Somebody must stand up for those of us who are both economically and socially liberal. Currently there is no political party that represents our views.
Few can deny that illiberal (i.e. socialist) economic policies have been nothing but an unmitigated disaster. Experiment after experiment with socialist economic policies throughout the 20th century has caused nothing but economic stagnation and uncontrolled debt wherever it was tried – The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Communist China (until they became State capitalists), North Korea and recently left leaning economies of Western Europe. This is probably because the economics is fatally flawed (eventually they all run out of other people’s money to spend) and the people who advocate socialism generally have a strong social agenda and no economic agenda. i.e. they want to spend money but have little idea or interest in how to earn it.
On the other hand there are many of us that also value personal freedom as defined as “freedom from the tyranny of The State” or “freedom from the tyranny of the masses” i.e. a society where liberty is achieved by imposing a limit to the power that can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. John Stuart Mill et al.
The Conservative party’s natural instincts towards liberal economic policies are contrasted with their conservative beliefs towards crime, abortion, gay marriage, legalization of drugs and prostitution. This puts them firmly in the illiberal social policy camp. George Osborne and David Cameron have gone some small way to liberalising Tory social policy, but the Tory right (particularly the silver haired wing) are resistant.
By being real Liberals (i.e. advocating liberal economic and social policies) the Liberal Democrats could give us a “third way” and a genuine additional choice in politics.
But the Liberal Party has flirted with disaffected socialists (Social Democrats) who wanted an alternative to Labour. They seem to be as illiberal in their economics as Labour, so I discount them as “liberal” in the true sense of the word. Their current political positioning seems to be to provide restraint on the biggest political party in a coalition government. So whichever party gets the most votes they will effectively promise that they will try to stop them doing anything.
So we currently have a choice between illiberal economic policy and liberal social policy (Labour) or liberal economic policy and illiberal social policy (Conservative).
The reason The Conservative Party should consider more liberal social policies is because this seems to be the future:
“Young Britons are classical liberals: as well as prizing social freedom, they believe in low taxes, limited welfare and personal responsibility.”
“Every successive generation is less collectivist than the last,” says Ben Page of Ipsos MORI, a pollster. All age groups are becoming more socially and economically liberal. But the young are ahead of the general trend. They have a more sceptical view of state transfers, even allowing for the general shift in attitudes”
Whilst valuing personal freedom Britain’s youth is fed up with collectivist, socialist economics. Adopting more liberal social policies, as Cameron and Osborne have tried (with gay marriage for example – a subject important to Britain’s youth) could help modernise the Tories. It would attract this younger electorate and secure future election victories once their current silver haired supporters have died. I also hope and believe that the socially illiberal policies of the Tory Right will expire at the same time, making them vote losers in the future.
I give Labour a smaller chance of liberalising their economic policies because of the hold over them by the trade unions, who have only a social agenda and no sensible economic one.
My interest in modernising the Tories is that this will also ensure no future political party ever gets the opportunity to recycle the failed socialist economic policies from the dustbin of history, where they rightfully belong.