“I just don’t feel like anybody represents me.” Long before our Brexit divisions, people from across the political spectrum have been feeling disillusioned with politics. They reject the statist, wary-of-modern-Britain conservatism that’s captured the Tories under May. They reject Labour’s anti-business, anti-freedom wrecking ball agenda. They certainly reject whatever Vince Cable’s Liberal Democrats are trying to be, which is barely quasi-liberal and not even quasi-democratic on the issue of Brexit.
What many want, more than anything, is to give our outdated political system and its inhabitants a real, solid kick up the backside. And that may just be about to happen, but the recipe is still missing some key ingredients.
For example, there will be much debate about the motivations surrounding the resignations of eight members of parliament from the Labour party and three from the Tories, but the result is likely to be the same half-baked, uninspiring, Labour-lite statism that we urgently need to steer away from. What Britain really needs is a party not committed to vague, ambiguous “centrism”, but economic and social liberalism.
Because the two major parties, at the moment, seem doomed. The Conservatives have long strayed from their attachment to free markets, low taxes, and individual liberty. It seems that they now are only interested in implementing bans and price caps, as well as giving socialists a run for their money when it comes to promoting the “good that government can do”. Labour, meanwhile, continue to indulge themselves in driving out Jews from the party and seeking the international destruction of capitalism.
Enter the “Independent Group”. What do they stand for? Well, they certainly don’t like Brexit or Jeremy Corbyn. But, apart from that, it’s not yet apparent. They have the potential to grow into a liberal party, but it’s more likely that they’ll simply become a vehicle for the same paternalist and statist policies that we have now.
If nothing else, the Independent Group can provide British political discourse with an injection of
Because when you look at the key issues facing the UK today, it’s clear that the problem is too much statism and not enough freedom across markets and society.
Apart from a select few, most politicians stand against neoliberal policies on drug reform, for example. We need a party that is unafraid to say that what people do with their bodies is their, not the state’s, business. And far from following the evidence on drug policy, politicians like Theresa May have accelerated the war on drugs and made matters worse.
On immigration, Labour doesn’t really know where it stands, while the Tory party stands against the evidence, seemingly only interested in appeasing prejudice and fears. A truly liberal party would make a loud-and-proud case for migration and the freedoms it brings, including to our own citizens.
Perhaps the most pressing issue, however, is housing. Nowhere is the role of government more damaging and the intransigence of those in power more stifling. As the Adam Smith Institute identified, an overhaul of our planning laws is needed post-haste. Freeing up just 3.7 per cent of London’s green belt – which, incidentally, is not necessarily green and pleasant – would allow the construction of one million homes. So, far from implementing more style-and-no-substance schemes like help to buy, the government should simply withdraw its already-damaging presence in the market.
In addition to greater economic freedoms, Britain needs a party equally committed to social liberalism and individual liberty. As Liz Truss recently identified in a speech for 1828, young people are more accepting of wealth and low taxation than their older counterparts, but they also want a party committed to a modern, accepting society too.
So, there is a huge opportunity for the Tories or Lib Dems to occupy this area and fight for economic and social freedoms, but if neither chooses to do so, then they will see an exodus when a liberal party finally emerges.
However inconvenient for those in power who think they know best, people aren’t eager to see more of their hard-earned money going to the state, they don’t want the government to run their business or regulate it into the ground, and they certainly don’t want to be told by a government minister what they can and cannot eat and drink.
What this country desperately needs is a liberal party that
Whatever happens, the arena is well and truly open for a group to capitalise on this gap in the market. After all, Britain is a country with a large liberal constituency – we just need a party that’s prepared to seize it.