Speaker Profile: Tom Walker

Many libertarian activists will know Tom from his consistent presence at think tank and meetup events and his writing at Backbencher, the ASI Blog and Telegraph Refresh. He helps the European branch of the Ayn Rand Institute to arrange events in communication with the other UK objectivist organisations.

Professionally Tom is a planning consultant and is therefore well placed to speak on the prospects for New Towns under consideration in England. Tom speaks at the Two Chairmen tonight in Westminster.

Speaker Profile: Lucy Harris – Coordinator of Leavers of London

A passionate supporter of Brexit, Lucy has lived in London for 8 years.

Originally form Suffolk she lived in Italy for two years (Turin and Rome), where she taught herself Italian. She then studied classical singing performance at Guildhall Conservatoire and City University in London. In 2015 she got a big break singing solo soprano at The Royal Albert Hall on behalf of the John Lewis Partnership.

Realising her singing was a sign of a deeper ability to communicate, she decided to explore an interest in publishing. She did a masters in publishing at UCL followed by a job in an international publishing house as a corporate communications executive.

When the referendum happened, she felt a strong sense of injustice from having won the vote and getting push back from the remain camp. This spurred her to use her communication skills to stand up for the democratic vote and create the Leavers of London. Her goal is to grow confidence in Leave voters in London.

She will be moving into (second!) a job in politics in February.

Tonight, January 16th, she speaks at the Two Chairmen in Westminster.

 

Speaker Profile: Ian Dunt

Ian Dunt is editor of the popular political commentary site “politics.co.uk” and has written and for many other publications. He is mentioned most often for his work as political editor of the Erotic Review where he has written on pornography and the pornography regulator ATVOD. He is a political analyst for Yahoo where he covers the party political race and Brexit. Ian has also worked with Pink News where he wrote on gay rights and sexual crime stories until about 2008.

Ian studied journalism at the London School of Journalism, did an MA in international relations at Warick and graduated in Philosophy at UCL with a 2:1.

Asked whether he would ever stand as an MP himself he replied:

God no. I’d sooner turn to crime. And in fact that becomes a more compelling proposition the more I look at my tax returns.

The reason most MPs are so evidently psychologically damaged is that only someone who was psychologically damaged would ever consider doing the job

I am sure his reaction to his tax return is a very common one.

Ian is author of Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now described by Guido Fawkes as “lobbying MPs to obstruct a proper Brexit”. He explained to Guido that he favours a “super-soft Brexit, with the UK joining EFTA and staying in the EEA” a position not dissimilar to many who are much more vocally eurosceptic than Ian. He continues to make TV appearances in places like the BBC, Sky and Al Jazeera taking the position of the pro-EU participant.

As the editor of a politics website he made the startling admission that “I have a tendency to get lost in the reasoning without first having established the basic parameters of the question.” Fortunately he was only talking about getting lost in the jungle in Chile, not the political analysis which I know he does very well. Indeed I was impressed with how Ian was able to reel-off well-considered analysis with no more than 4 hours notice. He stood in for James Bloodworth on our Causes of the Cost of Living Crisis panel event. His very welcome intervention has meant his face is a permanent fixture on libertarianhome.co.uk, albeit next to someone else’s name.

Ian is back to talk about the reception Tim Farron was met with as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Ian described Farron’s voting record on the issue as fairly decent. During the 2017 election it became clear Farron was not personally comfortable with the idea of homosexual sex. Ian wonders whether such strictly private views still have a place in our liberal society – and whether it would be a good idea if they did.

Ian will explore the details of the Farron story, our culture of free-speech and free-thought, and discuss the implications for other kinds of private belief at the Two Chairmen, Westminster on Thursday.

 

Thursday Speaker: Rory Broomfield

Rory’s first stint in organised politics was with the United Nations Association as a director on campus at York university. He is, therefore, not automatically opposed to supranational organisations. He has, however, been a director of Brexit advocacy group Better Off Out since before the word Brexit was coined.

At York Rory got a first class BA in Politics, which does not sound at all unusual for a professional in Westminster. However, his committement to learn the role he is now in becomes quite clear when you consider his MSc (Master of Science) in Marketing and Strategy from Warick and his MA in Political Communication from City. He’s also studied briefly with LSE and Harvard on such things as “American Foreign Policy,  “Globalisation and Terrorism” and Marketing.

