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Matthew Lesh: The radical neoliberal programme which can revitalise the Conservatives

Matthew Lesh is the Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute.

As the flus from last week’s Conservative Party Conference slowly fade, it is worth turning our minds back to a conference that we must never forget.

It was the autumn of 1980. The country was facing economic turmoil. Decades of Keynesianism was taking its toll with high inflation and low growth.  But there was a leader, a radical neoliberal, who refused to accept the status quo or allow the doomsters to take her off course.  “You turn if you want to, the lady’s not for turning,” Margaret Thatcher told Conservative Party Conference.

Thatcher unashamedly spoke not just of policy change but creating “a new independence of spirit and zest for achievement”. She called her administration “one of the truly radical ministries of post-war Britain”.

Boris Johnson’s party conference speech last week has been lauded for its political nous: get Brexit done, and fund the NHS and other public services.

This makes a lot of political sense, particularly for the party’s ‘Go Midlands, Go North’ strategy: the plan to win northern Leave working class areas who traditionally voted Labour Party.

But Johnson’s spending is frustrating to many free marketeers, who have traditionally found their home in the Conservative Party. Boris speaks of a “dynamic enterprise culture” and the Conservative Party’s history in pioneering “free markets and privatisation”. But so far there has been little meat on the bone, while the party is giving up its reputation for fiscal conservatism by committing to big-spending plans.

Politically, this approach undermines support from economic liberals in London and the Southeast. This danger is heightened by the likes of Sam Gyimah’s defection, signalling the acceptability of the Liberal Democrats to Tory economic liberals. With the Lib Dems also winning over the likes of Chuka Umunna there’s a danger the two main parties are seen by voters to leave the centre stage to the Liberal Democrats — and leave governing alone to the scrap heap of history.

To get a strong majority, Boris needs to win both Chelsea and Fulham as well as Stoke-on-Trent. He needs to be able to hold up his economic credentials to win back Remain-voting Conservatives voters – not just give them another reason to abandon the party.

But this balancing act is nothing new. Thatcher, despite some reforms to childcare and housing subsidies, oversaw a huge increase in social spending. She declared that the NHS is “safe with us” and bragged about “enormous increases in the amount spent on social welfare to help the less fortunate”. David Cameron similarly declared that the NHS is “safe in my hands,” while cutting taxes, introducing free schools and reforming welfare.

Thatcher and Cameron balanced public spending with undertaking fundamental free market economic reform to boost the economy. To ensure the Conservative Party remains a broad coalition, it is important that Boris’ free market rhetoric is given meaning. There needs to be some meat on the bone. The Conservative Party will be much weaker if it does not have a serious economic policy offering that creates a clear distinction with Labour.

On the political left, while many may disagree with their approach and ideas, there is undeniably a radical reimagining of policy and a clear agenda: a four day work week, shutting down private schools and nationalising industry.

Some on the Right have chosen to respond to the emboldened Left by adopting parts of their agenda in the hope of placating and preventing the worst. But, as Theresa May’s premiership displays being Labour-lite and adopting policies like the energy price gap, or nanny state policies like the sugar tax, simply does not work.

The Neoliberal Manifesto, a joint project between the Adam Smith Institute and 1828 released last week at the Conservative Party Conference, presents a positive vision for Britain’s future. In the past, the word “neoliberalism” has been twisted by those seeking to manufacture a strawman on which to blame every societal ill.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Neoliberals are champions of freedom. We want government to protect and facilitate your ability to flourish; we believe in the power and ability of each individual; we believe in doing what is most effective; we are optimistic about the future; we support market intervention to address specific issues but reject paternalism; we are cosmopolitan and outward-looking to the world.

The manifesto calls for a liberal, free market approach to trade that encompasses cutting tariffs and pursuing deals based on the principle of mutual recognition. It declares that need to reform Britain’s outdated planning laws to allow for the building of more houses to fix Britain’s housing crisis. The manifesto also calls for a simpler, fairer tax system by getting rid of stamp duty and allowing capital expenditures to be expensed in full immediately.

On migration, it calls for a liberal system that brings the most talented people to our nation. On education, it explains the need for more choice. On innovation and technology, it calls for an optimistic approach defined by permissionless innovation.  It also calls for a liberal approach to drugs and personal choices, a compassionate but cost-effective approach to welfare, and addressing climate change without sinking our economy.

