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Another oxymoron

It is Friday evening and blogging about British politics and the Conservative Party was the last thing on my mind. However, this post appearing on Samizdata.net below cannot be left without a calm, measured and reasoned response it deserves. What the f***?! Conservatives?! Libertarian?! A viable alternative?!

After checking the post for any undercurrents of sarcasm, I am still confused. This is due to the words Conservatives and libertarian appearing in the same context. The Tory party is a bunch of stale, narrow-minded and arrogant statists who believe that if everyone was a good chap…there, there…things would go just swimmingly and they would not have to try too hard and use their brains.

Libertarianism is a dirty word to them, diversity means more illegal immigrants, freedom is predicated on the fact that everyone just comes round to their point of view and their confidence is based on arrogance. In case you missed it, I do not rate the Tory party highly. There is very little difference between them and the New Labour, apart from the latter being much better at public relations and spin.

Philosophically, the Tories are as libertarian and exciting as a schoolmaster on valium. Their position on Europe is still confused, their views about taxation not very inspiring, what with NHS and education still being considered bottomless pits for taxpayers’ money, the BBC would be untouchable if it was not biased against them and individualism is something that does not happen to most people.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as fixed political competency, i.e. if one political party goes bad, the other improves. And so, as the Labour party is stumbling into a disaster of its own making, the Tories are certainly not meeting them on the way up. I do not know what the alternative to Labour is in the current political layout, but the Conservatives are certainly not it.

And for all those concerned, Samizdata.net shall never be a slave to any adjectives.

Update: BBC to replace Tories as “official opposition” .

16 comments to Another oxymoron

  • Tim Stevens

    Gabriel’s right, of course; the Tories are deeply uninspiring. The Bald IDeagle’s party might have edged ahead in the polls, but it’s despite rather than because of him. Hague, for all his slug-like charisma, was twice the slug IDS is.

    And yet… let’s not be the head-up-our-arses libertarians of caricature, folks. Let’s get real. Can you honestly say you’d be happier under the current New Labour shower than under IDS’s Tories? Libertarian they aren’t, but they’re a damn sight closer to that accolade than the current lot, and until Tame and Micklethwaite and the rest of the LA finally admit that a “democracy” is the only system under which an ideal-driven philosophy will ever assume political dominance in the world as it currently exists, the Tories deserve our vote.


  • Eamon Brennan

    If one political party goes bad, the others do improve.


  • Eamon: How did you work that one out? I see no relationship between my disagreement with the Tory policies and Labour’s decline…

  • Mark Hulme-Jones

    I don’t think I’d be the only Libertarian to admit that I’d really like to be able to vote for the Conservative party with a clear conscience (after all, surely anyone would be better than the current lot?), but the thought really irks me. Their record on personal freedoms is just too much of a turn-off: I no more appreciate the moralistic lecturing of the likes of Anne Widdecombe than I do the statist, “social democratic” economic idiocies of the current lot.

    Whilst I can appreciate that IDS is making some steps in the right direction, he’s going to have to try a lot harder than just raising the speed limit and bringing back fox hunting. The sooner the Tory party realise that freedom-squashing attitudes towards homosexuality, drugs and other issues of personal freedom are the main reasons that younger generations are staying away in droves the better, because only then will we have a party that could truly live up to the word ‘Libertarian’.

  • I would like there to be an actual liberal party that consisted of actual liberals for me to vote for, personally. The trouble is that I am more likely to levitate spontaneously to the moon. It’s really depressing.

  • Eamon Brennan


    Everything is relative. If a single party no longer delivers, the alternatives become more attractive, irrespective of their own performance.


  • Eamonn: that does rather assume that the only conceivable political options involve party politics and the same old party politics at that.

    Given that the majority of people who can vote in Britain elect not to, that is a rather limited view of things.

    In the British context at least, it would seem most people vote ‘none of the above’ and I think that is a very good thing indeed. Everything is not relative, which is why I do not vote at all.

  • Guy Herbert

    Political competency and governmental competency aren’t the same thing.

    You can be a supremely bad government, but as long as you are politically astute enough that most people don’t think you are worse than the alternative, then you’ll still win elections.

  • Tony H

    Mark H-J sums up my objections exactly to the Tories. The sort of things they’ve announced recently are extraordinarily trivial tinkerings, blatant vote-enhancing tactics that are transparently insincere. Yesterday on the train I read IDS’s Prague speech as reproduced in the Telegraph – Christ, even allowing for its having been written with instant interpreting in mind, it was so stupefyingly uninspiring I came close to committing hara-kiri with my Japanese pen… At least if we were living under a nakedly oppressive tyranny we’d know where we were and who to support, but under the current cotton-wool-smothering statist regime – with two chief purveyors of cotton-wool – it’s impossible to know what to do for the best. In former times voting Tory was a vaguely acceptable least-bad option, but now…

  • Tony H

    Sorry, forgot to thank Gabriel for his post – exactly so, agree entirely. It’s criminal that we have this three (just about) party scam whereby they pretend to be separated by profound ideological divides that do not exist – they argue over tiny percentage points in e.g. taxation, in other words about nothing that makes much difference to our liberty.

  • Eamon Brennan


    Outside of party politics and the same old party politics at that, there are no political options.

    If the Conservatives are more amenable to Libertarian influence than other parties, then, relatively speaking, they are a “better” party than the others.


  • Eamon: Read our lips – we do not care about party politics.

  • Eamon Brennan

    If that’s the case why the endless comment on the various doings of both parties.


  • In good times, with the harvest home and with no particular place to go, it’s perfectly OK to strike a political pose, gesture a little, hold to principles one knows may not survive exposure the real world.

    In extremis all that goes out the wondow. It’s on to a war footing, lean and mean, and anybody caught inflagrante illuminato after the blackout gets the full treatment.

    And that’s the point for libertarians. The greatest, immediate threat to our nation is Giscard’s EU. If we lose our nation state the only political party we can look to is the Conservative Party. OK, they are authoritarian. Well, authoritarianism has something useful to say about the family. They are given to statism. Well, I reckon Andy D would dispute that one. They are anti-diversity. Nope, I wish they were but they haven’t the courage.

    Still, if Blair bestows the Constitution upon us we will need the Conservatives. Wake up, Gabriel, and get your priorities straight.

  • Guessedworker: The Tory Party is the party that gave us Edward Heath. Is Edward Heath still a member of the party? Yes he is. Has he been repudiated as the party comes to face the fact he was the worst PM since Chamberlain? Nope. Is Chris Patten a member of the party? Yes, he is. How about mercantalists like Heseltine or Clarke? These are people who have worked tirelessly to make Britain an adjunct of a regulatory superstate and you expect us to think they will ride to our rescue? Wake up, man. The Tories are not part of the solution, they are part of the problem.