Monday, 12 April 2004


I often seem to 'slag off' and rebuke the Conservative party in this blog. When I do so, it is not based on any hatred or ill-feeling towards the party, but more on (what I perceive as a) a misrepresentation of the party. The Tories consistently state they are the 'party of freedom'. Yet I seldom see any tangible evidence of such a claim. Their stance on the re-classification of cannabis cannot be seen as being overtly 'liberal'.

Let us examine the history of the Tories since the end of WWII. The Churchill government from 1951 onwards largely adopted the economic reforms of the Labour Attlee administration (thus starting the 'post war consensus'). What did the governments of MacMillan, Eden and Sir Douglas-Home do to increase freedom in Britain. Little. Keynesian macroeconomics is actually more interventionist than other schools of economic thought, such as monetarism, neoclassical economics or the Austrian school. In terms of social freedom, little changed. It was not until the Wilson Labour government of the 1960's, that the UK saw some expansion of social freedom. In this period, capital punishment was abolished and homosexuality and abortion were legalised.

Ted Heath? Well supposedly, the Heath government was to undertake a slightly greater laissez-faire economic policy. This ceased however, when the Heath administration was forced to re-nationalise a blue-chip company. Under Thatcher, well yes in an economic sense, the country experienced a greater sense of economic freedom. Her governments persued more free-market oriented policies, in addition to privatising state industry. The post war consensus of 1945-1970's had died, even before Thatcher won the 1979 election.

Major continued Thatcher's economic reforms and it can be argued that the UK's economic record under him was far superior to that under Thatcher. But in terms of social freedom, only a reduction in the age of gay consent (from 21 to 18 at the time, now 16) could be considered a socially liberal view.

So we can see that the Conservative party has done very little in past decades to increase freedom and liberty, despite their claims of upholding such notions.