Thursday, July 30, 2009

[libertarian party] between a rock and a hard place

If you manage to get through this post, please don't miss reading the comments section.

There is the issue of the posts on this blog and comment has been made that the long posts, the serious posts, are buried in the flurry of other, shorter posts and no one can either find them nor wants to read them when they're found.

That's fair and though it shouldn't affect RSS reading anyway, I'm going to try to put the main post up late morning and put two either side - that's the theory. In line with this theory, it would be nice to get some feedback on the problems of the Libertarian Party of the UK and I'd rather not wait until tomorrow morning.

It begins with the Norwich North result and Chloe. My political stance, for those who don't know and who care, is here.

The moniker - Libertarian Party

1. There was Chloe herself and her victory, that was a factor in itself. A pretty child, however talented, will tend to score, these days, over either a seasoned campaigner or an up and coming young man, particularly given the general disgust in the country over career politicians.

2. LPUK is new - hell, look how long it's taken the UKIP.

3. People simply don't want serious politics in the middle of a British summer and LPUK is a serious party, with serious policies. People have had a gutful of seriousness.

4. Then comes a deeper problem - the name. Just because we in the sphere tend to be mainly libertarian in outlook, my mate puts the point of view that none of us are truly libertarian. If we were, we'd have a Wyatt Earp attitude to law enforcement and a dog eat dog situation in everyday life, again a bit like the image of the old American wild west.

It doesn't wash in Britain and while most of us in the sphere are comfortable with the libertarian tag because we understand it and are politically aware, I saw people uptown today who simply would have fear at the idea of libertarians running round with their anarchy. It would take an education campaign to overcome the baggage of the libertarian tag, not unlike "libertine".

That LPUK are nothing to do with that image - they failed to get across to Norwich North. Pretty politics is another thing - we can't get enough of that e.g. Caroline Flint before shooting her self in the foot.

5. Americans might go for a Libertarian Party - the Brits won't.

The brouhaha over the Rogue Commenter at the LPUK site

No other party has this problem - only LPUK, by virtue of its name and policies. Labour would just delete the comment by the Rogue Commenter and that would be that. Ditto the Tories:

1. The Libertarian Party is ... well ... libertarian.

Do they delete an attack on Chloe Smith or do they not? I believe that Ian and the big wigs simply have it in the offing pending discussion - this is my surmise. By all reports, the comment was way OTT and worse than that - unprofessional and yet, can they afford to alienate their base by deleting?

2. It wasn't the points made about Ms Smith, which might well or might not have been true. It wasn't the hard hitting nature of the comment. It was the ad hominem, which most serious bloggers nowadays refuse to countenance but even more - LPUK, before a general election, cannot afford not to appear to be a serious party.

It was the aggression, the less than gentlemanly language and the way it zeroed straight in on a personal level.

I'm fisking the whole time on this blog. I've said some terrible things about the bankers, the gay mafia, the feminazis and the EU. Yet I don't do it with a potential and rival candidate for a position.

Therefore, LPUK is between a rock and a hard place.

Citizen's basic income

This is a bit O/T but I'd like to know where LPUK stand on this, without having to wade through pages of policy to find it. It might anger Ian [Parker-Joseph] but it's possibly the attitude of many people as well and therefore is a factor which needs to be taken into account - the realpolitik of short available time and short attention spans.

Let me tell you what Citizen's Basic Income would do for me. If it was at £7000, then that would cover my basics. Therefore that fear factor disappears and I can go out, take greater risks and seek for what I'd like to do far more assertively. I really would. Knowing I could always fall back on the CBI, I'd go for it as if there were no tomorrow. I believe I'd succeed.

It's not perfect but it's a start and if fazed in, would help with the welfare state problem we currently have.

At the risk of lengthening this post, Lord T has taken up the libertarian question on his blog and it really deserves a read. There are issues IMHO which need addressing before next May and it's LPUK's best chance. Here are some issues to address:

1. Why, IMO, [are] the people ... just not ready for Libertarianism? It’s not that they don’t want it it is just that they are scared of letting go of what they know as they see Libertarianism as Anarchy and are frightened.

