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Tuesday, September 29, 2009


classic liberal
John Redwood yesterday blogged on the German election, a subject on which the MSM seems enormously uninterested, which is a shame because if even the Germans are moving strongly in a free market direction it suggeststhe world is shifting:

Germany’s two main parties slump to just 57% of the votePublished by John Redwood

It was a dreadful night for the SDP, down at 23%. Frau Merkel’s CDU also lost votes and vote share, coming out with just one third of the votes. The Greens, and the radical left took away SDP votes. The Free Democrats scythed in to the CDI position. The parties who were not part of the governing coalition surged from 30% to 43% between them.

What were German electors trying to tell the two main parties? They were saying that their efforts to appear the same as each other and to govern together in a consensual coalition on the so called centre ground was the last thing voters wanted. They did not think it was good for Germany. The larger group of critics of the Grand coalition sided with those who want less government, lower taxes and more freedom. The smaller group sided with those who want more government and more centralised leadership and more green policy.

The most exciting thing in the election was the great success of Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the Free Democrats, in boosting his party’ s support. He was strong and interesting, with something different to say. He condemned the car scrappage scheme as an expensive nonsense. He called for a cut in the top rate of tax from 45% to 35% to make Germany more competitive and enterprising, and a cut in the lower tax rate from 14% to 10% to cut poverty and boost private spending. He said of the Grand coalition it was only grand at “raising taxes and accumulating debt. It has frittered away billions in tax money”

The Free democrats want to strengthen civil liberties, reduce state power and keep nuclear power stations. Much of what they say I find attractive...

The Free Democrats are Germany's Liberals & the programme Mr Redwood mentions is exactly what traditional liberals believe in. It is a great misfortune for Britain that outr LibDems have allowed themselves to be hijacked by eco-fascists, nanny statist & assorted special interest groups linked only by the hope that ever bigger, more illiberal, government will supply them with money for their own particular fetishes. Liberals in British politics can have a constructive role only through the Conservatives or UKIP, neither of which are entirely satisfactory.

I commented on his site"

"I suspect if the British LibDems had gone this way they would now be leading in the polls over both Labour & Conservative. When they, being at about 22% in the polls, ditched Kennedy at the same time the Conservatives adopted Cameron they were replacing the most popular party leader with a couple of stuffed shirts. The Conservatives are not ahead because they are liked but because they are the best alternative being offered.

All the policies you mention are traditional liberal ones but the “Lib Dems” here sold their principles to attract eco-fascists & other sorts of nuts too silly even for Labour, to such an extent that free marketism is officially “illiberal” by their Orwellian rewriting & they are committed to blackouts & poverty.

I should also point out that this result matters in Germany purely because they have a PR system. Those results here would simply result in there being a CDU majority over an SPD opposition with about a dozen others. Barriers to entry in economics stifle innovation & that is at least equally true in politics."

Further thought leads me to think that under an FPTP electoral system the growth of small parties might never have happened. If the Greens & far left were part of the SPD they would, in theory be the largest party & in an FPTP system get the most votes. I say in theory because in practice such a coalition would be so riven with contradictions & forced to adopt silly policies that sensible socialists would be driven to vote elsewhere seems like the history of Labour). The only conclusions we can be sure of are that the voters would be offered a worse choice of leadership & that the election would turn more on tactical carve ups between political factions.

I note that many Conservatives are coming round to the concept of electoral reform. Any discussion on it on Iain Dale's Diary, for example, finds ordinary Conservatives on a clear balance, in support of it. I think this is democratic & a sign that the party are genuine reformers. It should also attract the leadership since the FPTP system does not help them the way it used to. This is because people move much more often than in previous decades so that we see Labour constituencies increasingly getting smaller & a pure constituency electoral system means that the Conservatives need to get as much as 10% more of the vote to match Labour. This is also aided by the differential turnout in Labour constituencies where apathy, understandably, reigns. While getting 10% more may not be a problem next year it is likely it will be in 2013. The party leaders should be considering the future.

I doubt if the FDP would disagree with this
I believe that it would be in the interests of the party, as well as the country, to commit itself to traditional liberal policies & particularly to achieving economic success - time after time it is shown that the electorate want wealth, whereas Ludditism, bicycling, windmills & banning things are not popular Even if it is decided that such matters are "incompatible with membership of the party" this would only prove that liberalism & membership of the Lib Dems are incompatible. I must leave that decision in your hands & those of the Appeals Tribunal

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