Thursday, 19 February 2009

"Too Much Of An Old Fashioned Liberal"

I was rather amused a couple of weeks ago to be described by Damian Collins, the Tory PPC for Folkestone and Hythe as "too much of an old fashioned liberal" to join the Tories. There is a hint of a suspicion that Damian was looking to cast me as an old fashioned sandals and beard type of liberal which frankly is about as far from my image as it is humanly possible to get as I think he knows.

I think that my liberalism goes rather deeper than just the 1970s and 80s and, as the title of this blog suggests, my liberal inspirations can be traced back to the 17th Century English Civil War controversies and perhaps even earlier than that. As I got deeper into politics in the late 1980s and 1990s my interest in history has deepened and I find inspiration in John Milton (which some people would do well to read and reflect on since it would challenge their "Thought Police" neo-Stalinist mentality), John Lilburn, Thomas Paine, Gladstone, Lloyd George and more latterly Isiah Berlin, Friedrich Von Hayek and Maynard Keynes amongst others (the latter two not being as contradictory as some would claim).

Deep down I have always wanted to stand out from the crowd even in the face of personal ridicule. It would be easier sometimes to conform and join the herd but this is something I have never found easy to do. Authority should always be questioned and challenged, not merely for the sake of challenging it but to ensure that it does not break down into tyranny. Alternative centres of power are desirable, necessary and frankly essential in an era where I believe our hard won freedoms have never been under greater danger from Ministers who seem hellbent on using the cloak of terrorism to justify the greatest assault on civil liberties since Charles the First foolishly sought to subjugate the citizens of this country through his nonsensical claim to have a divine right to rule. Organisations can also readily become tyrannies should certain individuals believe that they have greater entitlements and rights than others. Cliques are very dangerous organisations within organisations and ultimately are quasi-tyrannical and self-destructing.

Both Labour and Conservative parties have shown themselves to be wedded to state power. In Labour's case this has traditionally been in the area of economic relations. In the Conservative Party's case state power has historically been used to exclude minorities and at times to moralise about how people should lead their lives (John Major's "Back to Basics" campaign springs immediately to mind. For much of the 20th Century it was also the party of protection and imperial preference. Their conversion to the ideals of Free Trade are welcome but how deep is their real commitment to free markets? Freedom of movement of labour? No, I don't think so.

Liberalism has always been about allowing people to choose how to live their own lives as long as their actions do not affect others. This has always appealed to me and I don't see this as truly reflected in the Conservative Party even today.

Am I too much of an "old fashioned liberal" then? Yes, sir. Guilty as charged.

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