Many of these ideas are radical, and today can be expected to receive a mixed reception. But we think that our politicians should lead from the front, not the back. These policies are not designed with the idea of what may or may not be popular today, but rather setting the agenda for the future.

While not every action she took was immediately popular, Thatcher’s agenda transformed the country for the better and proved a politically successful formula across three general election victories. Cameron similarly won a majority after undertaking difficult decisions.

If the Government does not have an offering for people who want lower taxes and the state to live within its means, they risk unexpected losses.  Johnson can follow in the footsteps of successful leaders with his own liberal, free market agenda.

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Neil O’Brien: Fifty shades of conservatism

Neil O’Brien is MP for Market Harborough.

You might say socialism and liberalism are ideologies, while Conservatism is more like a character trait. But that’s not quite right. Socialism and liberalism are ideologies about maximising one thing, be it equality or freedom. In contrast, Conservatives believe in a wider variety of ideals.

So what kind of conservative are you?

Since the classic Liberal party gave way to Labour, we’ve been the party of the free market and sound money, even more so since the Thatcher/Reagan era. The free market is a such huge part of what we are about, it tends to dominate, but there’s much more to conservatism.

Perhaps you are a law and order Conservative: patron saint Thomas Hobbes, who, inspired by his experience of the civil war, observed that without strong authority and law and order, life tends to be “nasty, brutish and short.”

But in a nice example of how conservative ideas fit together, a strong law and order policy is also a One Nation policy: because who suffers when there is crime and disorder? Those who live in the most deprived fifth of neighbourhoods are 50 per cent more likely to be victims of crime than those in the richest fifth.

Or perhaps you are a constitutional conservative. Do you believe in keeping the Monarchy? A House of Lords that isn’t elected? Do you believe in keeping first past post elections, and an unwritten constitution? Do you believe in the common law and rule of law? Those ideas are more important now Labour believes in expropriation of your pension, your shares, your house, and anything else that isn’t screwed down.

Perhaps you’re a conservative because you believe in Liberty. Habeas Corpus. Limits on Government. Legal protection of personal and family life. Liberty always raises contentious issues like hunting or drugs. Or think of recent cases like the gay marriage cake. I thought the courts got it right: a business can’t refuse to serve gay people, but people can’t be made to promote political views they don’t hold, even if I disagree with those views.

What do we think about the growing deployment of live facial recognition technology in public places? Liberty lovers might want to ban it. Law and order fans might want to allow it.

Liberty-loving conservatism can also clash with another ideal – social conservatism. Are you worried about family breakdown? What do you think about transgender issues? What do you think about full facial veils? That question pits liberty against traditional pattern of our society. France banned them, we allow them.

Do you think what you get out of the welfare system should be linked to what you put in? And how should we make choices about immigration: do we just think about migrants’ skills and earnings, or how easily they will integrate into our culture? I incline to the latter view.

One big idea that I think fits under social conservatism is the idea of the nation state. National self-determination and the lack of a shared European demos powers the idea of Brexit, but it also explains why we are prepared to make compromises to try and keep the United Kingdom together.

Zooming down from the nation to the individual, conservatism is about individual self-reliance. That’s why we strongly support individual home ownership. Mrs Thatcher expressed this well. She said that people: “are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

Things like the doubling of the Income Tax Personal Allowance and the National Living Wage – and also welfare reforms – are about self reliance. George Osborne was onto something when he talked about a “higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare spending” society. Personally, I believe tax should be based on the ability to pay, and so we should bring back the higher tax allowances for children Labour abolished in the 1970s.

But conservatives don’t just believe in individualism. We are the society party. Civic conservatives know that many problems can’t be solved by either the free market or the state. David Cameron said: “There is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same as the state.” When we think about problems like loneliness in an ageing society, we can only solve them by catalysing and helping voluntary groups and family life. The Big Society may have been a good idea, badly timed. But the ideal of voluntary action remains very attractive, I find particularly to younger conservatives.

Conservatism is also about gradualism. Burke attacked the French revolution as a huge, risky, leap-in-the-dark.
Gradualism is behind all our biggest policy successes. Welfare reforms started under Peter Lilley, continued under New Labour, and then under another Conservative government – and now have the record employment. The academy schools programme also spanned governments: from Kenneth Baker to Gavin Williamson.

