People will ask me sometimes on social media why I don’t seem to write about the Lib Dems, well, pretty much ever these days. The reason isn’t sinister or suspect: there just hasn’t been that much to write about from my angle since May 7th, unfortunately. But there is finally something in the news that has made me happy to be a Liberal Democrat again – if only because the party definitely took the right stance, even it meant falling in behind Cameron on something.
I am referring to Sunday Trading Laws and the attempts by the government to relax them. They have been temporarily shelved due to the SNP saying they will vote against the measure. Two things to say about this: one, this is pretty rich considering the changes proscribed would only apply in England and Wales. I’m not a fan of English Votes for English Laws, but it becomes hard to argue against it when the SNP pulls these stunts. Which is, of course, the whole reason they do them in the first place. Two, it demonstrates once again that whether the SNP be Tartan Tories in socialist clothing, or real live Bolsheviks, we do know for sure what they are definitely not: liberal. Because I don’t see how any liberal would stand in the way of relaxing the laws regarding which shops can and cannot stay open on a Sunday. Surely that should be left open to the businesses in question in this day and age.
Before anyone gets all upset about people being forced to work on days that might be sacred to them, or even just the notion of more working time meaning more people having to work, this is legislation we’re talking about here, and you can build all sorts of safeguards into the law itself. That’s what’s great about parliamentary democracy. And given the Tories might very well need votes from other quarters on this one given the anti-free traders in their ranks (and there are several), added to the fact of the thin majority anyhow, there is extra room to make sure no one gets trampled on. I should take this time to remind you all of two things (sorry about the law of twos in this article – it somehow lends itself to this particular subject): one is that plenty people of religious faiths other than Christianity have to negotiate days off that are sacred to them, so let’s be fair here. The second point is that if we’re worried about people with retail jobs having to work more, chances are at least some new jobs will be created out of this. Surely that’s a good thing?
So hooray to the Lib Dems for coming out to support it, even if won’t be enough to see it pass into law for the time being. I’m happy that the party was faced with a liberal or an illiberal choice and took the liberal one, while Labour, the DUP and the SNP decided to go the other way.