2 thoughts on “The Orange Book and the battle to ‘reclaim’ liberalism”

  1. Posted 26/06/2012 at 02:08 | Permalink

    Tom, I’m sorry to have to be the crushing voice of political pragmatism here, and rain on your parade: theres no chance in hell that the Lib-Dem conference will pass any of these proposals into party policy.

    In the same vein that Labour abandoned it’s quasi-socialist beliefs in the early nineties, classical liberalism ceased being the ideology of the Liberal Democrat party for longer than I’ve even been alive! Remember, in a stinging rebuke against the Lib Dem leader David Steel during the 70s, that titan of the liberal school Hayek wrote in a letter to the Times that the Lib-Dems are a party ‘unworthy of bestowing themselves that title [i.e. liberal].

    Ultimately, the party members will reign supreme over the Orange-Book mafia of the parliamentary party. Consider the sheer rage of the Lib-Dem members at large when Clegg + Laws et al. signed them up to the coalition. The cuts being pursued by this government are incredibly modest by IEA standards, and yet the outcry against the free-marketeer Lib-Dem MPs was deafening. Analysing the mood within the party, it’s highly likely that Tim Farron will be their next leader: I couldnt think of anybody more averse to classical liberalism bar Bob Crowe or Fidel Castro!

    State expenditure is hard-wired into the DNA of the social-democratic party that call themselves the Liberal Democrats. For many years in fact they were throwing out spending proposals that would have resulted in a greater proportion of state expenditure than under New Labour.

    Maybe it’s time to face the facts? Maybe there will never again be any great liberal crusade: no radical culling of state expenditure; no bonfire of the quangos; no severing of the regulatory red tape. Perhaps economic liberalism fought its last battle in the dying days of the 18th century, never again to rise from its grave save only in the epitaph that is the Orange Book.

    I fully acknowledge that the majority of great intellectual reformers are scorned upon in their time, Keith Joseph springing to mind as a fairly recent example. However, focusing on the long-standing political sentiment of the Lib-Dem party, all I will say is this: Mark Littlewood will be seen campaigning for the Socialist Workers Party before the Lib-Dems get anywhere near that which you’d define as economic liberalism. This, I guarantee you.

  2. Posted 26/06/2012 at 17:34 | Permalink

    A small correction for my comment above: ‘Perhaps economic liberalism fought its last battle in the dying days of the 19 century (as opposed to 18th century, written previously)

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