A post about Liberals inevitably titled “The strange death of Liberal [insert topic here]”

Picture of Tim LuckhurstTim Luckhurst is upset that Rod Liddle is not going to be be editor of the Independent.

Although I can understand why he is annoyed that something he wants to happen is not going to happen, his ire against the “Liberals” who foiled Liddle seems somewhat bizarre.

In today’s Guardian he writes:

Rod Liddle will not be editor of the Independent. The screechingly intolerant campaign of hostility directed against him by metropolitan critics has done its job. They call themselves liberals. If they are right then the word has come to have as little meaning as its common counterpart “progressive”. Sincere liberals do not censor opinion, still less should they caricature it in order to intensify hostility. True liberals oppose arguments they despise by demonstrating the greater value of better ones.

Picture of Sunny HundalIn his people’s red tunic Sunny Hundal has mounted horseback and set loose the dogs of Facebook to trash Liddle’s chances of editing the Independent.

Tim argues that having an opinion, registering that opinion publicly and taking action to see it realised is illiberal.

This is an opinion you see bandied about quite often: Liberals must be acquiescent, weak and silent. When liberals are not they are quickly denounced as fascists, or for those less inclined to go Godwin, as huge hypocrites.

But this is nonsense.

The facebook group is called If Rod Liddle becomes editor of The Independent, I will not buy it again.

I struggle to think of things more liberal than a boycott. They aren’t threatening violence or trying to co-opt the power of the state to stop him and are not calling in any favours from Russian Oligarchs to knobble him.

They are not coercing anyone or threatening to do so and are not calling for Liddle to be silenced. They are just asking for the paper they buy to not become his soapbox. Because of this Tim’s accusations fall short of anything approaching coherence.

Perhaps Tim is destined to get thing wrong when his main concern is a “tyranny of the liberal metropolitan elite.” It seems he, like many others totally misunderstands what a liberal is.

The idea of “daft liberals” ruining everything suits the simplistic narratives that journalists of Liddle’s meagre stature rely on to fill column inches.

But contrary to lazy journalist’s claims most of Britain is not Broken, even if parts are, and immigrants are not taking over, even if it is simpler to say so, and Labour are not accusing us all of being racists, even if some anti-immigrant rhetoric is racist.

How the ruling classes have had their way in the last few decades is not really debatable but to categorise it as “a tyranny of a liberal metropolitan elite” is blindingly foolish.

The tyranny of the liberal establishment were content to have Liddle edit the Independent, [1] but perhaps Tim can present evidence to the contrary?

Being a liberal does not demand acquiescence as the world around you changes, nor does it mean deferential treatment of those with which you fundamentally disagree. A liberal can fight for what they believe in, where do these people think our hard won and fast eroding liberties came from?

[1] After all they have far smaller fish to fry and lives to ruin.


13 thoughts on “A post about Liberals inevitably titled “The strange death of Liberal [insert topic here]”

  1. Radio 4’s “Turkey’s voting for Christmas” did a have decent job of explaining the apparent ‘grass root’ anti-liberal ‘movement’;

    Rich people believe they will protect their interests by convincing the masses to support their interests.

    One skill which is extremely useful in getting rich is marketing.

    Ergo; Right wing polices get better PR, and therefore better support. The recent ‘Robin Hood Tax’ campaign is an example of left-wing ideas using similar propaganda tactics effectively, the ‘No to Rob Liddle’ another, but we need many more!

    1. But do we?

      I think the left and right differ fundamentally in what we want to achieve that this tactic may not work.

      The PR driven campaign works well for an issue decided by a committee or a business interest. But left politics need to be more bottom up.

      If a union or grassroots campaign can take advantage of PR in the same way as the right can once its up and running I think it would be a useful tool. But it can never be a replacement.

  2. You mean us dirty capitalists have it right about boycotts? ;) Although there was a hilarious debate among the so called ‘Libertarian’ crowd on the blogs had a screaming match over it and claimed calling to boycott the Mail was illiberal.

    It doesn’t take away the fact I thought the camapaign against the chap was quite petty on Sunny’s behalf considering the issues that are out there to cover.

    (Another thing to note as well, The guardian is propped up with public money, whereas the Indy is going under. Oh so Liberal.)

    1. Boycotting is illiberal? What lunatic took that position?

      There’s some funny Libertarians out there…

      It’s not a great campaign, but Sunny does strike me as somewhat hyperactive. I doubt it ate up much of his time and it will have improved the Independent no end if Lebedev does buy it. You know the saying; “if you want something done give it to someone busy”

      1. Being socially pressurised to buy something you didn’t want to buy, for ethical and self-interested reasons, would be the *real* illiberal thing. Now, who sounds like they’re doing that?

  3. Sunny Hundal is a polemicist and he has a tendency to jump up on the barricades to fight against anything right-wingers support irrespective of their merits.

    His is old-fashioned unproductive wing politics of the worst kind.

    However, on this matter I happen to agree with him, albeit for different reasons.

    Liddle is more too much of a pundit to be editorial material and it has got him into trouble on a number of occasions, such as when he was at the helm of the Today programme (I took a particularly distaste to his overt admission of ‘irrational’ Berkshirephobia).

    So really he is comprable to Piers Morgan and likely and run stories in ways which fit the facts to his personal opinions rather than build an editorial line based on reliable evidence. Put Liddle in charge and it will inevitably make waves, but the damage this will cause to the reputation of the organisation over a sustained period will only further undermine the economic position of the Independent and damage the diversity of the print media in the country.

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