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Homeless liberals

By Alex Chatham
June 19th, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Comments Off on Homeless liberals | Posted in Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Liberal Philosophy, Libertarians

For some, Tim Farron’s resignation as leader of the Liberal Democrats demostrated the failure of the party to live up to the first part of its name. It is more likely that the equivalnt of Lib Dem ‘men in gray suits’ wanted Farron out because he failed to secure many more MPs at the General Election. Of course, the party has long been associated with nannyism and a desire to interfere in people’s lives: none of which is very liberal. It is certainly nothing like its previous incarnation. The old Liberal Party might have had its quirks but the liberal tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill coursed through its DNA.

If the Lib Dems are’t liberal, who is? Conservatives for Liberty are doing their best to stake out liberal ground within the Tory party. The problem is that Conservatism is a broad church and some of that church, as we have seen recently, doesn’t much like liberalism. Even the Tories who argue for low taxes and a small state don’t talk about limiting government, a key component of classical liberalism. Of course, you can keep making the case and right now the Conservatives are about the best you will get if you want economic liberalism.

The other options are to support a liberally-inclinded think tank or individual electoral candidates. At some point, we might get a liberal party committed to the rule of law, limited government, tolerance, liberty, plurality, peace  and free markets. In the meantime, homeless liberals have to work out how best to maximise freedom in a climate rather unsympathetic to the liberal creed.


Is the May campaign setting itself up to fail?

By Guest
July 2nd, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Comments Off on Is the May campaign setting itself up to fail? | Posted in Conservatives

At the moment the narrative of the Conservative Leadership election is relatively simple. The successful Leave campaign failed to adequately plan for actually winning. Lost confidence in the figurehead most responsible. And are now fighting like ferrets in a sack for the right to represent the true Brexit flame. Through this chaos emerges St. Theresa of May. The voice of calm. Of continuity, and the only sorta-Leavy Remainer capable of bringing unity to the Party, stability to skittish markets, and and discipline to future negotiations in the national interest.

Reinforcing this narrative is the overwhelming support of the majority of declared colleagues. And what little polling data exists, where her name recognition alone puts her comfortably ahead amongst Conservative voters and members. This in turn means she’s also way ahead on betting markets.

But these are early days. When the shock of the Borxit subsides, there will be one Leave contender in the final two. Or if May is feeling supremely confident, Stephen Crabb (the other Remainer), through a cleverly engineered final round with overwhelming numbers. Let us for now assume not.

The Leave champion at the moment is likely to be Leadsom not Gove. His unusual approach. Trust me I can’t be trusted. Choose me to lead, I’m not a Leader, appears to be going down like a lead balloon. While Leadsom has lead in her pencil (apologies that’s too much heavy metal).

So let us assume May versus Leadsom from mid-July to early-September. May’s name recognition is still going to matter. But is a declining asset. Her stability narrative is going to matter, but will be open to more scrutiny, as will her record. Something she has already tried to block examination of by a bizarre attempt to get a critical article suppressed by the Telegraph.

Her allies have also erred by attempting to suggest the members vote should be avoided. There should be a coronation suggests Anna Soubry. This might have flown, had last week’s markets not rebounded so strongly. But with a recovery and settling down to business as usual. What’s the case?

It’s a bold gamble. It will be reinforced if she gets over 150 MPs in round one. But it’s also a huge, huge error. Theresa May may not have noticed. Hiding in the Home Office as she was for most of the campaign. But the British establishment just got an almighty kicking from the electorate. Conservative voters being some of the bootiest kickers.

Her pitch then… trust us… we’re the team that know what we doing… what a vote… gosh why bother… and besides which… you little people sometimes get this wrong… I mean look at Corbyn… You lot… you’re just like Momentum on the right really… Why risk it when all your seniors and betters are saying I’m your gal?

Seems to fly in the face of both the recent result, and growing rebelliousness of the voting public over the course of a decade.

When the Conservative members do get a proper chance to look at the final two they may well think she’s right. Particularly if Brexigeddon ignites all over again and they start believing Project Fear. The Little Englanders are making England little they might think. Cling to nurse for fear of worse. They are after all conservatives.

Or they might start feeling that familiar roar of irritation. They may look at the May coalition, and see careerists and opportunists, not nobility and calm. They may look at her opponent and see a plausible alternative. A chance for a fresh start, and to remind their MPs that the leaflet pushers are not to be patronised. That marginal policy differences aside they’d rather their Leader stood up for them and the public, not the island of Westminster and it’s self-serving certitude of the right to rule. That is a plausible risk for May.

And if she ploughs on like the Remain campaign. Lecturing not listening. Demanding respect not earning it. The result could well be a surprise.

