Libertarian Party Election Results

I am pleased to be the first outlet to pull together all the results for the four candidates fielded by the UK’s “Libertarian Party”. LPUK is a party with a unpleasant history, but it has kept going and achieved a new first at Thursdays election by standing 4 candidates.

It has gained the trust of a third wave of activists, the last two waves having been burnt out or culled by former leaders over financial matters. This is remarkable in itself and shows that there is a deep need for political representation of libertarians which this institution continues to benefit from.

My last posts on LPUK had the intention of forcing the old leaders to resign fully their positions, which they have now done, as such LPUK is at least as viable as any other entirely untested party. We have moved, very significantly, from a position of being unable to trust the people involved, to being able to take a gamble on complete strangers. It is regrettable that we are moving forward from such a poor position, but to see candidates standing, receiving votes and beating apparent joke candidates is great.

We must look to verify that the old guard of LPUK leaders are rendered fully powerless. Time must demonstrate also that activists are respected. It would help if they could get a bit more organised, for example, by quickly announcing their results themselves. Individual First seems to be the better organised alternative party, despite not standing candidates.

As for the results, LPUK have scored just under 0.3% in four constituencies. They were last in all meaningful respects, but they have been through the process, gained experience and (I hope) some raw data to work with.

Paul Tew to run on UKIP ticket

When I came back to the table Paul had opened his laptop and pulled out his written notes – a couple of pages of printed A4. The laptop screen showed a multi-tabbed spreadsheet and I could see 155 rows. As he set out the agenda for the meeting I was glad I had brought my notebook. It had felt faintly ridiculous, like I was pretending to be a proper journalist, but I was a mere blogger someone I’ve spoken to many times at the events I organise in Southwark. I was prepared for a beer and a chat, not a briefing.

paul-tew-publicity-shotPaul and I share a common goal: we want to replace a cold destructive atomising system with warmer, more open and more prosperous minarchy. We want to see a country – Britain – shift decidedly in a libertarian direction before we are dead and unable to enjoy it. Paul, at 35, is a couple of years ahead of me on that score, though he seems older, and he has chosen a different route to change. For me, having learned about these amazing ideas, the imperative is to tell the world about them. I tend to assume that if people know the same things as me, then they will do the same things and want the same political policies, so I think about education and the national debate. Paul has a more direct approach: he wants to be one of the elite 650 people that get to make policy in this country. He seems to neglect education a little but wants to take his principles to Parliament and enact them there, where it matters. Trying to persuade the country a person at a time is not for him. He says political tribes are no longer defined by ideological labels but by clusters of policies on the issues of the day.

Of course, this does mean that for libertarians who seek to educate and inform Paul has little to offer. He says optimistically that “you don’t know what comes of things” and points me towards the fact that MPs seem to get privileged access to the media – a megaphone capable of reaching the whole nation. And this is true; the opinion of the local MP does get a certain amount of automatic respect, exactly because they have their hands on the policy levers.

The notebook I grabbed was a squared paper exercise book appropriate for an engineering student.  Neither student nor engineer, we used our smart phones and dove into detail, calculating the extent of the subsidy the Royal Mail offers to Westminster candidates. Seventy thousand stamps are costing Paul, or UKIP, the five hundred pound deposit. I’m not sure why businessmen aren’t standing as MPs and using this subsidy to send advertisements. Paul is not going to waste it. Right at the outset he had told me about his simple, but well organised plan for the mailshot. Canvas the households first, prepare three or four tailored messages and do a mail merge to get his leaflets to the correct addresses; a simple clean and professional plan. Paul Tew is a VBA and SQL programmer (Microsoft Office macros are his play ground), he knows how he can handle a mailshot single handed and has already cleansed his unedited dump of the Electoral Register database. He has the skills to do this right.

Where Paul does not have the skills, he still knows what to do. His plan included training for himself and reminders to chase up people on the UKIP forum who would act as election agent and graphic designer. He’s set his budget and has begun thinking about where the money is coming from and how it needs to be handled. I’m persuaded he’ll get the money in; much of it is his. He knows what publications to talk to and where to get the map from for the wall of his office. All these little details make the plan seem solid, serious and real. It is quite a contrast to the other libertarian candidacies I have followed, the ones that were cancelled before they started, where support was asked for without saying what support was needed. Paul feels a sense of responsibility, in part because he is representing UKIP, to handle his campaign properly and to deliver the party line. From that responsibility comes a level of enthusiasm which has him pushing harder than some parts of UKIP. Paul is the mainstay of his own campaign, and if he gets the support he needs from head office, and from his fellow travellers, then it seems likely he will deliver a solid performance for UKIP.

