Classical Liberalism

2 Jun 2013

 

Many people on the Left have been calling for an alternative to UKIP to prevent the rise of an 'extremist' party, and to provide a left-wing protest vote. We've even had an article on this website calling for it - and a very good article at that (Why isn't there an alternative Left? by Soila Apparicio). However, as The Economist has pointed out this week, the current generation are different to any other. At this age, we should - if we're interested in politics - be to the left, traditionally. Now though, there has been a surge in classical liberal economics amongst my peers, understandably so, and consequently I'm calling for a party representing those values to be formed. Would I join? Probably.

 

The current generation is both socially and economically liberal. So we have the social values of the Labour Party, or the Liberal Democrats, but the economic values of the Conservative Party. We want to help the poorest in our society, but we understand that we have to tackle our economic problems head-on, whilst allowing business to thrive. We aren't stupid, and we think that we don't have to pick between being socially and economically liberal, which is the choice we are currently being offered. We see that we can have it both ways. We can have a tough economic policy, but social tolerance on issues such as equal marriage - an issue which I vehemently support.

On a personal note, I have often been told by my parents not to forget my roots, to remember where I come from, and to look after those who are less fortunate - a collectivist approach instilled by the NHS? One would assume so. But I have different values to my parents. I am 'a leftie' socially, but economically my views are more conservative (I hope my parents don't see this) and I'm not ashamed of that. 

I support a free market, capitalism and deregulation. I'm sceptical of privatisation, but I am willing to be convinced. However, I also think that we should have a welfare state and health service that are there to help people; we certainly shouldn't be dismantling these key institutions as the Conservatives are doing - my social liberalism shining through.

I don't think I'm on my own here. Some of my fellow Commentators agree with me – and there has indeed been a classic liberal approach to the 'Snooper's Charter'. There is the view that the government shouldn't be interfering with the liberties of the people of this nation. The government shouldn't be infringing on the privacy of its citizens. A government is there to protect its citizens, not to interfere with their lives.

This hypothetical socially and economically liberal party that I propose could cut corporation tax to promote business in the UK, making these Isles a competitive business hub. These corporations will employ thousands of British workers, and we can fight for worker’s rights to a fair wage by introducing a living wage, to allow the poorest to move away from the breadline, giving people the quality of life that everyone deserves. On another front, to tackle the economic crisis, we could invest in infrastructure and cut spending, rather than hammering the poorest in society by slashing the welfare state. My social values say that these people are the most vulnerable and require the most help, to hammer them is unfair. We can also tackle tax avoidance and simplify the tax system to avoid these issues, raising tax receipts in the process.

The point I'm trying to make is that this philosophy - being socially and economically liberal - is a fantastic eclectic mix of believes. It can be beneficial to both the poorer in society and to business. It aims to aid both of them, not to harm one to aid the other. I genuinely believe that this is a fresh approach that could work. This philosophy would have the social policy of a traditional Labour Party but would have an economic policy that people can trust - something which the current Labour Party is struggling to grapple with.

With this in mind, who doesn't agree with me? We need a new party, a party that represents the values of the youth of today. We should embrace our difference from previous generations and embrace a new, but old, political philosophy. It would allow us to mix and match in order to create the society we want. 

A party with a wide appeal, which has strong social values and an innovation-centred economic policy- what a bad idea!

By Ronan Valentine

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