2. I [Lord T] am a UK Libertarian yet even I wonder what is going to happen. It is clear we can’t go from a welfare state to a Libertarian paradise overnight and yet nobody is clear on what it means to them if the voted in the LPUK.

3. Until Libertarians actually look at the process and define the first term in office, what it will do, what changes it will make during its first, and potentially only, term then people will be unsure, better the devil you know than this bunch who want to remove all controls and bring anarchy to the UK. We need Libertarian Lite which is a stepping stone on the way.

4. I think that the first step is to prioritise the easy wins, Tell plod to go back to Peelian Principles, and sack every outreach coordinator, special advisor for short people, long people etc. and social worker in there. Then, get every Quango to list what they do on an A4 piece of paper including costs and benefits.

Do read the whole thing, as the tone is clearly that of not wanting this golden opportunity missed.


Guthrum said...

I don't feel that we are between a rock and a hard place, mainly because of the side benefits that have come out of Norwich, which will come apparent over the next few weeks

James Higham said...

Well, we can only hope so and I trust you didn't think I was trying to be negative, Guthrum.

IanPJ said...


As always, I am happy to set the record straight where able, when questions such as these arise.

Firstly, the quality of posts on the LPUK blog. This issue has been of concern to the leadership but we feel that it has now been addressed, with the more personal language having been removed from the post in question leaving only the political point.

Moving forward, the blog will be under the watchfull eye of an editor and a new set of posting guidelines, with an editorial veto on anything which we consider damaging to LPUK.

You are right, it is time for the party to clean up its act, because alongside the right to freedom of speech also comes responsibility, and one of those responsibilities is to protect the party from harm.

With regards to CBI (Citizen's basic income) there was in the early days a lot of debate on this item.

It was dismissed as a policy item primarily due to the cost, but there are other more libertarian issues involved in this also.

In order to provide everyone with a £7000 CBI, it would mean taking far more than that in taxes in order to administrate and hand it back again. A rather pointless exercise in my view.

The other key feature which we see as being anti libertarian would be that we would need to maintain a database on everyone in order to make that administration work, something that we vehemently oppose.

As outlined in our income tax policy, as part of the objective of firstly cutting back and then abolishing altogether taxes based on income, would be the added benefit to the population of being able to remove and destroy the massive databases currently run by the HMRC and the W&PA, and thereby freeing them from Government interference in their financial lives.

It must of course be remembered that income tax does not pay for everything, it is not the only tax, as many have been led to believe, accounting for less than a third of government revenues.

If, we were to ever revisit CBI, it would be strictly on the basis of consent by way of a national referendum, but we would emphasise and highlight the liberal pitfalls and the personal taxation cost of undertaking such a scheme.

James Higham said...

Ian, thanks for that and if some of the other parties were to respond so quickly - I put a challenge to the UKIP some time back and had only Mark Wadsworth responding, who wasn't sure of the answer.

Now, on CBI - I have to take you to task on this:

"In order to provide everyone with a £7000 CBI, it would mean taking far more than that in taxes in order to administrate and hand it back again. A rather pointless exercise in my view."

Quite the opposite - one eliminates the administrative problems of fractional payments - one payment for all is a simple exercise, given the data base already in place [which, no doubt, you will reduce].

The cost against tax revenue is a major factor, of course.

[Ian, on a personal note, I visit almost daily but you know the difficulty with the commenting.]

Good luck to the LPUK and thanks again.

Lord T said...

Funny, I have just done something on Libertarianism myself.

I think it is going the right way. I am just concerned about the speed.

IanPJ said...

On a personal note.. yes, you and I need to get together over a coffee one day.

CherryPie said...

The way it stands at the moment the three main parties offer pretty much the same thing in different ways. The electorate have got disengaged which is why there is a low turnout at elections.

What the country needs is an alternative choice for people to vote for, the LPUK fit into that bracket. So the challenge is to get their message across to the voters and to do that they will have to go out and engage with the public.