The last problem he faces is, not surprisingly for a popularity contest, the possibility of rejection. He may be a bit too liberal for a normal UKIP voter in Conservative Beckenham; and UKIP may be too conservative for him to appeal to libertarian activists that might otherwise help him win. Paul, a New Zealander, believes controlled immigration is the right policy for the UK: “the mixed economy creates the need to control immigration”. He notes that many UKIP policies still seek to do the impossible – central management of the economy – but are at least a bit more “common sense” than the coalition’s policies. He is opposed to Gay Marriage, but only because he believes that state licenced romance is a bad kind of romance to be left with, and he does not want to see homosexuals brought into that officious scheme as well – I agree, better we all get out of it.

Paul’s simple organised bid has better odds than prior Westminster bids of the LPUK era, and I am sure he’ll do correspondingly better. If he gets into power he will be another MP driven by sound principles to office in an unsound institution – like Douglas Carswell, Dan Hannan or Steve Baker. While many will reject his association with UKIP, I don’t think having another MP like them is such a bad idea.

ILN keen to find Libertarian by-election candidate

It feels like like buses but here they are: news of two upcoming by-elections in one day (okay you heard that intro before, sorry).

First, re: Portsmouth South, thanks to Guido we find their MP in a spot of bother over some small matter of being a pest to a vulnerable girl, allegedly. The matter is expected to take months to sort out, so the time to start planning for a by-election fight is now. This is one that people will be able prepare for.

Second, in case you missed it South Shields MP David Milliband is doing a Mensch and is off to New York to play with International Rescues’ rocketships. It seems this one might happen first, thopugh I’m not clear on when exactly.

Hearing about the Portsmouth opportunity I wondered out loud whether any Libertarian would be standing and I was pleased to see this tweet from Gavin Webb’s Indepentant Libertarians.

At the moment, Twitter seems willing to throw money at this, but there is no sign of a candidate. If you are willing to get up and active for a prospective candidate then contact the blog and I’ll add you to the blogs mailing list or follow along on Twitter.

Richard Lowe leaves UKIP

Richard Lowe, UKIP PPC for Chester has fallen foul of this local party. Via Facebook:

Reasons for me no longer being a UKIP PPC/Member:

Local branch had issues with:

1) Leaving the EU wasn’t my reason for being in UKIP.
2) Whilst I like open borders, I was never campaigning for them as a PPC, and publicly supported UKIP policy.
3) I agreed with Nigel on prostitution/drugs.

But the killer was a letter I wrote supporting equal marriage.

This is that letter:lowe-letter-1

lowe-letter-2

Young People’s Party to stand in Corby

There are so many parties at this time of year that one finds it difficult to choose, and I’m not talking about Christmas. There seems to be too many libertarian political parties to even count them properly. John Watson gave it a go recently:

Actually here is the full list….

pro liberty (to be registered)
Scottish Libertarians (to be registered)
UKIP (Claims to be a libertarian party in their new constitution, and apparently their new/existing/official position)
Scottish Progressives (Libertarian style message)
Libertarian Party
Independent Libertarian Network
Young Peoples Party (Advised above)
Libertarian wing of the Conservatives.

As a part of the w+Home collection of websites you will rightly expect opinions here about political parties, and libertarian ones in particular. UKIP already paid a visit at the meetup, so to get started with this round of reviews I’ll look at the Young Peoples Party.

Is it fair to start a review of libertarian parties with a collection of geo-libertarians? As a movement perhaps the Georgist axis have a problem: their core idea which they talk about unceasingly is Land Value Tax which many libertarians feel is not for them. Since this is their (the geolibs) most talked about idea it’s inevitable that your opinion on this concept will dominate the evaluation a geo-libertarian party.

Henry George

So why do the Georgists make such controversial libertarians? Well, according to Georgism because I happen to have popped into existence on a piece of land owned by my family but which might otherwise have been owned by other people, those other people get to use aggression to collect a tax from me, or from my family. The justification for this tax is simply that it is unfortunate for the others that lady luck did not hand them my land. That disappointment, on it’s own, is held to trump the non-aggression principle. Further, geo-libs hold that the market value of the land determines value of the tax. My preferred alternative is voluntary taxation in which I pay, for what I receive, a price I consent to pay. If you believe that the right to property is a prerequisite for the functioning of man as a rational animal – that it is necessary for man, as such, to exist – and therefore that the design of social institutions should keep the mind free, then the Land Value Tax works precisely backwards in every respect. The land value tax is aggressive where it could be volitional, centrally imposed where it’s purpose could be enacted by the market, and substitutes the judgement of others for my own when it comes to the disposition of my hard earned income. Of course, I am really saying that I would reject a Land Value Tax having made up my made about a voluntary tax first, and your mileage may vary.

