Tag Archives: economic freedom

Why it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to take back the mantle of freedom

The topic of freedom in politics is highly contested. For the Conservatives, in recent years,  this has centred around economic freedom. Is this still really relevant today?

Back in the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher’s programme of economic liberalisation saw an explosion in economic freedom – more people were able to purchase their own council houses and stock market novices became rich overnight following the countless moves to privatise various public utilities.

Despite regular musings by Conservative MPs that they remain the party of low taxes, personal freedom and individual responsibility,  the facts tell a different story. A recent poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that only 14% of voters believed the Tories had a reputation for lowering taxes.

Personal freedom has also become a significant grey area for the Tories. The majority of the parliamentary party backed vaccine passports in 2021 – something that the Liberal Democrats firmly opposed, with Ed Davey labelling the scheme at the time ‘a grotesque misuse of government diktat’.

While the Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly  required great vigilance and government intervention, any party that holds a belief in liberal values and is a carrier of the torch of freedom should understand the importance of not enforcing schemes on the populace that could be a precursor for revolt. Whilst vaccine passports were introduced, they remained deeply unpopular for their time in existence.

Any discussion about personal freedom would not be complete without the attack on the Human Rights Act by the government. Prior to its introduction in 1998, if an individual wanted to challenge a government act as unlawful, they would be required to invoke our ‘common law’ tradition of the rule of law. Essential rights were established on a case-by-case basis, regardless of the right being discussed.

With the passing of the HRA, the UK constitutionalised the common law – and gave more power to the individual to secure protections guaranteed by the state. No longer were people subject to the whims of the particular case. Human rights were now universal and guaranteed legal certainty.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 23 Comments
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