Now is the time to be doing that.

James Higham said...

Lord T, Cherie - thank you.

Ian - certainly.

Anonymous said...

James, may I join Ian and your goodself?

James Higham said...

Anything's possible, Anon, when we all know who each of us is. Ian's come out with LPUK but I'm still in the shadows.

xlbrl said...

I shall tell you what the Libertarian Party is in America. Not libertarianism, mind you; I have no idea exactly what that is, because ten libertarians will have ten ideas of what it means.
The party is a collection of good people, wackers, right and left wing, dogs and cats sleeping together. It stand for whatever has boiled to the top for a time that is outside the mainstream parties. Much of it is worthy, all of it taken together is incoherent. Forget it.

I see in England even conservative-libertarians conflate or confuse anachy and liberty. It is the lack of liberty (and the demands liberty makes upon individuals) that makes anarchy. The very choas of liberty discovers order through the disipline of consequences.

'The astonishing fact revealed by economics and biology is that order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive.'

Liberty is not freedom. Liberty first contrains with rules of conduct; it is then men have far greater opportunity in everything.

'Rules of conduct necessarily constrain and order is their product; order greatly extending the range of ends each individual may successfully pursue. Order is desirable not for keeping everything in place, but for generating new powers that would otherwise not exist.'

The welfare state seeks never to generate new powers that are not its own, and is constanly preoccupied in making order out of the anarchy it has created. There is no liberty and no progress in this. So they call themselves "progressives".

You need to be extremely clear in what fundamental things you stand for which are only destroyed by negotiation and compromise, and what those other things are that eternally have two truths and cannot exist without the compromise of informed minds--yet still cannot survive the compromise of infomed experience and uninformed theory.

Nothing short of a list would do. And it would have to stand being examined by every layer of society. That is exactly how the American Constitution was presented and ratified.

I suspect your biggest challenge would be not the lower classes and the welfare classes, but the middle classes, expecially the white collar class.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

I don't think most people in the UK actually know what Libertarianism is.

If they think of anything it is either Maggie Thatcher or bomb throwing anarchists, or maybe both. Maybe with a hint of Fascism.

They have some weird confused ideas and look at you like you sprouted an extra head if you talk about it.

If you just talk about Libertarian ideas, without labels, they are broadly sympathetic.

The existing parties don't mind the confusion and probably like it.

Maybe it needs to get rid of the UK bit and then have someone like Max Clifford promote it.

The other parties do and you are competing against that.

I don't see anything wrong with having a clear policy on the site and moderate to it. Politeness mostly helps things along.

James Higham said...

Xlbrl - that is the issue. It's one thing LPUK understanding it. It's another thing disseminating it clearly, over and over. You quote:


'The astonishing fact revealed by economics and biology is that order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive.'

Liberty is not freedom. Liberty first contrains with rules of conduct; it is then men have far greater opportunity in everything."

In my mind, this is tending to Classic Liberalism, which I have no objection to whatsoever.

Moggs, you said:

"If you just talk about Libertarian ideas, without labels, they are broadly sympathetic.

The existing parties don't mind the confusion and probably like it."

Agreed but they're none too clear themselves in the UK sphere.

Labour is clear but hides its true agenda from the people [look at their policy document - not the manifesto which says something altogether different and obfuscates].

It's about "democratic" socialism, the greatest oxymoron in history.

The Tories, my own lot, have a leader who makes policy on the run to suit the circumstances of the day. This is deeply disappointing because we, the people, deserve a firm, clear commitment to liberty, starting with getting out of the EU while remaining in a loose trade partnership with Europe, the original idea.

In the end, what everyone is looking for except the politicians is for the elected reps to show a bit of spine and to carry out their campaign promises.

In a perverse way, Labour is doing that - carrying out its prime command to enslave us. It's not deviating from it.

The reason I do appreciate the American input is that you guys have the concept of liberty very close to the surface of your minds, whereas we tend to bumble about and not think things through [except for a politicized minority].

