Tuesday, 16 August 2016
During the welcome debate on the Party’s principles and identity that followed May 2015, I’ve been surprised by one or two ideas people felt were essential to Liberalism or at least to Liberal Democrat identity.
I was ready for people stressing how the state disempowers people while ignoring how it empowers them. I was ready for people claiming that equality of opportunity was a Liberal concept but aiming at equality of outcomes was anathema. I’ve heard very little of either.
I was a bit taken by surprise by the claim that optimism and a positive view of human nature were essential to Liberalism. I could see that we believed in human potential, but wondered how the optimism about human nature could be squared with the holocaust, the slave trade or a human-induced mass extinction event. I might discuss that one soon.
What I want to discuss now is the idea that consensus is a key Liberal value. This too surprised me, but when I queried it, the hurt and shock on the fellow-Liberal’s face was obvious.