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Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?

That is the question which is being asked by the Libertarian Alliance for its 2009 Chris R Tame Memorial Prize, with one writer of an essay answering that question in 3,000 words being eligible for a £1,000 prize (sponsored by former Conservative MP Teresa Gorman, no less).

During my teenage years I would characterise myself as having been a "Daily Mail Conservative", but once I went to university my views developed, and I returned from York very much more of a libertarian Conservative, erring on the side of minimising state interference in individuals' lives. So I would regard myself as a libertarian and a Conservative, although I am sure I would not be regarded as a proper libertarian by many LA purists.

David Cameron said at the party conference last year:

"Freedom can too easily turn into the idea that we all have the right to do whatever we want, regardless of the effect on others. That is libertarian, not Conservative - and it is certainly not me."

Meanwhile, I recently heard someone remark:

"A conservative is a libertarian with daughters."

So, can a Libertarian also be a Conservative? Discuss...

Jonathan Isaby


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