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Tim, you, and Cameron for that matter, are willfully misunderstanding the difference between Government action to reform, say, our education or welfare systems, and the bully boy approach towards, say, what people choose to eat or to think for example.

Yes of course the state has a part to pay in big society wide issues such as education or defence, but it needs to stay out of people's personal lives.

The first question ought always to be should the state interfere in a particular matter, not how should it interfere.

Most people are at heart libertarian and to wholesale reject individual freedom to choose is the top of a very nasty and very slippery slope indeed.

Who is "wholesale rejecting[ing] individual freedom to choose" Mr Angry?

Firstly, the The Iraq surge has not worked; it was supposed to create a significant political window in which the state of Iraq could be assessed calmly, in a less- or non-combatative environment. As political commentator Mike Whitney wrote: "The United States did not invade Iraq to “stop the violence”. That was never the goal. So, it's foolish to say that the surge achieved its objective. It hasn't. Nor has the surge “created the space for a political solution”; another meaningless slogan regurgitated endlessly by the Bush troupe. The political agenda in Iraq has failed utterly".
Recent suicide bombings and attacks on troops will attest that Iraq is still highly volatile; if that is not convincing enough, General Petraeus admitted Last year that the surge wasn't working. When called upon to justify the war to the Senate after an increasingly war-weary America demanded to know where their tax dollars were going, Petraeus stated: "All participants, Iraqi and coalition alike, are dissatisfied by the halting progress on major legislative initiatives." And whilst Georgia, Slovakia, Lithuania and Italy have withdrawn troops, our boys show no sign of coming home any time soon.

Secondly, America's welfare record of recent years is shameful and inhuman. In relative terms, levels of US poverty is equal to that of Romania and Mexico; there has been 0% reduction since 1973; and child poverty has risen significantly, particularly in comparison with the rest of the 'developed' world; the epicentre is New York, where around 23% of children are defined as 'desperately poor'.
The number of severely poor people - those at the bottom of the socio-economic pile - has risen at an extraordinary rate. And the proportion of national income going to corporate pockets than being distributed amongst blue collar workers has increased by roughly 15% in the last decade.
Against this backdrop, Bush has repeatedly attempted to cut medical aid (particularly to children), place unreasonable demands on parents attempting to get back into the job markets but with no way of finding care for their children and freezing welfare budgets despite inflationary rises.
Moreover, Bush recently attempted to push a budget through the Senate (see last week's Washington Post) which sought to cut $14 billion in funding for welfare, healthcare, care for the elderly, educational programmes and cancer research - and then turned round and demanded 50 times that amount to bail out Wall Street. Is this an example you wish us to follow? Do we not have enough terrible problems in the country due to poverty?

I therefore issue you a challenge, Mr Montgomerie: to live for a full two weeks on the amount considered 'enough to live on' by the DWP for those on Jobseekers/IB (£60.50). You cannot spend one penny more than this for your day-to-day expenses. If you can't afford public transport, you must walk. If you use a credit card, calculate what percentage of interest your transaction will accrue and deduct it from the above amount. And then please tell us - all of us - what your experience is like; and what implications cutting this amount may have.

You are foolishly falling in the same trap that underpins all socialist policies.

Metrics can only be a passive measure of progress and should only ever be considered as such.

Abandoning your original purpose to focus purely on meeting metrics is pure folly.

Civic Responsiblity is not something that you instill in people - it magically appears when people are proud of their environment and have a direct influence on it.

Give people power to improve their environment then civic pride and responsibility will follow. However if you aim to activley enforce civic responsiblity, you will reduce peoples power, reduce their pride and guarentee that no genuine civic responsiblity follows.

Civic Responsibility is a metric of personal empowerment, not a objective in itself.

As another Tory who felt rather uncomfortable at the rampant libertarianism on show at the Freedom Zone I couldn't agree more. Yes we need to redress the balance between the freedoms of the individual and the oppression of the state, but some of the extreme views on show over the two days were not the way to do it.

Tim while most of his speech was brillant did he really need to bash people like myself and is he saying to people like me shut up about being a Libertarian or leave the party? It seems from your own fringe meeting that he is in the minority, and you also(42 days etc).
As with Georgia its has given the Prime Minster of Ukraine a lot of problems in terms of gas prices and we don't seem to want to help get both countries into NATO which could at least supply some backbone to them in the present situation?

