Pro Liberty Announcement

Those who use bus services will be familiar with the scenario: You wait ages for a bus, and then three come along at once. The same happens to be true of libertarian political parties in the UK.

Last night at the Rose & Crown in Southwark, Pro Liberty was founded. This is a political party which is being registered with the Electoral Commission to fight elections in England and Wales. The party aims to spread the libertarian message within the media – both traditional and social – and through think tanks, the political system and wherever else we can reach a wide audience.

Not only is the party about promoting libertarianism, it is itself designed to be libertarian. There are no restrictions on membership such as forbidding simultaneous membership of other political parties. Nor will there be membership fees until and unless they can be justified. There is also no restriction on what members can or can not say in the media or elsewhere. Members may not state that they are speaking on behalf of the party, but apart from that anything goes. If we are to promote libertarianism to others, we must be able to at least demonstrate our libertarian credentials in the way we organise our own party.

A party constitution is being submitted to the Electoral Commission. This is a legal requirement. We have designed the constitution to be basic and to last for a year. We want the views of libertarians on what the constitution should contain for future years. There are some very basic legal requirements, but the remainder of the party’s constitution is flexible. And it will be down to you, potential member, to help shape the party to be something that you will be happy to support.

The party will begin a series of debates shortly to help with the process of creating a party that most libertarians can support. We also plan to engage with other libertarian organisations and sympathisers, to have candidates stand for elections, to make a noise in the media, and generally to get the message out there and wake this country up from its century-long sleepwalk.

It won’t be easy. But as Confucius say, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so get on with it’. We’ve taken such a step, and I hope many of you will join us.

Clarissa, James, and Richard

Several people have been involved with advice, ideas, money, and the hard work required to get things moving. I don’t want to mention them by name because I’m bound to miss someone out. But if you discover yourself talking to someone and they mention they were involved, buy them a drink, they’ve earned it. Three interim officers are being formally registered with the electoral commission. These are: James Rigby – Party Leader; Richard Carey – Party Treasurer; and Clarissa Clement – Nominating Officer.

Going back to where this article started: Lovers of analogies who are also aware of libertarian political parties may wish to ponder whether there was a bus that either crashed or veered off the road a year ago and is still limping along. Maybe you were on it. We hope you weren’t too injured. We can assure you of a safer journey on the Pro Liberty express.

All aboard. Hold on tight. Next stop Corby?

James Rigby

Wit, raconteur, bon viveur and man-about-town. James is a semi-active libertarian, who lives in Essex and Kent. He can be found in various watering holes across the South East and more particularly in the Rose & Crown in Southwark on the first Thursday of the month. Most of the time. 

Tags:

  21 comments for “Pro Liberty Announcement

  1. Richard Carey
    Sep 7, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I won’t complain about the photo in case the other ones were worse!

  2. Sep 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Instead of setting up a separate party from scratch, why didn’t you join the ILN and help to get that up and running? It seems to me that this is just going to split the activist base, and we’ve never had many activists to start with.

    • Sep 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      I remember James trying quite hard to encourage Gavin into supporting dual memberships. There was lots of heavy hint dropping from me too. Perhaps Gavin will open it up.

      • Sep 8, 2012 at 9:30 am

        Simon. Helped by the useful and constructive conversation that took place, the IndyLibs does offer dual membership, but there are slight differences for the purposes of election planning and campaigning.

        We offer two membership options to individuals who would like to support IndyLib campaigning. They can choose the Friend membership option which allows them to get involved with the Network in terms of forming policy guidance, and submitting events, articles and resources; and supporting individual IndyLib campaigners and candidates with their time, labour and resources.

        The Friends membership option allows individuals to be a member of the Network whilst being a member of another political party. Of course, individuals would need to consider the rules of the other party/ies they wish to be members of relating to dual membership.

        People who choose the Members membership option have decided to commit solely to developing the Network and in turn support IndyLib activism, and see no need to be involved with another political party.

        As such, Members have the opportunity to become a public face of the Network, in their own right and in their own area, as Independent Libertarians. They have the opportunity to not only be active on behalf of the Network but also become election candidates

        Given that the party wishes to promote ‘Independents’ (that is people who are not members of another political party) who are liberty-minded – therefore Independent Libertarian (a term which could not be used on a ballot paper without the registration of a political party) – it would be improper and dishonest ‘in the eyes of the voter’ if someone who was a member of another party decided to stand for election as an Independent Libertarian candidate.

        A key purpose of the Independent Libertarian tag is electoral (otherwise there’d be no need to register a political party with the Electoral Commission) and therefore the purpose of having a brand of being Independent ‘and’ Libertarian is to be honest about what type of Independent one is when asking people for their vote (someone may be an Independent candidate, but be conservative, socialist, Christian, or otherwise in their outlook. They may in independent from a political party, but no-one is truly independent in their outlook or opinion. The current legal framework governing the use of the term Independent doesn’t allow for a descriptive to be added, and as such, encourages ambiguity).

