FOLLOWING Vladimir Putin’s claim that ‘liberalism is obsolete’, Boris Johnson acknowledges that if we fail yet again to leave the EU on October 31, ‘especially if we thereby increase the risk that the EU demands another referendum before we have delivered the first, we will make a mockery of democracy’. He says this would make us ‘look like any other oligarchy or monarchy – and there are, alas, still many examples around the world – where votes are held and the people are nominally consulted, but no one takes any notice, because, as in Moscow, the same crew mysteriously stays in charge’.
However, the evidence he cites for the UK being ‘liberal’: ‘the British sense of freedom to live your life as you choose – provided you do no harm to others – without the fear of persecution, or judgment, or discrimination’, is seriously open to question. Significantly, Mr Johnson does not mention the right to free speech, which is daily under attack whenever it touches upon the sacred cows of the illiberal Left, such as sexual diversity, ‘gender’, anything that can be construed as racist and, increasingly, that sine qua non of a ‘liberal’ society, abortion.
Admittedly, it is possible to be as obscene as one likes, thus offending the vast majority, but to voice an opinion contrary to that held by these ruling ‘liberals’ could easily lead to a charge of ‘hate crime’, while to read publicly from the Bible could land a Christian in jail if a passer-by with an objection should report the incident to the police. Similarly, to seek to act upon the Bible’s injunctions in the matter of saving the lives of the most helpless – the unborn – could lead to arrest if anyone dares to offer a needy pregnant woman a leaflet outside certain abortion clinics where ‘safety’ zones have been put in place. It is not much consolation to point out that although such offences might invite arrest it usually involves only one night in the cells – not for criminal offences, but for giving offence to the self-appointed, unelected guardians of our ‘liberal’ society. This ‘liberal’ class is interested only in looking after its own interests. It remains the same whatever political label it bears and remains in office in spite of all General Elections.
It is true that in modern times at least no British administration has been guilty of the kinds of human rights abuses associated with Russian governments’, but that is a very low bar for a really liberal society; only last week the so-called Court of Protection, established to protect the interests of the mentally impaired, ordered a mentally disabled young woman to undergo a forced abortion; although the ruling was swiftly overturned by the Appeal Court, there was no response from ‘liberal’ commentators, probably because they were too busy warning about those illiberal nations where ‘abortion rights’ are ‘under threat’ – as though having their offspring killed because they feel they have no choice is in the same category as having a vote, a decent income and a home.
Being criticised for losing our liberalism by Vladimir Putin is akin to the pot calling the kettle black, but that does not mean that the kettle, for all its love of emitting copious clouds of steam when it suits, could not do with a good clean.