‘Liberalism is compatible with both conservative and social democratic thinking.’ Discuss. (30 marks)

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  • Created on: 31-12-14 13:36
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  • ‘Liberalism is compatible with both conservative and social democratic thinking.’ Discuss. (30 marks)
    • Core values of Liberalism
      • A commitment to freedom/liberty
      • A commitment to free markets on the part of classical liberals and to a degree of government interference in the market on the part of new/progressive liberals
      • A belief in limited government – classical liberalism and interventionist government –progressive liberalism
      • A commitment to constitutional reform and the protection of rights
    • Recognition of the impact of classical liberalism on conservatism in recent decades
      • the central value of classical liberalism‘ morphed’ into neo-liberalism in the 1970s and 1980s
        • This ideological strand influenced the New Right
        • helped to create what came to be called Thatcherism in theUK
        • These central values were support for laissez-faire economics
          • firm belief in self-helpas originally championed by Samuel Smiles
          • desire to achieve a meritocracy
          • evident in the Conservative Party’s economic policies
            • particularly privatisation and supply-side measures
              • seen as integral to the creation of anenterprise culture
        • also be seen in the measures utilised to ‘roll back the frontiersof the state’ and to dismantle the ‘nanny state’
          • quest to reduce dependency and to promote individual responsibility
    • Significance of the New/ Progressive liberalism on Conservative policies and actions
      • Conservatives and the Conservative Party have come to accept the need to safeguard minority and individual rights
        • Under Cameron, the Conservatives have become more ‘liberal’ than they have ever been in their history
          • Social inclusion and a firm belief in equality ofopportunity
            • Gay Marriage 2013
            • Free schools
          • positive role for the state in the spheres of health and education
            • Conservative Party Conference: Tory pledge to pour millions into the NHS
    • 1950s and 1960s
      • Both Keynes and Beveridge influenced Conservative Party thinking and policies
        • During the ‘Age of Consensus’
    • Most academics, analysts and political commentators have described the Labour Party in the post-war era as being a social democratic rather than a democratic socialist party
      • clear links which exist between liberalism and the views and values held by social democrats
        • variant of social democracy practised by the Labour Party
        • Labour’s acceptance that the promotion of individualism should be given more prominence
          • Even at the expense of collectivism in some cases
        • The adaptation of a liberal form of communitarianism
          • This sought to widen individual rights and entitlements
            • whilst also recognising the need for individual moral responsibility and social duty
          • clearly evident in many of New Labour’s welfare reforms and policies
        • Growing acceptance of the role of the market in economic policy
          • Indeed, it could be arguedthat neo-liberal economics was the dominant influence here
        • New Labour’s constitutional reforms were also – in diluted form – largely derived from constitutional liberalism with its belief in decentralising and fragmenting power
          • The 1997 Devolution Referendum in Scotland
          • Elected Mayors
          • House of Lords reform
          • Use of proportional representation across a wide range of elections
          • Incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law
    • Labour being not being influenced by Liberalism
      • New Labour’s authoritarian/ illiberal policies on law and order and anti-terrorism
    • adoption of such a wide-ranging set of liberal ideas by all three parties
      • individuals who would claim to be conservatives and social democrats, haveled to the view that ‘we are all liberals now’
        • Britain is not just a liberal democracy but also a liberal society
          • It would appear that neither conservatism nor socialism have ever over shadowed the fundamentally liberal spirit of the country


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