Even though I’m a laissez faire capitalist, I believe the wealth of a nation should be measured by the freedom of the people – not necessarily the accumulative wealth of the country.
Protecting freedom of speech, expression and free assemblies are more important to me than increasing GDP. For example, we may envy China’s vast economic power but none of us wish to experience ordinary life in Chinese society; under the authority of a one party state, no free elections, free speech or the right to protest. I’d rather live in economically weak Britain than China, India or even Russia.
Would you rather be a millionaire in a totalitarian state, or poor in a liberal democracy?
One could argue that the financial crash of 2008 has brought some benefits; we’ve finally understood there are fundamentally greater significant definitions to a successful life than making money. I reject the idea of the ‘normal life’, in which we all strive to get that degree, job, house and car. In my opinion, it is a very depressing and uniformed life; the individuality is stripped out of us.
It is wage slavery; a quasi-voluntary form of slavery, which is more humane than the traditional system. Renting ourselves out cannot be interpreted as being successful to fulfilling the needs of the individual.
To paraphrase the final paragraph of a book I once read; who is the true social outcast, the person who joins the rest in the 9-5 circus or the person who doesn’t?
Once we understand aspiration is not just about economics, but personal freedoms as well, Britain will probably become a more freer, fairer and equal society. I hope.
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Well, conference season is finished for a year. Everyone will return to normal working lives and major cities shall return to normality after the political armies have left. We never learn much from conference season, nor are we treated to a bag full of new policies.
Vacuous, tedious rhetoric and partisan sound bites are always on the menu.
There is, though, one lesson for the Liberal Democrats to learn. Stop speaking to the party and start talking to the nation.
The Prime Minister promised a nation on the rise, built on aspiration and a better tomorrow. Ed Miliband invoked One Nationism and a more collective Britain, based on responsibility and community. As for the Liberal Democrats, well…..’Fairer Taxes’ – which is a political campaign slogan, not a vision for a future Britain.
As I wrote back in September, the party needs to spell out what a liberal Britain would look like for the British people. It is no good dedicating the leaders speech to the activists and party members; we’re in government now and governing parties address the people.
The final section of Nick Clegg’s conference speech, a reference to mid 20th Century liberalism, seems foolish and extremely misguided. A lost opportunity to have a conversation with the British people and set out a path for a liberal Britain. He didn’t. And that’s why no one is talking about the Liberal Democrats conference.
In September 2013 when we gather again to listen to Nick Clegg, he should ignore us and talk to the voters instead.
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Posted in Prose, Thoughts, UK Politics, tagged Disraeli, Ed Miliband, government, Labour, one nation, politics, society on October 2, 2012 |
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Rumours are flying around that little Edward is to align himself to one of the greatest Prime Ministers in our history; the father of ‘One Nation’ and, under his leadership, “… done more for the working classes in five years than the Liberals have in fifty” according to Lib-Lab MP Alexander Macdonald in 1879.
His second ministry was attributed to passing some of the greatest social reforms in our history. It included the following Acts:
- Artisan’s and Labourers’ Dwellings Improvement Act 1875
- Public Health Act 1875
- Sale of Food and Drugs Act 1875
- Education Act 1876
- Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875
- Employers and Workmen Act 1875
Disraeli also has a memorial at Westminister Abbey and was offered a state funeral, but rejected it on his death bed. Ed Miliband has a long way to go before comparing himself to one of the legends of British politics. A very long way to go.
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Britain and Canada are to open joint ‘Commonwealth Embassies’ across the world, a counter to the expansion of the European Union diplomatic mission. The coalition government, mainly the Conservatives, are keen to express an interest in defending and expanding the international influence of the Commonwealth – an organisation which Labour cruelly neglected.
William Hague hopes New Zealand and Australia will join the mission in the near future, something that Canada is trying to press for, too. This is seen as the first tentative steps of building Britain’s post-EU future (the Fiscal Treaty and plans for a Federation of Europe makes our exit inevitable); Luke Bozier and I, several months ago, speculated on the idea of a Anglosphere 2.0 – which included the United States. We both believed, passionately, in investigating the possibility of a free trade deal with the Anglosphere and – radically – free movement of people between America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and ourselves.
