Tag Archives: karl popper

Why be a Liberal Democrat?

My family had a century of Labour Party membership between us. I left after three decades, coming home, intellectually, emotionally and ideologically, by joining the Liberal Democratic Party.

After one year’s membership, as a candidate in a marginal ward, and part of the campaign to re-elect our popular Mayor, I am writing this in ancient Rome. A timely reminder that the name, “potholes” dates from when the Anglo Saxons dug up the clay from Roman roads to make cookware and that the history of ideas matters. In particular that England has been divorcing Europe since Henry VIII. In this context, why be a Liberal Democrat?

The first reason is the need to keep the ideas of Liberalism and Democracy alive. Our broken politics and failing democracy make this challenging. But the twentieth century taught us that the twin evils of totalitarian communism and nationalism will lead to barbarism every time that the freedom, tolerance and rule of law inherent in Liberal Democracy are abandoned. The works of Sir Karl Raymond Popper illustrate why.

In The Poverty of Historicism and The Open Society And Its Enemies, Popper shows us that when the pseudo-scientific certainty of authoritarian dictatorship defeats liberalism and social democracy, barbarism is inevitable. He also elucidated the ultimate liberal paradox: freedom of thought and speech is sacrosanct but there must be limits on the actions of the enemies of freedom from the left and right.

Second, we are the true children of the enlightenment. Rational, evidence-based policy is already abundant. Taken together with the philosophy above and coupled with a renewal and extension of democracy will offer the best chance of a progressive hegemony in the twenty-first century.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 9 Comments

The Independent View: Now is not the time to debate niceties about constitutional reform

In an attempt to repair his Party’s battered poll ratings and diminished credibility following the veto and its aftermath, Nick Clegg has launched the concept of the ‘Open Society’ into the public domain. It mixes important ideas with a sense of a motherhood and apple pie shopping list.

It’s hard to see how the Open Society concept, with its nods to Karl Popper and Isaiah Berlin, will resonate outside of Westminster at a time of increasing economic concern. When people’s major concerns are the cost of energy bills, the cost of living and worries about unemployment and job security, it …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 24 Comments

Farewell alarm clocks and hello John Major: Nick Clegg’s new strategy

In his speech yesterday Nick Clegg said, “We want a truly open society, in which every man and woman will be able to go as far as their talent, ambition and effort take them”.

Oh wait, hang on.

Sorry, wrong speech.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 26 Comments
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