In contrast, Socialists believe in utopian leaps. In the USSR and under China’s Great Leap Forward millions died, yet John McDonell still says, “I am a Marxist”. In contrast we should be proud gradualists. What do we want? More use of evidence. When do we want it? After randomised control trials.

As well as gradualism, Conservatism is about pluralism and decentralisation. Environmentalists have shown us why it is dangerous to have a monoculture of anything, because if things then go wrong, they do so on a huge scale. Think about the Irish potato famine.

Take a more recent policy example: during the heyday of disastrous progressive teaching methods, they swept all before them. But independent schools and grammar schools were a bastion for traditional methods (like phonics), which could then make a comeback after trendy methods failed.

Devolution allows experimentation. In the US they say the states are “laboratories of democracy”. Ideas like welfare reform or zero tolerance policing were tried locally and taken up nationally when they worked. Conservatives also believe in pluralism in a deeper way. People have different ideas of the good life.

That’s one reason I think we should keep the honours system – to recognise those who are motivated by something other than money, whether they want to serve their country on the battlefield, or help their community by running a youth club. That should inform our thoughts on things like childcare. Do we just focus on maximising employment or education? Or let people choose if they want to be stay at home parents?

I’m sure readers will point out things I’ve missed. But those are some of the main elements of Conservatism.
Law and order. The Constitution. Liberty. Social Conservatism. Civic Conservatism. Individual-self reliance.
Gradualism. Pluralism. Ideas that are sometimes in tension, but which fit together.

Conservatism is a bit like the roof of parliament’s Westminster Hall: which is held up by a lot of huge, ancient beams all resting on each other. Likewise, the elements of conservatism fit together, and have also made something really strong and enduring.

This article is based on a contribution by the author to a Centre for Policy Studies event, “Free Exchange: The case for conservatism”, at last week’s Conservative Party Conference.

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Sponsored Post. John Whittingdale: Britain must be the defender of free media at home, and its champion overseas

John Whittingdale is a former Culture Secretary, and is MP for Maldon. He is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Media Freedom.

In 2004, while reporting on Islamist terrorism for the BBC in Riyadh, security correspondent Frank Gardner was shot. Six times. Twice from a distance, and four times at point-blank range. His cameraman, Simon Cumbers, was killed by their attackers. Incredibly, Frank survived, partially paralysed.

Frank took the assignment to go to Saudi Arabia knowing there would be risks. He was, after all, reporting on a campaign of terror and murder being waged by Al-Qaeda against Western expatriates. He took that decision as a journalist. But also, as a husband. As a man with a family. In his extremely moving account of the attack and his story of reporting from the Islamic world – Blood and Sand, he captures the moments spent with his wife Amanda the night he leaves London to fly to Saudi Arabia. Reading of his career reporting from some of the world’s most dangerous environments, you get a glimmer of the sacrifices and risks journalists and their families endure.

Because in some places, the conventions of media freedom – those that we accept – do not register. In some places, journalists themselves become the target. In 2012, The Sunday Times foreign affairs correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik were targeted by the Syrian government while reporting from the besieged district of Baba Amr in Homs – a city now synonymous with utter devastation.

They were both killed.

Earlier this year, a US court found the Assad regime liable for the murder of Colvin in what it ruled was a deliberate artillery attack carried out to silence her reporting of the massacre that was unfolding in Homs. Only hours before the attack that killed her, Colvin’s reports from Homs were broadcast by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and CNN.

In 2014, we were reminded again of the perils of reporting from Syria, when the Times journalist Anthony Loyd and photographer Jack Hill were kidnapped, beaten and Lyod shot twice in the leg before securing refuge in Turkey. Both survived the ordeal to return – as Frank Gardner did in Saudi – to report from Syria.

These journalists, like so many others around the world, have exhibited incredible bravery and courage to obtain and disseminate information. Stories, that were in not for their work, would go untold.

But, I am sad to say, their work is getting harder. According to the US-based non-governmental organisation Freedom House, over the past decade media freedom around the world has deteriorated. The Reporters Sans Frontières online barometer (at the time of writing) reveals that year-to-date, 30 journalists – including Lyra McKee who was murdered by republican dissidents in Northern Ireland, have been killed in the line of duty. A further 231 have been imprisoned around the world.

