Which party to you join if you believe that the state should stay out of the bedroom and out of the boardroom (and most other rooms)? They have been known under many names: Libertarians, Individualists, Laissez-Faire Capitalists, Reaganaites, Thatcherites. For the purposes of this article I will call them Classical Liberals.
For the last one hundred years or so the Classical Liberals, that is, those who cherish John Locke and Adam Smith, have been divided between the Liberal and Conservative Parties. The party membership card they actually buy will probably depend upon whether they attach greater importance to social liberalism (LibDems), or economic liberalism (Conservatives). Or how pure they are in their classical liberal beliefs: quite a few may not want to go as far as, say, totally legalising drugs, allowing abortion on demand, or abolishing the welfare state in its entirety. I know one or two purists who do not vote at all and who occasionally utter cravings for a Libertarian Party.
Gladstone was one. Thatcher was one (if we forget Clause 28 for a second). The Orange Book Liberals belong to the creed (though Vince Cable wrote a chapter and is most certainly NOT a Classical Liberal). I will leave it to your own detection work to identify which MPs are Classical Liberals today. I have a list of two dozen LibDem and Conservative MPs who could be defined as Classical Liberals. Many, many more have very strong Classical Liberal sympathies. To some extent virtually all present-day Conservatives are Thatcher's children and therefore at least partly Classical Liberals.
Where can you meet Classical Liberal politicians? Some are loners – which is natural as they strongly believe in individual liberty. The annual Libertarian Alliance conference would be a good start. Or the monthly meetings of the Progressive Conservatives in Central London. Conservative Way Forward would be good bet, too.
Who are its proponents? Its twentieth century philosophers are Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. Its think tanks are the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Adam Smith Institute.
What are their victories? Privatisations, tax cuts, the sale of council flats. Yes: nothing very recent.
What do they believe in? They stand for meritocracy (as opposed to group or class privilege), equality under the law (as opposed to discrimination, “positive” or otherwise), “original” human rights which keep the state in check (as opposed to “social” or entitlement rights which coerce some to give benefits to others). The free market (though most support a modest safety net). Scepticism of the state (they want free trade with the world, not protectionism). They don't tolerate racism: people must be regarded as individuals, not groups. Trade not aid. Democracy (as opposed to the Leader Principle). Dan Hannan's and Douglas Carswell's The Plan is a good reading on the subject.