What’s the point of being moderate?

Recent, and not so recent, events fill you with despair and you wonder what’s to be done to prevent this country drifting further away from being a functioning ‘liberal’ democracy.

That’s not ‘liberal’ as in Liberal Democrat, although I’d say that it’s at the core of our values, but liberal as in fair, inclusive, tolerant and open. You’d think that an essential element of this would involve being respectful of the law and not being arbitrary about it. Not breaking it in a ‘limited and specific way’ (Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis in Parliament) and not qualifying adherence to it ‘in a way that I find unacceptable’ (Justice Secretary on the Andrew Marr show today).

This is the Government which has lost control of Covid and the confidence of the people whom it needs to engage to get the infection trend back on track. It’s the government which sets rules for the people and then ignores them itself. And it’s the government which adds to the infection risk by urging people to return to work unnecessarily. Doesn’t it understand that a lot of home working is now taking place because it’s more effective than what went before?

With Johnson having a big fat majority in Parliament and most Tories being more concerned with their party than the country what’s to stop this drift? Being moderate and articulating such a position doesn’t seem to have much chance of being successful. I’ve got to confess to more sympathy with Extinction Rebellion and its approach than I’ve had hitherto.

Last year there were big marches, millions of people, protesting against Brexit and calling for a People’s Vote. Of course we all complimented ourselves on how civilised and good-humoured they were. A true expression of moderate feelings. But did they honestly achieve anything? Sometimes being moderate misses the point and becomes self-defeating.

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