Saturday, 3 September 2011

Testament of Yoof (1)

A member of the Literal History Group is researching the Liberal Revival in the Batley and Morley constituency (as it then was) in the 1960s and 70s. He has unearthed an article I wrote as PPC for our Members' Newsletter in April 1970, and has asked me to what extent I'd stand by it today. Well, pretty much all of it, actually.

The article is rather long (members were assumed to have a longer attention span than in in today's "sound bite" era,) so I'll reproduce in in smaller snippets.

"In past issues of Contact I have tried to explain aspects of Liberal policy in detail. In this issue I should like to ignore, for the moment, the trees and examine the wood - the philosophical basis of Liberalism in the 1970s.

What then is a Liberal?

First a Liberal is a Radical. He believes that the world is a god place, but is wrongly organised at the moment, so wrongly that it cannot honestly be maintained as it is, as the Conservatives believe, nor can it be put right by a few minor adjustments here and there, as the Socialists now believe. A full and fundamental reorganisation is required.

Second, a Liberal is an Egalitarian. He believes that one of the major things wrong with this country is the concentration of power, privilege and property in the hands of the few, whilst the many have little share in the making of the decisions that shape their lives, and very little share in the products of their labour. Some have so little share that, despite our national prosperity, they are very poor indeed. This is the basis of the Liberal's belief in co-ownership in industry , which will improve the distribution of wealth, and comprehensive education, which will improve the distribution of opportunities."

Well, apart from the assumption that all Liberals are male, I stand by all of that. Indeed, in the forty years since it was written "Socialist" tinkering has become even more minor and conservative (vide Tony Blair), the "have nots" have become an even larger group with an even smaller share and, despite the advance of comprehensive education (hampered in my view because the schools are too big through of an over-emphasis on subject choice) opportunities are still very unevenly distributed, and there is much less industry for us to co-own

So a Liberal (Democrat) party with a clear vision of where it wants to go is even more necessary now than in the 1970.

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