Thursday 28 February 2019

Simon Schama praises Richard Cobden

I always admired nineteenth century liberalism and the idea that trade made peace, until the last few years showed that the classical liberalism of Cobden and Bright, which the globalist historian Sir Simon Scharma extols in today's Financial Times, has brought Europe to the brink of destruction via mass immigration and the attempt to abolish nations. 

In fairness to Cobden and Bright, free trade and prosperity have usually kept the peace, though the recent liberal attacks on Middle Eastern countries show that this is not invariable. 

In fairness to them too they would have disapproved of the EU as a protectionist tariff union. They were in many ways Thatcherites avant la lettre. They would have been horrified by EU regulations which belong to the 18th century tradition of absolutism, by anti discrimination laws, by compulsory feminism etc, above all by high taxes. Unlike many modern conservatives, they would also have been horrified by sky high arms spending and questioned the need for Nato and whether Russia posed a danger to Nato states. All these things are admirable but not reflected in the liberalism of the FT or the Economist.

Sir Simon is right to praise Gladstone's Home Rule policy, but it would have been a good thing for everyone because it would have kept Ireland in the UK, not, as he says, 'in Britain's ambit'. 

The Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which he admires, was a much less happy idea which meant making terms with an IRA which was already largely defeated. And now a nationalist scam has persuaded Theresa May that the agreement means we cannot have a real border with Eire. 

Joe Chamberlain split the Liberal party in 1886 over Home Rule and then came out in favour of imperial tariffs, because this would have enabled us to create a tariff union of the white dominions, a sort of EU. 

I see that that was a very good idea, even though I am a free trader. A union of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand would have worked very well and would have included all of Ireland. The Irish might have been a problem but probably wouldn't have been. But what to have done with South Africa?

The Financial Times and the Economist represent classical liberalism, pro-business, pro-market and socially liberal, with welfarism added, which until recently seemed roughly conservative but now seems the most formidable and dangerous enemy of real conservatism.

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