I’d prefer a political union of the Anglosphere than Europe; we have more in common with our former colonies and our economies are very similar, too. Hopefully, these Commonwealth Embassies prove to be successful and the start of a new future for Britain.
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Posted in Foreign affairs, Political writing, Prose, Protests, tagged anger, arab world, crisis, democracy, Egypt, evil, freedom, human rights, liberation, liberty, protest, protests on July 1, 2011 |
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Economic prosperity and social stability are interlinked. Growth and employment opportunities provide means for tranquility, within a nation, and means for the individual to accumulate wealth and savings. But when economies fail and governments’ struggle to maintain control, social unrest occurs; in extreme cases, a black swan event, a revolution might result.
The Marxist theory of historical materialism articulates the economic bases of societies and its ever changing relation with an expanding or altering mode of production. As Marx himself said, “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.” And when the mode of production is no longer capable of furling the aspirations of society, a revolution must manifest. History depicts struggles and liberation movements, rebelling against-what Marx described-bases and superstructures. Superstructures are an expression, or avatar, for the mode of production and society itself. What contemporary anarchists renamed ‘the system.’ And history shows what happens to Ancien Régime when its avaricious behaviour and irresponsibility infuriates the citizenry.
Resistance and uprising, in the Middle East, began in December 2010. Unemployment, high inflation, poor living standards and corruption were the catalyst – especially in Tunisia; where the Arab Spring began. The economic situation and lack of productivity became a perfect reflection of the political establishment; failure to share the vast wealth more evenly led millions to revolt against their government. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Bahrain and Yemen experienced a great tempest of political and social unrest. The main criticism was the economic prosperity was only held by a minority, and the political class had nothing but tempt for its citizens. It was no coincidence that the governments, in each nation, were soaked with financial benefits and yet the population were starving. In order to attract investment, from global corporations, protesters believed government officials took either bribes or constructed generous taxation for foreign investors. In February this year, the media reported on the personal wealth of Hosni Mubarak (Former President of Egypt) and it was in the region between $40 – 70 billion. How was it that these Presidents’ and Prime Ministers’ had accumulated vast wealth, but the population witnessed poor living standards? The political establishment become a superstructure and the avaricious nature of politics is a product of the economic environment.
To understand the Arab revolts and the catalyst behind the events, it best to look for a historical comparison; most notably, the French Revolution. Historians tend to focus predominately on the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre and The Terror. The causes of the revolution tend to be forgotten. In a way, the French Revolution is more important to understanding the Arab Spring than the American War of Independence.
Revolutionary France is one of the most significant periods of European history, along with the English Civil war, in my opinion. The causes for the revolution are deeply fascinating and rather complex. There are countless stimuli’s for the uproar, especially the crippling debt from strengthening the United States in the War of Independence. But the most fundamental component (in my opinion) was the famine of 1788-89, which saw the price of bread rise by a near 70 percent. Many of the poor and destitute struggled to survive and thus the infamous ‘bread riots’ occurred. The first signs of revolutionary intent in the air. Mass urbanisation of the cities helped fuel the hunger, due to over crowding and the high demand for employment. The hunger and poor living conditions are a breeding ground for civil unrest; we’ve seen this in the last six months in the Middle East and Northern Africa. When a significant population, collectively, faces catastrophic decline in income and prosperity, it is likely to become hostile to the state. Governments become vulnerable when the people become poorer and hungrier. Once held moderate views are easily manipulated by subversive thoughts, if there is a prospect for a better tomorrow.
The nobility of the French regime, with its gluttonous and avaricious behaviour, infuriated the population. Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were far from popular figures within the kingdom – especially his spouse. Their need for vast wealth and extreme expenditure, did not help the nation finances. Participation in the American War of Independence diverted the nation towards bankruptcy. France was broke. But the aristocracy was immune and unaffected; which was a great irritation to the peasant classes. And, similar to the present time in Northern Africa, the people had enough. Revolution was in the air.
