From Jo Grimond to Brexit
Author: Tudor Jones

This book explores the development of liberal thought within the British Liberal Party and its successor, the Liberal Democrats. A thorough updating of The Revival of British Liberalism: From Grimond to Clegg (2011), it begins with the accession of Jo Grimond at the time of the Suez crisis in 1956 and charts the liberal resurgence in the second half of the twentieth century through to the major setbacks of the 2015 General Election and the 2016 referendum on UK membership of the European Union. Drawing on interviews with leading politicians and political thinkers, the book examines liberal ideas against the background of key historical events and controversies, including the period of coalition government with the Conservatives. A comprehensive account of British liberalism throughout the last 60 years, it will be essential reading for students, scholars and political practitioners alike.

Open Access (free)
Kevin Harrison and Tony Boyd

Liberalism has become the dominant ideology at the start of the third millennium. Like conservatism it cannot be easily identified with one particular political party. We trace the origins of liberalism back to the late seventeenth century and the political turmoil in England that followed the civil wars of the middle of the century. After this, liberalism’s ‘golden age’ during

in Understanding political ideas and movements
Denting the mould: 1979–83
Tudor Jones

In the aftermath of the 1979 General Election the Liberal Party did at last engage in the kind of public examination of its values and philosophy which Gordon Lishman and others had earlier called for. At the instigation of Michael Meadowcroft, a special debate on the nature of Liberalism was held at the 1979 Liberal Assembly in Margate, during which speakers addressed, among other concerns, the contentious ideological question which had begun to dominate British politics – concerning the proper role of the State within the economy. 1

in The uneven path of British Liberalism
Tudor Jones

Liberal Party should not behave like a more rigid sect of the exclusive brethren, but be ready to join with others in the more effective promotion of liberalism’. 3 Indicating the thinking that underlay his sympathetic view of such a ‘regrouping’, Steel later remarked that if, in the late 1950s, ‘the Labour Party had been as Gaitskell was, the need for and relevance of the Liberal Party at that time would have been largely eclipsed’. 4 The ideological implications of that statement, which Steel’s mentor, Grimond, would certainly have

in The uneven path of British Liberalism
Bryan Fanning

12 Taking intolerant liberalism seriously Bryan Fanning This chapter makes a case for taking intolerance justified by liberalism seriously, especially when embarking on projects that promote liberal ideals of tolerance and progress as a means towards solving social problems. It offers a critical application of the philosophical account of and case for ethnocentric liberalism made by Richard Rorty.1 This foreshadowed the muscular liberalism that came to the fore following the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and, independently, the antimulticulturalism

in Tolerance and diversity in Ireland, North and South
Gay rights and video nasties
Paul Bloomfield

3 Labour’s liberalism: gay rights and video nasties Paul Bloomfield The social liberal reforms introduced by the Labour Party in the mid-1960s encountered increasingly determined opposition from the Conservative right in the 1980s. In the midst of the turmoil of the 1970s, a section of the Conservative Party aimed to provide an alternative to the post-war liberal consensus on moral questions. It was a contradictory melange of the radical and the reactionary, which the historian of sexuality Jeffrey Weeks described as ‘a revival of evangelical moralism, fired by

in Labour and the left in the 1980s
Alastair J. Reid

9780719081033_2_C13.qxd 1/20/10 9:09 Page 274 13 Socialism and liberalism Historians who have wanted to emphasise the limited ambitions of organised labour in modern Britain have developed the notions of ‘labourism’ and subordination to the established order to encompass not only Victorian Liberalism but also the formative years of the Labour Party. Thus they have seen twentieth-century trade unionists as having a degree of autonomy and assertiveness in the economic sphere, possibly even increasing as their organisations grew in strength. However, they have

in The tide of democracy
Limiting human agency in the name of negative liberty
Darrow Schecter

THIS chapter seeks to shed some light on a somewhat contradictory situation. The priority of legality over legitimacy which lies at the heart of liberalism from Kant to the present is both the source of liberalism’s critical power and its crucial weakness. This separation is the source of liberalism’s critical power insofar as it provides the adherents of the doctrine with the possibility of insisting on

in Beyond hegemony
Michael Freeden

3 British liberalism in search of ideological recalibration Michael Freeden The Liberal Party has been much less successful than the Liberal creed. (Marshall, 2004: 2). The salience of ideas in British political culture has too often been obscured by discursive misreadings, an exaggerated focus on leaders and institutions, or a dogmatic adherence to a mythical notion of pragmatism (Blackburn, 2017). The mounting invisibility of liberal thinking in public consciousness – if not perhaps among scholars and academics – following the heyday of political liberalism

in Making social democrats
Abstract only
Tudor Jones

The revival of British Liberalism since Jo Grimond became Leader of the Liberal Party in November 1956 has in itself revealed a broad continuity of Liberal values, ideas, and principles stretching back not just to the nineteenth century but even, as Conrad Russell pointed out, to the seventeenth-century conflict between Crown and Parliament. That continuity could still be detected in the dark days of 1945–55 that preceded the revival. As we have seen, the dominant Liberal issues of that period – free trade and co-ownership in industry

in The uneven path of British Liberalism