In the recent 2017 general election, I lost my voteginity to the now secretary of state for international development, Penny Mordaunt. However, as a Libertarian, when I first heard that my constituency of Portsmouth North had a candidate from the Libertarian Party, I began to flirt with the idea of voting for him instead of Penny. In this article, I would like to explain why I, despite being more Libertarian than Conservative, decided to vote the Conservative party instead of the Libertarian Party.
Although I do not fall perfectly into any ideology (nobody does), if I had to label what I am, it would probably be ‘Conservative leaning Libertarian’.
I identify as a Libertarian because I believe that ultimately, the state needs to have its powers limited from both a consequentialist and an deontological perspective. Governments that promise to make the lives of its people better by sorting out all of their problems for them always end up doing the opposite (just look at communist Russia for the perfect example). The reason for this is simple, power corrupts. Also, the state has no right or place to take more money through taxation than is absolutely necessary, or to control the lives of its citizens more than it needs to for their own safety.
However, absolute Libertarianism is not realistic. As mentioned before, power corrupts- therefore a state is needed to prevent people from abusing their powers too much. This is why basic workers’ rights, a benefits system (for those who absolutely need it), strong public services, education, and some light regulation are necessary for a civilised society.
Before I talk about why I chose Penny Mordaunt over Joe Jenkins (The Libertarian Party candidate) I would like to make it clear that I have nothing against either of them as people. I’ve met Penny once before at her ‘thank you for voting for me drinks’ and she was a perfectly likeable character.
As for Joe, he was quick to respond to all of my questions and messages and he comes across as a highly likeable person too.
The first issue with the Libertarian Party manifesto is the pointless and far too costly idea of setting up an English Parliament.
The Libertarian Party wish to limit Westminster Parliament to being open only 4 months of the year (September to December) and in those 4 months, the only item that should be discussed would be defence. All other issues would be a matter for the English parliament or direct democracy.
This would be an enormous change to our democratic system that would confuse and alienate a large amount of the British public. It would also cost an extortionate amount of money. Overall, there is simply no need to create an English Parliament.
Issue number two is about an ancient British institution, the House of Lords. The House of Lords exist to hold the House of Commons to account and make them think twice before passing foolish bills. The fact that the House of Lords are unelected means that are not able to hold much more than advisory powers over the laws passed by the Commons. It also means that they are out of the media light, and therefore able to focus solely of policy and ideology without putting on a show for the cameras- just watch Prime Ministers Questions to see what I mean. Getting rid of the House of Lords would be a disaster for the nation.
The next problem is their policy of Brexit… it doesn’t exist!
Although they are supporters of Britain leaving the EU, they do not speak anywhere in their manifesto about how they wish to do so. Nowhere does it mention maintaining trade deals with the rest of Europe, their policy of EU citizens already living here, or what would happen with Brexit in a worst case scenario- ie. No deal.
The final issue with the UK Libertarian Party is direct democracy. As somebody who has studied classic liberalism, I find it hard to understand how a libertarian can be in favour of direct democracy. As I’m Conservative leaning (one nation in particular), I understand why systems such as direct democracy can occasionally be necessary, Brexit for example, but for the most part, direct democracy has the same problems as dictatorship.
Direct democracy is essentially tyranny of the majority- having to follow rules that might not hold any moral weight or are created out of pure emotion does not appeal to me in the slightest. What exactly is the difference between doing something because one person told you to and doing it because the majority of people told you to?
As a registered member of the Conservative Party, I will be the first to admit that my party has problems. Prime Minster Theresa May made a right pig’s ear of the last election and quite a few of our policies send off the message ‘Don’t worry, the government will take care of you’. However, the fact remains that we are still the party of low taxes, free markets and personal freedoms.
Elections are not just about ideology, they are also about winning, and sometimes you need to put aside some of your beliefs and principles in order to implement the rest of them.
It will be far more efficient to improve the Conservative party from within than from a party as small as the Libertarian Party.