Thursday, 26 June 2008

Tories Won't Leave Us Alone

A good friend of mine who comments quite regularly on this blog opposed my previous post's proposal that in order to widen its appeal, the Libertarian Party should adopt a more populist stance rather than attempting to bring (what I consider to be) too many new ideas to the table.

One of his reasons for that opposition is the predicted electoral success of the Conservative Party in 2010, upon which, he suggests, an economically 'right-wing' Libertarian Party will no longer be "of use" - i.e. that it will at that point not be offering anything sufficiently different for people to have a reason to vote LPUK over Conservative.

In two years time, when we have a Conservative government that only someone of desperate naivete imagines will be anything other than quite sharply to the right of Cameron's current touchy-feely rhetoric, what exactly will be the use of a small pro-business, pro-"free market" party?

The idea that just because the Libertarian Party are broadly pro-'free market' (at least in the Adam Smith Institute sense of the term), a Tory government would close off the Libertarian Party's niche and render it useless seems to me to indicate a somewhat one-dimensional view of the political landscape.

Old Holborn left a comment at the cross-post of my previous post at the LPUK Blog that to me gives an indication of one of the key differences - the fact that a central plank of the libertarian philosophy can be summarised as:
LPUK: Just leave me alone, alright? Stop telling me what to do. I don't belong to you.

Who thinks that, whether or not Cameron's Conservatives will turn to the right of their pre-election rhetoric once elected, they will actually take any real steps towards rolling back the tide of regulation and legislation that has been introduced since New Labour came to power? That they will restore freedom and personal responsibility to individuals and release small businesses from the tangle of red tape (e.g.)? Of course, for it to mean anything it would have to include a referendum on continued EU membership - something I am thoroughly sceptical the Conservatives will give us no matter how far 'right' they move on other issues, for good or ill.

In addition to that, there are the issues on which the Conservatives are predicted to be even worse, from a libertarian point of view, than Labour. These include abortion, gay rights and drug policy. Although there has been some improvement from the 1980s and early 1990s, the Conservative party is still sufficiently populated by the types of moralisers whose views permeate the Mail and Express that libertarian progress on the issue of drugs is highly unlikely under a Tory government. In addition, I fear that much of the current civil libertarian rhetoric expressed by the likes of David Davis may evaporate if there is a terrorist attack or similar once the Tories are in power with a significant majority.

If the Libertarian Party has one consistent message, it should be "the Government should leave us alone to live our own lives as we see fit, as long as we do not harm anyone else". The Conservatives, whether they move to the 'right' economically or not, will never do so.

1 comment:

Mark Wadsworth said...

You are wasting your time trying to draw fine lines between the Tories and Labour. The key is to draw huge great massive lines between whatever it is that you believe to be right and true and the LibLabConsensus.