Author Archives: Zachary Barker

Introducing Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East

Peace cannot be kept by force: It can only be kept by understanding.
(Albert Einstein)

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is presented as a key example of an intractable conflict, where there is continual, tragic loss of life and political solutions prove illusive.  Understandably, many Liberal Democrats have strong feelings about the continuous loss of life and injustices that stem from this conflict.  The longer this conflict continues, the greater the risk becomes that we feel tempted to take positions that mirror the parties to the conflict.

Readers will note the existence of other groups within the Lib Dems concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.  It would be reasonable to ask, how are Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East unique compared to them?  Our position can be summed up as looking for solutions and not taking sides.

We believe it is completely reasonable to care about the security and wellbeing of both Israelis and Palestinians equally.  We believe strongly in taking an approach to this debate that leaves out partisan bias.  Constructive, clear minded and reasonable debate about this conflict and possible remedies for it are urgently needed.  It is our position that discussions based on accusations and declaring the moral high ground for one side over another, have been to the detriment of finding workable solutions and promoting meaningful debate.  After all a sustainable solution will require the consent of people on both sides of the conflict.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 18 Comments

COVID-19 vs liberal values

Where do liberal values stand in a time of national crisis? During a time of crisis or upheaval, the natural instinct of many is to look towards their government and the forces of the state it commands. People look for reassurance and firm direction from the paternalistic state to protect them.

As CODVID-19 has made it’s determined advance across the world, much firmer state direction, than in the UK, has been broadcast to concerned Britons. Chinese propaganda has lauded a massive mobilisation effort where the state has effectively been weaponised to track, quarantine and treat the virus. South Korea’s Government has mobilised an impressive effort against COVID, using round the clock mass testing and an Artificial Intelligence system to drive contact tracing. Both the Chinese and South Korean Governments have authorised the tracing of citizens phones to augment contract tracing to effectively isolate not only those who are confirmed as infected but those at risk from coming in contact with them. The UK Government has hinted that the next phase of its strategy in tackling the virus may include some contact tracing system.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 21 Comments

The Incompatibility of Liberalism and Monarchy

We as a party pride ourselves on standing up for the values of liberal democracy. The mission statement on our membership cards declare us in favour of a “fair, free and open society” in which stands for “equality” and against a society in which we are enslaved by “ignorance or conformity”. However there is a glaring blind spot in these idealistic dedications, this is in our support for the continuance of the British Monarchy.

The hard truth, whether we choose to face it head on or not, is that the British Monarchy stands in complete defiance of values of …

Posted in Op-eds | 69 Comments

Getting serious about defence

 

Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader much of the Liberal Democrat’s rhetoric has been aimed at portraying him as an extremist.  Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron claimed that Labour had “left the field” in a party conference speech.  The implication of this claim is that Labour have left the centre ground to embark on a far leftist fellow-traveller path, seemingly ignoring the electoral success it gained from the dominating the centre ground in the New Labour years.  In this way the Liberal Democrat comeback seemingly relies on a message that it is the new party of the centre ground.  However doing this mean more than just gesture politics, it means not being afraid to tackle issues which are not commonly associated with liberalism, most notably defence.

Liberal Democrat manifestos in recent years have treated defence matters like an afterthought, an embarrassment almost, especially when it comes to questions of hard power.  When it comes to asking questions about our hard power capability our manifesto prefers to move toward the murky soft power where it seems we are more ideologically comfortable.  The 2016 manifesto talked about emphasising “a Single Security Budget, including not just conventional defence spending but the work of our security agencies, cyber defences and soft power interventions”.  This policy in itself provides opportunities and dangers.  While it is important to emphasise that multiple security threats require multiple solutions to tackle them, there can be no substitute for hard power.  Put simply; while it is arguable that the main security threat we face is from terrorism we can’t leave ourselves unprepared for future inter-state conflict.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 24 Comments

What comes after the Chilcot Report?

The long wait for the publishing of the Chilcot Report has many similarities to the long awaited release of Guns N’ Roses “Chinese Democracy” album. Much like the album the report is long awaited and much delayed. Also like this album the report will almost certainly deliver below expectations and disappoint many.

Our party made much of our opposition to the Iraq War, and well we should have. The war was not remotely mandated by a UN Security Council resolution, nor was a solid case for acting against Saddam’s Iraq established. It seems painfully obvious years later that Tony Blair basically loaned our forces to the USA while he was influenced by the height of emotions that struck him (and much of the West) in the turbulent aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Unlike many other western leaders though Tony Blair took his pledge of support as a total and unquestioning bond, almost akin to a blood oath.

While it is important to learn these truths it is even more important to consider carefully how or if we should militarily intervene in the future. I firmly believe that our party needs to provide a more honest and rigorous analysis of such questions than the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

Posted in News | Tagged | 4 Comments
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