Power has paralysed British liberalism

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

An occasionally shrill but always pertinent voice has vanished from “our national conversation”. As the broken manifesto promises remind us, whenever New Labour or the old Conservatives went along with the security establishment and proposed an attack on basic freedoms, the Liberal Democrats would explode.

You did not have to agree with them to be glad they were there. You might have thought that the police needed new powers to combat terrorism. You might have thought that the Liberals were gibbering paranoids. But you still ought to have been grateful that one major party obliged the authorities to justify themselves. The Liberal Democrats could say with pride that they kept the state honest.

And now they don’t.

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