Rory has also worked his way into his current role through a research analyst role with JD Haspel, and in 2009 as an intern for some MP called Theresa May. He’s also worked with Sir Richard Shepherd who is “Parliamentary Co-Chairman for the Campaign for Freedom of Information and a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights”. One guesses it was Sir Richard who has been more influential than Theresa in bringing Rory to his current role as a director of both The Freedom Association and Better Off Out.

Rory teamed up with Iain Murray in 2014 to enter the IEA’s Brexit Prize, a competition which was won by a diplomat named Iain Mansfield. Rory’s roadmap for Brexit “Cutting the Gordian Knot” was illustrated with a dingy heading into or perhaps around a swirling vortex. It has recently been updated in the light of developments up to October.

We are gathering to hear his thoughts on how the process has been going since the referendum and in particular in the week since Article 50 was triggered. If you are unable to get to Westminister to attend (free) in person then you are able to buy tickets to live stream from home.

Andrew Bernstein’s London Speaking Tour

While Objectivist speakers are not a rare sight in London, this week will see one of the most ambitious endeavours to bring Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and the various ways in which it can be applied to our lives, to audiences throughout the capital. Dr. Andrew Bernstein, one of the leading experts on Miss Rand’s philosophy, will embark on a week-long speaking tour, giving talks at seven events over the course of seven nights.

Dr. Bernstein is the author of several books, most notably The Capitalist Manifesto, in which he presents not merely the practical arguments for liberty with which we’re all familiar, but the moral foundations on which it rests, and which so many attempts to promote free market ideas lack. His full biography is available on his website.

The first of Dr. Bernstein’s talks, Sunday at the Admiralty (tonight 19th Feb) in Central London, will present The Trader Principle, the idea that a proper human exchange involves trading value for value, as opposed to one side coercing or defrauding the other, or the notion that life is a zero-sum game.

On Monday, in a special Libertarian Home event, Dr. Bernstein will give a talk titled Religion Versus Morality, in which he will argue that not only does religion not lay the foundations for a valid code of ethics, it is in fact its antithesis. You can purchase Live Stream access to this event, if you are not able to travel to London.

The Moral Basis of Capitalism, a talk based on The Capitalist Manifesto, will be delivered twice: Tuesday, at the London Philosophy Club, and Friday, at the LSE Hayek Society. As the title suggests, the talk argues that Capitalism is the only just system, and as is rarely the case, it begins by clearly defining the relevant concepts. Those who are able to attend Dr. Bernstein’s first two talks have a great opportunity to delve deeper into the philosophy on which this case rests.

Wednesday’s talk is titled The Truth About Climate Change, and will suggest something often missing from how many people think, and certainly talk, about this issue: looking at the historical evidence as an essential part of the process of forming an opinion, and judging the issue based on its impact on humans, rather than “the planet”.

The Adam Smith Institute will host Dr. Bernstein on Thursday for Black Innovators and Entrepreneurs Under Capitalism, a fascinating look at how great minds produced incredibly beneficial results that advanced their own lives as well as mankind, and did so in the face of bigotry and discrimination the extent of which is almost inconceivable to those of us living in the West today.

Dr. Bernstein’s final event, on Saturday, will be a Q&A on the philosophy of Objectivism. This will be a four-hour-long in-depth discussion, intended for those who seek to understand the ideas presented by Ayn Rand to a degree which some may find hard to achieve even after reading her books. Some knowledge of Objectivism is highly recommended for those who plan to attend.

Copies of many of Ayn Rand’s books will be sold at most of these events at heavily discounted prices. Pamphlets featuring some of her most popular and philosophically ground-breaking essays will be available for free.

Thursday Speaker: Jerry Barnett

Jerry Barnett, a is technologist, entrepreneur and veteran left-wing activist. As an operator of adult entertainment sites for many years, he watched the rise of the porn panic, and saw much of the political left collapse into conservatism. He describes himself as an ex lefty “turned liberal globalist due to collapse of liberalism on the left.”

He tweets at @JerryBarnett, @PornPanic and @MoronWatch and has written for the Independent and Huffington Post.