The problem with the areas that you site as being in favour of government action - zero tolerance policing (law and order) and the Iraq surge (national defence) are precisely the areas in which all but the most ideological libertarian would say are the residual business of the State.

Come up with an example in health or education and you might start to build your case.

Your problem is that you are of the Christian right and libertarianism is almost invariably secular. What is needed for those of us who are Christians in a CofE sense without being "the Christian Right" in an American sense is to synthesise the two. Personal morality and responsibility. If we can remove the State instituted incentives to vice eg. free council housing for the unmarried and pregnant then we will effect change without allowing the State to run our lives according to a left/liberal media agenda

Richard: I enjoyed the FreedomZone. It was a good initiative but I'm very glad that Cameron is stating that Conservatism is much more than laissez-faire individualism.

I think `Mr Angry` @ 0931 strikes the right balance. The State should see itself as undertaking the responsibility for those things beyond the compass of the individual These include national defence; social measures to underpin the welfare of those who genuinely cannot provide for them selves; maintenance of law and order so that the actions of the individual do not impact adversely on others in society; and international alliances. But while setting the framework within which we live our lives, it should then resist the temptation to interfere in other matters that are not its concern. "Support and encourage those who can, while making sure that the latter do not forget their responsibilities to those who for good reasons cannot"
On reflection, I was much impressed by Cameron`s humanity in yesterday`s speech. He is right to see our society as broken and I honour his dedication to doing what he can to repair it; as long as he does so in the context of respecting individual freedom. Government by consent, based on mutual respect would be a step in the right direction, long absent from our day-to-day lives here.

I would prefer to relate ‘nudging’ to steering mostly by a nudge on the tiller. This is an apposite way of labelling how most things should be managed, in government or otherwise, as the analogy acknowledges that there are occasions when the rudder has to be put hard over to cope with a particular eventuality.

“Management by exception” is a related concept: create the environment where most things are enabled to trundle along in a satisfactory, routine manner and intervention can then be focused on those matters that require specific attention. This might be described as one manifestation of the Pareto Principle, i.e. 80-90% of management effort is deployed on 20 –10% of the operation.

And so it should be with government. I note from Googling that “libertarianism” is almost as broad a church as ConservativeHome! However, more middling espousals seem to be on the foregoing lines and this is reflected, for example, in the Tory view that the State could define certain courses of action but implementation would be for the voluntary sector.
Libertarian is certainly not the same as libertine or laisser faire!

Considering that most people in the UK will not really know what a libertarian is, or have even heard the word, it seemed unusual for Cameron to namecheck them.

I can only conclude that there is growing pressure on Cameron from within the 'libertarian' arm of the party.

An unnecessary fight to pick from Cameron, and one I believe he will later regret in office when people dislike the authoritarian 'nudges' that he introduces.

Guido must be embarrassed though. He has long been touting Cameron as libertarian.

How about this:

"I am an instinctive libertarian who abhors state prohibitions and tends to be sceptical of most government action".

David Cameron, Friday May 17, 2002

Hmm, Cameron changes his mind with the wind again...


I attended the nudging meeting and a number of other events at the Freedom Zone which I thought were interesting and thought provoking.

As a libertarian and right wing Tory (no contradiction in my view) the only element of DC's speech I did not like was the uncalled for and unecessary jibe at libertarians.

While a number of people seem to think the speech policy light I thought he covered an extremely broad range of topics and outlined the parameters of an election manifesto.

But why knock libertarians?

Richard Holloway "as another Tory who felt rather uncomfortable at the rampant libertarianism on show at the Freedom Zone" So tax cuts, climate change repudiation, Euroscepticism and ending the television tax are rampant libertarianism? Under Thatcher, they were mainstream Conservatism. I challenge Richard and the Ed to give examples of the rampant libertarianism that featured in those sesssions.

Cameron can't even distinguish between libertarianism and libertinism. Contrary to Cameron's ridiculous claim in his speech, the former is based on personal responsibility. It is libertinism that is not. You cannot get a better example of the Blairite spin and triangulation that are the dominant features of Cameron's public utterances.

