LibLink: Malcolm Bruce – Why a polarised world is in need of Liberals

Writing in the Press and Journal this week, Malcolm Bruce argued that liberals are an essential and critical part of the fightback against the polarised world we find ourselves in.

Much of society has degenerated into angry, polarised camps, brooking no compromise and demanding people conform to their woke identity slogans or resign themselves to being the “enemy”.

This is not the stuff of a civilised society. It prevents genuine exchange of views. Evidence is discarded in favour of fake news and alternative facts, leading to rash decisions.

He wonders why the other parties are so vicious in their attitude towards us:

In an ever-more complex, challenging and divided world, once-great parties are offering simplistic, irrational, glib solutions. By the same token, the political debate has sought either to trash the Liberal Democrats or sneer at their irrelevance – displaying uncertainty of intent. Why are other parties so splenetic about the Liberal Democrats? My guess is it is because we get in the way of simplistic, hardline, ideological identity politics.

Liberal Democrats believe in the freedom of individuals to express themselves in their own way, free from pressure to conform. We celebrate diversity and pluralism in an electoral system that has the deliberate intention of forcing people into camps.

He says that there is another way:

Ask people in Scotland, do we want to restore our once-great education system and give our children the skills and opportunity to deliver rewarding lives, not just economically but culturally, too? Would we like key public services to deliver according to the varied needs of the communities we live in?

Then ask them do we really believe we can do that if we break our family ties with the rest of the UK and divert our energies and resources to throwing off the established institutions we have to replicate from scratch at enormous cost in hardship and social division.

And he goes back to the sixties for our USP:
Yet a popular slogan of liberals used to be “Make love – not war”. We certainly need more of that today. Building bridges is more rewarding and satisfying than erecting barriers and building walls.

Liberalism was invented in Britain and has deep roots in Scotland. Far from flirting with irrelevance, we are inviting voters to throw off the false identities weighing them down and celebrate their personal independence and our society’s diversity over conformity.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • So Malcolm argues against “polarisation” and then explicitly picks a side in the Nationalist/Unionist debate?
    I would suggest we need to emulate our sister Liberal party in Northern Ireland (APNI) and seek to build bridges across this divide.

  • Denis Mollison 20th Sep '20 - 9:07pm

    Is this the Malcolm Bruce that at a Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in the run-up to the Independence referendum trashed the proposal for a third question on the ballot, not by addressing the issue but by a personal attack on Alex Salmond? (“Bruce and others are so obsessed with Salmond and his party, so stinted by resentment, bitterness and intolerance that their energies are entirely concentrated on defeating the SNP leader.“)

  • “we are inviting voters to throw off the false identities weighing them down and celebrate their personal independence and our society’s diversity over conformity.”

    This is great but there are no policies that follow this idea up, just lots of confiscatory (aka progressive) tax policies and closed definitions of people that have to be defended in a non-Liberal way (which has the reverse effect to that intended).

  • @ Denis Mollison Yes, indeed, Denis, it’s the same Lord Bruce of Bennachie, (formerly Sir Malcolm) who campaigned so fervently to remain in the EU.

    He now campaigns just as fervently to remain in a Brexit Britain controlled by a first past the post Tory Government in London…. ruling out the possibility of rejoining the EU should Scotland ever regain full sovereignty in future.

    Indeed, it’s the same Malcolm Bruce who had the temerity to describe your comment as naive when you said, “the party would pay a heavy price for insisting on a straight yes or no to independence” and warned of the “danger of being dragged into negativity.”

    Given the latest polls suggest a Lib Dem wipe out in the Holyrood elections next May, it’s a fair question to ask who is the naive one now. One is minded of Lewis Carroll’s, ‘You are old Father William’.

  • Present day politics on these isles prefer black and white solutions to complex questions. Many politicians also prefer this simplistic approach. Nuance and conditional constructs get in the way of simplistic policies that change constantly. Coalition politics is one solution.

  • Steve Magner 22nd Sep '20 - 12:23am

    So coalition politics is one solution and we all know how that turned out last time.

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