Freedom of Choice and Personal Responsibility Under Threat

The ideal of many in the public health movement is a compliant, health obsessed person, utterly dependent on the state for their sense of right and wrong. The public health lobby seeks to relieve us of the power to make our own decisions based on personal choice and the willingness to take responsibility for our own actions. They’d rather we were infants suckling on the teat of the state than free thinking individuals.

Well I’d rather the state didn’t control my body.

It is for this reason that I am proud to be the Parliamentary Liaison Officer for Conservatives for Liberty, a group that shares my view. We believe that individuals should have the choice to weigh up pleasure and risk when it comes to eating, drinking, smoking and vaping.

Sadly, it’s a belief that in recent years has come under constant attack from the nanny state, which is increasingly becoming like the archetypical bully, telling people what they can and cannot do. With smoking banned in cars and pubs, plain packaging for tobacco products, minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland, and the soon to be enforced ban on vaping in public places in Wales, the idea that adults are accountable for their own actions and choices is under threat. We are sure to see more of this soon, too, what with “Sugar Awareness Week” (culminating in a debate on November 30th in Parliament by supporters of the Sugar Tax) about to bombard us with awareness raising information on the evils of the sweet stuff.


Conservatives for Liberty’s lobby evening Forgive us our Trespasses: The moral case for choice and responsibility, taking place on Wednesday 25 November 2015 at 6.30pm in the Houses of Parliament, provides a perfect springboard to show that minimal state interference in our lives is conducive to freedom, prosperity, and happiness for mankind. It will be a chance to hear from 5 Conservative MPs, including three from the new intake in Lucy Allan, Chris Philp and James Cleverly, standing up to a health lobby which would deny us the freedom to choose. Furthermore, it will highlight how we can work together to persuade as many people in power as possible that we should be treated like responsible adults who can make our own decisions and, as a matter of principle, should be free to live our lives as we wish. If we don’t act now, what started as a ban on smoking in pubs will lead to sweets like Haribo being sold from the top shelf in plain packages; wonderful market-based solutions for encouraging people to move away from smoking tobacco, like e-cigarettes, will be killed at birth or regulated to death; cigarettes will be all but illegal, and alcohol only available to the rich and covered in health warnings.

We are also using the lobby evening to encourage supporters of Conservatives for Liberty and all those who will be attending, to write to their MP, to ask them to raise a number of points in defence of freedom of choice when it comes to eating, drinking, smoking and vaping with the relevant Government Ministers. I remember when I worked in Parliament that we received many emails from those arguing for restrictions on individual’s lifestyle choices, but nowhere near as many from the opposite viewpoint. We are holding the lobby evening to highlight to MPs that many people are fed up of not being left alone by a hectoring nanny state, and in doing so highlighting to MPs that there is another view out there, one which needs to be listened to, understood, and acted upon.

The lobby evening is not the end, either. After it we will be looking to provide a number of briefings to MPs on several topics in defence of freedom of choice and personal responsibility, beginning with offering the other side of the story in “Sugar Awareness Week”. Through increasing our profile and our interactions with MPs, the lobby evening puts us in a strong position to do this.

So if you are fed up of that unnecessary and unwarranted state intrusion into our lives which is slowly strangling our liberty, then join Conservatives for Liberty on November 25th and RSVP by emailing


Stephen Hoffman is the Parliamentary Liaison Officer for Conservatives for Liberty. He tweets at @thehoff102


  1. All the best Stephen. In Australia, the Labor (opposition party and supposedly “workers party”) just announced that, if elected, they will impose a tobacco excise hike of 12.5% for each of the next 4 years. This is on top of 12.5% for each of the last 4 years that will bring the cost of a pack of cigarettes to around $40.

    The Liberal Party, currently in power and supposedly representing small government and individual autonomy, just announced a “nudge” sub-department:

    Senator Arthur Sinodinos was due to reveal plans on Monday of the federal government’s decision to create a new team of behavioural economic advisers, to be housed inside the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
    The team will be asked to design policies using insights from behavioural economics, a field of economics that recognises that people do not always make decisions on a purely rational basis.
    It will be headed by Professor Michael Hiscox, from Harvard University.
    Mr Sinodinos was supposed to announce the plan at the HC Coombs Public Policy Conference in Canberra on Monday, but he had to attend a cabinet meeting instead.
    He sent Assistant Cabinet Secretary Scott Ryan in his place.
    In 2013, Mr Sinodinos slammed the Gillard government for experimenting with behavioural economic theories, accusing it of using them for “economic and social regulatory engineering” rather than listening to the Australian people.
    Officials from the Department of Finance had revealed at the time that they were experimenting with so-called “nudge” trials – inspired by behavioural science – as a pre-cursor to expanding the new regulatory techniques in Australia.
    Mr Sinodinos said the Gillard government was using the ideas to get the community to make lifestyle and consumer choices it found more acceptable.”

    The [English-speaking] West is going mad.



  2. It is just a wrong view of the role of government – of the “Sword of State”. These “Conservatives” need to read some actual conservative works – for example “On Human Conduct”. I certainly do not agree with the author’s view of Thomas Hobbes – but there is a lot else there worth reading.

    It is not the role of the Sword of State to worry about sugar and so on.



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