Author Archives: Scott Smith

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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