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Peace, Retrenchment, Reform Part I

In December 1905 Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman (C.B.) became Prime Minister and a month later he led the Liberal Party to a landslide victory. It was by some margin the most radical government to date.  115 years ago C-B still chose the old Liberal campaign slogan of “Peace, Retrenchment, Reform”.  Over a century later James Oates thinks the future success and prosperity of our country now depends on rediscovering our Radical traditions and has written three articles on translating them into a coherent programme for the future.  This is the first essay: “Peace”.Peace: The Place of Britain in the WorldThe challenges we faceLiberalism, from the Midlothian campaign of 1880 onwards, has always been an outward looking ideology.We understand that there are core democratic principles that do not change, no matter what the country or the culture. These principles are enshrined in the United Nations Charter and include an unbreakable commitment to the dignity of the individual, the equality of …

An Ever Flowing Stream

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:4
The response in Britain to another murder of a Black Man by American police has been curious. The UK is much more comfortable inhabiting the past than discussing the future.Working out a path towards a more just and fair society is hard to do, it involves discussing the warp of the crooked timber of humanity, accepting difference, making uncomfortable choices. So, we did not do that. We choose instead to condemn the past, rather than build the future. This is not to say that there is nothing to condemn in the corpulent complacency of the tycoons of the slave trade. The profits in trading human lives were made in suffering and blood that seems inconceivable to any rational human, and yet it was so. Nevertheless, the past is no less difficult than the future, for every Edward Colston there was a William Wilberforce. Eventually the British Empire was among the very first to abandon slavery and the…

Post Truth and Justice

The past decade has seen the rise of so-called "post truth" politics.  Instead of mere misrepresentation of facts to serve an argument, political figures began to put forward arguments which denied easily provable facts, and then blustered and browbeat those who pointed out the lie. 

The political class was able to get away with "post truth" positions because the infrastructure that reported their activity has been suborned directly into the process. In short, the media abandoned long-cherished traditions of objectivity and began a slow slide into undeclared bias and partisanship. 

The "fourth estate" was always a key piece of how democratic societies worked, since the press, and later the broadcast media could shape opinion by the way they reported on the political process. As a result there has never been a golden age of objective media, but nevertheless individual reporters acquired better or worse reputations for the quality of their reporting and the j…