Sunday, 16 May 2010

Personal Liberty And The Coalition

There is a very strong utopian streak in me, that leaves me fascinated with ideologies such as Communism, Mormonism and Fascism. Before you all start clicking the exit button, relax. My fascination goes no further than philosophical interest, for one thing plants my feet firmly in liberalism; individual liberty. Whilst I might pine for a world of sunny, happy people I know (with evidence from history to back me up) such a world can not exist. So I look for the next best thing; a world within which people can be whoever they wish to be as long as their liberty does not come at the price of another's (a complicated but necessary equation).

I broadly support the Coalition but I know where the real test of my faith will be; the Tories own nannying tendency.

The Coalition agreement sees, thankfully, a lot of Labour's "nanny state" laws being pushed back and, if the legislation actually passes, restores much cherished civil liberties. This was one of the issues that sold me on the agreement. Whilst Labour like to interfere with civil liberties in a more public sphere, some on the Tory "moralist" right would, if given half a chance, like to interfere with your personal life behind closed doors.

Iain Duncan Smith's Centre for Social Justice (also a home to failed Tory PPC Philippa Stroud) is something set up out of a real sense of worthy purpose. IDS' new found belief in improving the lot of the less well off in society should be applauded. Alas, it comes at the cost of letting the state into your house and into your bedroom.

Firstly, as a child of a single teenage Mum, I hate this knee jerk dislike for single parent families. Yes there are certainly statistics that show there might be issues. But these are issues such as bad parenting, abuse and poverty. These things don't need the state to start telling people how they live their lives. These issues require better education, more opportunities for affordable child care and more flexible job opportunities. A parent with the knowledge they need, an income and the knowledge that their child is safe and cared for is going to be a good parent and a good citizen. They don't need to be told when to have sex, or who to live with or who to "marry". Which leads me on to...

Secondly, incentivising people to get married and using a rod to keep them married is an unsightly intrusion into the personal lives of each and every one of us. I have some radical views on partnership rights (see Page 14 of this for an explanation from Peter Tatchell), but basically believe the Government should keep it's mitts out of our lives and who we choose to enter into a partnership contract with. That legal contract can be dealt with by the courts and the Government should steer clear. Any attempt to dictate how and when we should enter into and get out of such contracts is a fundamental invasion of that very contract between two people.

I will hold my tongue until we see what direction this Government goes in.

I'm also steering clear of mentioning homophobia for now, but this issue too will be a make or break one for me on the Coalition. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones and forget the past of various Tories. But I will be waiting to see how the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition deal with the first case of Tory homophobia to crop up....

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

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