The reason for selecting the French Revolution as a historical comparison was down to Karl Marx. He routinely wrote about the events of 1788-89, most notably in the Communist Manifesto. It was very productive in explaining the theory of historical materialism; the French Revolution enabled him to articulate and define his theory, without devolving into complex and structured language. History is a good tool, which Marx exploited effectively.
But, fundamentally, the authenticity of Karl Marx’s theory – was he right? Well, no. Karl Marx was gifted in understanding the present time, circumstances and historical precedents. However, the solutions were always misguided or completely wrong; Britain never experienced revolution, which Marx believed was inevitable. The working classes never aspired for revolution, majority wanted to be apart of the wealth creators not confiscate it from the rich. It is humorous to watch the modern left rally in solidarity with the Arab protesters, who are rebelling against socialist-esque regimes. Egyptians demanded reform and transparency, none of them sought to completely destroy the system and build a new nation. Which completely contradicts Marx.
The Arab Spring might have given birth to Marxist nostalgia, but there is no justification to suggest a Marx inspired or remotely socialistic reasoning. This utopia, which Marx believed in, never transpired and probably never will. Arab Spring revolutions will resort in either two outcomes: a bloody and more brutal regime (as we saw in France and Russia) or prosperous nation (the United States or India). Either way, these revolutions have once again injected more life into a forgotten political theorists and philosopher.
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I’m currently considering writing a book on liberalism. This is a draft, for a potential introduction. Please let me know what you think. Still quite unsure on this project, but I’m carefully pondering the idea.
Liberalism is a doctrine based on equality and liberty. It originates with the Latin word liberalis, which translates into “of freedom.” In the 21st Century and all the turbulence of the New Millennium, we need a guiding philosophy to govern this world; The new world order-system of geopolitics and economic management-requires a philosophy, an idea. Liberalism should be the platform, or manifesto, for Western Civilisation.
The political dominance of conservatism and socialism is no longer relevant to the era of globalisation. Both are authoritarian ideas, which are outdated and difficult to achieve the aspirations of the populis. Conservatism contradicts and denies equality to persons based on their race, gender or sexuality; whereas socialism regularly denounces individual sovereignty and recognises the authority of the state as the final arbitrator in our lives. Apartheid South Africa and Soviet Russia are conclusive evidence, representing the failure of conservative and socialist politics. Both regimes soaked the land in blood of the innocent, driven by a belligerent and vindictive attitude towards dissidents and rivals.
During the 17th Century and the bloody period of the English Civil Wars, it was the forefathers of liberalism, who tried to provide tranquility and stability to a war torn nation. The Agreement of the People,was a manifesto drafted by The Levellers. This political vanguard rose to prominence and actively campaigned for universal suffrage, equality in law and religious tolerance. Popular sovereignty did not occur until 1689, with the introduction of the English Bill of Rights, but The Levellers were among the first liberals. Sadly, these political pioneers were persecuted, but the belief in liberty and equality did not die on the gallows. It subsequently transcended throughout history, inspiring the American and French Revolutions. Liberty is a very powerful calling, which has destroyed countless tyrants and liberated the repressed. Liberals are the sworn enemies of dictators and totalitarian regimes.
But in order to achieve stability and political oversight, whilst moderately accumulating the wealth of globalisation, we do need international liberalism to be the human tutelage of human political evolution. And liberalism is the means to expand global integration, whilst protecting the liberties and rights of the individual.
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Ed Miliband’s leadership is catastrophic. The media’s fascination in coalition politics portrays Liberal Democrat and Conservative backbenchers’ as the main opposition to the executive. Due to the nature of coalition politics, there’s always a new story waiting to be reported and grassroots opinion is almost captivating.
As a journalist, why would you waste time with an ineffective shadow minister?
Majority of Labour’s funding comes from the unions (£4.7 million) and the taxpayer, covering opposition operational costs (£5.7 million). The coalition is finally addressing the absurdity of party donations with a cap of £50,000 – which includes contributions from trade unions. Opposing reform depicts Labour as a self interest party; agreeing to it, though, might bankrupt them. Many individual union members would welcome not paying a levy to the Labour party.