It's easier to slip subterfuge over us.

I hope that this post on a semi-obscure blog has contributed to the debate.

Deogolwulf said...

"It's about "democratic" socialism, the greatest oxymoron in history."

Is it even an oxymoron? But naturally there is that word "democratic" which seems to mean whatever people want it to mean, becoming a near-synonym for "good".

James Higham said...

Welcome back, Deogolwulf. I know your feelings on democracy, as you say - which is whatever people want it to mean and covering up a plethora of crimes and inefficiencies.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

James, What you say is true, but misses my point.

So what if the main parties are not clear?

The Libertarian party has not managed to get it's self accurately and positively into the conciousness of the average UK elector.

It needs to do that.

Lord T said...

Thanks for the plug James. I do really think the time is now for the message to get out on the LPUK. I have no idea of the side benefits from Norwich but hope they are dozzies, something that will grab the average voter but I suspect not. To be clear people on here and other blogs are not your average voter. We need to get the message out, be crystal clear and give them time to question, digest and understand before they have to put their cross on a piece of paper.

xlbrl said...

It is regrettable that "democratic socialism" is not an oxymoron. No less an observer than Tocqueville believed it was, rather, the natural progression of democracy. There is that word again. Progressive.

All of Tocqueville's effort was intended to discover the road away from that socialist end, while still retaining a democratic form.
"While you preserve your aristocracy, you will preserve your freedom. If that goes, you are in danger of falling into the worst of tyrannies—that of a despot appointed and controlled, if controlled at all, by a mob." Conversation with Senior, Memoir and Letters 1855
"Universal suffrage is a detestable element of government, but it is a powerful revolutionary instrument.
It really is difficult to imagine how people who have entirely given up managing their own affairs could make a wise choice of those who are to do that for them. One should never expect a liberal, energetic, and wise government to originate in the votes of a people of servants.
For the spectacle now exhibited by England, in which a party finds no difficulty in maintaining itself in power by carrying into practice ideas which it has always opposed, and by relying for support on its natural enemies, is not of a nature to raise the reputation of your institutions, or of your public men."

Democracy in America-
"I know nothing so miserable as democracy without liberty.
Men cannot enjoy political freedom without some sacrifice, and they only ever acquire it after much effort. But the pleasures of equality are on be alive is all that is necessary for their enjoyment.
Philosophic systems that destroy human individuality will have secret attractions for men who live in a democracy.
Princes had turned violence into a physical thing but our democratic republics have made it into something as intellectual as the human will it intends to restrict.
To combat the evils of equality, there is but one effective remedy, namely political freedom."

Tocqueville saw and decribed the details that made democracy work in America in 1831, and which were unique to it. He did not think they could be transported in the same form to Europe. I don't agree there is any other form, and we might be proving that right now by kicking it away. Pretty damn cheeky to disagree with my master, but Robert Conquest's maxim has never been proven wrong: Anything not specifically right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.

Democratic socialism is no oxymoron.

James Higham said...

Intellectually speaking, one is at liberty to disagree with anyone, Xlbrl, provided one can make a good case.

You make a very good case and I'm following it with interest, trying to see where your leading.

xlbrl said...

Thank you James, but I am not leading to something clever, it is more that I have arrived in the past. I am with Tocqueville--democracy can be made to work without destroying itself. But there are rules which cannot be evolved away.

I realize you have associations with very learned--which I am not--men of good temper (the rarest of good men) who believe democracy cannot work. I follow them carefully, and learn a great deal. No one, not once, has made a case for a system that can outlast itself, even tyranny. Democracy, instead of inevitably destroying itself, is at least more amenable to being renewed than any other system, even as it is more easily abused. That is the challenge, and a time will never come that some safe and permanent point has been arrived at. It is virtually not in our natures. Garrett writes the most poignant sentence--Each generation must learn for itself and when it has learned it is ready to die.

What people seem to want are not truths, but certainties. Better the uncomfortable truth we were not looking for than the certainty we thought we were.