Nevertheless, the party deserves a place in the round up: they are openly in favour of legalising drugs, brothels, fox hunting and laying off on smokers. Also, they would take the sound initial step of privatising NHS provision under a voucher system and would abolish a host of taxes. Also, if those are the things you care about then you might observe that the Land Value Tax and the Citizen’s Basic Income which pairs it might be insanely popular, especially for the young. There is an argument that those personal freedoms, the lower crime and fewer social problems that would result, and the repeal of income taxes might be worth a populist compromise.

The YPP’s energy and environmental policies sound like a proposal to simply manage the system differently. There is nothing in them that applies the non-aggression principle or offers a fundamentally different moral, rather than technical, approach. As such, those policies might save money and reduce tax but will do nothing to demonstrate how life might work in a properly libertarian or even geo-libertarian way. This puts them on neutral terms with the other parties who also see themselves as better managers. This is not so much of a problem as a missed opportunity, though some of the managerial ideas do sound interesting from a technical perspective.

The major reason for including YPPUK though is that they are standing a candidate in Corby – Dr Rohen Kapur whose name will be familiar from the LPUK. The fact that Dr Kapur is standing in Corby, in as little as 30 days, means the YPP is of urgent interest. Their performance good or bad affects all of us that share the label “libertarian”.

The performance of the ticket will come from two places: party brand and policies, and the personal impact of Dr Kapur.The party is tiny and not that well known even amongst libertarians, though it’s treasurer Mark Wadsworth is well known as a committed activist for Land Value Tax. As such, the party’s performance is unlikely to impress and the bookies odds of 500:1 do not seem unreasonable, however,the point is surely not to win but to make an impact for libertarian ideas.

Turning then to Dr Kapur. Libertarians will want to judge whether he can make a positive impact for the libertarian team. I was therefore pleased when Dr Kapur emailed asking if he might come along to the Rose and Crown to promote his candidacy. I had heard just one report as to his personal conduct that was not at all kind, so it seemed essential that we judge for ourselves. I encouraged Rohen to stand up speak and he conducted a short question and answer session that you can see below. Unfortunately, I think it is obvious that while Rohen is a friendly and approachable person, the answers he gave were under rehearsed and lacked detail.

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So, what is my final position on the Young People’s Party? I think that the geo-libertarian positioning will not rule them out for every libertarian voter, although I have given my reasons for disliking that particular policy. We may in fact be surprised if Land value Tax is sold well to mainstream voters in Corby. But, in a perfect world I would be able to vote for an objectivist libertarian-friendly party which used a montage of Britain’s tall commercial buildings as a logo. Regrettably, no such party exists and for anything to change in my lifetime one has to be realistic. Might a geo-libertarian world be more achievable and good enough for me? Part of the reason that it is not is actually cultural, not political. I do not believe that a culture in which Rand or her successors failed to dominate civil discourse would be a good place to stop the progress of mankind. For one thing I would want to benefit from the other 60% of economic progress that would achievable (politically) in those circumstances, but I would want to turn on the TV and see something which would inspire me rather than depress me. You don’t get depth of change from making popular compromises you get it by changing what is popular.

That they are not fielding the strongest candidate is insignificant next to a failure to include a moral argument that really changes the agenda. Whether you prefer minarchy or anarcho-capitalism, for victory to actually happen the biggest challenge is to make the case that an authoritarian system is immoral. You can do that from the perspective of an objectivist or from that of a natural rights libertarian, you could even exploit the utilitarian value of moral arguments as a cynical consequentialist, but it is necessary to make them and Georgist arguments do not fit the bill.

UKIP needs a candidate in Leeds

UKIP is appealing on Twitter for a candidate to step forward as a councillor for the Pudsey ward in Leeds. I wonder if there are any Libertarians willing to stand?

UKIP is the closest thing we have to a supportable libertarian party in the UK, and  a débutante libertarian can only help move UKIP toward better policies. To get involved you would have to join the party, follow a central party selection procedure and appeal to the local party in Leeds and be willing to do soon your own initiative as this blog has only very limited contact with UKIP.

Whatever ideological label you apply, if your platform is openly and unambiguously small-government , capitalist, peaceful, and socially liberal then access to this blog will be provided in support of your campaign, to help get you off to a good start.