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From James Lawson: The Liberty League is no threat to the Conservative Party

Lawson JamesJames Lawson was a founder of the Liberty League.

This weekend over 200 activists will gather for the Liberty League Freedom Forum. It's the UK's largest pro-freedom conference. Freedom Forum explores political and economic ideas underpinning civilisation, training attendees to promote free society. Within the recent Conservative Future elections, candidates were being criticised as “Liberty Leaguers”.  We appreciate brand recognition, but the implication that Liberty League is a threat is misguided.

From the outset when Will Hamilton, Anton Howes and I founded Liberty League three years ago, it has been non-partisan. Whilst CF activists (including the new chairman) attend our events and are very welcome, Liberty League is non-party political. We invite everyone, from Lib-Dem coalition cousins to UKIPers or even Anarcho-Capitalists, to voice their personal opinions.

Our approach is thus pragmatic and progressive. There is no set opinion or policy within Liberty League. There are roles for both those supporting gradualist change by hacking away at the mainstream political process, and for radicals who prefer to focus purely on ideology. All our discussions focus on freedom.

As well as our conferences, we also support freedom-loving societies. When we began there were perhaps 3 active non-partisan student societies dedicated to promoting Liberty. Now there are over thirty, with more universities covered each year. We're also gaining strength amongst young professionals. We need to win the broader battle of ideas to sustain freedom for the future.

Chasing crowded middle ground does not seem to be helping the Conservative Party anyway. Despite centrist initiatives it remains widely labelled the 'nasty' party: the polls suggest the Conservatives face an uphill struggle in the 2015 election. The Government has still to deliver economic recovery, growth or debt reduction. Several MPs appear to lack genuine expertise, perhaps exacerbated by the rise of career hacks.

Conservatives really need to reengage with ideas. Here Liberty League and think tanks like our conference partners the Adam Smith Institute, Institute of Economic Affairs and The Freedom Association can offer real help. Rather than avoiding debate in favour of unpopular status quo, we all focus on delivering new visions for real change. Votes can be won outside the middle ground by reengaging our base with authenticity and creativity, and by attracting non-voters. We should also embrace MPs who have distinct, real-world perspectives from business experience outside the Westminster hothouse, or who bring new philosophical and economic ideas.

In short, Liberty League is non-partisan. It offers a framework for developing ideas. It is pragmatic in promoting Liberty. Additionally, Liberty League plays a major role in developing the pro-freedom political grassroots. Rather than being a threat, it offers creativity in the battle of ideas that the Conservatives should harness and embrace.Gradual, realistic changes that make people freer and more prosperous naturally should be welcomed by Conservatives.


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