Making The Case ... for Freedom
16th January - 19th March 2023
Setting the scene
“Freedom and openness have always been the most powerful forces for progress. But they have never been achieved by standing still.” (Rishi Sunak, 28 November 2022)
“A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.” (Milton & Rose Friedman, 1980)
Many Conservatives identify freedom as a top value underpinning their worldview. Yet, everybody believes in freedom and liberty, don’t they? Perhaps so, but we need to be clear about what we mean by the terms as Conservatives. As we did for “capitalism” in our last consultation, we may need deliberately to use different terms in order to communicate our vision and values more effectively for a wider audience.
Freedom House published a report late last year on Authoritarian Expansion and the Power of Democratic Resilience, in which they found:
“Half of the countries in the study were found to be Vulnerable rather than Resilient. And even many Resilient countries exhibited weaknesses like low expertise on CCP influence or the absence of laws that could enhance transparency and competition in the media sector.
“But some of the biggest risks came from actions by the countries’ own governments that eroded fundamental protections for press freedom and freedom of expression, or that exploited and misdirected fears of Chinese influence for short-term political gain. In 23 countries in the study, political leaders launched attacks on domestic media or used legitimate concerns about CCP influence to justify arbitrary restrictions, target critical outlets, or fuel xenophobic sentiment.
“The events of the last several years have prompted hand-wringing in democratic states about the supposed power and efficiency of authoritarianism. The findings of this study offer reassurance that the core features of democracy—free expression, transparency, and accountability—provide a strong defense against authoritarian influence. Democracies are resilient when they embrace and protect independent journalism and civil society groups, and when their laws shed light on media ownership and the activities of foreign states. Ultimately, the protection and improvement of fundamental rights and democratic governance are powerful safeguards against a range of authoritarian threats, whether from the CCP or any other source.”
Questions for discussion
If you had 30 seconds with someone to make the case for freedom, what would you say?
How might we best promote freedom to the next generation?
What international example do you think best exemplifies the benefits of freedom?
What international example do you think best highlights what can go wrong when freedom is neglected or abused?
Please share any helpful short quotes from world leaders on the subject.
What should freedom look like when translated into policy in each of the following areas?
i. Cost of living
ii. Energy security
iii. NHS health and social care
iv. Global influence
7. Is there any other observation you would like to make?
For further details, download the consultation brief.