My Year As Tory Scum

By Sara Scarlett
December 26th, 2015 at 12:48 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Conservatives, Liberal Democrats

After years of being told to ‘join the Tories,’ last year, I did! Here are a few thoughts…

I am still glad that Cameron is still Prime Minister despite his cowardice and “wetness.” I would rather have him in charge than any of the other Party Leaders who were around on May 2015 and any of the Leaders who are in charge now. Tim Farron strikes me as a nice man but ultimately he’s a charisma-free zone. Whilst I will admit the same could be said of Cameron, the Liberal Democrats need someone really special to decontaminate their brand and I don’t think Farron’s up to it. Cameron to his credit did decontaminate the Tory party brand.

The Labour party appears to have elected the cross between the President of a Polytechnic student union and a tramp. UKIP would be in a really strong position right now if they had changed their Leader and Douglas Carswell knows it… But the talent in UKIP may simply not be there. It could easily be the case that Farage is the best they’ve got. There are also other parties, I believe.

I’ve always been disappointed with Conservative party policy, a feeling shared by most of the classical liberals in the Tories, and I still feel disappointed with a great deal of it. Cameron hasn’t really brought in anything resembling sweeping reforms. To deal with the big issues like the deficit, health care, education, welfare, pensions and housing, there needs to be big structural change and if I have to make a predictation, I would confidently bet that the type of reform that’s needed is not going to happen under Cameron. He’s an okay caretaker but someone else is going to have to fix inherent problems in the system. Issues like a shortage of school places could be very easily with things like vouchers and profit…

I find myself, however, less angry at the Tories than the LibDems. The Conservatives are not Liberals and that’s okay because they’ve never claimed to be, or called themselves, liberal/Liberal. Conservatism as an ideology has always struck me as rather thin and unengaging but then someone in the LibDems will advocate sending smokers to prison and it will enrage me.

Unlike the left, the Conservatives are good when it comes to self-awareness. They are less good at framing the debate on their terms largely because the ‘unelected state’ – e.g. the BBC, the Arts, Academia – have a heafty left-wing bias and often define the terms of the debate before any political party gets a look in. Compassion should not be defined by how much money you throw at public services regardless of their effectiveness and outcomes. The Foreign Aid budget is a perfect example of this.

The LibDems are in bigger trouble than they realise. They’re not well placed to deal with a moderate Tory government. A lot of LibDem policy is surprisingly under-developed considering how long they’ve been around. The party caters almost exclusively to people working in the public sector and education with very little to offer those of us in the private sector.

More pertinently – I’ve also never heard a Tory say to anyone: “Why don’t you go join the Labour party?” Not ever. Not even once. The Tories will take your direct debit and cooly welcome you to tea and biscuits with the local council. There’s something inherently superior about about a political party that doesn’t alienate the very people who are giving it the money it needs to survive. What defines a Tory is whether or not you’re a member of the Conservative party not some arbritrary purity test. Despite finding myself drinking with a small subset of classical liberals and libertarians wondering why the party isn’t more into freedom – just like I did in the LibDems – the Tories are just so much more *together* with each other. The left-leaning Christian socialist wing of the party won’t try to expunge the neocons and vis-a-vis. In British politics broader churches are stronger churches and the LibDems inherent inability to manage that has been their downfall.

How many seats will the LibDems get next election? I’m going to go with four. Guesses in the comments section, please…

George Osborne reveals his Whiggish side

By Alex Chatham
October 7th, 2015 at 10:00 am | Comments Off on George Osborne reveals his Whiggish side | Posted in Conservatives

On Monday, George Osborne set out his vision for Britain. Much of the commentary has focused on his political cross dressing. But there was something else going on in the speech. Osborne talked about how Britain has progressed. It was a Whig view of history. If Osborne becomes Prime Minister, we may see a more Whiggish government in operation. But if that is to happen he will need to deal with Theresa May’s view of immigration.


Conservative Government: liberal scorecard

By Alex Chatham
June 1st, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Comments Off on Conservative Government: liberal scorecard | Posted in Conservatives

From time to time, it is worth judging the Governemnt on a liberal scorecard. So, how are they doing so far?

They score well on their commitment to significantly reduce red tape but poorly on their plans to monitor the public as part of the campaign on terrorism.

Here re are some suggestions on how they might up their liberal score:

  • Abolish some Government departments. Vince Cable wanted to abolish BIS before he got to run it, so that would be a good start. Other departments suitable for  the chop are Sport, Media and Culture, DECC and if you wanted to be very radical Education. After all John Stuart Mill argued that Government should fund education but not provide it.
  • Reform the Licence fee. Why are we paying a poll tax to consume entertainment?
  • Draw up a constitutional settlement that allows people to run their own affairs.
  • Stop telling people how to live their lives.