Staines sells out Snowdon?

The successful Westminster news blog founded by libertarian old-hand and pamphleteer Paul Staines has carried a paid-post portraying reliable lifestyle-libertarian Chris Snowdon as a blood sucking vampire. The no-holds-barred attack comes across laughably as it attempts to trick us into a misprounciation and paint Snowdon as paid shill for gambling interests:

Christopher “Silly Count” Snowdon writes for the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) which purports to be a libertarian think-tank. However, it usually “thinks” the same as the business sectors which fund it

Guy Herbert, No2ID remarked that the article shows a conspiracy mindset in which “No-one disagrees with the righteous honestly, only as paid servants of evil.”

The article goes onto to provide a definition of the nanny state (“an empowered regulator”) while attempting to label it as the opposite:

It is not “nanny-state” to require sensible enforcement by an empowered regulator of sensible gambling regulations. Gambling should never be regarded as a “free-market” issue.

Reactions were mixed. Some agreed and disagreed with the thrust of the article – supporting regulation of the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals. Other’s were dismissive:

Sponsored content accusing someone of… sponsored content. Couldn’t make it up. – Prez

A minority of frothy-mouthed left wing nutjobs really has it in for [Chris Snowdon] – Gaz Corfield

Paul Nižinskyj of Conservatives for Liberty expressed concern:

It’s a shame Guido don’t realise how much damage this does to their credibility. My respect for them has gone through the floor.

To which Guido replied:

On the other hand I have replenished my cellar…

Snowdon, however, takes it well:

If they can only get their warped message out by paying for space on a libertarian blog then good luck to them!

Overall, it seems this post is unlikely to persuade anyone, and Guido is a good person to waste nanny’s money on. What is important is that everyone is still getting along fine.

Thursday Speaker: Marc Sidwell

While running a libertarian meetup and researching libertarian personalities, there are various trends one observes in libertarians. To state the obvious they tend to be bookish intellectuals and are predominantly white and male – something which I have noticed is changing but nonetheless has been true. We also tend not to be the older sibling. We are younger siblings or only-childs, depending on who you talk to. It is perhaps obvious that many libertarians report being bullied at school. Rather less obvious is the trend in my speaker biographies for there to be an overlap between university and some other project, not bar or shop work, but serious commercial schemes.

How does Marc Sidwell stack up? Well on all the proceeding he is very typical. A white male younger sibling, bullied for being bookish, but an exceptionally successful creative in his own way. Marc is widely known from various roles amongst the top three or four people at City AM, an occasionally profitable London free-paper with a circulation over 100,000. Incidentally he says he got back at the bullies by being good at enough at drama to earn “grudging respect”. His entirely typical university side-project was exceptionally interesting – founding a company to shoot a Wild East film out in the Ukraine.

Marc seems to have taken the sort of unconventional route into journalism that would raise the eyebrow of an Equity Lord. He worked for two years as a “Literary Associate” for David Pugh theatre company, then took on gigs as a script writer at Shakespere’s Globe, as an adviser to an architect engaged to build a theatre and a researcher for ITV’s factual programming arm and as a PR consultant for the IEA. Again, in overlapping jobs he worked for the International Policy Network as a Research Fellow. Proofed and sub edited for Standpoint Magazine and worked as a freelance writer for a range of broadly right wing think tanks including the Adam Smith Institute for whom he wrote Unfair Trade, a criticism of the dominant Fairtrade brand in the UK. It was after all that in late 2010 that he settled down a little and started at City as Business Features Editor.

City AM eventually lost it’s editor Alister Heath to the Telegraph leaving room for Marc to rise to Executive Editor before a surprise cull sent Marc into another period of freelancing and he is now Content Director for Progressive Media – a stable of specialist magazines. This interesting career has left Marc very well qualified to speak on his topic “The Power of Fiction”.

Marc will be speaking tonight at the Two Chairmen, Westminster.

Thursday Speaker: Vít Jedlička

Vít Jedlička was schooled at the private non-profit international Townshend School in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic. He studied economics at Charles University and the University of Economics – both in Prague. He also holds a Masters in Political Science and Government from the Cevro Institute in Prague.

In the middle of his time at University Vít, whose open demeanour compels the use of his forename, launched a local web site called and ran it for 6 years – it is still active today. This online gathering space for the town of Hradec Králové is the reverse of his present Liberland project – founding a real nation for an online community who has found it’s new homeland inaccessible.

The President’s other current projects include acting as “directing manager” for – a website for Czech libertarians – and regional president for the Party of Free Citizens – a Czech party with one MEP. He has also worked as a an IT salesman and an analyst in the financial sector.

The reformy website contains a prominent Ron Paul quote – presumably translated to Czech. Vít has been described as having views similar to Ron Paul and is also influenced by Bastiat. The broad direction of Liberland is a little like a startup, taking a great deal of direction from the top, iterating towards goals, and promises to grow into a thriving minarchy with membership of the European Free Trade Area.

Apropos our recent referendum, Wikipedia cites a Czech language video when describing Vít as a eurosceptic who:

sought to raise awareness of the democratic deficit in the institution of the EU and of the abuse of basic moral rules by EU institutions and EU member states

Vít is married and has a family with his First Lady Janniss. He is also recently father of a 3 week old son David. Vít was sorting out his flight to London just a few hours before David was born. I was not sure if that was a sign of his steely nerves or of nervous evasiveness, but it does show he is truly a restless campaigner for his cause.

President Vít Jedlička will be describing his Road to Liberland at the Two Chairmen this Thursday 4th August.