As parliamentarians – and indeed as Conservatives, we must be the champions of media freedom. As such, we have responsibilities to work with other like-minded parliamentarians around the world to not only defend the freedoms where they exist, but to promote them where they do not.

And that is why in my capacity as Chair of the British Group of Interparliamentary Union, I convened and chaired a seminar on media freedom in London earlier this month. Joined by distinguished advocates of press freedom like the award-winning war photographer Paul Conroy, parliamentarians from numerous countries gathered to develop a strategy for advancing media freedoms. This work, which continues, builds on the FCO freedom of the press programme launched by then Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt at the first Global Media Freedom Conference in July. We should be proud that our overseas aid budget is helping to strengthen the capacity of journalists working overseas to hold their Governments to account.

At home, where there are attacks on press freedom, we must continue to call them out. And as parliamentarians, we must do all we can to be its champion overseas.

This post is sponsored by Coalition for Global Prosperity.

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American lectures Hong Kong protesters: ‘You guys value freedom more than safety’

Westlake Legal Group american-hong-kong American lectures Hong Kong protesters: ‘You guys value freedom more than safety’ The Blog protest Hong Kong freedom american

This has to be seen to be believed. According to Raw Story, this video was first posted by a Twitter feed called Passion Times which noted the woman in this clip was wearing an “I love Hong Kong” t-shirt. But the clip really took off on social media Monday after it was tweeted out by the Washington Examiner. The young woman, who appears to be American but claims to live in Hong Kong, lectured a small group of protesters about some signs and graffiti on concrete.

After suggesting protests were a waste of time she asked, “Is this okay? Is this respectful?”

“Why not?” one of the students replied.

“Why not? If my mother saw me [write] this…” she said. After some back and forth she came to her point, “Violence breeds violence, do you agree? Find me one case where violence led to a good solution?”

The clip is very noisy at this point and one of the students who is looking away from the camera says something about freedom.

“So the problem is, it’s not the bad demands, it’s you guys value freedom more than safety, do we agree?” she said. She added, “I think safety is more important than freedom. If you have a safe environment, you can communicate.”

She goes on to say that “old thinking” like China’s thinking even today, puts safety over freedom. At least she’s honest about her own agreement with mainland China.

The problem with this lecture, obviously, is that valuing freedom more than safety, while not the Chinese way, is something close to the American way. The protesters in Hong Kong recognize that which is why some of them have been waving American flags during the protests. The idea that it would be better to succumb to Chinese totalitarian communism for the sake of preserving a dialogue overlooks one critical point: It wouldn’t be a dialogue between equals. A master speaking to a servant is not a dialogue worth having.

Last month, CBS News interviewed an anonymous student protester in Hong Kong who said, “We will give all we can give because we want to see a free world in our city and in our home. Freedom is never free and that is why we need to take the risks for the greater good for all the Hong Kong citizens.” An American patriot couldn’t have said it better. What a shame that this dopey woman is arguing against human freedom to a group of people on the verge of losing theirs. Here’s the clip:

The post American lectures Hong Kong protesters: ‘You guys value freedom more than safety’ appeared first on Hot Air.

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Sen. Chris Murphy Butchers the 2nd Amendment, Gets Fact-Checked Hard

Westlake Legal Group WeThePeople-Guns Sen. Chris Murphy Butchers the 2nd Amendment, Gets Fact-Checked Hard vapid Ted Cruz rights Politics Personal Defense militias James Madison individual rights ignorant Front Page Stories Front Page freedom Featured Story democrats Constitution Chris Murphy 2nd Amendment

In the wake of another mass shooting last week, we’ve once again seen a push to curtail the right of Americans to own firearms. The most common utterances are calling for the banning of “assault weapons” and for universal background checks. Both are terrible ideas, based mostly on emotional appeals that would do nothing to actually stop gun crime.

Enter Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who’s become one of the more annoying Democrats in the Senate. He decided to give an “explainer” on the 2nd amendment in a reply to Ted Cruz, who had previously laid out the case for why it exists and what it protects.

This is moronic and we are only two tweets in. The Bill of Rights are individual rights by their very definition. All of them, no exceptions. None of them are posited to only apply to certain groups of people. That’s antithetical to their very purpose for being written.

