The Strange Death of British Liberalism

The resignation of Tim Farron as Leader of the Liberal Democrats comes at the end of an election in which his thoughts on gay sex marred a week or more of campaigning. Far too much in an election campaign of only seven weeks.

Once an old interview of Tim Farron squirming his way around the question “Is gay sex a sin?” had been unearthed he was destined to repeat the experience numerous times. The question was irrelevant to the Liberal Democrats position on anything relating. They have been loud supporters of LGBTQ rights for many years, so why the hassle?

Well it seems some people struggle to deal with a person of faith actually believing the tenants of their faith privately. If the Liberal Democrats had included manifesto promises pertaining to restricting the rights of gay men then the questions would have been warranted. But as we already know the Liberal Democrats did no such thing, so why keep asking about an irrelevant topic? Other than headlines, drama, and eyeball retention for a dying television and newspaper media.

No in the world of instant communication and no holds barred sharing on social media private views must be cleansed and agreed upon by society at large. Otherwise you are susceptible to wrongthink. The cries of “How dare you think different to me you are not fit to lead the Liberal Democrats” rose up from people I can only assume have no notion of what the word liberal even means.

Liberal, that word that translates into freedom, social, economic, and personal. A great three century long idea that has culminated in some of the greatest achievements for human kind. Well Tim ‘The Milkman’ Farron (named as such for some very odd promotional material) resigned as Leader of the Liberal Democrats because, in his own words, he felt the need to choose between his Christian faith and the Liberal Democrats. What a sad state of affairs. Feeling forced to resign from a party that celebrates individual rights because you do not think the right way (according to some). Utterly horrific.

To care so much about the private beliefs of anybody, whether a public figure or not, is illiberal. Then to torment them about how it does not align with your own beliefs and thus must be wrong or he must be wrong in some way. Followed by beating him over the head with questions about it rather than about the political message the party wanted to impart with their manifesto. Truly horrid.

It is illiberal to demand others think like you do. You may find Farron’s private view (whatever it may be) to be disheartening or worse and that is fine for you are free to think as such. But to demand he change his view for you or that he resign, which he unfortunately has, is not liberal, it is authoritarian.

To demand others think like you is a pervasive problem on the internet, and less so in the “real world”, where Twitter mobs work themselves up into some sort of Two Minutes Hate-esk (from Orwell’s ‘1984’) frenzy when someone steps out of line, or asks the wrong question. Farron is right when he says:

“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”

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