Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Liberal England is Dead

The UK is in the midst of election season for the first time in 5 years. The hot topic is the rise of Nick Clegg and Liberal Dems who are outpolling Labour (though they won't win half the seats of Labour or the Tories because of Britain's first past the post voting system). But, as Burke's Corner points out, Liberal England is dead.
Therein lies the explanation for the inevitable bursting of the Clegg bubble. Liberal England died as those heady years of Edwardian progress ended in constitutional crisis, class conflict and Ypres. Now the Liberals are merely those in the north of England who dislike Labour and those in the south who dislike the Conservatives. At local government level, they are merely like Joseph Chamberlain - urban and urbane conservatives.
The Lib Dems are, in other words, ironically defined by the two great British political traditions - Labour and Conservatism. Apart from those traditions, the Lib Dems have no meaning, no identity. Almost a century on from the events of which he spoke, Dangerfield's words continue to echo and describe our politics. Nick Clegg and his party are not the great Liberal tradition reborn. Liberal England is indeed dead. [emphasis mine]

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