        So you see, the purpose of having two options for membership has its reason, that is to ensure there is no muddying of the water between someone who is a Friend to the Network, and someone who is a Member. So with these differences in mind, I say again that the Independent Libertarians does offer dual membership.

    • Richard Carey
      Sep 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      Stuart,

      there’s no reason for this to split the activist base. Rather, I would say we are doubling the opportunities to grow that base. We’re certainly not going to be running an exclusionary policy towards people in ILN – indeed we don’t mind if people are members of both.

      If you remember the time prior to either party being founded, there was a fair amount of debate about how such a party should be structured, and the relationship between the local party and the national party etc. No one answer could please all the people, so with two parties, maybe we’ve got a better chance of providing something for everyone.

      There’s also the simple, practical matters of setting up a new, initially small party, and how you can get things agreed and take action. Notwithstanding the wonders of modern communications, it helps if people can sit down face to face and decide what you are going to do. We decided not to wait for instructions from HQ and get on with it.

      BTW I did try to contact you, Stuart, to discuss our plans and get your take on what the position was up north – especially given your location in Manchester, the spiritual home of so much that we should hold dear as radicals, liberal and libertarians, but didn’t manage to do so, which in a way is an illustration of why at this point it’s probably better that we soldier on with this project and ILN do the same. We’re all in the same fight together and there is much work to be done.

  3. Tim Carpenter
    Sep 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Another party founded this year by people I respect.

    I am far away, but I wish you well. Always interested in policy!

    Two parties, different approaches, but can always become a coalition as and when desired by both sides via voluntary collectivism.

    • Sep 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

      I too wish the Pro-Liberty Party well. It’s true what Tim says, two parties with different approaches and structures. Nothing wrong with that :)

  4. Sep 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    There isn’t a problem with two parties and I wish both well. Problems come when a Party has dogmatic and authoritarian characteristics which give rise to schismatic disputes. Better to have multiple parties and attitudes open to cooperative working. As has been said above, there is always the possibility of moving together as things develop. I have become a ‘friend’ of the ILN and I will most probably join Pro Liberty.

    Let us just get on with building the influence of libertarianism.

    • Sep 11, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Malcom. Correct me if I am wrong, but we got through the LPUK thing without anyone falling out over ideology (except for make-believe purposes) and there was plenty of tension to spark that off if it was likely to happen.

      I think the major divide will be between people who wish to take part in the political system and those that do not. The latter group can be allies or enemies, but aren’t relevant to infighting by definition.

      • Sep 11, 2012 at 9:30 am

        Yes LPUK was destroyed by behaviour not ideology. The situation was worsened by a bad constitution. We need to learn from that as new parties are formed.

        There are substantial differences of ideology and policy between those of us who want to see political engagement by Libertarians. All I want to see is that we do not get lost in which party is the right one. There will not be only one true path. When it comes to standing in local or national government elections a decision must be made which Party label the candidate chooses, but for all other purposes I would hope that there can be combined working between groups within the UK and internationally.

        The history of smaller parties is littered with splits due to policy and personality disputes. Our energies need to be applied to expanding acceptance of Libertarianism as a political choice and I do not want it to be dissipated in disagreement over which is the best Party.

  5. Sep 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    There’s definitely scope for co-operation. Having joined ILN as a full member, I will think nice thoughts at Pro Liberty. One further question for now: The article mentions fighting elections in England and Wales. I can understand leaving Northern Ireland out, because you’d have to register a separate party there, but why not fight elections in Scotland if you can find members up there willing to stand?

    • Richard Carey
      Sep 11, 2012 at 6:54 am

      Good stuff Stuart, I’m sure we can work together. As for choosing only England and Wales, the reason was that there are the Scottish Libertarians, who are setting up a party and we thought we’d let them get on with it. I know that James contacted them. i don’t know if they responded.

      • Sep 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

        Being as you’re allowing joint memberships, I don’t see how that would be a show-stopper, especially as the ScotLibs seem to be nationalists. A unionist alternative might attract libertarians who wouldn’t join the ScotLibs anyway. Your choice, anyway. Do you know how long it will take to register with the EC?

  6. Richard Carey
    Sep 11, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Hear hear.

  7. Richard Carey
    Sep 11, 2012 at 9:44 am

    This was aimed at Malpoet’s comment.

  8. Sep 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Listen There is already a libertarian type party standing in Corby, I would urge you to promote that candidate which happens to be myself but whatever you do think about it first. If you wish to support us then please do so. Our Party website is at http://www.yppuk.blogspot.co.uk We would certainly appreciate your input and time if you would like to support us in the Corby By -Election.

    • James Rigby
      Sep 25, 2012 at 10:02 am

      I believe there is more than one libertarian-type candidate standing in Corby. If we decide to not put up our own candidate, we will be considering which other candidate, if any, to support in due course.

Comments are closed.