Secondly, militias are simply normal people who own personal firearms joining together of their own choice. Part of what the 2nd Amendment is protecting is the right for individual gun owners to gather, form militias, and remain well regulated (trained). They feared a federal government that would not allow such congregation, thereby negating the ability of the people to defend themselves from tyranny. The idea that personal defense is not included in that is ludicrous, as it’s the first step to even being able to form a militia. People without guns for self defense can’t then go form militias because they’d have no weapons. This is grade school level stuff and Sen. Murphy doesn’t even see the flaws in his argument.

Westlake Legal Group wtf-is-wrong-with-you-620x350-620x350 Sen. Chris Murphy Butchers the 2nd Amendment, Gets Fact-Checked Hard vapid Ted Cruz rights Politics Personal Defense militias James Madison individual rights ignorant Front Page Stories Front Page freedom Featured Story democrats Constitution Chris Murphy 2nd Amendment

Murphy is apparently not aware that the 2nd Amendment is, and stick with me here, an amendment. That means it did not exist during the Constitutional Convention, therefore of course there were no notes on it taken by Madison.

Murphy finishes his rant by asserting that the Founders had no intention of the 2nd Amendment providing a right to self-defense.

I could sit here and continue to tear this apart, but I’m going to let someone with more expertise do it better. Enter Charles W. Cook, one of the most well read and knowledgeable people on the 2nd Amendment in the modern era.

Why is all this important?

Most notably because it was the states which came together to ratify the Constitution. It was not just supposed, but an absolute given that they supported a right to bear arms for self-defense, so much so that it was included in most of their state constitutions. To now claim that it’s simply a modern interpretation, when that same interpretation was made decades before ratification is incredibly illogical.

They codified that right to bear arms in Article I Section 9, which makes it an individual, not a communal right. Further, after the Union was formed, we can see by the actions of the government that they obviously respected a right to bear arms for self-defense. Forming militias from that right was not the government’s place, thereby they were given no far reaching regulatory power. It was intended to be the people’s choice and right, either in protection of their government or in defiance of its possible tyranny. The common thread is always the individual’s right in the matter.

There is no historical reading of the Founder’s intent, nor the words of the 2nd Amendment, which doesn’t protect a right to bear arms for self-defense. There’s a reason the 2nd Amendment specifically cites it as an individual right and it is placed among all the individual rights in the Constitution itself.

On a broader level, Murphy’s entire argument is still incredibly stupid. The Bill of Rights exists in order to protect individual rights from government interference. Even if Murphy’s silly interpretation about militias was true, the 2nd Amendment would still bar the federal government from enacting regulations against them that infringe on that right. Since individuals make up militias and provide their own weapons, that logically means the individual right is equally protected.

Some now cite regulations on fully automatic weapons as proof heavy regulation is acceptable. If anything, a true reading the 2nd Amendment shows even laws such as those are likely unconstitutional. We have, as a society, chosen to swallow them though. That does not mean that here unto eternity the government can now regulate against the 2nd Amendment as they see fit. The real test is what the citizens of this country are willing to stand up and say no to.

Murphy’s knowledge of this subject isn’t just sorely lacking, it’s ignorant beyond belief. The idea that anyone could gain such a high public office while having such a menial, vapid understanding of the Bill of Rights is mind blowing.


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The post Sen. Chris Murphy Butchers the 2nd Amendment, Gets Fact-Checked Hard appeared first on RedState.

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Hong Kong protester: ‘Freedom is never free’

Westlake Legal Group Hong-Kong-police Hong Kong protester: ‘Freedom is never free’ tyranny Tiananmen Square The Blog Hong Kong protests freedom China

Because they can’t reveal his identity or anything specific about him, ABC News refers to the student protester they interviewed as Citizen X. Citizen X is well aware that by taking a stand against the communist tyranny of mainland China, he could very well wind up in prison or worse. While he worries about that some, he’s convinced he has to stand up or he and future generations won’t have any freedom to lose:

“I think this is a risk worth taking,” Citizen X told me a few days later at a secret meeting in a darkened room. He did not want to be filmed up-close for fear of being identified, what he and others call a “white terror” — the fear of being singled out and detained through the use of facial recognition technology. Being found guilty of “rioting”, a term he and almost all protesters hotly dispute, carries a term of imprisonment of 10 years…

Was his life worth the risk? He didn’t hesitate to answer. “I think that is a risk worth taking because we cannot just think about ourselves,” he said. “We will give all we can give because we want to see a free world in our city and in our home. Freedom is never free and that is why we need to take the risks for the greater good for all the Hong Kong citizens.”…

Citizen X compared his struggle to that of America’s fight for independence. “Today in the eyes of the communist government we are just a group of rioters. But I believe that the Founding Fathers initially were also seen by the British, by the colonial rulers as rioters,” he said.