The Cameroon Tories are closer to Blairism and Brownism than Thatcherism. It is a sign of how far to the left Cameroon Conservatism has moved that The Freedom Association and The Taxpayers Alliance are regarded as the biggest enemy by CCHQ. Cameroons like Osborne and Gove would rather speak on the platforms of Blairite think tanks like Demos and the IPPR rather than the free market Adam Smith Institute or IEA. Osborne's office has regularly brief against The Taxpayers Alliance.

The Freddom Associations's Roger Helmer and Dan Hannan were threatened with deselection if they spoke on the same platform as UKIP's Nigel Farage. But the Cameroons are quite happy for Tory MPs to share platforms with Labour and Lib Dem MPs who support the Lisbon Treaty and EU integration. As Simon Heffer noted, free speech in the Conservative Party is dead. Parliamentatians must toe the leftist, pro-EU line or else.

Of course, the Cameroons want the libertarians' money and votes but why should we tolerate their smears, lies and bullying tactics? I will not and urge my fellow libertarians not to sanction such un-Conservative behaviour and recognise that we are BETTER OFF OUT of the Cameron's Tory Party.

Sorry, one more;

So, two clear statements from Cameron:

"I'm not a libertarian"

"I am an instinctive libertarian"

And you wonder why people distrust him?

I was the one Tim refers to who used the word "tyranny".

If society is always on the move, the question must be towards which utopia we are moving. When we reflect on Cameron's speech, we know he will move us in the direction of freedom, responsibility and enterprise, in the direction of opportunity, responsibility and security for everyone. We know that Labour's path is, as it ever was, the path to misery and failure, for rich and poor alike.

Many of us who believe in responsible freedom as the road to a full life of prosperity for everyone have become outraged at the state of the country today. It may be that I am not alone in piling into politics from business in sheer frustration at the state of things. I hope you will forgive a little political inexperience.

As Mirek Topolanek said at the conference, "We must get off the Road to Serfdom". Indeed we must. David Cameron's great triumph is that he has found a path towards freedom along which he can lead everyone in the country. I will be glad to call myself a liberal Conservative and to follow him as far as we can possibly go.

"I am an instinctive libertarian who abhors state prohibitions and tends to be sceptical of most government action".

David Cameron, Friday May 17, 2002

Posted by: GB£.com | October 02, 2008 at 10:32

GB£, where did you get that quote? That's demonstrates perfectly my point that Cameron is being disingenuous. He knows that libertarians believe in personal resonsibility but has chosen to smear them for his political purposes. No principled politician would do that.

Hi Libertarian, google '"I am an instinctive libertarian" +cameron' (as I seem to have problem including a url).

It was widely quoted in the press at the time.

Cameron didn't say "I sympathise with libertarians", he said it was his 'instinct', something deeply ingrained in him.

Suddenly, he is not. How can we trust a word he says?

Tim to answer your question the entire so called nudge agenda, which you support, is a wholesale rejection of the right to choose since contrary to its innocuous sounding name (a good lesson learned from NuLab there it seems) the nudge agenda very swiftly and easily extends out to the coercion so beloved of socialists and all big state fans. The nudge agenda is entirely and only about making it apparently socially acceptable for the state to interfere in what people choose to do in private areas of their lives in order to pave the way for the subequent oppression and bullying of those who ignore the so called nudge.

Here it is


Guido wrote

'Cameron has consistently advocated the reform of drug laws, serving on the home affairs select committee in 2001, he supported the reclassification of cannabis and ecstasy. At the time he wrote: "I am an instinctive libertarian who abhors state prohibitions and tends to be sceptical of most government action, whether targeted against drug use or anything else ... Hounding hundreds of thousands - indeed millions - of young people with harsh criminal penalties is no longer practicable or desirable."'

I wonder what the Ed and IDS make of that quote. Con Home's readers in the media should expose Cameron's hypocritical big lie.

Oh and all of those applauding the anti libertarianism of Cameron's speech might want to examine what it is they think they are against:

Perhaps the best strategy for Libertarian Tory MP's will be to help Cameron get elected and boot out Labour, then later defect to the Libertarian Party to create a core base of Libertarian MP's in Parliament.

This was a big mistake by Cameron.

