May 28, 2008
The word "liberal" has been misused by many groups in recent years. Some see it as a badge for laissez-faire capitalism - despite liberalism's concern with equal opportunity and freedom from poverty, ignorance or superstition. Others, see liberals as soft on crime, supporters of Big Government and the welfare state.
However, a dictionary definition describes liberal as :
"relating to or having social and political views that favour progress and reform" - Collins Concise Dictionary p.853.
Intrinsic in the liberal attitude is a willingness to always look to improve things, to question established assumptions and to find better solutions to the challenges of the day. Freedom and responsibility are at the heart of the liberal philosophy.
Today the greatest threat to liberalism is not monarchist absolutism of the type facing liberals in revolutionary France. Rather it is the desire for freedom without the acceptance of responsibility and the selective blindness regarding the need to broaden freedoms for all sorts of forgotten groups in society. Rebuilding social capital and the linkages that unite local communities is one of the main tasks facing the country today. The party that can rediscover the roots of this type of balanced yet progressive liberalism will be the party that surprises at the election.