Alfie Evans is a Turning Point for How Britain Sees The State

On Saturday the 28th of April the toddler Alfie Evans tragically died. He was admitted into hospital only seven months after he was born and has remained there ever since as a result of a degenerative neurological condition. This February the doctors at Alder Hay hospital decided that it was not worth trying to preserve Alfie’s life. When the parents tried to remove Alfie from the UK and take him to Italy for treatment, they were not allowed. In the eyes of the law, the opinions and personal convictions of the doctors counted for more than the parents of the child.

This should be a big moment for British culture.

Call it ‘national mythology’ or sentimental, but a large part of British culture is the belief that in Britain, the relationship between citizen and the state is one of mutual respect. Our politicians are not supposed to be despots. They may be idiotic and fumbling but the popular perception is that dictatorship is just ‘not British’. This rosy view is representative of the way we Britons view the government. British civil servants are competent instead of corrupt and nepotistic. British policemen are ‘bobbies’ rather than armed to the teeth pseudo warriors. While many counties have had a difficult relationship with their secret security services we turn our spies into much-loved action heroes. And what British child did not grow up with the notion that although the American army has more guns than we do, the British Army is still (somehow) the best in the world?

Whether any of this is actually true is highly debatable. But the popular view that the British state is a benign, measured entity is a pervasive feature of our national character. The Alfie Evans case could change this. Here we have the state openly flouting the will of a family to save their young son. This certainly does not fit into the view of the gentle state myth we are so used to.

The Alfie Evans controversy should be a watershed for British culture. State power has grown unchecked for decades, to truly frightening levels.The delusion that the British government exists to serve the people is a silly mistake at best, and dangerously deranged at worst. Across the country conversations about the scope of state power will be happening. Let’s hope that people come to the right conclusion. That the state has grossly overstepped it’s mark here and that it should not be tolerated.

Dose of Liberty Ep 04 – Guns and Activism

The podcast brings Jordan Lee, Tammy, Bruno and Libertarian Home founder Simon Gibbs, discussing the very current topic of Gun Rights, given the recent mass shooting in Parkland Florida, and debating different aspects of self-defence, statistics related to guns and implications of stricter laws. Private VS Public Schools stats also come into discussion, is the schooling system failing students ?

In the second part of the podcast, the Libertarian movement in the UK is brought into focus with ideas and suggestions on how to improve the visibility, cohesion and size of the British pro-freedom advocacy group.

Suggestions and questions for the next Podcasts are welcome! Please share and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

How can we be confident in LPUK?

I have recently checked in with the state of LPUK. It is helpful there seem to be more LPUK members coming to London now and so face to face conversations are possible, indeed the Dose of Liberty team invited the Kent coordinator to speak after meeting at London events. It is also speaks very well of the state of libertarianism in the country that volunteers continue to put themselves in harms way to try and make progress in building institutional libertarianism. I hope that they do so from an informed stand point.

The money that went missing, is still gone, as far as I know. I have not checked up the accounts and do not intend to do so again. It is more fruitful to consider a simple rational question “that was six years ago, isn’t that in the past?”

This is a reasonable question. Six years is a very long time, finding out what happened to £4,000 is not economically useful in itself. Although at one point it was more than four times revenues it becomes an ever smaller fraction of the party’s total revenue. The money could be earned again. Better to move on, no?

Well, yes and no.

On the yes side, it would be more useful to be engaged again with LPUK and offering advice and supportive criticism. Parties need non-party spaces for frank conversations to take place, both in public and in private. Our recent coverage shows that can happen, and it has been received warmly, but it should happen more.

On the other hand, activists need to consider whether helping a party earn the same money a second time is a useful pursuit and whether there is a danger of having to earn that money again a third or fourth time. Is current revenue in safe hands? Is the effort invested now an efficient use of time? If one tries to make the party accountable in future how will one be treated? Is it better to concentrate on doing something else first, or join another party?

I think there should be two tests for that:

  1. The personalities responsible for the mislaid money no longer run the party.
  2. The party has acknowledged the problem and provided as much transparency as possible (one bank balance figure would be enough)

These are very simple tests for an institution to pass and there are few good reasons why an institution that has failed badly in the past should not seek to get through them. My suspicion is that the senior leadership do not have much regard for the experiences activists have when helping the party. I also suspect that waiting it out is a deliberate strategy to avoid personal embarrassment. Every person in the country is poorer, sicker and less free while the leadership waits.

Let us consider if the tests have been passed:

1. The personalities responsible for the mislaid money no longer run the party.

False. The person who oversaw the problem as treasurer and leader and who personally withheld the financial records from the NCC is still the chairman of the party. He is visibly running things and doing so more than the official leader. He’s even put his name above that of the leader in the NCC listing. Adam Brown ought to be wondering if he has let himself be used as a fig leaf.

2. The party has acknowledged the problem

I would have expected to have been contacted. That has not happened. They have had six years to issue this acknowledgement.

I suppose it is possible in theory that a statement was made to the public in some obscure place without being brought to my attention, it is not as if I have been looking closely, but I doubt it. I look forward to this changing.

While the party fails to address these two tests I recommend libertarian activists spend as little time as possible on the institution.

LPUK Must Appeal to Students on Campus

If we should take one thing from the results of the last election it is this: The youth are now politically motivated and will play a big role in how the next election is decided. If the Libertarian Party is going to succeed electorally then they are going to need to capitalise on this fact and make an active attempt to appeal to the youth of this country.

The party should make a particular effort to engage with university students, as there aren’t many options for (particularly economically) liberal-minded students on campus. This is particularly true as many young Conservatives display socially liberal tendencies when it comes to issues like gay marriage, abortion and the war on drugs. This sets them apart from the more authoritarian traditionalists who have dominated large sections of the party. This means that a libertarian presence on campus who shares not only their beliefs on matters of society and economics could quite possibly dominate right-wing politics on campus. As well as this, a libertarian society would also be able to separate itself from the ‘nasty party’ image and social stigma of the Conservatives while taking up the mantle of promoters of liberty and individualism. This is all before one even considers the possibility of enticing the more libertarian, Blairite elements of the Labour party who may be dissatisfied with the direction Corbyn is taking the party.

In order to achieve this, the party must provide greater resources for libertarian students keen on developing their own branch at their institution. A quick look at many of the other parties will show that they have developed their own youth appeal offensive. However, the libertarian movement is in a unique position because of its ideology. Connections must also be made between societies new and old so that newer societies can connect and learn from older ones like the Hayek society at LSE.

Now is the time to seize this opportunity. If the libertarian movement and the party are to be taken seriously as an electoral force then it must develop its own youth base using its own unique message.