Future strategies- a minimal party

This post was originally written when the ‘Coongate’ fracas kicked off.  It was published on the LPUK.org site on May 28th, and is therefore is no longer accessible there.

Since them my LPUK membership has (I assume) lapsed, and I’ve ambivalent about getting involved in another party, but thought would repost here so people can refresh their memories prior to the Strategy workshop this Saturday. I have a few other ideas that will be put up later this week.

Personally, I don’t think we can carry on as before, this whole affair has had a severe effect on the party’s credibility, membership and morale.

The biggest problem we’ve had in the past was that we have never had enough people who could provide the time to make the party, as structured, work and we were never able to raise enough money to hire professional staff. Trying to do this now would be impossible in my opinion.

On the other hand de-registering would waste our biggest asset, our name- £500 was spent registering it with the electoral commission. The question is how do we use it? Also, we should ask ourselves what is it we hope to achieve?

The answer to the second question is to promote libertarian ideas by contesting elections. It is my view then that our ‘mission statement’ is simply to allow individuals to stand for election under the libertarian name.

I therefore propose that the party should be slimmed down to support this core function. For reference check out this group I came across last week.

They are registered as a political party just so they can have the words ‘independent- leave the EU’ on the ballot. (Their constitution is worth a read, as is their aim to publish all accounts online. This doesn’t seem to have happened however).

The party should in my view follow this model and be scaled back to the bare minimum to allow individuals to stand- no leader, regional branches/co-ordinators, just the minimum number of legal officers. The only funds needed then would be enough to cover any electoral commission fees, web hosting etc, which membership fees and an annual pledge drive should be sufficient to cover.

Maybe we should have no set policies and manifestos, leaving it up to the candidate to decide what they wish to focus their campaign on. As long as someone agrees to our basic principles they should be able to join and stand for election. The ultimate expression of this new philosophy might be to change the party name to the Independent Libertarian party.

In addition I propose we create a new, non-party campaign/social group that I’ll refer to for now as ‘the libertarian network’ (any suggestions for an alternative name would be much appreciated!) The TPA should be our model for this organisation- it should be free to join and open to all regardless of party membership and would focus on networking, campaigning and promoting ideas. When elections come around the candidates can then tap into this to raise funds and find volunteers to help their campaign.

In addition members of other parties who have libertarian leanings could also reach out to the network and gain support. Hopefully being ‘libertarian network endorsed’ would one day be a badge of honour all aspiring politicians would yearn for!

In summary then, I believe the only way forward is to scale the party back and focus its mission on supporting individuals standing for election. It would be more consistent with our philosophy to act as a loose, open alliance of individuals than trying to build and maintain a hierachical structure in the current party system.

  10 comments for “Future strategies- a minimal party

  1. Nov 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    I believe that contesting elections is one fraction of one part of what the current community is capable of. We can people educate about libertarianism, practice it by directly taking action, and even change policy without needing a registered party at all.

    See also my post on the importance of institutions http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2011/11/the-importance-of-institutions/ (read: less important than you might think)

  2. James
    Nov 22, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    What was ‘Coongate’?

  3. John Watson
    Nov 23, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Simon, I have to disagree. When I first joined the Libertarian Party a few years back, I was for small government and greater freedom but did not have a clue what Libertarianism was all about. I joined the party as I was attracted to the polices but after going to a few meet-ups I learnt about the non-aggression principle, Austrian economics and what personal liberty was really about. If the Libertarian Party was just an association or a charity then I would not have anything to do with the organisation. We already have a Libertarian association, who I have already come across many times but It was a political party that educated and converted me over. Associations are fine when it comes to single issues such as Tax Payers Alliance on Tax, Freedom2choose on smoking issues but when it comes to a whole political philosophy then a political party does a better job. The other option is hijacking a political party as the socialists are now doing with the SNP, some libertarians have done a decade ago with the conservatives but will always back fire (an some have done with the LPUK).

    • Nov 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm

      but John, what specific actions do you want all these libertarians to help with?

      • John Watson
        Nov 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        It is up to you what you want to do, however I have concluded a pressure group is just a waste of time. With the Scottish government coming up with this Sectarian / offensive bill even with a majority the other parties are still indirectly supporting the bill. We have thousands protesting on the streets, several groups lobbying government but just completely ignored

  4. John Watson
    Nov 23, 2011 at 10:08 am

    *Libertarian association, such as the Libertarian Alliance.

  5. Runcie Balspune
    Nov 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Why not become a cross-party organisation ?

    Do what the Cooperative Party does and leap on the coattails of existing MPs or candidates to represent them (the Coop is a bad example as they are not strictly cross-party, but its “sort of” the idea).

    Appeal to existing MPs and councillors for support, it might be easy because (a) if the aims of a libertarian manifesto don’t contradict too much with their own party and (b) a lot of party members don’t 100% agree with their own manifesto anyway, they’ll just support it in name, which is unchanged if they adopt libertarian manifesto ideas as well.

    On the subject of manifesto ideas, don’t try and cover issues or concepts that don’t really have an applicable libertarian ideology, which would only be necessary if you were standing as an independent candidate, instead make “recommendations”, a good example would be energy policy.

    [/2p-worth]

  6. John Watson
    Nov 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    So you start Libertarian association, and support a few conservative MPs! What then? Conservatives will love to get the support from associations, and when it comes to election time “we have support from this that group” but when in power push the totalitarian agenda and the libertarian association that was started losses support. You will notice many pressure groups, even the Tax Payer Alliance who are clearly libertarian by thought but does not want to be seen to support any political party as it would destroy them. Yes there are some libertarian MPS and MSP in the conservatives but from the outset as being part of the conservative, with out any research they are just seen to be totalitarian conservatives.

    • Runcie Balspune
      Nov 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

      The support I am talking of comes _from_ the traditional party member _to_ the “libertarian alliance”, not the other way around. If an MP or councillor pledges to support some of the libertarian ideology then isn’t that a good thing ?

      I know that’s the way the Coop works, I’m not suggesting the same, just the idea of not having a separate party.

      I personally can’t see anyone from the ends of the left-right spectrum supporting any libertarian policies, or being endorsed by libertarians, so no danger of getting hooked up to any totalitarians there.

  7. Runcie Balspune
    Nov 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Should be “I know that’s *not* the way the Coop works”

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