Michael Meadowcroft: time for Liberals to start truly believing in Liberalism

by Stephen Tall on September 30, 2012

Years ago, I wrote a blog-post, Time for some kick-ass liberalism:

Liberalism and liberals have, for too long, been on the back foot, apologetically afraid to stick up for our credo – that the individual is best able to find fulfilment through active involvement in society, and that society can best motivate the individual by guaranteeing personal freedom.

Lifelong liberal Michael Meadowcroft has some at least as trenchant words in today’s Guardian, lambasting those within and without the Lib Dems who seem to delight in perpetually balancing on their backfoot, then wondering why liberalism never makes a convincing leap forward. Here’s an the conclusion of his article,  Liberal Democrats in the firestorm – time to push the vision:

Over my many decades of campaigning for Liberalism there have always been those who believed in the ‘magic bullet’ theory of politics: that if only we could find such a device it would transform our fortunes. The new charismatic leader, the elusive slogan, the next gimmick, or whatever. The magic bullet does not exist and the real failure has always been the lack of a sufficient belief by Liberals in Liberalism.

Our society today is in the abject state it is because of the weakness of Liberalism as a political force over decades which has permitted Labour and Conservative governments to undermine communities, to destroy local self-government and to promote economic over human values. We are paying a heavy price but we now have the possibility of changing it. In Nick Clegg’s words:

“We are setting ourselves a high hurdle. To govern wisely on the basis of our distinct liberal principles and to set out a compelling vision for a more liberal future. We have to make this parliament a liberal one.”

Of course the party is worried by its low standing in the polls and it is rightly infuriated by the illiberalism of its coalition partners but, whilst it certainly has the task of publicly praising Liberal Democrats in government for their achievements and of privately criticising them for what it believes are its failures, its key task is to keep promoting the party’s underlying values and its separate vision. A party’s membership and its campaigning zeal come from its beliefs and its heart. The party must always be the expression of these. It would be foolish to be diverted from this and to fall into the trap lovingly prepared by our enemies.

Great stuff. More please.