When Tim Montgomerie called on "all Tories to drop the libertarian language" the other day, he undoubtedly knew he would rattle a few cages. Libertarians of one form or another make up a sizeable and growing section of the Conservative Party, especially among its younger members. Libertarian organisations such as the Adam Smith Institute and The Freedom Association enjoy significant levels of support from the young Conservatives who are the future of our party. In this article, I hope to take readers on a whistle-stop tour of my own personal libertarianism and to explain why I believe libertarian ideas can help the Conservative Party achieve electoral success.
What is libertarianism? Whole books have been written to answer that question and in truth it differs from person to person. I think it’s possible to sum it up in five words: "do no harm to others". David Boaz of the Cato Institute is more precise: "libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others." Libertarians seek to achieve this goal through maximising the role of the individual and minismising the role of the state, through free-market economics, property rights and liberal social policies.