"Deregulation is a euphemism for destroying the capacity of the state to protect us from chancers, conmen and criminals."
So writes George Monbiot in and article in the Guardian, 24/12/2021.
A hundred Conservative MPs, under the pretext of libertarianism, have opposed their own government over the matter of regulation to protect us all from the dangers of COVID pandemic. Now that the scientists suspect that, if we catch the new Omicron variant, we are 40% les likely to land in hospital than if we catch the Delta variant, supporters of the 100 applaud their "chief chancer" for "getting it right" and avoiding a second Christmas lockdown.
Personally I prefer to take the advice of the medical establishment, which urges us to show restraint and avoid all contact which isn't absolutely all that important to us.
I find it bizarre that Conservative MPs on the right of their party (which seems to be most of them) dare to campaign under the banner of liberty and freedom, issues on which the Tory party and its predecessors have not, historically, been all that keen. The liberties of Roman Catholics to practise their religion in their own way, of non-conformists to attend universities and enter the professions, were never high on their agenda. I suspect that the liberty of Jews to participate in activities was more commonly restricted in Tory patronised golf clubs than in any other area of society (and that includes today's Labour Party).
More recently Conservatives have not been enthusiastic about the freedom of Gays to live their preferred lifestyles (the notorious Section 28 of Mrs thatcher's Local Government Act 1988, banned the "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities and in Britain's schools); nor the rights of Gypsies and Travellers to live according to their traditions; the present Home Secretary doesn't seem too keen on protect the freedom of young people, particularly youngsters of colour, to walk our street; and the liberty of desperate asylum seekers and migrants to reach our shores safely and place their talents and energies at our disposal seems non-existent.
So whose liberties do the Tories cherish? Essentially those of the Have lots" to exploit the "have less" and to preserve their advantages from generation to generation..
Preserving and extending Liberty is the underlying purpose of the Liberal Democrat Party. Liberalism is aptly defined in an earlier Guardian article by Timothy Garton Ash as: "a quest for the greatest possible measure of individual human freedom compatible with the freedom of others." The key phrase is "compatible with the freedom of others."
Migrants coming to our shores do not hamper my freedom, they enhance it. Youths behaving normally in the street are totally compatible with my freedom (though I'm not so sure I can say the same for dog owners who allow their pets to harass me - only being friendly - as I jog round our country park).
On the other hand people who fail to get vaccinated without good cause, or refuse to wear face-masks in enclosed areas, do limit my freedom, both by putting my heath at risk and maybe cluttering up the hospitals unnecessarily should I need treatment.
As R H Tawney famously points out in his celebrated "Equality" (1931): freedom for the pike is death to the minnows.
Tory MPs, especially those representing the "red wall" seats, should consider carefully whose freedoms they are protecting, and how they are likely to exercise them.