Wednesday, 20 May 2015

I wish it were true

Stephen Tall relays and seems to agree with a recent Economist article which declares that liberalism is winning in the UK. It has become mainstream, adopted by all the other parties, so there is no need for a Liberal Democrat party any more.

However, one has to ask: what kind of liberalism? The Economist cites the fact that gay marriage, with a few objectors on Pauline grounds, has been accepted by the Conservatives and the opposition alike. But there is more to liberal democracy than embracing gender equality.

David Cameron's rhetoric about Conservatives ruling as a one-nation government does not convince either. It is clear that retaining the unitary nature of the UK was uppermost in his mind rather than eroding the differences between rich and poor. At the same time as he was making his "inaugural" Cameron already had at the top of his agenda of implementing manifesto promises the repeal of the Human Rights Act. Now, it could be that Michael Gove's Bill of Rights would give the same protections under the ECHR as the HRA did, without the need for complainants to go to Strasbourg, but the signs are not good. At best, there will be no room for judicial interpretation which will lead to hard cases.

We have been here before. The wartime coalition led by one-time Liberal Winston Churchill as it had victory in sight made liberal reforms. It commissioned the Beveridge Report. It implemented educational reform. Churchill would also have introduced a national health service if he had won the 1945 election. Liberal membership and supporters drifted largely to the Conservatives, following the absorption of the breakaway National Liberal party. (Incidentally, Mark Pack can add the pro-coalition manifesto of 1945 to his list of Liberal suicide notes.)

Harold Macmillan, who had served with distinction in the Great War and was later affected by witnessing a Jarrow march, and Edward Heath continued the liberal conservative consensus.

Then it was swept away by the doctrinaire Thatcher administration, as this historical analysis (which incidentally disposes of the Disraeli myth) by Mark Stuart in the Yorkshire Post explains.

I would argue that the UK would have been better served if a stronger Liberal party had been able to participate in government in 1978 and again in 1992. We must not allow complacency in these relatively good economic times (for one section of society) to weaken us further. We are still needed in Westminster, as well as Cardiff Bay and Edinburgh.


Frank Little said...

Peter Black's article is also relevant.

Anonymous said...

Any comments?

Frank Little said...

Since the only part of the entry which concerns the Liberal Democrats consists of repeated personal remarks about our candidate, I feel that comment is superfluous.