Monday, October 30, 2006

Let's have some perspective, people

It's been a while since I've felt the need to foray in to the world of politics, but the drought has now ended.

I was reading this article on the BBC News Page and learned that according to the Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris,

"Criminalising flag-burning would be an unacceptable restriction of freedom of expression".

I assume that Dr Harris, who obviously cares about freedom of expression, belongs to the same Liberal Democrat party who made these comments for The Telegraph recently:

"Last night the Liberal Democrats called for Miss Kelly, who is also in charge of Government policy on promoting equality, to resign on the grounds that her personal beliefs are incompatible with advancing gay rights."

The word "inconsistent" springs to mind.

I might not be David Cameron's biggest fan, but I still fail to see why on earth anyone would vote for the Lib Dems*. And let's face it, the comments about Ruth Kelly are neither "Liberal" nor "Democratic" so even the party name is a sham.

*Obviously people do vote for them, so if you are one such person I would genuinely like to know what your reasons are.

8 comments:

dave said...

Totally depends on your opinions of 'liberalism' and 'democracy' as philosophical ideas.

About half of all academics argue that 'liberalism' and 'democracy' is about having checks in place to ensure the promotion of the rights of minorities, in this case gay people.

In conclusion, there are no inconsistencies at all.

Anonymous said...

That's stupendously idiotic, dave.

Chris said...

The contradiction is hinted at in the name, Liberal Democrat. The party is a combination of the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party. The tendency of each party is fundamentally opposed to the tendency of the other: Liberals are broadly anti-regulation, anti-control, anti-big-government, anti-tax, pro-civil-liberties, etc, etc. At least they were historically.

The SDP were a proto New Labour. Socialists prepared to use, up to an extent, the existing structures and established wisdom for controlling, organising and redrawing society upon their preferred lines. They didn't want to explode the status quo, but very slowly erode its foundations, by scooping them out to build a monstrous new sandcastle of their own wisdom and design. High-tax, pro-big-government, anti-civil-liberties, anti-freedom, etc, etc.

It is a marriage between a rather irresponsible antique from the 19th Century and a fussy meddler not distantly related to the worst criminals of the 20th Century (Hitler, National Socialism, USSR, etc).

This murky, indefinite philosophical heart, means one cannot expect consistency - the Liberal Democrats are comprised, by definition, of people who must spend half their time in laboured ignorance of the opinions of everyone else in the party. It is the party for the mentally incapable; or the devious, mendacious political careerists, who desire the platform and prestige of Parliament, without the responsibility and risk of Government, and who have happily sold the majority portion of their brains in exchange for an MP's office.

Or, more seriously, it is the party for people like Evan Harris - who are, bizarrely, and fairly contemptibly, liberal on some matters and fascistic socialist on others - without being embarrassed at the inconsistency.

The Liberal Democrats are an organised contradiction.

JP BA Hons (Oxon) said...

Thank you for all the comments so far - it makes for some interesting debate.

Dave, I'm afraid that I don't follow your logic.

Firstly, "democracy" and "liberalism" are reasonably well defined - you cannot just spout about them being wishy-washy ill defined philosophical ideas in the case when they don't suit your view point.

If the Liberal Democrats were truly "Liberal" they would not care about Ruth Kelly's personal views, and would accept that she is entitled to them whatever they may be. If they were truly "Democratic" then they would accept that she had been voted in by a majority and live with the fact that they don't necessarily see eye to eye with her.

But let us assume that your definition of liberalism and democracy stands. I would imagine that Ruth Kelly is also in a minority with her views and so we should instead be promoting her rights to have such views, not demanding that she be sacked.

For the record, the fact that the views in question are to do with gay people is of no consequence whatsover. I am just stunned that someone who promotes freedom of speech so vehemently can be part of a party who wants to silence those whom they disagree with.

dave said...

I study political theory JP, they aren't well defined at all, they are wishy-washy, fact.

Anon, I love you, but try reading a book.

JP BA Hons (Oxon) said...

I'm inclined to think, Dave, that if our Anonymous friend read a book (even if it was a relevant book) he or she may still think your original comment to be "stupendously idiotic".

But let us assume that your line of argument stands, and that the philosophical ideals of liberalism and democracy do not lead to a contradiction in this case.

There is still no getting away from the fact that Dr Harris's defence of freedom of speech in one issue and his (worryingly communist) demands for the sacking of an MP over her personal views in another issue is nothing but inconsistent.

dave said...

There's nothing remotely communist about demanding the sacking of an MP, thats not covered in the manifesto at all.

And yes I'm inclined to agree with you on the point of freedom of speech, but strands of liberalism in particular allow for quashing of dissenting views in order to empower minorities. Alexis de Tocqueville (one of the first liberals who wrote on the French and American revolutions) stressed the importance of not allowing the 'tyranny of the majority', he feared that in the American system a democratic system would flourish but leave minorities behind (which it has) and so sought to allow extra powers to minorities. A lot of this theory is behind the reason why in a university you won't find a White Straight Male society.

dave said...

Also another thing...

"And let's face it, the comments about Ruth Kelly are neither "Liberal" nor "Democratic" so even the party name is a sham."

In Russia the party that goes by the name of 'Liberal Democrats' is the fascist party. Basically anti-everything except Slavic purebloods. ;)