Author Archives: Christopher Stafford-Smith

Christopher Stafford-Smith a Lib Dem member from Havering. He recently re-joined the party 2 years ago after an 8 year hiatus.

Painting yourself into a yellow corner? The future Liberal response to Covid

The Lib Dems have a knack of swinging wildly on the side of public opinion (e.g., Iraq War) and back to the fringes (e.g., Revoke Policy). The latter is often buoyed by coming off the back successful elections, giving the party a false sense of confidence that such policies are far more popular than they are and indeed we can be the party of governance. Though such fringe policies have a lasting and damaging impact. Easy to make accusations that the party is neither “Liberal” or “Democratic” is easy to make when such positions are taken and particularly when the public doesn’t see it as justified.

And so, we come off the back of an incredible victory, in a by-Election, over the floundering Tories, in a pandemic. Emboldened by this and the quiet, lack lustre opposition; the Lib Dems are vibrant in their opposition to this government. They see the current state and utter incompetence of the Tories and they see an open goal.

Where the Tories have been cautious about further restrictions, the Dems feel this is dilly-dallying. Restrictions are needed and the country needs strong leadership (which they offer) to put these in place.

This puts the Dems in a precarious position. By being on the side of illiberal restrictions (protections also, but still illiberal), they expose themselves to those allegations. However there has always been a liberal justification for such restrictions. Even the most libertarian of libertarians, Ayn Rand would have seen the justification for lockdowns; in light of no vaccine. And the Lib Dem position has been in line with the public mood, for most of the pandemic.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 17 Comments

Liberals and the cancel culture

The sujet du jour; at least on Twitter, seems to be “cancel culture”.

I’m a newbie on Twitter and as I have scrolled through my feed and seen various threads; I’ve noticed a schism between Lib Dems, on this particular issue. On one side there are Lib Dems, advocating the necessity to protect the individual, human and civil rights of the oppressed and that freedom of speech doesn’t come with freedom from consequence. On the other side are those Lib Dems who see freedom of speech as a key tenet to liberalism. An article by Tim Farron (advocating the latter), exemplified this schism with Tim being supported and rounded on, in equal measure. However, this isn’t a divide about free speech – it is a divide in the discourse of what is morally absolute and what isn’t.

Within social justice, liberals will always seek a moral universalism when advocating human rights for the oppressed minorities. The danger is, this advocation can fall into absolutism and that those opposing the perceive moral truths by absolutists are not only wrong, they are immoral; leading to those opposing their worldview to be swiftly labelled “racists,” “bigots,” “Nazis,” etc. In a democratic society our cultural norms, ethics and morals, evolve over time through societal discourse. Absolutists, in shutting down what they perceive as immoral; shut down the debate. In effect, they break the social contract that allows for moral consensus to be agreed upon.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 39 Comments
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