Thursday Speaker: Chris Mounsey

Chris is a well known and widely admired libertarian activist and on-off blogger. His infamous “Devil’s Kitchen” swear-blog used a dramatic persona to articulate the visceral anger which is felt by many toward the supremacy of the state, and which should, perhaps, be felt by many more.

Devil’s Kitchen was not, of course, Chris’ first venture into the dramatic. His father registered him for Eton College the day of his birth and he studied there from 1990 to 1995. He co-produced and acted in an independent production by the college’s drama society. He also admits to being somewhat distracted by the Edinburgh scene while studying “in a desultory fashion” Microbiology at that University. He was also the guy who did the flyers and posters for their dramatic society.

Like many, including this author, he switched career trajectory shortly before lift-off. He dropped out of his Microbiology degree to focus on his art. Combining his interest in poster-art and his former interest in metal scupture – developed at Eton – he found a job making “separations” for lithographic printing. An early indication of his eventual career course was that it was here, at the turn of the century, that he got his employer onto broadband and using email (most similar companies insisted on special ISDN lines and modems were used for this purpose, at that time. It was fashionable to print the ISDN number in Yellow pages ads!).

After 4 years at that job Chris did 2 years focused on Graphic design and then for nearly four years worked as a freelance website and all-round designer under the name Devils Kitchen Design.

Chris has been very involved in libertarian activism, helping to found and to even lead the troubled UK Libertarian party. With Chris Snowdon he broke open the story of “Fake Charities” – real legal institutions engaged wholly or partly in lobbying the Government while taking Government money – a strange sort of sock puppetry.

He has continued to act and – until 2012 – to blog but has recently focused on his career at independent technology company VerseOne, where he is now technical director. This is a role he has worked himself into since early 2008. The company produced CMS solutions for housing associations and other clients.

Chris participated in our Cost of Living Crisis event in October 2014 on his specialist subject of environmental regulation. Since last year Chris appears to have picked up his blogging again. He join us tonight to talk about how Fake Charities are influencing the debate on Brexit.

He will speak at the Two Chairmen in Westminster. Doors open there at 1830.

Thursday Speaker: Gareth Corfield

Gareth Corfield is widely known as a sub-editor for The Register, a popular technology “tabloid” website. Amongst firearms enthusiasts will be known as trustee of the London and Middlesex Rifle Association, a sporting charity. He is, however, also a blogger and will representing himself as such when he speaks on Thursday 4th February on the UK’s gun laws.

Gareth operates the UK Shooting News which tracks gun legislation and keeps an eye on the highly partial state-institutions lobbying for ever more restrictive gun laws. On this blog he applied his craft as professional journalist to his favorite leisure-time topic.

Gareth studied English with Creative Writing at Brunel and continued there for with a post-graduate diploma. His peers found him to be a natural academic, yet Gareth’s chosen career was professional journalism.  He quickly started up his own website The West Londoner with enviable traffic stats. A week long internship at meta-news outfit precipitated a paid writing commission. He had a short gig at Cicero a consultancy with a government and policy flavour. He handled social media and website maintenance for Cicero and then Lyonsdown adding technical strings to his bow. He then joined The Register as a sub editor responsible for keeping the publication legal, truthful and well presented.


Tonight Gareth will speak at the Two Chairmen in Westminster on the UK’s worsening problem of regulation on gun owners.


Thursday Speaker: Robert Zdanowski

Robert is a 31 year old Polish immigrant and a recent regular at the monthly meetup. He has made an impression in a very simple way: he worked the entire room, with great politeness and warmth, asking for the help he needed to get stuff done. Whether it was directions to the train station, seeking to meet other Free State Project participants and supporters, or buying some Bitcoin he showed that when he wanted to do something, he was prepared to make it happen.

Robert should know how the state works reasonably well, he worked at Skarzysko-Kamienna City Hall as a clerical assistant  “select[ing] people to redeem the tax”. He also is not the first speaker to have worked as a security guard, which was his last job in Warsaw before leaving Poland for the UK. He now works as a care assistant in Kent.

Robert earned a Master of Arts from the Institute of Political Science and International Relations in Krakow.

Between 2009 and 2010 he shed 110 lbs through a weight loss process. Something I am sure he will be fielding questions on after his talk!

Robert Zdanowski will be providing an update on the Free State Project at the Two Chairmen, Westminster on Jan 7th.


LATER: a summary of the event is now available.

Thursday Speaker: Laura Lee

Laura is a sex worker and activist who has been involved in the industry for more than 20 years. She started out working in a massage parlour whilst at university when she realised that it was a better way to fund her studies than more traditional options such as bar work. These days she provides services as a professional dominatrix as well as helping to fulfill the emotional and physical needs of disabled and terminally ill clients that might otherwise be denied them.

When not engaged with clients Laura is an active campaigner for sex workers rights focusing mainly on her native Ireland and her adopted home in Scotland. In this role she has been a spokesperson for the International Union of Sex Workers Scotland and Ireland and appeared as an expert witness before a hostile Justice Committee in Stormont when Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking Bill, part of which aimed to criminalise the purchase of sexual services in Northern Ireland, was in the committee stage. She has also faced down various abolitionist politicians on radio and television and written for the Independent.

Since the passage of Lord Morrow’s bill, Laura has been working with legal counsel to launch a judicial review in respect of the parts surrounding consensual adult activity and says she will take it all the way to the European Courts if necessary. She is also actively with SCOTPEP and has welcomed MSP Jean Urquhart’s recent consultation which aims to decriminalise sex work in that country.
Laura Lee is speaking at the Two Chairmen, Westminster on December 3rd.