This is one of those before-I-entirely-forget-about-it and better-late-than-never postings, for which deepest apologies to all who might mind that I didn’t put it up a week ago, when I should have.
So anyway, some while ago Antoine Clarke and I did one of our occasional recorded conversations about politics, here and in the USA. After we’d talked about the mess the US Democrats have got themselves into (I suggested a coin toss to settle it), we then mentioned the Libertarian Party, and the fact that they will soon be choosing their Presidential candidate. And after that, we switched to libertarian politics on this side of the pond, the point being that, in a very small way, there is some UK libertarian politics to report, in the form of the recently founded UK Libertarian Party. Antoine mentioned that the UKLP was having some kind of public event in the near future, and I mentioned this possibility in the blog posting I did in connection with all this. And “Devil’s Kitchen”, one of the bosses of the UKLP and also a noted blogger, left a comment:
We have a general meeting and piss-up from 3pm this Saturday (29th March 08), upstairs at St Stephen’s Tavern, Westminster.
Do feel free to drop in if you so desire …
So, I did. This was just over a week ago, as I say. As I made my way there, I feared the worst, namely a little clutch of social dyslexics as old as me and as badly dressed as me, but even fatter and even uglier, some of them clutching grubby plastic bags full of newspaper cuttings. I got there nearer to 6pm than 3pm, and immediately thought: oh dear, I am too late and they have all gone. The first floor of the St Stephen’s Tavern was, you see, full of normal people. But just as I was about to leave and go home again, the guy who turned out to be Mr Devil’s Kitchen himself hailed me. He even recognised me. So, I went over, and asked him which of this enormous throng of people were the UKLP. “They all are”, he said.
I did not stay long, because I was trying to recover from a nasty cough and cold. Also, what with these people looking so normal, and hence of potential political significance, I did not want to infect them. But I stayed long enough to discover that they all seemed to have lives and jobs and brains, and social antennae, and the looks to match. Mostly they were twenty somethings or thirty somethings, mostly male but with a few young women. I was allowed to take photos, but the ones without flash were too blurry and the ones with flash (which I seldom use) made all concerned look like horror movie extras, because my red-eye thingy was either not switched on or else is useless.
Which was a pity, because appearances matter, or they do if you are trying to start a political party. If your only concern is publishing things, the way it always has been with me, fine, look any way you like. But trying to be politicians and looking old and ugly means that you are not just old and ugly, but stupid and pathetic as well.
But I did stay for a bit, and I can report that the effort put in by my generation of libertarians and libertarian fellow-travellers, such as those who run and write for Samizdata, have most definitely not been wasted, if all these nice intelligent young total strangers were anything to go by, which they surely are. I have always been deeply pessimistic about whether libertarian parties can ever get anywhere, but have reluctantly come to the conclusion that although it is a dirty job, someone has probably got to do it, and whether they should or not, they will anyway, so why fight it? I wish these people all the luck that I fear they will need.
I also learned something else. Mr Devil’s Kitchen is, like David Cameron, an Old Etonian. That’s another thing that maybe should not count, but does.