Word games

I am a traditional English liberal (N.B. lower case) and I therefore vote Conservative in order to keep out the Liberals.

Well, indeed. You may well ask.

All right, for the avoidance of doubt and for the confusion benefit of any visiting Americans:

The word liberal, in British politics, has the opposite meaning to its usage in the USA where of course it means socialist, as in Uncle Sam Knows Best so shaddup with your liberty crap and hand over your money, then get back in your box and await my orders. Nancy Pelosi is a leading American liberal.

Some British socialists call themselves Liberals. This is quite different from British liberal although similar to the American liberal.

British conservatives are liberals who would disagree with American liberals, who in Britain would be called Liberals but never liberals.

In Britain, liberal means one who defends individual liberty against Big Brother. This is not to be confused with Liberal which denotes a socialist who has reached voting age without having developed the nads required to accept either the appellation socialist or the responsibilities of principled government (and is happiest in opposition except for the short-term use of flunkeys, the red carpets, etc.) and has therefore opted for unprincipled populist vacillation according to short-term electoral expediency.

In summary, a British liberal cannot be a Liberal because he is a conservative and a British Liberal cannot be a liberal because he is not a conservative.

In Britain, whenever you hear a liberal call a Liberal ‘a liberal’, you can be sure it is meant ironically. Unless the speaker is David Cameron.


Jolly good.

Actually, this is only half the story… 

(Footnote: much of the above would be disputed by most British Liberals although possibly not much by most British liberals.)

6 comments for “Word games

  1. March 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Fair enough. I’m a conservative, which means that I want to change large political things such as our form of government. This is because, as a conservative, I want to prevent large political changes to our ancient constitution. Therefore I vote for the UK Independence Party because it opposes the Conservative Party (which wants to conserve recent changes to our ancient constitution) by changing large political things back.
    Thought so.

  2. March 3, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I am not a member of the New Labour Party, nor have I ever been, nor a member of the Labour Party (as of old).

    But I have laboured all my adult life, for money to live on.

    Nowadays, Labour politics is not the same as labour politics: now Labour is in fact largely the politics and party of the work-shy.

    [Aside: I wonder how long it will take UKIP to become the party of dependence?]

    That’s the trouble with linguistics politics, you find a good word and someone steals it, or your party.

    Best regards

  3. sams
    March 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm


    I might call myself a Libertarian, but I fear that the term is going to have 25 different meanings soon enough 😉

  4. March 4, 2012 at 6:09 am

    And as distinct from the Australian Liberals, who are basically conservatives at heart and who seem unable to bear the thought of people being at liberty to do as they wish. Ironically the Liberal Democratic Party here is basically libertarian, proving only that politics is there to make cricket look simple.

  5. Lord T
    March 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

    That is the plan. Make labels meaningless when it refers to them but make labels important when it comes to us such as Patriots = terrorist.

  6. March 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    “In Britain, liberal means one who defends individual liberty against Big Brother.”

    Here in the US, we call ourselves libertarians.

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