The official blog of The Social Democratic Party.

A NEW LIGHT ON LIBERTY

Is Britain seeing its fundamental values facing a new era of 'woke' repression? IVAN KINSMAN, SDP candidate for West Suffolk, believes so. And calls for a counter awakening...

By: SDP

 

 

 

Many of us feel that we are losing a sense of freedom and liberty as being fundamentally British values. We have the British Middle class, especially the young metropolitan elite, many of whom see free speech as threatening, almost illegitimate. But then there is also our whole legal system, swamped by a new set of rules – some imposed socially and some, for example, by employers – that are forcing people to adopt beliefs that they don’t really believe. Self-censorship follows.

In many respects, people almost seem to have given up on traditional enlightenment ideas of liberty. Or to at least have been slowly awakened to the notion that the rights that many thought we enjoyed, and which we have cherished for centuries – the right to know what one is being accused of and by whom, for example – have withered. This may not be the case in the law courts perhaps, but certainly in many other institutions in which a large number of people spend their careers, or under whose influence they live. This is something that is worrying. Yet we seem to have acquiesced to it over the last 20 to 30 years.

“People who have offended progressive norms or who are seen as the enemy of the progressive alliance are visited by the police, whilst extremists who preach jihad seem to get a relatively easy ride,”  as Ed West has noted on Substack.

According to Professor Robert Paul Tombs, professor emeritus of French history at the University of Cambridge, we are now witnessing the resurgence of a kind of Victorian level moral policing by the respectable woke, in which people who are thought to be not respectable – for example football fans or middle-aged women or men questioning transgender – are people who should be properly brought under control.

It was the 1960s that witnessed the decline of Victorian morality and the advent of a kind of moral free-for-all in which it seemed you could say or do anything. It amounted to a very clear, if necessary corrective – and a deliberate dismantling of social control. Now it appears Britain is returning to a state in which speech and morality are to be policed once again, but in a different way – by one’s employer, but also by the mob, empowered by social media.

Professor Tombs believes that in many ways it is rather like Foucault’s Pendulum – it goes backwards and forwards, but because the earth is turning it never quite goes backwards and forwards in the same place. So we’ve had swings towards periods of licence – the 18th century was a time of relative freedom owing to the revolutionary movements – but then swings back to a period of repression during the Victorian period; then the swing of the 1960s, in some ways like the 18th century, with people determined to assert their liberties again.

So now we’re experiencing a swing back to a period of Neo-Victorianism. Whereas the Victorian working classes were kept pretty much under control – through quite a lot of harassment of one sort or another i.e. by the police, by their neighbours, by their workmates, by charities (the Victorian equivalent of today’s NGOs) – we see similar things happening now. The ‘do gooder’ class – which in Victorian times would have seen the Lady Bountiful visiting the poor and telling them that they have to smarten themselves up and not drink so much – is now echoed by the censoriousness of the descendants of the Victorian middle classes. Now as then, these are the people largely running the country – and our universities have been turned into what the historian Rafe Heydel- Mankoo refers to as ‘woke madrasas’, churning out their highly-politically correct indoctrinated graduates.

The 1990s was a period when people could say very much what they liked in public forums without being castigated for their views or censored in the same way they are today, so perhaps this was a utopian period for freedom of speech and belief in the benefits of open debate. Now, we are witnessing a puritan streak in moral progressivism. We have the likes of Greta Thunberg and her climate protests, the climate activist group Just Stop Oil, and the pro-Palestinian protestors and other contemporary radical causes are all morphing into one – what can be described as a kind of all-encompassing ‘omnicause’, with some commentators viewing these activists and their actions as seeking the destruction of Western civilisations.

It can be argued that these are simply youthful rebellions – no different to the rockers, the hippies, the punks etc. who have all challenged the estanblishment and come and gone before. Whilst the modern-day woke Puritans are currently in the ascendant, there are positive signs that Western Civilisation is being regenerated. Because the omnicause in Britain is so much hated by the increasingly vocal silent majority for its destructiveness and seeming hostility to the country’s historic values and traditions, there are now signs of green shoots of push back against these ultra-liberal progressives.

This might be evidenced by the fact that already across Europe there has been a swing from left of centre to right of centre parties – as witnessed in Sweden, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands. The National Rally in France under its charismatic 28-year-old leader new president, Jordan Bardella, along with other far-right parties in Europe, are also poised to do well in the European Parliament elections in June.

The Netherlands, in particular, is a very positive development vis a vis mass migration. Fed up with untrammelled immigration’s impact on their country, the mainstream Dutch voters gave Geert Wilders a shock election victory. After some months of haggling, a coalition government has now been formed under an agreement which will not see a four-party coalition saying it will try to put in place the “strictest-ever asylum regime”. This will involve stronger border controls and harsher rules for asylum seekers who arrive in the country. To achieve this, the pact says that an opt-out clause for European asylum and migration policies will be submitted as soon as possible to the European Commission. And despite the EU’s new migration pact, the bloc is facing growing demands from more than half of its member states to allow them to control their own migration policies and asking for the right to introduce Rwanda-style deportation schemes.

So for many of us in Britain it seems we’re in a waiting game. We will probably come to see a Labour government that will continue to aid and abet the omnicause, and as such this will stimulate many – those who have so far sat on the sidelines – to actively stand up to protect those values, traditions and beliefs that they hold dear. We are already seeing this in the growth of think tanks like the New Culture Forum and an increased interest in parties like Reform and the SDP, those which are much more nationalistic – in the good sense, in terms of pride in country for its ways, culture and achievevments – than the two main parties.

In our society we are have to constantly seek a balance between liberty and licence. Whilst for now it has swung much more towards the latter – and so it’s repression and moral censoriousness for the time being – events being played in Europe show there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

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  • The future of British Politics is the Social Democratic Party there is little enthusiasm for Keir Starmer or Rishi Sunak both parties are on the way out


16th May 2024

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