It works for individuals; it works for business. Freedom works for markets and for government. But that consensus is being challenged. Despite the best efforts of economists, think-tanks, and voters — political elites have unanimously agreed that the order of the day is not an extension of liberty, but of interventionism.
Enough fuss has been made about the economic illiteracy exemplified in both the Conservative and Labour manifestos. Voters go to the booths on the 8th of June with the uninspired choice of cuts and intervention under Theresa May, or overspending and intervention under Jeremy Corbyn. The majority (it is expected,) will look down, sigh, and vote Conservative as the least worst option. For many, this election has provided stark evidence that our tired political landscape needs radical redressing.
The defining issue of this election will not be tax cuts or hikes (though they affect many,) or even a starved and sluggish NHS. As London recovers from its second tragic terror attack in three months, and Manchester mourns, it is clear that voters will cast their ballot with the issue of terrorism foremost in their minds.
The debate is not an easy one to have, but let us be clear; radical Islamic terrorism is a direct attack on our way of life. It is not, as many on the Left suggest, a direct effect of interventionist policy in the Middle East (though it is a factor), the blame for terrorism lies solely with the terrorist. Further, it is not, as some on the Right infer, a cancer inherent of the Muslim faith. I will not moralise — sensible politicos and voters know that we can never discriminate against the many for the actions of the few, but we can make no bones about it; Islamic terrorists hate our freedom, they hate our way of life, and that will not change.
It is tempting, of course, in times like these, when the threat of attacks is critical, to bow to an authoritarianism which makes vague promises to stamp out ‘safe spaces’ for extremists at the expense of us all. Theresa May has vowed to regulate the internet, and with it, curb our civil liberties. It is entirely overlooked, in periods of unease, that this slow reversal of the freedoms that extremists so detest is exactly what they want. It is never considered, surprisingly, that the best defence — the best show of strength against terrorism — is to protect the liberty and the democratic ideals that make us better than them. Regulating the internet, which as it happens would simply send terrorist blocks deeper underground, is a frankly terrifying, dystopian idea that neglects the many to deal with the very, despicable, few.
Of course, we must increase police funding and provide resources for the intelligence services. Whilst it is ignorant to deny the case for caution when it comes to public spending, it is unspeakably naïve to lower the deficit at the expense of safety and, in many cases, of lives. We must be stricter with those on terrorist watchlists and deal with them before, not after, they commit atrocities.
We must continue to remember, in the wake of incidents like the London and Manchester attacks, that freedom works. We must never be soft on terror. But equally, we must never curb our freedoms due to the hatred extremists have for them.
By: Matt Gillow, Founder & Managing Director TalkPolitics