Regicide will only descend into a bloody internal conflict and bitter leadership contest. Ed Miliband might be useless in the eyes of the public, but his neutrality is the only variable maintaining the peace. On the contrary, entering a general election in 2015 could result in annihilation – if Ed is still the leader.
Not only is there a blank sheet, but there is no narrative or core message; no reason for existence. A trade unionist party, enriched in socialism, has no relevance in the post-Marxist world. And Labour need to quickly wake up to this reality.
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Posted in Prose, Thoughts, UK Politics, tagged Cameron, democracy, government, libdems, politics, UK, UK politcs, Vince Cable on April 20, 2011 |
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I quite like Vince Cable – honestly, I really do. He prophetically warned against the boom in housing and the debt within the banking system, even when Balls and Brown laughed at any criticism of their economic model.
But still. Vince has been behavouring in a unprofessional manner recently and -personally- is not helping the party. Seriously. There is a way to maintain our identity without publicly criticising the Prime Minister or giving a nostalgic, mellifluous speech about a previous career in the Labour party. Creating the fraudulent ‘nuclear’ image creates political uncertainty surrounding the coalition – I’m sure Vince does not want to see a spike in our interest rates; that will happen if the government fails to deliver on austerity. And trust me, the voters will not reward us for ceasing the coalition for partisan interests.
I really do not understand the thinking behind last nights speech in Glasgow. Every opportunity he feels an urge to criticise the Prime Minister or government policy. Why? Even Ed Miliband managed to separate his personal and political opinions on Cameron during the Yes! campaign rally. Vince didn’t.
Some of the passages from his recent speech is quite discomforting and demoralising, as a Liberal Democrat member. He openly talks of a proud history in Scottish Labour for being “anti-Tory”, which borderlines on pandering to the left. Grotesquely, I find it deeply unsettling to those of us who believe in new politics. Political pluralism does not promote the Scottish Labour rhetoric that Tores are by nature, and I quote, “a bunch of barstards” and we should excluded them from the arena.
I’m honestly quite astonished by the tone and language; I very much doubt Nick Clegg even knew the content or signed it off.
It is very puerile to present an air of desperation by almost encouraging the Prime Minister to dismiss you from the cabinet. And informing the press about potential career moves and increasing your salary outside politics; tragically depicts a false image that Vince is another career politician. Which damages the Liberal Democrats.
As Simon Hughes recently noted, “we will finish what we started.” And I hope Vince Cable is there to the end, as well.
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Posted in Prose, Thoughts, UK Politics, tagged democracy, freedom, libdems, Nick Clegg, Telegraph, UK, UK politcs on March 28, 2011 |
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I really do not understand the Daily Telegraph. Seriously, I’ve lost count of the numerous obituaries of Liberal Democrat ministers and the party itself. You’d honestly think the paper had nothing better to write about.
The critiques seems to relate to a common denominator: we are liberal. And the Telegraph despises it. After all, we’ve done a lot that a conservative paper would disagree with:
- Free schools
- First £10,000 tax free
- Market involvement in the health system
- Supporting Tory plans to end the 50p tax
- Amending the constitution to prevent powers being transfered to Europe without a referendum
- Reducing Corporation Tax to 23p
- The Freedom Bill
- Restricting the power of the state
- Cutting the deficit
- Possible introduction of a Flat Tax.
Majority of the Conservative Party proposals would not have survived the Commons IF it was not for Liberal support. Surely the editors of the Telegraph adore the prospect of a coalition made up of Tories and market liberals? The country is benefiting from a centre-right and centre realignment of British politics.
Under this coalition we are becoming a traditional liberal party, standing for the values of Gladstone himself. Thatcher once said the great liberal statesmen would be a Conservative, if he was alive today. Well, I have to object to that now. Gladstone would certainly be standing along side Nick Clegg.
But as my mother always says, you can’t please everyone….
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