praises both Tim Farron and Willie Rennie and urges liberals to “re-assert themselves and support them.”

His comments about the SNP also struck a bit of a chord with me. It’s not just that they stitched up the Scottish Parliament with their majority, giving themselves control of the committees so that they couldn’t be effectively scrutinised, it’s their general attitude to politics. They are reminiscent of Labour in the ’80s and ’90s, with such a sense of entitlement to power and objection to even the mildest, most evidence based criticism. Yesterday, we had three shouty nationalists in the space of a couple of hours in our office. Clearly such intimidatory tactics are designed to spook us. Actually, we enjoy the fact that they are clearly rattled by the scale and success of our campaign. It is very like the days in Derbyshire when Labour thugs would shout at you as you delivered leaflets and it’s sad to see that kind of politics.

Anyway, back to David’s article. He wrote:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments
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  • User Avatartonygreaves 24th Jun - 8:01pm
    I don't think I understand any of this thread. Is that a problem for me or for the contributors?
  • User AvatarNick Baird 24th Jun - 7:39pm
    @Paul Murray - "failure is often just success deferred" Thank f**k for that..........
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    It's a well known story that when Musk first launched paypal in 1999 it was voted one of the 10 worst business ideas ever. Why?...
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    TCO: "do not be disheartened by the handful of left-wing comments raging against the dying of their light." James "the vocal minority of right wingers...
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    David Orbison For those on the left perhaps time to leave what is rapidly becoming an inward obsessive debating society and join Labour. I am...
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    @ Keith Sharp I couldn’t canvass in 2015 because I couldn’t defend what I consider the stupid idea that the UK was like Greece. Of...
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