Libertarian @ 10:57 - There is "libertarian" and there is "Libertarian".... David Cameron's understanding (and mine too) of the libertarian view of things is more akin to tolerance WITHIN the law - not doing things which wilfully harm others or oneself and having innate respect for other people.
I may be wrong, but I have the overwhelming feeling that many of those who call themselves Libertarian when posting on here are in fact more akin to anarchists. I would very much like to be proved wrong on my "hunch" so please, the ball is now in your court...!

First of all, I would like to thank the organisers of the "freedom zone" for convincing me that maybe rampant libertarianism isn't a good thing.

I think we need to get back to "freedom from" and "freedom to" - a balance.

That balance can only be made more permanent by carefully thought-out intervention from government. I don't want the government telling me what to do, but by the same token I don't want the reckless actions of others diluting my quality of life also.

Libertarianism is maybe more attractive at the moment because of a backlash to this government's odious policy of only penalising the innocent and not the guilty, but I expect the next Conservative government to redress the balance and intervene in society on behalf of those of us who have suffered the consequences of Labour's soft on crime, soft on illegal immigration regime.

So I am with Tim on this one.

Libertarian? A posh word from pseudo intellectuals and a substitute for real Conservatism.
I am an instinctive philanderer but choose a stable and loving marriage over that instinct. Ergo, I can control those instincts I consider unsuitable in my world. Get it?

@GB£. You are too optimistic. There are few libertarians left in on the Tory benches. Most of the PPCs in target seats are Cameroons who have been promoted by CCHQ.

BTW, the recent silence from the Editor is deafening. He picked a fight with the libertarians here but ran away when we stand up to him.

Derek Johnson - "First of all, I would like to thank the organisers of the "freedom zone" for convincing me that maybe rampant libertarianism isn't a good thing."

I repeat my earlier challenge - which sessions in the Freedom Zone promoted rampant libertarianism? There are a lot of new posters here attacking the Freedom Zone. Were they actually there?

This is probably another example of CCHQ mounting yet another smear campaign against libertarians.

Yes, I wonder when Tim is going to try and explain away why Cameron was happy to openly describe himself as an instinctive libertarian' just a short time ago?

How can you attack libertarians when your own party leader decribes such a philosophy as his 'instinct'?

Surely that means that Cameron is a libertarian who chose to mislead his grassroots yesterday to just give them what they wanted to hear, rather than what he believes in?

Well it is that, or he was lying about his instincts before.

Either way, not the mark of a trustworthy man.

"I listed things that government has got right in the recent past: preparing the old nationalised industries for privatisation; US welfare reform; zero tolerance policing in New York; the Iraq troops surge."

Libertarians support privatisation, welfare reform (although they'd prefer to go further and get rid of the welfare state) and zero tolerance policing (libertarians are not liberals when it comes to dealing with criminals and many believe in the death penalty). There is also a divide between pro-war and anti-war libertarians. Samizdata for example seems to be generally pro-war.

"I may be wrong, but I have the overwhelming feeling that many of those who call themselves Libertarian when posting on here are in fact more akin to anarchists."

I think anarcho-capitalism is probably stronger in America. As a libertarian conservative I believe that the state should exist and believe in the maintenance of the monarchy and the established Church. Wouldn't object to privatising the police though.

Perhaps you and Cameron ought to establish exactly what you mean by libertarianism. It could be that there is a divergence that might make you reconsider your apparent view that he is a charlatan and that he takes liberties with the truth....as you see it.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the Freedom Zone, The sessions were very good and it was great to hear the different opinions. The free copies of 1984 were excellent too. Now I'm no fan of the state, but neither do I want to smoke anywhere, abolish the BBC completely (although I would like to see it massively reduced in size), cut all ties from Europe completely and leave everyone to be 'free'.
It's a tough argument to defend on these comment pages, but Cameron's more moderate position of traditional Conservatism is much more my kettle of fish.
Would love to see the Freedom Zone return next year though.

I recommend that Sally Roberts visits the website of Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party's Presidential Candidate - BobBarr2008.com.

Barr is a former Republican Congressman from Georgia and no anarchist. He initially supported the War on Drugs, the Iraq War and and Patriot Act (sic). He has been big enough to admit that he made big mistakes when a Republican Congressman. Just read Barr's attacks on Bush's authoritarian record and McCain's big government, war-mongering agenda.

