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« Soldiers of misfortune | Main | Class of '97 - Tony Blair and the Tory Chicken »

How liberal are the Liberal Democrats?

So, how liberal are the Liberal Democrats? That was the title of a Free Society debate at the 2008 Lib Dem conference and I think we all know the answer. However, in the wake of recent polls, it may be prudent to ask the question again.

According to journalist Henry Porter - the man behind last year's Convention on Modern Liberty - the manifestos of the three main parties suggest that the Liberal Democrats are leagues ahead when it comes to civil liberties.

The party will introduce a freedom bill, regulate CCTV, reduce local council surveillance, restore the right to protest, protect free speech, offer guarantees to investigative journalism, scrap ID cards, end plans to spy on email and internet connections, scrap ContactPoint, reduce pre-charge detention to 14 days and scrap secret evidence. The Lib Dems go much further than the Tories on the DNA database and offer wholehearted support for the HRA.

Full article HERE.

Against that the Lib Dems were the first party to pass a motion favouring a blanket ban on smoking in public places and a week ago the Guardian featured an interview with Nick Clegg in which he declared:

"Smoking ban? I'd leave it as it is," he says, without hesitation. Isn't that a strange stance for a liberal? "It goes right back to the liberal tests of harm, to John Stuart Mill. People should be free to do what they want but not when it harms other people," says Clegg – who admits he still smokes the odd cigarette.

Asked about proposals to ban people smoking in cars, he hesitates. "Hmmm," says Clegg. "No. If you get to that point you may as well ban tobacco." For Clegg being a liberal means he has to draw a line – and he does not believe the state should step into people's private space. "I hope people realise that [smoking in front of a baby] is a very selfish thing to do," he says, perhaps naively.

As for alcohol, he supports further regulation, describing it as "completely unsustainable and unjustifiable" that he sees small bottles of vodka on sale for less than the price of VAT and duty combined. He insists the Lib Dems would not allow alcohol to be sold as a loss-leader, below cost price.

Liberal? I'll let you be the judge. Full article HERE.

PS. I can't believe the weekend polls are anything other than a blip but it certainly brings the election to life. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually looking forward to this week's televised debate.

Reader Comments (3)

My polling card arrived this morning and I really can't wait to vote this awful Government out.

I voted UKIP in the European elections last year, but will vote Tory this time. I'm not just thinking of the smoking ban (I'm not a single issue voter) as everywhere around me I see this Country falling apart at the seams with neighbour set against neighbour. A vote for the LibDems or, for that matter, any of the other smaller parties, would ensure another five years of hard Labour. I know the Tories appear to have rebranded to also occupy the 'centre-left' which seems to be pretty overcrowded already, but my faith is in their grassroots supporters pressing them to change as they are highly vocal against erosion of civil liberties and high taxes. They also have several high-profile MP's who promote policies I totally agree with.

This is probably the most important election any of us will vote in, and I've considered all options carefully. If Labour get in again by whatever means the UK is finished and frankly, I'm scared.

April 19, 2010 at 13:16 | Unregistered Commenterali

If Labour get in again by whatever means the UK is finished and frankly, I'm scared

And I'm off out of this country.

April 20, 2010 at 23:55 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Nick Clegg sounds like a mix between Hitler and Gordon Browns backside, both are bad and all both produce is a pile of s**t, I am voting Tory but i support the ideas of the UKIP. There is no way i would be able to stomach another five years of the Labour party.

April 22, 2010 at 7:34 | Unregistered Commenterclif e

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