Help needed North of the border

John Watson of the Scottish Libertarians drops by to tell us of a Council by election on November 5th in which his party is entering a candidate for the third time in a four month period.

John is the former LPUK treasurer who, in the period after his election, was denied oversight of the books he was newly responsible for. He left the scene to focus on Scotland, cutting a deal with LPUK to use the name Libertarian.

John suggests that anyone willing to help contact the party through it’s Facebook page.

The vote will use the Single Transferable Vote system, giving an interesting opportunity to measure how willing the electorate are to consider a libertarian.


  1. Scottish culture takes ideas very seriously (English culture tends to distrust abstract ideas and prefer experience). This has its bad side – the terrible strength of socialist ideas in Scottish life. However, libertarian ideas are also just that – ideas (principles). It may be possible to convince Scots on the basis of arguments-from-principle (reasoning – logic) in ways that it so difficult to convince most English people.



      1. Sorry for not replying for so long Simon. I find the internet baffling a lot of the time (as a recent bad experience shows – where I did not understand what a comment is and what it is not) and I have not been getting follow up e.mails to what I comment here – as I have not been pressing the icon to receive replies. No I do not have a link (I must confess that I do not think in terms of links).

        Hayek remarked (in various works) on the French versus British way of thinking in the way that I think of the Scottish versus English way of thinking – abstract versus experience, but he (to me) underestimated the rational element in the experience based way of thinking. It is NOT that things just “evolve” – people have ideas and try them out, and then rationally think about what worked and what did not work and WHY this was so.

        Take the place where I work – things did not remain fixed over time, nor did people not think about why things were doing a certain way and not another way. But then a new boss came in who imposed a top-down plan on everything from signage (pale green on pale green, or brownish against a wood background – and strange complex designs) to parking (do you pay on the way in or the way out? NEITHER – you …. well it is too complicated to really explain in a short comment, especially as for certain purposes-and-events people are not supposed to be paying for parking at all, and the machines do not understand that). Now he is a hard working, intelligent and well meaning man (a bit like the sort of person who goes to an elite French college, works very hard, gets wonderful exam results, is then put in charge of an enterprise and then sadly……. well you can fill in the blank), but he does not actually have any practical experience of the specific enterprise he took over – nor was he willing to listen to various people (such as the security officers – who were placed in an attic up a dangerous flight of external stairs) who had worked in the place for many years.

        The results have not been good – but NOT because “reason” was stressed too much and blind “evolution” stressed too little. Actually reason was stressed too little – in the sense of reason that included practical knowledge. This does not mean the specific person-in-charge may not be more intelligent than everyone underneath him (he may be – his intelligence may be vastly greater than mine), but Plato was mistaken – high intelligence and lots of education is not actually enough to make a good ruler (or a good manager).

        For a work that covers this see the section of J. Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”. The bit where Gulliver visits a place where the scientific experts are in charge (the place where the people are starving and nothing works) – his attack on Francis Bacon’s “The New Atlantis”.


    1. Second Simon’s observation and question!

      Article or book titles would be good, too, also writers’ names.

      Or if you were teaching a survey course, say, in the comparative history of political ideas and resulting action in Scotland and England, what authors would you assign?



      1. No book springs to mind Julie. Although I must stress it is educated Scots I am thinking of – the sort who go into government service and run everything (although not Cowperthwait [spelling alert] of Hong Kong fame. The ordinary Scot (at least the ones who come to England) is much the same as the ordinary Englishman – accept that they tend to work harder than us. But the educated Scot really does seem to think that he (or she) can run everything, and utterly transform it for the better, with no practical experience of the thing.

        The educated Englishman traditionally understood that university was a place to muck about because one had the money to do so – and that one came out of the place not actually knowing anything useful (whatever level of qualification one had) about how to run a business (or a regiment) – and that one had to learn from “the ranks” (years of quietly asking for advice till one had built up a good level of practical knowledge from one’s own experience), then (and only then) could one make one’s own contribution.

        By the way – the best English managers (or generals) often presented an image of not knowing anything and being stupid, even when they were actually highly knowledgeable and intelligent. I am told that other nations find this habit confusing and annoying. But there are good reasons for the “you know how thick I am, I even used to get lost trying to find my way to the tuck shop at school, would you please explain this matter to me again….” behaviour.

        This type is sadly much rarer than they used to be. They were at their best when things were at their worst.


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