Barr made his name leading the impeachment of Bill Clinton. He lost his seat in Congress after a strong LP candidate cost him lots of votes. The LP made such a strong impression on Bob that he joined the Party. I wish that libertarian Conservatives could take a similar principled stand!

@ Richard Holloway

The subject of the BBC debate was the licence fee. There was no proposal by the sponsors to abolish it. It was participants proposed abolition and they had the right to free speech.

If you check out the Forest website, you will see that they are campaigning for the right of publicans, private clubs etc to have smoking zones when the law comes up for review. Forest recognises that a complete reversal of the smoking ban will not be possible.

If you want to see the Freedom Zone return next year, I suggest that you join, subscribe or donate to The Freedom Association. These events are costly to put on and TFA relies on membership fees and donations to survive. It does not have rich individual and corporate donors like Policy Exchange.

Given the wide range of perception as to what "libertarian" actually means, as applied to practical UK governance, perhaps a knowledgeable someone could compose a CH piece on the topic?

Tim's comments on this are, as usual, very fair, but, as the co-organiser of The Freedom Zone, I should just like to reply to Richard Holloway's comment about "rampant libertarianism on show at the Freedom Zone".

The principal aim of The Freedom Zone was to encourage open discussion on a broad range of important issues, many of which, such as the EU, tax-cutting, smoking etc. are practically verboten in the Party Conference itself.

I make no apology for the involvement of libertarians, amongst others, in those discussions, but would point out that we also put on a session called Breaking Free From the Broken Society, in which Simon Marcus and Councillor Andrew Percy used their own hands-on experience of working in inner-city education to argue the need for positive action to tackle knife crime and indiscipline in schools.

The Freedom Zone was a fantastically successful and ground-breaking event and we're very proud, in particular, of the opportunity it gave for so many promising Conservative candidates, students etc. to speak in public in such sessions as the heavily oversubscribed Tories Got Talent! show.

I am wary of the fashionable attachment of the new right to “libertarianism”. Is it just a code word for self indulgence? And are libertarians really going to leave the poor, the ill and the old starving in the street, even if, in some cases at least, the condition of such people may be the consequences of their own fecklessness?

Please will one of you Libertarians explain the difference between a Libertarian and a Libertine?

As a Tory rather than a Libertarian, I share Tim Montgomerie's "small-government rather than no-government" position, but I was dismayed by some of the other postings on this site about the Freedom Zone. Actually I thought the Freedom Zone was one of the very best things about this year's conference, and I congratulate The Freedom Association and the other groups that worked together to make the Zone such a success. Perhaps next year the Zone could reflect a broader range of centre-Right opinion, including more orthodox right-wing positions (e.g. on law & order and defence -which are perfectly consistent with the theme of defending Freedom) and, dare I say it, even more on National Sovereignty and the case against Britain's membership of the EU - surely one of the most important issues for Tories and libertarians alike.

I gained my usage of Libertarian from these forums and I use it to mean basically a non-authoritarian conservative. Which I would say is true conservatism (small government in both economy and socially) but not how the Conservative party has been known.
Saying I'm a libertarian conservative has opened up the idea of conservatism to my younger friends who have conservative opinions but have it ingrained in their heads (from bad media, and spiteful people who lost their useless jobs in the 80s probably) that conservatives are "like nazis" and the nasty party - but also it's different to liberal which is associated with silly green party types.
So to have Cameron insinuate that Libertarian is bad seems a bit odd.

So basically I've just gone the long way about agreeing with Ken Stevens above.

Many of the young CCHQ staff at conference would not have looked out of place at a New Labour event a few years ago. While we are the "in vogue" party, we will attract lots of people with no beliefs including young researchers and parliamentary candidates. It was important for the Freedom Zone to exist to explain that many Conservatives believe in individual freedom and limited government. Otherwise, they would simply think the Conservative Party was New Labour lite with the sort of half baked ideas we see from Demos and IPPR. This is what the battle of ideas is all about.

Hi John @ 11:50

"Perhaps you and Cameron ought to establish exactly what you mean by libertarianism. "

The point of the criticism here, is that you can completely negate a definition as we are considering two quotes from the same person, David Cameron, so it is safe to assume his own definition is constant (seeing as there has been nothing from Cameron to reject his previous 'instincts' from later experience etc).