“Will they see us as rioters or will they see us as founding fathers,” he wondered. “That will be determined by our actions in the future months in the coming protests.”

As the Vice News report below shows, the behavior of the police in Hong Kong is escalating. Last weekend they pulled out guns and aimed them at protesters. Some police fired warning shots in the air. As Taylor pointed out this morning, police have banned a planned demonstration for this coming weekend so we may see another escalation of tactics in response to the protests.

With China’s National Day coming up on October 1st, the mainland will want these ongoing protests ended by then. I’d like to believe that people fighting for their own freedom and the freedom of their descendants can still triumph over tyranny, but in the case of the United States, that took a war. China seems to be preparing for that potential conflict. Citizen X seems to grasp what’s at stake and I believe he’s right, but practically speaking I’m not sure how a bunch of idealistic young people can face down Chinese troops.

Maybe the students are counting on the media to push world opinion to their side in hopes China can be shamed out of a violent crackdown. But it seems like a big risk to assume China will care. The mainland knows it can block unflattering images and headlines about the coming conflict in Hong Kong the same way it already blocks images of Tiananmen Square.

The post Hong Kong protester: ‘Freedom is never free’ appeared first on Hot Air.

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Luke de Pulford: We must stand with Hong Kong, even if it harms trade with China

Luke de Pulford is Director of the Arise Foundation and serves on the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.

As No Deal looms large a terrible question hangs in the air: can Brexit Britain afford to stand up to China? (I’m an unrepentant leaver, before you ask).

Resolving our approach to this question is becoming urgent. We have witnessed continuing demonstrations in Hong Kong, including the closure of the world’s 8th busiest airport and the sight of the Red Army amassing on its borders. Events like these are placing before the UK a stark choice: do we want to prioritise trade prosperity or our human rights obligations? With China threatening economic consequences if the UK continues to “interfere”, it’s starting to seem like it will have to be one or the other.

I’ve been genuinely surprised by how many party colleagues seem content to hold their noses in a search for post-Brexit prosperity. The trade-trumps-all strand of thinking is alive and well. But these Conservatives are in danger of forgetting their tradition. The Party has a proud history of confronting authoritarianism. On top of that, we have more skin in the game with Hong Kong than anyone else.

The peaceful transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty, ending 156 years of British Rule, was the result of careful diplomacy led by Conservative Governments. This was motivated by the same commitment to the rule of law, self-determination, democracy and freedom that led us to oppose fascism and the USSR.

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, she worked closely with Murray MacLehose, then the Governor General, to take forward discussions that had begun with Deng Xiaoping. Three years later she sent Edward Heath, as her Special Envoy, to continue the negotiations, paving the way for her own visit to China in 1982.

Deng, who was placing China on a trajectory of post-Mao and post-Cultural Revolution political and economic reform, told Thatcher that “I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon”. In her characteristic response, she agreed – and, with words that have great relevance today, she added “there is nothing I could do to stop you, but the eyes of the world would now know what China is like”.

By December 1984, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, political pragmatism and statesmanship culminated in the signing of the Sino-British Declaration. Four Conservative Foreign Secretaries, Geoffrey Howe, John Major, Douglas Hurd and Malcom Rifkind, and Hong Kong’s last Governor, Chris Patten, all played their part in creating the internationally guaranteed Treaty that created “two systems in one country.”

So when Boris says he is with the Hong Kong people “every step of the way”, he is invoking a tradition that goes to the heart of the Party. These were events of seismic importance, engineered and delivered by successive Conservative administrations. As I say: we have skin in the game. 

For years, Martin Lee, the “father of democracy in Hong Kong” – whom I recently had the privilege of meeting – has been warning of the gathering storm clouds. The reforms of Deng Xiaoping are a distant memory, superseded by a return to the authoritarianism of Mao under Xi Jinping. Lee’s warnings are coming to fruition. A harbinger of what Hong Kong people fear was plain to see in an editorial in the Communist Party’s Global Times which claimed that the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen, 30 years ago, had “immunised” China against political instability.

