Monday, March 06, 2006


On Saturday in the Guardian Ming Campbell wrote a piece lambasting those who claim they are liberal but have no idea what being a liberal means. He said, 'I have been a liberal all my adult life, so I know what liberalism means.' Tell us what it means then Ming. Go on.

He listed some things that being a liberal meant to him:
  • Liberals believe in international law
  • Liberals believe in human rights
  • Liberals believe in creating a fairer society, in which individuals have the opportunity to make the most of their talents
  • Liberals believe that the environment should be at the centre of our thinking
  • Liberals believe in localism

Sadly he has confused being a liberal with the policies of the Liberal Democrats, some of which are also the policies of the other major parties. How can you believe, as a philosophy, in localism and international law? How can you allow individual freedom and protect the environment. You can't. You can't have a truly liberal Liberal party. It won't work. Nowhere in his article did he tell us what liberalism meant in terms of political philosophy.

No one political party, even the one that has it as part of its title, is being fully liberal by philosophy at the moment. They are all fighting to be known as the party that will do what most of the people want most of the time. Political philosophy. None of them have one.


Jonathan Potts said...

Nice post, St. Never thought of "Political Philosophy" as an oxymoron - I like the idea!

The problem with political sloganeering is that politics is so inherently practical that whenever you try to put slogans on it you either end up either

a) having to qualify the slogans with a whole load of caveats

b) saying blatantly contradictory things


c) being an extremist of some sort

Trying to intersect rigorous thinking, simple slogans and practical politics is quite impossible - possibly the biggest difficulty with democracy (not that I'm against democracy - it's always proved better than the alternatives).

fotofill said...

I am not wordy of anything.

Simon said...

It's not always practical. But since the death of socialism, democracy has become simply about voting for people to manage our country. Their policies are the same out of necessity because, obviously, to get in power you have to please more people with your words and actions than the other guy/gal.

What they've all learnt is, in todays media obsessed world, its not about integrity, it's about good packaging and appearing to be useful and/or desirable.

Nowadays, your political party has to be designed to survive in a cutthroat marketplace.

Blimey, I'm even starting to miss Thatcher.

Anonymous said...

I've been missing Thatcher for years.

I think my rifle needs its sights realigning...

Simon said...