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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

My fifteen minutes

And that is about how long I had to get just a little bit of classical liberal thinking out into the more mainstream airways last night.

Though, actually, rather less in view of the fact that I was sharing a platform on the ‘Richard Littlejohn Show’ with two other protagonists. One was a chap named Jay Lee who is an activist in the British National Party (and who has been expelled by his Trade Union because of it) and the other was Kevin McGuire a journalist with the Guardian.

I was placed in the middle in the ‘Mr.Reasonable’ seat which, as it turned out, was not ill-judged. Mr.Lee insisted that the Union had no right to expel him just because of his political views and Mr.McGuire insisted that the Union had an obligation to expel him because of his political views. Applying the voluntarist principle I maintained that Mr.Lee was perfectly entitled to his views, regardless of how stupid and vile they may be, but that the Union, as a voluntary organisation, were free to make any rules about membership that they damn well please and it was nobody else’s business.

Perry, who was watching from home, tells me that the BNP guy actually made a pretty decent fist out of casting himself as the persecuted victim (with just the right degree of indignant self-pity) and that Kevin McGuire came across as an intolerant ranter. I like to think my libertarian message got across as well but it is always so difficult to know for sure amidst the soundbitten and somewhat chaotic nature of TV debates. I think it fair to say that I hit the right chord with Richard Littlejohn but then, as he quietly admitted to me afterwards, he is rather sympathetic to our ideas. It certainly helped that he clearly wanted my voice to be heard. I think we have an ally out there.

So that was that. No resolution of course but these things are seldom solvable and I was content that, aside from nearly melting in the stifling heat of the TV studio, I had managed to emerge unscathed. I was a little frustrated at being unable to get in a plug for the Samizdata so that will have to wait until next time (assuming, of course, that there is a next time).

10 comments to My fifteen minutes

  • Sorry I missed it.

  • Anno

    The teeny snag is that a expulsion from a union can make a person unemployable in their field–depending on the strength of the union, so it’s not simply a speech issue.

    That said, I wonder at the libertarian position on unions, especially those which a government sanctions or those the government grants powers to (such as blacklisting/anti-scab power) which the individual does not share.

  • Anno,

    I believe Mr.Lee is still gainfully employed which would not be the case if the Union were allowed to operate a ‘closed shop’.

    I have nothing against Trade Unions as voluntary organisations but I am opposed to them being equipped with state power to enforce their will.

  • A

    I saw your 15 mins of fame and you came across well as the only rational one. However you just cannot get a reasoned message out in that length of time. It’s so much easier to state a slogan like “Ban the Fascists” than to get across consequences or principles.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    It seems to me libertarianism is a dogma with certain “a priori” axioms from which all political postions must logically flow if the “libertarian” is to be considered orthodox.

    I don’t believe unions, dissenters or their cliques and clacks have any idealistic “rights”, but they have the ability to dilute, politically, in various ways, the power of The Big Man. Affirming a dogma leading to conclusions supporting that end is one of those ways.

  • Lorenzo

    David – you did indeed come off as the only rational one but then the competition was not exactly tough. One question though? Although Jay Lee is still employed it is a fact that it is very difficult if not impossible to work in certain professions without union membership due to the monopolistic power of unions. The unions also have statutory rights that are not available to individual memers. Under these conditions are Unions really voluntary?

  • David Carr writes:

    “I was a little frustrated at being unable to get in a plug for the Samizdata so that will have to wait until next time (assuming, of course, that there is a next time).”

    If white T-shirts are out, splattered with “Samizdata.Net” black logos and web addresses, how about some kind of funky white zebra suit, splattered with big bold “Samizdata.Net” logos, and web addresses, in black, where the zebra’s stripes would’ve been? 🙂

    A nice pineapple shirt, and wide bright pink tie (bearing the Samizdata.Net logo), would nicely complement the ensemble.

    Though I suppose you’d never get invited back, for breaking the nation’s TV screens 😉

    PS>Congratulations for getting on, and doing what sounds like a great job. I’ve only ever been faced once in my life by a TV camera, and completely clammed up, like a total lemon.

    PPS>A white suit, could also help reflect some of that studio light heat, as well as breaking the nation’s TV screens.

  • James

    Well done BNP !!

    We love you

  • Mr Jay Lee

    Yes I too thought David held himself admirably throughout the interview. I was a little concerned at first as to who he was as I had never heard of your organisation before.
    My main disagreement however, is that union leaders (usually Communists) are NOT free to pick and choose who may or may not be a member of a union. Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998 gives a person a legal right to be a member unless a national law declares in statute a reason that he cannot. The only national law constraints on becoming a member are qualification ones (which obviously does not affect me as I am a fully qualified train driver). Hence, an individual cannot be impeded from joining a union because various Communist union leaders fear for their own privileged positions.

    Well done to David, to Littlejohn, and to Democracy itself.

    Mr Jay Lee

  • John.B

    I saw the interview on Littlejohn. I thought everyone was good, except the communist dickhead from the Guardian.
    I thought Littlejohn was going to give the train driver guy a hard time but he seemed fair and balanced.
    Nice one David.