Anton Howes will be speaking this Thursday at the Rose and Crown. Most of us know him as director of the Liberty League, but he will be speaking on his PhD topic: the causes of the industrial revolution.
I was lucky enough to hear Anton speak on this topic before, and with a longer time limit, at one of Brian Micklethwait’s Friday events. I think Brian does this deliberately, but I do hope I manage to introduce Anton with fewer awkward hiccups.
Brian had heard that Anton is into fencing and had assumed that Anton was a kind of sport obsessed jock, and decided to tell everyone how pleasantly surprised he was to find Anton wasn’t a boorish idiot. Fortunately he changed his mind about him when he heard that Anton was undertaking a serious detailed and quantitative study on who the prime movers were in the industrial revolution and what they had in common.
When I heard the fencing thing, I put “Liberty League leader” together with “sabre duelling” and my mind jumped to Christopher Lambert’s Highlander – a hero in a long coat wielding an ancient Samurai sword to slay his inevitable enemies… but, damn it, wrong type of sword!
Fortunately Anton’s intellectual arsenal is well stocked. I know this because I heard his talk before, but he is bristling with deadly credentials. Anton is young enough to remember his GCSE grades though there appears to have been some grade inflation. He managed 11 A*s – 9 more than me. Reassuringly, he donned the dunces hat when he got one A. Of course he also got a “Distinction in History Advanced Award”, obviously. More surprising are his 38 points at the International Baccalaureate; a very sensible diversification.
It was while he was earning his first class honours in War Studies and History at King’s College that he started getting into libertarian politics. He joined Students for Liberty and co-founded the Liberty League. I assume his ascendency was something to do with the time he got onto the BBC and into the Guardian, all of his own initiative. All the more remarkable becuase he went there in support of tuition fees. The story going around is that nobody approved of his doing that, or even told him how to do it. He just did it, so hats off to him.
It was about the same time he joined the European Students for Liberty as a board member, but it was a year later that he got a gig as a Consultant Researcher for the Centre for Market Reform of Education, who share office space with the Institute of Economic Affairs. He continues to work and blog there while working on his PhD.