Therefore, it makes no sense that he can both describe himself as being and not being a libertarian.

It is a criticism of consistency, not definition.

Thanks Simon, no apology needed. You have the freedom to hold the fantastic events in the Freedom Zone, and please do hold them again next year. I have the freedom to feel a bit uncomfortable at some of the opinions expressed by people at the events.
Freedom at work.

Of course we need government to do certain things. But it is equally true that it does far too many things at the moment, and needs its wings clipped. The Freedom Zone served its purpose splendidly as a forum for ideas, and for genuine, lively, participative debate. I am hugely proud to have been associated with it, and grateful to Simon Richards and Vicki Stevens of TFA for their major part in organising it.

"Please will one of you Libertarians explain the difference between a Libertarian and a Libertine?"

You could simply define it as the difference between me choosing to take drugs and encouraging you to do the same.

The events I attended at the Freedom Zone were highly enjoyable and thought provoking, with a variety of views on display.

The main conference is heavily staged managed - perhaps inevitably given the way the modern media operates.

The party therefore needs vehicles such as the Freedom Zone to debate how Conservative principles of liberty and freedom should be pursued in our current times. Consequently, I hope to see the Freedom Zone return to conference next year.

By the way, I find all this pigeonholing of people as "libertarian"; "anarcho-capitalist"; "statist" etc a waste of energy and more worthy of the political left.

We are all indiviuals and if our opinions were scrutinised in detail it would be difficult to place us neatly into these categories. Indeed, I find the idea of badging people in this way repellent.

"Please will one of you Libertarians explain the difference between a Libertarian and a Libertine?"

Libertarians believe in the non-aggression principle - that you should be able to do what you like as long as you don't harm others. Many libertarians are socially conservative and some are even anti-abortion on the basis that the foetus is a living being and therefore shouldn't be injured. Libertarians believe that people should have the right to take drugs even if they don't approve of the activity themselves. Libertarians also believe that private property owners have the right to exclude from their property people who they do not wish to associate with e.g. libertines. In short, libertarianism is a political philosophy that can be upheld by those who detest libertinism. Libertinism is a lifestyle choice - taking drugs, indulging in orgies etc.

The wider debate here is an important one, but I thought the Freedom Zone made an excellent contribution to that debate. It was refreshing to have a centre for open debate that wasn't either buttoned down or nutty! And free bacon butties are a good plan at any time...

Damn, good definition Richard. That must make me a libertarian libertine! ;-)

The "anti-government tendency" is the Right's "militant tendency".

Voters want security AND liberty.

"The "anti-government tendency" is the Right's "militant tendency"."

Yes, Jennifer Wells - you are right and I think you win Today's Prize for Spotting David Cameron's Rather Coded Message from Yesterday!

The Freedom Zone was exactly that,and what a success it was too.An opportunity for debate rather than soundbite and for the hidden talent in the party to strutt their stuff.Some of the speakers were not my cup of cocoa but I was glad they were there.The concept was a great idea and I hope they repeat this next year.
It is always better to debate than suppress.

Tim, while I thought Cameron was great on presentation his speech showed signs of speechwriters and not necessarily of a leader who really grasped all the issues he promoted (the City was one of them!).

Like others here I was bemused by Cameron’s sudden attack on libertarians as not Conservative. I strongly suspect he hadn’t much of a clue whereof he spoke!

Here are the seven principles of the Freedom Association, chief sponsor of the Freedom Zone:

Individual Freedom, Personal and Family Responsibility, The Rule of Law, Limited Government, Free Market Economy, National Parliamentary Democracy, Strong National Defences

Now what would either our esteemed editor or indeed Mr Cameron disagree with?

"As Mirek Topolanek said at the conference, "We must get off the Road to Serfdom". Indeed we must. David Cameron's great triumph is that he has found a path towards freedom along which he can lead everyone in the country. I will be glad to call myself a liberal Conservative and to follow him as far as we can possibly go."

Well said, Stephen! I enjoyed sitting next to you at the Gala Dinner and I suspect we are fairly like-minded when it comes to Conservatism.

