Sound bedfellows who need to walk the walk

Much to the annoyance of more tribal associates, I have long argued that there are natural friends of liberty to be found amongst elements of all our mainstream political parties.

In this context, mindful of the history and heritage of classical liberalism, I have long admired features of the Orange Book crowd in the Liberal Democrats. Recognising that the party leader, Nick Clegg, combines an interest in fiscal conservatism with the ideals of liberal social reform, I am not surprised by his recent assertion that he is an admirer of Margaret Thatcher.

While I am no aficionado of psephology or electoral politics, it makes strategic sense to me if the Lib Dems continue their drift away from the politics of top down and bloated social democracy, towards more open, inclusive and market-oriented perspectives. In so many ways, the Lib Dems could again become an engine of genuine out of the box radicalism. In defiance of the political class and their stultifying corporatism, surely thinking Lib Dems would find little to disagree with when it comes to the principles of honest money, sound banking and the benefits of free trade. But the key here is not just to talk the talk. At some point, it becomes necessary to walk the walk.

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