The Heart of the Matter

New Statesman: The republican moment

The surge in support for the Liberal Democrats in the election in the United Kingdom may now end up in Nick Clegg becoming Prime Minister. Are British voters turning their backs on the two parties that have dominated the Parliamentary landscape since the 1920s not because Clegg is the new young thing but because the electorate is thirsting for a different system of government?

A brilliant essay in the New Statesmen makes the case for a British Republic. Canadians should take note.

The volcano now erupting in British politics has nothing, in the view of this essay below, to do with Labour, Conservatives or Liberals. Instead, it is a republican moment, where the British public is sending a message against a creeping state that has eaten away at personal freedoms, and against public policy that is less about the public good and more about mediating private interests.

At the heart of the matter is a great sense of powerlessness among ordinary people who are subject to the whims of decisions made by self-righteous political and economic elites who are happy to tell everybody what is good for them when it always good for them.

From the perspective of an excellent future for Canada this would include a more efficient justice system, a simpler tax system, the dismantling of the welfare bureaucracy replaced by a minimum annual income, the elimination of human rights commissions, and political reform that ends the disproportionate allocation of seats to votes. 

We are at a critical political moment. But what kind?


Many people who were previously indifferent to politics, and especially to party politics, are finding a sense of wonder and excitement in this the most enigmatic election of modern times. Something extraordinary is churning out there.

In the pre-revolutionary era – before the first prime ministerial debate on April 14 – Nick Clegg was seen as a possible kingmaker in a “hung” parliament. Now there is a chance he will be king.

Add your opinion Rate this story Share Subscribe E-mail Print
get Smart Picks in your Inbox!

Post new comment

Keep up with CEF!

User login

Login using social networks

Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.