Various Direct Links

20 December 2011

Praise: Nick Clegg on Open Society

Nicholas William Peter "Nick" Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister of England.  Yesterday, Mr. Clegg delivered the Demos 2011 Annual Lecture.
The lecture will build on the Deputy Prime Minister’s vision for an open and fair society. He will also describe the political philosophy animating the Liberal Democrats in government.
The lecture was a lengthy description of the different philosophies of the socialist, liberal, and conservative groups in England.  A transcript of the full lecture is at the New Statesman.  Let's look first at Mr. Clegg's hallmarks of an open society:
It is a society where powerful citizens are free to shape their own lives. It has five vital features:
  • i) social mobility, so that all are free to rise;
  • ii) dispersed power in politics, the media and the economy;
  • iii) transparency, and the sharing of knowledge and information;
  • iv) a fair distribution of wealth and property; and
  • v) an internationalist outlook
Of particular interest to me were his words about marriage and the family.
The institutions of our society are constantly evolving. Just look at the way the roles of men and women, and attitudes to marriage and divorce, have changed over the last century.
We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the 1950s model of suit-wearing, bread-winning dad and aproned, homemaking mother - and try and preserve it in aspic.
That's why open society liberals and big society conservatives will take a different view on a tax break for marriage. We can all agree that strong relationships between parents are important, but not agree that the state should use the tax system to encourage a particular family form.
And on the need for equality.
But real fairness is about real opportunities. Inequalities become injustices when they are fixed; passed on, generation to generation. So our focus must be on equipping people to flourish, and get on in life.
That is why I have made clear that intergenerational social mobility is the principal objective of the Coalition's social policy. And why I have been so determined to increase our investment in the vital early years, including, recently, by extending the new two-year old offer to an additional 130,000 toddlers in working families.
Even in these lean times, we have found an additional £1 billion for a Youth Contract to head off long-term youth unemployment, which can scar life chances.
There are more parts of his speech that I find intriguing.  Notably his discussions of government transparency, freedom of the press, concerns about wealth inequality, and the need to avoid xenophobia.

I am not British and am happy to not be subservient to a monarch.  Still, it is possible to appreciate wisdom from many quarters and Mr. Clegg strikes me as wise.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No longer open for freely commenting.