Liberal Democrats Are the Least Bad Option in Britain’s Election

British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron (Shutterstock/Finbarr Webster)

This British election is an impossible choice for liberals like us.

We can’t possibly support Jeremy Corbyn, whose policies of nationalization and unilateral nuclear disarmament would compound the disaster of Brexit — which he did far too little to prevent — many times over.

But we are not impressed with Theresa May either. She was the best possible candidate to succeed David Cameron last summer, but only because the alternatives were worse. Many British voters could make the same calculation this week. Read more

British Liberal Democrat Revival Starts to Look More Likely

British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron answers questions from reporters in Brussels, February 18, 2016
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron answers questions from reporters in Brussels, February 18, 2016 (ALDE)

After they formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, Britain’s Liberal Democrats only lost elections — local, mayoral and national.

The low point came in May 2015, when the party lost 49 of its 57 seats in the House of Commons. Big names, like Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, were voted out. Liberal strongholds across South West England simply vanished.

Liberals have talked up a “LibDem revival” since that dismal election result and commentators have dismissed it as sheer optimism.

But could there be something to it after all? Read more

Dubai, Singapore and the Future of Neoliberalism

The skyline of Dubai, November 6, 2009
The skyline of Dubai, November 6, 2009 (Jason Rodman)

It is the little things, they say, that count. The small places can tell us big things.

There are no smaller places than city states. Holdovers of bygone eras, they are quite nearly the oldest form of political organization our species has. Only tribalism is older and city states arose from settled tribes that over generations grew into legendary places like Ur, Jericho, Athens, the Yellow River city of Cai and the Indus Valley site of Harappa.

We have no empires left; a few kingdoms, though they keep dropping off the map. Nobody much minds. Yet if we were to lose our city states or our microstates, it would represent a collapse of the international order as we know it. Despite their tiny size, city states are bellwethers of their time. Read more

New York Times Gets Rutte’s Aggressive Liberalism Wrong

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011
Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands answers questions from reporters in The Hague, March 18, 2011 (Rijksoverheid)

The New York Times reports that Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has taken a “Trump-like turn” in the face of a “hard-right challenge”, siding with the “silent majority” in its prejudices against immigrants.

That gets it quite wrong. Read more

Sound Policies Not Enough to Fend Off Populist Challenge

American president Barack Obama speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel during a NATO summit in Wales, September 9, 2014
American president Barack Obama speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel during a NATO summit in Wales, September 9, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

After Donald Trump’s unexpected election victory in the United States, liberal-minded commentators (this one included) looked to Germany’s Angela Merkel to keep the barbarians at bay.

The centrist German leader gave some indications that she’s up to the task of defending liberal democracy and the liberal world order from the nationalist-populist challenge. She conditioned the future of the American-German alliance on shared Western values and urged Germans, after announcing she would seek a fourth term as chancellor next year, to unite and shape globalization “together with others” rather than fight it.

“Openness will bring us more security than isolation,” she said.

Did we read too much into this? Read more

Dark Days Ahead for Liberals

Washington DC at night
Washington DC at night (Pixabay/skeeze)

The light are going out for liberals and globalists around the Western world.

Austria is on the verge of electing its first far-right head of state since the end of the Second World War.

Poland last year switched its centrist, pluralist government for an ultraconservative administration that is threatening the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press.

Marine Le Pen, who leads a party that was once unambiguously fascist, is almost certain to make it into the second round of France’s presidential election next year.

Even in the United Kingdom, the homeland of liberalism, there was an atmosphere of isolationism and xenophobia around the vote to leave the European Union in June.

And now America, “the last best hope of Earth,” as Abraham Lincoln once called it, has elected Donald J. Trump. Read more

Reprimand Liberals, Don’t Repudiate Liberalism

British politician Theresa May gives a speech in Manchester, England, October 7, 2009
British politician Theresa May gives a speech in Manchester, England, October 7, 2009 (Conservatives/Paul Toeman)

I argued here last month that Britain’s Conservatives could alienate liberal voters if they lurched too far to the right.

Theresa May’s speech on Thursday to a party conference in Birmingham did nothing to alleviate my concern. Read more