After some gentle peer pressuring from Josh Dixon, I decided it might be a good idea to verbalise why I am a liberal and to be honest, I’ve found it tricky. I don’t want to toot my own horn too much but I usually just plonk myself down in my swivel chair and write whatever comes to mind but I struggled to attack this task.
In fact, it was only until I was in a queue to buy underwear in Debenhams today that I figured out why I think the way I do.
I have always been one of those people who has strong opinions. Since I was young, I’ve had an opinion on just about everything, usually meticulously thought through and passionately defended – it earns you both plaudits and critics.
Weirdly, I wasn’t really interested in politics until 2010, sure I had my views on certain social issues but I wasn’t really too invested in the whole political process. Unsurprisingly, I was an early victim of Cleggmania. I watched the leader debates that year and was really struck by the consistent liberalism that Nick showed. And apparently, my entire school was, the Lib Dems won a landslide in our mock election the following week.
From then on, I studied British politics at A2 level and found my sympathies consistently aligning with the Liberals, I had decided where my loyalty and morality lied. As I would later find out, I’m a third generation liberal; both my mother and grandmother have been fierce liberals their entire lives.
Liberalism really is quite wonderful. Sure, there’s internal debate within the Liberal Democrats over whether social liberals or economic liberals are the best placed to deliver the end goal of maximised individual liberty but what a great debate to have! How great is it that we can challenge each other over which freedom is greater and which virtue of freedom we should progress further.
There are few things that offend me more than inequality and authoritarianism. I don’t believe the state should be able to tell us what we can and can’t do with our bodies. If we choose to do something, we should be able to, as long as it’s no detriment to anyone else, we should have full autonomy over our destiny.
Likewise, it’s easy for me as a gay man to fight for LGBT+ equality but the real integrity of a liberal comes from fighting for equality from the areas in which you are unfairly privileged. I’m middle-class, white, male and able-bodied but I am passionate about putting forward an agenda that will restore parity among humans regardless of their gender, race, class, sexuality or physical ability.
Liberalism really is great. It’s an ideology that has brought so much good to every part of the world, including this country. Without liberalism we wouldn’t have social housing, pensions, national insurance, women’s rights, LGBT+ rights including equal marriage, and of course, the crown jewel of British politics, the Welfare State.
I’m a liberal because I want the government to provide a safety net, to intervene when it’s needed not hold our hand every which way we turn. I believe that every individual should be allowed to get on in life unburdened by senseless prejudice and unaffected by an overbearing state intent on taking our civil liberties. The biggest affront to liberalism is authoritarianism clad in red, purple and blue. If you agree with this sentiment then you’re a liberal, and you should probably be a Liberal Democrat too.