Authoritarianism is not to be confused with political stability. And when an all-powerful Communist State imprisons political dissidents, academics and lawyers, sends a million Uighurs to detention centres, bulldozes Catholic and Protestant churches, and is accused of myriad other human rights abuses, it is authoritarian. When an authoritarian state violates a treaty with Britain to the detriment of the rule of law in Hong Kong, we have a moral as well as legal duty to act.

Tom Tugendhat is surely right to argue that we should guarantee the citizenship and right of abode of Hong Kong’s people. Even better if the Commonwealth were to make this pledge at the Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda next year. This is the very least we can do given our obligations to the people of Hong Kong. The very worst we can do is pretend not to notice in anticipation of favourable trading terms.

Conservatives must not forget their history. Unbridled market-worship is much of the reason the younger generation struggles to identify with Conservatism, and prioritising trade over our obligations to the people of Hong Kong would be a tragic affirmation of their criticisms. In contrast, our greatest moments have been where we have stood up for underdogs beleaguered by authoritarianism. The consequences for standing up for Hong Kong may well be punitive trading terms with China. But, in Thatcher’s words, at least “the eyes of the world would now know what China is like.”

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A Hong Kong Protestor Is Asked About China, His Answer Is Hilarious

Westlake Legal Group hong-kong-protesters-620x317 A Hong Kong Protestor Is Asked About China, His Answer Is Hilarious Protestors Politics LOL Hong Kong Front Page Stories Front Page freedom Featured Story communism China Is Asshole

A protester waves a U.S. flag as hundreds of protesters gather outside Kwai Chung police station in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Protesters clashed with police again in Hong Kong on Tuesday night after reports that some of their detained colleagues would be charged with the relatively serious charge of rioting. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The unrest in Hong Kong continues as I write this, with the local authorities warning of consequences if the protesting continues. That hasn’t stopped millions of people from taking the streets, pushing back on the communist encroachment on what is supposed to be a free and democratic region.

One such protestor was seen holding a flag calling for Hong Kong’s independence. This prompted a reporter to go up and ask him if he thinks Donald Trump should step in.

The man’s response took the internet by storm.

The video is only six seconds, but it may be the greatest six seconds in political protest history.

Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it’s still hilarious. The shades, the facial expressions. It all just works.

I for one hope this guy and everyone in this movement with him succeeds. China’s government is a dumpster fire of communism and dictatorship. Any American should be able to sympathize with what these people are going through. The odds may be long, but I’m rooting for them.


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Daniel Kawczynski: I was scared when I came out. The next generation must be set free of that fear.

Daniel Kawczynski is MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham.

One afternoon some years ago, I was on the train back home to my constituency of Shrewsbury and Atcham and I was sitting on some big news. It was news I was scared to tell, even to my closest supporters in the local Conservative Association, so much so that I was quietly praying the train would break down so I would not have to impart it. The news was that I was now in a same sex relationship.

Upon my arrival in Shrewsbury I addressed the Association, and at the end made my announcement. Full of apprehension, I looked up at the faces of the people I had spoken to, 50 of the most senior members of my local Party, and awaited their reaction. Almost immediately, a gentleman in the front row stood up and said, “I think that’s marvellous news, well done” and began clapping. He was soon followed by the rest of the room who afterwards came up to me with hugs, well-wishes, and offers of drinks at the bar.

The kindness and humanity of people on occasions like this restore your confidence in our society and the warmth I felt from my Association members that night will stay with me forever. As someone who came out in their 40s, I never want young people today to have any of the reservations, concerns or fears that I had. I want them to be proud and open with their families and friends about who they are. No child should feel that they are sinful or wrong for being gay.

Years later, I am holding a Westminster Hall debate on the topic of LGBT acceptance. This debate is so important because it will showcase both Parliament’s view and that of the wider country. It will demonstrate that we are staunch defenders of LGBT rights and will work diligently to create a Britain where telling someone you are LGBT is no more of a surprise than telling them you are left-handed.

I have considered holding a Westminster Hall Debate on this topic for some years. However, two recent events have spurred me to act. The first was the recent spate of protests against teaching children about LGBT people. The second was slightly closer to home. My researcher recently told me about how a close friend of his had come out to him, and had done so through tears. Whilst I was delighted to hear that my researcher had reacted in the way we’d all hope – by embracing his friend and not caring in the slightest – I was still saddened to hear that this young man felt so fearful and apprehensive about coming out, even to a close friend.

