Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Liberal future

You spy the swallow but it may not yet be summer. The appearance of the swallow offers me a pretext to lay out a grand narrative; even if it provides inadequate support for such a narrative.

I have been wondering for some time if the British people will ever put right the mistakes made a century ago, when the great Liberal Party appeared consigned to oblivion. Tomorrow it seems an opinion poll of the public will suggest that the Liberal Democrat party is now the second party of British politics. The margin is small and the possibility of error large; but it is significant that the third party has overtaken the party of government; and in the present febrile atmosphere of British politics it may be reinforced in the few short days before voting takes place on Thursday.

The Conservative Party intends to gain from the weakness of the socialists; in the immediate future they may well be beneficiaries. But a short period of government will expose their contradictions; even before that happens the public may become heartily fed up of a party whose true soul, whose arrogance towards government is exposed daily.

So I do not say the pendulum will cease to swing. Yet a pendulum that is left alone will swing ever slower and its span will diminish with each cycle.

For while the 20th century played out the last epic struggles between capital and labour, these are not the battles of this century. The British people may still pretend they hate foreigners but their real spirit is liberal; it is liberal to an extent to which I find astonishing and hard to countenance. No matter. The essence of liberalism is that the people can be trusted; for when they are not oppressed, when the constitution is sound, they will live in peace each with the other.

Neither the party of labour, nor the party of the ruling classes has a place in this future. They may to some extent bear the aspirations of sections of the population. Labour lays claim to what is known as "social justice". It claims it helps the poor and even that it, and it alone, can aid the poor to escape from poverty and even from the class to which they were once assigned by birth; the Conservatives will deny this. They will seek to articulate the aspirations of the British people for order, for moral standards.

Yet neither party is fit to undertake these tasks. For each, the true purpose has long been to govern, to be in power and to struggle with each other and within their own ranks for highest office. Their constitutions do not allow people of true worth to flourish within the political realm.

It may be the purpose of a Liberal government, yet again, to dissolve itself and disperse its power, as once the party did by supporting the aspirations of the workers. For too long the British people have clung to two large parties as if to their childhood nanny's skirts. There is a new generation of Britons, sprung from many races, tutored in many schools and universities and articulate in discussion and impatient of those who would patronise them. Having exercised choice in elections, as they will on Thursday, they will wonder why they are denied choice in the greatest election of all, the election for Parliament; they will wonder even more how a collection of scoundrels, toadies, cronies and discredited politicians can now sit in the hallowed chambers of the one-time so glorious House of Lords.

This is both the spirit of liberalism and the essence of reformist liberal politics. Almost daily it seems people seek to form new parties, frequently funded by the very wealthy. These are a conceit and the British public recognise this. Where is the Jury Party or Libertas, even now, where are they?

I will not seek to set out how this great change will be achieved; one would wish those with true care for the future of this great country to support Mr Nick Clegg. For it was the quality of our governments, the virtue and intelligence of our leaders across the country, that made them great, and gave me the privilege of leading a great force for reform.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Deja vu

I am suffering from a bout of what we came to call deja vu. So little changes in British politics.

It is apparent that one party calls for reform - and the other calls for reform when it is convenient. It has been said that the only institution, which the Conservative Party truly wishes to conserve is the Conservative Party. There was a time when I felt otherwise and believed that the party had leaders with the interests of the British people at their hearts; but they were few and far between. For it dawned on my consciousness that the only time when that party will gesture an offer of power to the many is when it is necessary to conserve power for the few.

There is now a third party in Britain claiming to pursue the path of reform; yet in truth it only ever sought power for its own class - and when its own class diminished and dispersed, it also became a vehicle for achieving power for an elite of its own creation.

That has been obvious for a while to those who observe these things and is now, it seems, made clear to the British people at large.

It is therefore pleasing to observe that the Liberal Party has always pursued a path of reform, has continued to advocate trust of the people, even when for a period it forfeited that trust itself.

I am therefore neither staggered nor jubilant when I hear the Conservative leader, Mr David Cameron, offering a programme, which he claims, in sonorous tones, will promise reform and "dispersal of power". It is little surprise that the measures he proposes are trivial; as Prime Minister he would wish to continue to appoint a favoured few to the once mighty House of Lords. As Conservative leader, he would perceive 50 per cent of the vote as unachievable and therefore would wish to retain a failed system that would allow him to seize power without the fulsome support of the British people. He talks of "considering" fixing the term of each and every Parliament - but he only gives a promise of consideration.

