Tag Archives: liberalism

Liberals: a fresh message

 

Politics in the UK is changing faster now than ever before. This change gives us the opportunity to take our place at the heart of the UK by presenting a strong, passionate and persuasive liberal view of the world. It also means we may get lost among the crowd. We must make sure it is the former, and not the latter.

Clear, simple messages are crucial to how the country views us. Every opportunity to speak to people is a chance to present liberalism in its best light – distinct, valuable, and making our communities stronger.

The centre ground is stable, but it is also defined by what it isn’t. Strong messages must change that. The preamble to the Constitution of the party is a wonderful piece of writing; honest, inspirational, and clear, but it is not going to be read by 99 per cent of the population. What we need to do is distil its values: liberty, equality and community, and let that shine through our communications.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

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.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 43 Comments

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 …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 14 Comments

“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.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 86 Comments

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.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 76 Comments
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  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Aug - 5:49pm
    I don't buy the idea that Brexit meant different things to different people anymore than any political argument does. To me if there had been...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 22nd Aug - 5:17pm
    This article seems a bit confused. As far as I can see the Conference Motion says nothing about our call for a real Vote on...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 22nd Aug - 5:17pm
    Ooops. HTML fail: only per se should be italicised.
  • User AvatarMalcolm Todd 22nd Aug - 5:12pm
    Well said. About the most sober and intelligent reflections I've yet seen on this dreadful business.
  • User Avatarpaul barker 22nd Aug - 4:55pm
    I agree with most of the article but Champion went well beyond answering questions. She wrote for The Sun & approved the Headline - those...
  • User AvatarJoe Bourke 22nd Aug - 4:46pm
    James, I think it is about taking the lessons of economic theory and making it work for those at the bottom of the pile. The...