Is the Conservative Victory in the UK A Win For Liberty?

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With 649 out of 650 seats accounted for, the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom has won 364 seats in Parliament after the latest election. The Labour party has won 203 seats. Prime Minister Boris Johnson now has an even clearer, and sounder, mandate to move ahead with Brexit. The result isn’t a massive surprise, but the margin of the Conservatives’ victory is a resounding one.

The Conservative Party managed to wrestle away many of the Labour Party’s ‘heartland’ constituencies. Areas in Northumberland, Cumbria and in Wales were all among former Labour strongholds to fall to the Conservatives. Perhaps Labour took these areas for granted and assumed they wouldn’t have to campaign as strongly as was needed. We all know what comes before a fall…

This result signals the end of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. While he will probably remain in the party in some capacity, he stated that he will not be leading the party into a future election. His core philosophy of socialism, and his antisemitic rhetoric have contributed to his party’s thorough beating at the polls. While some may not have liked the Tories nor Johnson as such, they clearly disliked Corbyn and what he stands for even more.

It remains to be seen whether those on the left, including voices in the media, will actually consider the lesson that results like these might teach them about both their own messaging, and the values and inclinations of the people whom they profess to represent. Labour would be best served with some serious introspection now; but the trend after these recent political events has been of a teeth-gnashing and shrieking nature, rather than an attempt to look at why they lost.

The Scottish National Party has won 48 seats. In terms of what this result means for the future of Scotland, all I think we can say with certainty is that there will be a referendum on Scottish independence, sooner rather than later. It appears that Scotland definitely does not like Johnson, and does not want Brexit. The country wants to be in charge of its own future, free of the machinations in London.

The trend on the left has been to view the everyday man and woman as serfs who do not understand the wider world and who need to be guided along the ‘right’ path. This is hubris of the highest order, and there has been significant pushback over recent years. This does not mean that those on the right are necessarily pro-individual freedom and that they will introduce policies to that effect. They may well suppress individual freedoms, trade, and property rights even more than those to whom we usually attribute such views. But always keep in mind that oppression can just as easily come from the right as from the left.

This latest victory on the part of the Tories builds on what the people of Britain voted for when they voted in favour of Brexit. However, the assumption ought not be that this is a guarantee for liberty in the United Kingdom. Johnson promised more government spending, a higher tax on corporates, that Brexit makes it possible for the government to “buy British” and “intervene when great British businesses are struggling”. The standard by which we measure whether these election results are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ should be whether or not individual liberty is strengthened.

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Chris Hattingh

Chris Hattingh is a South African Objectivist and researcher, with an MPhil degree in philosophy.