With regards to those who are protesting outside Anderton Park Primary School in Birmingham, I would appeal to their humanity, and ask them to try to understand the importance of giving young people confidence, of making them feel accepted, and allowing people to be free to be who they are, regardless of their sexuality. Britain is a nation of tolerance, of respect, of freedom, and we must hold these values high as a beacon for the rest of the world to follow.

It is of huge importance that we do set this example, because while we are fortunate enough to live in Britain, there are many nations which do not share this view and do not share our values of liberty and tolerance. There are still 14 countries around the world enforcing a death penalty for homosexual acts, and many more handing down harsh prison sentences, for nothing more than the ‘crime’ of being in love. The only way we can combat this is to prove that there is another way, a better way, and having this education in our schools can only help us to promote this aim and to champion LGBT rights worldwide

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Virtue Signaling Is Not a Solution for Hong Kong

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As tensions escalate in Hong Kong, including the amassing of Chinese troops on the border, the matter is entering a precarious state. Will the Chinese repeat the atrocities we saw at Tiananmen Square? Will they back down?

I think the latter is highly unlikely given that tyrannical dictatorships rely on never backing down to keep their grip on power. This means the situation is incredibly volatile and inflaming matters could actually lead to a lot of bloodshed while accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Despite these unfortunate realities, some conservatives of a certain segment have decided this is an issue that the United States must immediately involve itself in, including an official condemnation of China. I understand the urge.

When Donald Trump didn’t immediately do that though, that led to tweets like these demanding he make an overt, combative stand.

The response by my colleague streiff is dead-on (read his full thoughts on the matter here).

Virtue signaling is not a solution in Hong Kong anymore than it was a solution in Venezuela. Those demanding strong words should also be ready to offer actions we can take to help protect the protestors. If those actions don’t exist, then demanding Donald Trump inflame tensions, which will inevitably lead to people dying, is irresponsible. It’s emotionalism that ignores the unintended consequences, something conservatives aren’t supposed to fall prey to.

The lack of articulation of a real strategy and end game, along with putting thought into the possibility we could make things worse, is my problem with all this. Take this response from Noah Rothman.

While the snark is real, Ross’ question is largely left unanswered by Rothman, whose record on foreign policy positions isn’t exactly stellar. We can all agree that we shouldn’t invade Hong Kong. I don’t believe Noah thinks that either. Ok, there’s the common ground. Now what?

What is “democracy promotion?” How does that actually work? Does Noah support sanctions? Cutting off trade relations? If not, does it matter to Noah that a lot of people could end up dead so he can feel good on Twitter? I’m sure it does matter to him, but he doesn’t seem to be taking it into account.

These are all questions that need to be answered. We are constantly reminded by our blue checkmark conservative betters that words matter and have consequences. Right, and that’s true in this case as well. Any inciting statement by the President can be used by the Chinese to assert foreign influence and justify violent action.

As I’ve said many times, I find the conservative smart set’s positions on China to be completely contradictory and inconsistent. About five minutes ago, they were telling us how dangerous it is to pick a fight with China and asserting that free trade with the communists is absolutely vital. It didn’t matter that China was recently exposed for running concentration camps, suppressing dissent, and stealing intellectual property, never mind their historical evils. Those were all actions worth looking the other way on because they sell us cheap stuff.

Now, seemingly overnight, they’ve found their moral center when it comes to dealing with the Chinese? Forgive my skepticism. If you think we should take a stand against China today, you should have thought that a year ago. China didn’t become a bad actor in just the last few weeks. They’ve been one their entire existence and the moral case against doing business with them existed prior to the Hong Kong protests. We could go all the way back to the Nixon era and game out that it was probably a mistake to ever normalize relations with China because it has allowed them to grow into the power they are today.

The hard truth is that there is probably no good outcome in Hong Kong. The Chinese are not going to back down and the violence against the protestors is growing. I’m failing to see any situation where idle words will do anything but further inflame matters and get people killed. I’ve personally been supportive of getting tough with China the past few years (mostly for national security reasons), but there has to be a real action plan behind any stand we take. Virtue signaling is not a solution in Hong Kong and conservatives shouldn’t pretend it is.


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