Both formerly voted Libdem in 2010 one had voted Tory in the past and the other Labour but is ardently anti Conservative - both felt let down. However their point was not that the Liberal Democrat party were evil (despite our current political situation) but rather the notion of Liberalism and neo-Liberalism had done some real damage to British society and politics.
It is easy to see extreme political ideologies as wrong or evil. Nazism for example is clearly wrong and damaging to society (especially non-German), Stalinism and far left/right dictatorships are more than happy to trample on citizens rights and drag a state kicking and screaming towards ITS goals and care for the few, generally at the top, rather than the many. But Liberalism, an ideology that is meant to be so inclusive of all within society and is ultimately about fairness for all and equality with a lack of state interference. Surely that cannot be a bad thing?
Well the argument that was put constructively put forward is that yes it has and not just perpetrated by the Liberal Democrats as we've been out of power since the 1920s we can only be blamed for so much - indeed the other parties are as much to blame.
I should point out that I do not necessarily agree with everything that will appear from this point onwards. I'm merely recording the conversation and giving us all food for thought.
The concern of the Government, both local and national, for every little interest group and sub sect of society means that ultimately measures that would benefit the majority of the nation have been dropped. The argument that was used was the Boris Island. North Kent would ultimately benefit from the people, bring in many jobs and with the correct transport links could rejuvenate the whole Country. Although I agreed for the most part I also stood up for the environmental damage it would cause to an area of specific beauty and importance and also for residents like me who'd find themselves living under a flight path.
Other things came to Human rights and the law. In cases like Abu Qatada and Abu Hansa, men who were trying to incite violence against civilians and average British citizens and the Government had put them under house arrest with no access to computers or telephones but could not keep them imprisoned or deport them because of their rights. At least in Prison their contact could be regulated and it was known that they were where they were meant to be. After all are we not at war with these people? Would you have let a German officer roam the streets of London as long as he didn't tell people how great Nazism was or try to contact Berlin? The same thing with secret courts. Yes there should be fair trials but if the evidence that is to be heard is secret and the Intelligence used could be detrimental in the wrong hands then why not have it behind closed doors in the interest of Public safety? We'd be sacrificing the safety of the majority for a few possible terrorists. Again, are we not at war with terror and isn't this a sensible war time measure?
Then there was the alienation of the British Working class from politics by the big three paties. It cannot be denied that voters have turned away from politics and the big argument is that people at the top just don't get it. The big three in the Coalition (Cameron, Osborne and Clegg) are multi-millionaires they've never had to struggle on the bottom of the heap. Even some MPs are detached from the reality of life for the working classes and instead have their pet projects like Free schools, Big Society, Electoral reform all of which won't make the blindest bit of difference to the working man's life and is a waste of time and money. The do-gooders who want to help everyone and re balance society so that it is fairer are losing site of the majority and refocusing on the minorities that are being left behind and so that get more of a voice than they should have. Yes there should be equality and consideration to other people's views and lifestyles but you cannot force things like employment quotas. For example one company that one of us had worked for had stated in its new influx of employees there would be no white staff as they had fallen behind (due to natural wastage) in its diversity quota. The Metropolitan Police a few years back were only hiring officers from an Afro-Caribbean background and they were more likely to get fast tracked to Sergeant over white officers. The Labour front bench MUST have 33% women at least, so even if you'd make a great minister you may not get a position based on your gender. Surely, this is active discrimination they said, surely positions should be allocated on merit and not your ethnicity. Whether or not that is the case another argument put forward was that the working families or the unemployed see immigrants getting jobs, such as the local cleaning company being made up of South Americans, Africans and Asians, and UK citizens unemployed. Though of course I honestly believe that part of the reason for that is because some people wouldn't take that sort of work deeming themselves better than that and holding out for a better job. But successive Government's attitude to Immigration has led, apparently, to this break down and it all comes from a liberal, Do gooder stance of; We must let these people come here. This coupled with the Politician's spin, in an attempt to look more liberal and helpful, supporting minority causes left right and centre which has left the majority under represented.
As I said at the beginning, I don't believe most of this but it did make me think. After all Liberalism is about everybody and Mills does warn of the "tyranny of the Minority."
It does seem that Westminster can get caught up in minority cases rather than the Majority. Week in week out an opposition MP will stand up at PMQS and say;Mrs X from my constiteuncy has been unemployed for 7 years anc cannot get a job and now the Government are taking her cat allowance from her because they've capped it at 3 cats. She has fourteen cats - does this government discriminate against Cat loving widows now?
Ok its a silly example but those who regularly watch PMQS will know what I mean. Of course anyone can use any single example to attack a case. I know of an SS judge who went to Buchenwald concentration camp and was so horrified at what he saw he order red the arrest of the Commandant for "Murdering Jewish prisoners." he also sent his adjutant to investigate Auschwitz believing that prisoners were being badly treated and executed there too. Does this mean that the Nazis were against Genocide?
It is the same for Mrs X above. A government measure that will benefit a majority of people and/or free up millions of pounds is being attacked because a minority of people will suffer from it - in this case crazy cat women. When the Government argue against it they just appear heartless and cruel - poor Mrs X!
There is also the Internationalist Liberal stance that dictates our European policy. Criticism of Europe and its many organs and processes are well known and I shan't repeat those here. What I will say is that the Liberal ideal of equal rights means and the attachment to the European Court of Human rights means that Britain is no longer the mistress of her own laws. Foreign Judges and legal experts can overturn British Law which many see as unconstitutional. How can unelected foreigners tell the British Government how to do its business? The Same is true for the EU - the arguments that Germany and France are the dictating powers and that Britain has to comply. This further alienates voters who have sympathy with other Libdem ideals and see them as a sensible opposition to Labour or the Conservatives but are not fond of Europe or the Internationalist part.
I don't have any solutions. I take some of the criticisms on board, and I think to a degree it is clear that the majority do feel that they are maligned, whether they are or not is another story. We as a nation need to address that and readdress the balance. Minority causes attract a lot of media attention and thus politicians trying to get more and more votes which isn't necessarily the right thing to do. In some cases, like the Ghurkas, it is the right thing, in others its just a PR stunt. If anything maybe Liberalism is being taken to its extreme rather than the broad base that was suggested by Mill. Maybe we should take a step back and try to represent the Majority rather than every minority.