Tag Archives: authoritarianism

Labour show their true colours

It has not been a great  week for those who think Liberal Democrats will find it easy to work with a minority Labour Government  or that Labour are our natural partners.

First we had Keir Starmer’s very odd comments on  people working in the NHS – where he said 

What I would like to see is the numbers go down in some areas. I think we’re recruiting too many people from overseas into, for example, the health service.

 

I have recently  spent time visiting someone in hospital and was struck by what a high % of the nursing and auxiliary staff were from overseas : what a message to send to them !  

Of course Starmer knows perfectly we need people from overseas to staff the NHS – this is pure dog whistle stuff designed to get a headline. 

Then we have that old  Labour favourite, identity cards. Labour’s last, fabulously expensive plan, for these was  rightly scuppered as one of the first  (and widely acclaimed ) actions of the Coalition but now  revived by Stephen Kinnock who says Labour is thinking : 

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Labour join the Tories in trying to remove Young People’s rights

On Monday Keir Starmer had an interview with Mumsnet. He was asked the, by now, depressingly standard question on children and young people having access to treatment and support for gender identity issues. His incompetent response threw every under 16 in the country under the bus.

“I feel very strongly that children shouldn’t be making these very important decisions without the consent of their parents. I say that as a matter of principle. We all know what it’s like with teenage children, I feel very strongly about this. This argument that children should make decisions without the consent of their parents is one I just don’t agree with at all.” – Keir Starmer

In a few sentences Starmer committed the Labour party to undoing nearly 40 years of medico-legal practice in the name of appeasing a tiny minority of authoritarians. At a stroke stating he would deny the children and young people of this country access to everything from paracetamol to abortion, vaccination to blood transfusions, if their parents don’t agree they should have access to it.

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Police Bill – a good night for freedom… so far…

So far, so good, as the block of Labour and Liberal Democrat Peers, plus four dozen or so Crossbenchers, are solidly defeating the Government on its so-called “reforms” relating to the right to protest, amongst other things.

But first, Baroness Newlove’s amendment, including misogyny in hate crime law has been passed, as Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece celebrated;

A duty of candour for the police has been added to the Bill as well;

Moving on to the draconian limits on protest tacked onto this Bill by the Government, the amendment by Lord Brian Paddick, removing the proposed right for the police to ban or restrict …

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Escaping from the authoritarians

People who have come to this country because they cannot put up with the political trends in their homeland are often worth learning from. I have supporters in my ward from Eastern Europe who came to the UK despairing of the post-communist rise of the authoritarian right in their country of birth. Interestingly they want nothing to do with the Labour Party. It is the socialist element they are wary of. As for the present UK Government, I feel for my friends, whose citizenship ceremony I shared in, but who now say “But this is the sort of unacceptable government …

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Lord William Wallace writes…Fighting for liberal values

Putin has paid us a compliment.  He’s defined politics as a conflict over values, with liberal values as the enemy that authoritarian regimes like his define themselves against.  He’s full-throated in defending autocracy against democracy: government by diktat, authoritarian leader as father figure, leaning on nationalist myths and ‘traditional’ values for legitimacy. A regime underpinned by force, disguising huge gaps between the privileged rich, close to power, and the poor.  Viktor Orban (in Hungary) and other rising authoritarians haven’t yet gone quite so far: he defines his style of government as ‘illiberal democracy’, retaining some of the outer structures of popular participation while bringing media, universities, and much of the economy under state control.

Many 19th century liberals were optimistic about progress and education leading almost inevitably to enlightenment, tolerance of diversity and minorities, the rule of law and an open society.  The 20th century taught liberals that these achievements can never be taken for granted, and have to be promoted and defended by every generation.  And that’s not an easy task: it’s a complicated argument to defend minorities and minority rights, to talk about the importance of law and political processes, when much of the population is more concerned about economic insecurity and more attracted by the easy promises of charismatic populists.

Britain, like many other countries, has made enormous advances in recognising liberal values over the past fifty years – in opportunities and rights for women, in attitudes to ethnic diversity and to sexual and gender diversity.  But the populist appeal to ‘traditional values’ blows a dog whistle against all this.  Populist attacks on ‘elites’, often described as ‘liberal elites’, dismiss reasoned debate in favour of gut feelings.  Michael Gove’s attack on ‘experts’ was an encouragement to the public to follow their guts and stop listening to reason or detailed argument; his efforts to return the teaching of history to ‘the national story’ would have pleased Putin.  Boris Johnson’s campaign is becoming more illiberal by the day. His dismissal of his own party’s reasoned policy on the sugar tax is a classic example of an appeal to prejudice against enlightened self-interest.

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Authoritarianism with a capital A

Albania is a small European country tucked away in the Balkans but for forty odd years from the end of the Second World War its people suffered under one of the most brutal regimes in modern history.

Liberals cherish freedom and liberty, if you want to look for an example of the opposite authoritarianism with a capital A it could be found in Enver Hoxha’s Albania.

In his excellent book Blendi Fevziu paints a graphic picture of a nation in the grip of fear.

Hoxha’s rise to power was in many way accidental, he was handpicked to lead by a representative of the Yugoslav Communists sent to assist the Albanian partisans in the fight against the Axis powers.

Once secure Hoxha stayed at the top by using terror in all its forms.

Torture, execution and murder were used against anyone seen to be an ‘enemy of the people.’

Internal exile was another favoured method of persecution.

Periodic purges of the ruling Communist party were also carried out, so even those who thought they were on the inside were not safe.

Their families were also targetted for persecution.

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Opinion: We do not belong to Labour!

Across Britain on May 6th people voted for the Liberal Democrats because they liked our policies, or they liked our values. Some voted for us because we were not ‘the other lot’. No doubt a goodly number voted Lib Dem because they felt (quite rightly) the party they truly wanted to vote for – the Labour Party – has lost its heart and lost its soul. People voted for us hoping, but never ever expecting they’d get a Liberal Democrat government.

After the votes came in it was clear that the Conservatives had won the election, but without a big …

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