Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Ming Dynasty

We have a new leader of the British Liberal Democrats. As I had hoped, it is Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP. Congratulations to him and his team, and congratulations to us- we have a leader who looks for more like a Prime Minister than the shallow Mr. Cameron or the volcanic Mr. Brown (if it is to be him as the next Labour leader).

As for the Conservatives, faced with Ming, a bloke who has fought his whole political career based on principle and substance, they are shrilly screaming “too old”.

Oh really? It couldn’t be, could it, that they are a bit nervous? Cameron is straight out of the Blair school of shiny, shallow politics- and the game is moving on. When faced with Blair and Cameron, it is quite hard to spot the evil twin. Both like illegal war, authoritarian policies and the government telling you what to do.

Tories: you could have been principled too (although admittedly most people don’t like your principles either) but you have ended up with a guy from the pages of Tatler, when you really needed someone less shiny… and more honest.

Those of us who want the Liberal Democrats to fight for a muscular Liberalism, with Freedom as the definition of our policies, will be watching closely the new regime. We know that Ming will fight our corner on such issues as ID cards and civil liberties. We now need to define the economic priorities of Liberalism. For me, that means abandoning the myth that we can plan the future in detail and create a flexible political system that responds to change effectively and efficiently. This also means setting the limits of the state- not just in a social way, but an economic way too.

The state should not spend more than a set percentage of national income- what that limit is, we can debate, but it should not be more than at present, and arguably it should be quite a bit less.

Liberalism is "Trust in the People, tempered with prudence"- it is not "Trust in the State, tempered with greed".

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