Jerry was already an experience technologist when the web was invented, having worked at Research Services, the London Stock Exchange, Instruction Set, Sequent Computer Systems, and BMC Software. His transitioned into adult website “seemingly inevitably” as it was the most profitable online business at the time. He was first MD of Go Content responsible for “architecture and development of Go Content, a platform for selling digital content to consumers” and “Strictly Broadband, which was an early entrant to the video-on-demand market, offering streaming video on a rental basis” this was a business he shut down in part due to the regulation of the adult sector by the UK Government.

In his own words:

As a participant in adult entertainment, Jerry saw first-hand how the British censorship state, aided by morality campaigners, was trying to regain control of a medium that reduced their power, influence and financial gain. The UK is the most censored society in Europe, but censorship laws designed for a world of cinema, TV and video no longer worked in the digital age, and vested interests were determined to seize back their power.

His book Porn Panic! is now on sale.

Jerry will be speaking at the Two Chairmen this Thursday 2nd February. His talk will be Libertarian Home’s second experiment with live streaming.

Live Streaming at Libertarian Home

As you know. I have been filming Libertarian Home events since Rob Waller and I started doing speakers – before they were even called Libertarian Home events.

Getting the videos edited, summarised and online, however, has been a bottleneck and the bottleneck quickly has turned into a backlog and backlogs mean there is a project which now needs resourcing and doing. Fortunately I have found someone who can help at global prices, although I do need to train them. So the backlog is now in hand.

For all future events, I will live stream them instead. Live steams are lower quality but are available by default – goodbye backlog!

Libertarian Home events were always supposed to represent the amateur part of the amateur-elite spectrum. Keeping it too amateur requires subsidy, so the level has had to be raised. For example, we always do have a speaker and they are always fairly well known. There are no more socials and no more open mic nights. The Q&A is the last place amateurs can take part with no (or very little) curation by me. Anyone can turn up and ask a question.

For this to work the Q&A’s cannot become a public performance. If people’s questions become part of the public record then only super-confident know-it-alls will ask questions and they are often not the best people to do so. This is one problem.

The next problem is you guys don’t drink enough. To get a venue cheaply someone needs to spend £400, or else I lose the £50 deposit. In the past I have had to top up £200 of minimum spend in a venue where the policy was different. This is a bad way to use money.

There are two obvious solutions that I don’t think will work:

I could spend £400 for you, by laying on drinks, and just charge a ticket price. That might neatly force people to buy drinks, but it is at least as likely to create a wasteful pile of unopened beer and reduce attendance.

I could suffer the £50 repeatedly. This is a great way to get the venue to change their pricing policy. I am pretty sure the policy is there because they want to sell £400 of beer and food, not take £50 from unlucky event organisers. So this is an unsustainable win-lose strategy that may even be a lose-lose one if we get kicked out from the venue.

The problem is about to be exasperated by the desire to live stream. It is possible some people will choose to live stream and not come to the pub. Fewer people means less bar and food spending and ultimately higher venue costs.

Fortunately, people love Q&As. I have had emails from the US about getting access to Q&A footage. Emails accompanied by offers of money. Though few in number this might just be something that can be used to square the circle.

So this is the weird, topsy-turvy upside down solution I have come up with:

I am going to charge for the live stream, then trim the Q&A’s before letting the recording become public.

The price tag will be around £5 for Londoners. Live stream hardware and bandwidth is expensive so I hope many will simply pay this amount. I am offering the option to donate alongside the ticket purchase as well.

I think £5 is enough to make local people think twice about watching from home and will encourage them out for beer and dinner (we have a dinner club now too). I will use the promotional tools on Eventbrite to reach people outside London with lower prices,  and expand the reach of Libertarian Home events. It will also expand the impact of our events too, as frankly the conversation has generally stopped before videos are available. That will no longer be the case with live streaming, even if trimming causes a short delay.

Anyone paying to watch online will also be able to send in questions and remarks and take a decent role in the live event, essentially they are buying the right to have questions considered.

Anyone asking questions in the pub can be confident the video will be seen by only a few people in real-time. I project that there will be more people in the pub than online.

Attendees will not be immortalised in video before they are ready, locals will not watch from home for free, and the equipment has a decent shot of being paid for. And no more backlog!

This is a novel arrangement, it does not fully solve the problem of funding or of summaries.  I do think it will be better than before, which is a good reason to get it done.

Thursday will provide an opportunity to practice (if the kit arrives on time) and Andrew Bernstein on Feb 20th will be the first test case.