He should look to Ireland, which seems to have delivered reform and progress for much of the last century. There was a time when his party looked to Ireland briefly - and it was only brief. For when it suited Mr Disraeli, he was in favour of Irish self-government; when it was no longer convenient, he no longer favoured the measure. Such has been the Conservative approach to reform throughout the decades. Somehow I could never persuade our dear Queen of the man's duplicity; I do not know what hold he held on the dear lady.

The British people should be aware that Mr Cameron will deliver a mere half of the few trifles that he has grandly packaged as a promise of "reform".


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Stand up for the concert of Europe!

I am astounded to learn there is a party contesting the current elections with the sole purpose of removing the United Kingdom from the concert of Europe. Indeed my current estimate is that this party may well collect as much as a two fifths or one half of the votes that are cast, such is the present mood of public anger at the political classes in Westminster.

Indeed it appears that the main parties are loath to confront this UKIP, this party not of Independence but of Isolation. For it is feared that if votes are not cast for the UKIP, they will be cast even more wildly and dangerously, perhaps for the party that rejects the history of Empire, that rejects the purpose of Commonwealth, that rejects our mingled heritage and pays some confused homage to what - Germanic, Celtic ancestry.

It is therefore time for politicians of moral worth, for Mr Nick Clegg, Mr Vince Cable, Mr Norman Baker and even Mr David Cameron to stand up to the pretensions of the UKIP. I have spied their slogan, which proclaims "time to get back control of our borders" or some such. This is a party that would set this nation back 200 years, beyond the era of John Bright, of Richard Cobden and even, dare I say, of myself. It is a party that would have us live in the splendid isolation of the Napoleonic conflict.

For it is a wonder of the present age that trade flows freely throughout Europe and indeed quite freely over the globe. Even at a time of economic stagnation, Great Britain and Europe enjoy immense and unthinkable prosperity.

A success for the UKIP would place a contingent of Neanderthals, of regressives, to represent our country, to be our ambassadors within Europe. It is a party that will seek to make gain from the failings of the two tired parties of the 20th century, the socialists and the Conservatives, and yet will send representatives to indulge in the flesh-pots of Europe whilst denying the right of that Parliament to exist or to deliberate.

I cannot imagine how our dear Queen would have viewed representatives of that party, she who did so much to unite Europe and whose fragile heart would have been broken yet again by the events that  followed her death.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Glory of the Land laid low!

The Glory of the Land is laid low! The mother of democracy's purity is tarnished, like a Jezebel.

For a while words failed me; I was stuck dumb, like the father of the Baptist, but not by the sight of an angel, no by the venality, the greed of those who now purport to represent the British people.

Odysseus served his King for ten years with nothing but a sword and a shield by his side; Our Lord himself instructed his followers to set forth with "neither staves nor scrip, neither bread nor money; neither have two coats apiece." Such sacrifice of personal pleasures appears not to have occurred to those who have sought to inhabit Parliament's hallowed halls in this century. The nation should mourn, not rage; it should clothe itself in sack-cloth and ashes. For not since the time of Cromwell himself has a Parliament been in such disrepute, have the public representatives so demanded that someone should thunder "Be gone and do not darken these doors again!".

He hath put down the mighty from their seats and hath exalted men of low degree.

Such, it seems, was the rise of the Labour movement a century ago. But now it has become mighty, over-mighty, and it is time it was put down. For the most part its leaders are not men and women of low degree; even though possession of a good degree from a modern university appears not to have imparted wisdom.

Mr Nick Clegg, rightly and honourably, talks of reform. The Queen's ghillie even promises reform; but only it seems to avert the public outcry. The leader of the Conservatives remains silent for fear of what may be revealed about his own party. Reform is necessary but so is honour. And while the public may cry out in anger, let them ask themselves: how often have they voted for a Member regardless of that person's moral fibre, regardless of that person's dedication to the task?

For while the rules of Parliament may be deficient, so is the character of those who have abused these rules. It is said that some have amassed fortunes through the purchase of property aided by the state. Even the first Prime Minister, Mr Walpole, would not have dared to assist his followers through such an extent.

It is time for a clear-out.