Liberal Values

In the England that I grew up in it has always been assumed that being “liberal” was a good thing. All right-thinking, educated people would have a “liberal” outlook on the world. In the UK, as in New Zealand, national politics has offered a choice of two parties offering remarkably similar “liberal” policies; centre-right (Conservative and National parties respectively), and centre-left (Labour and Labour parties respectively).

However, that “liberal” consensus has vanished, and those with a “liberal” outlook don’t seem to have noticed. They have forgotten that truth comes in many shades of grey. The rail against a “post-truth” culture because they no longer hold a monopoly on deciding what is true.

Sweden’s Minister for Culture and Democracy writes to Facebook calling on them to censor fake news voluntarily or the government will compel them to do so. Mark Thompson writes in the Guardian that we are “in a battle . . . between facts and lies.” And he singles out the New York Times, where he is CEO, and the Guardian as the kinds of news sources that “believe in the opposite of fake news”. He even has the temerity to state that in order to be properly informed peole should pay to hear his views.

But he is precisely the kind of “liberal” that believes the world is warming AS A FACT and that the £350m per week claim by leavers in the Brexit campaign was flat out wrong AS A FACT. In both cases there is more than reasonable grounds to take the opposite view from his own.

As I wrote on 15th Nov the satellite data shows no meaningful warming since 1998. And the fiscal pick up from Brexit is certain to be greater than £350, if only because outside the EU we will be able to require multi-national to pay corporation tax on their UK activities in the UK; regardless of the view you may take on the safety of our current rebate had we remained.

At one point Mark Thompson did acknowledge the old advice that you should “expose yourself to multiple sources of news”. Just now it seems that it is only the British media who do not trust people, especially electors, to do that. I have seen no such comparable tendency to censorship or paying for news and opinion here in New Zealand.