So, two clear statements from Cameron:

"I'm not a libertarian"

"I am an instinctive libertarian"

Is anyone surprised by this? As I've said before, he has no depth of conviction. If he's instinctively anything, he's instinctively opportunistic. Everything he says is informed by a desire to get into power, and he is shifting with the wind on any policy to this end.

It's not like there has been a change in circumstances between 2002 and now that have lead him to reconsider his "libertarian instincts"; at least with his flip-flop on green taxes has that as some excuse. What amazing sea change has occurred that would make him switch his entire political philosophy in six years? The answer is none. He said he was an instictive libertarian in 2002 because that's what he thought his audience would want to hear then, he said the opposite in his speech to reassure people that the state was safe with him.

There are many people outside us political obsessives who will even notice this discrepancy, and he'll get away with surface over subtance.

Lindsay: I believe in all of those principles and have just applied to join The Freedom Association. I'm a big fan of Simon Richards.

I wasn't criticising the FreedomZone; just the anti-government attitude represented at the meeting I addressed.

As an old member of TFA I say to Tim, welcome on board.

Tim, we'll be honoured to count you as a Freedom Association Member. Thank you for your over-generous comments. The cheque's in the post!

Congratulations to Simon and Vicki on the excellent work undertaken in the Freedom Zone. It's rather odd to read some of the preceding, critical, comments about the event and I wonder if some of the writers actually attended Austin Court at all.

The geezer who posted on the previous page that there were pleas in favour of being able to smoke anywhere or to sever all ties with Europe certainly didn't, or at least he wasn't listening.

There were of course many other excellent fringe events. One which I particularly enjoyed was that held by the Social Market Foundation. Unfortunately, there was a tendency there and indeed within the main conference hall to philosophise a bit too much about "great society" issues.

Although interesting for the likes of us, it is not clear that this approach will resonate with the voters. The case for low taxes and the small state certainly will and it was great to hear these arguments being set out at the Freedom Zone.

Tim, it's good to be on the same side as you after our disagreements over Iraq, the Enviroment etc.To equate 'nudging' with tyranny strikes me as ludicrous in the extreme. I have to say the supposed huge offence taken by some Libertarians at the very mild remarks made by Cameron also strikes me as rather strange. Come on people! You're supposed to used to the rough and tumble of politics argue your point if you want but don't threaten to take your ball home just because the party leader doesn't happen to agree with you.
PS Simon Richards is a great guy!He's far too sensible to want to be associated with some of the more extreme elements his group attracts.

Tim - Salve - as Boris might say! Delighted you have joined the Freedom Association!

Now we must work on David Cameron...

I think it is perfectly possible to reconcile the instincts towards libertarianism with a belief that government has a real role to play. My hope is that Cameron's instinctive liberatarian tendency leads him to question and challenge much of what civil servants want to do while allowing him to put more resources into the bits that the state does whether that is the NHS or the armed forces.
It is the role of the state to do for people that which they cannot reasonably be expected to do for themselves.

The Tories come out of their control freak closets

As a member of TFA who attended many of the events in the Freedom Zone, I found the debates lively and covered a wide range of opinions with everyone given a fair hearing. It was good to see such good attendances. With the main conference being so sterile I can see more and more people turning to the Freedom Zone to hear the alternative ideas that are so essential to keep politics alive.

For reasons some will be aware of, I was unable to sign up to Conference until after the summer, when (even as a Westminster Candidate) I was faced with a 228 quid fee for the single day I could attend!
Flights already booked, I came down for the Monday (Scottish school holiday, thus enabling me to escape my 33 charges for the day!) and had a wonderful day at The Freedom Zone and the Bruges Group meeting.
The Freedom Zone had magnificent speeches and was thoroughly True-Blue Tory - couldn't have been better!
David Davis, Roger Helmer and Dan Hannan were super ambassadors for our Party, and Simon Heffer very interesting and spot-on as usual. Sorry I missed Jeffrey Donaldson due to having to dash to the airport.
Congratulations to Simon Richards, Vicki Stevens and the TFA team for a great day, which offered sanctuary to this ICC-pass-less Tory visitor to Brum!

As long as Mr Cameron is in favour of lower government spending he is moving in the right direction - I would prefer him to go further, but I am happy he is interested in dealing with government spending at all.

The same thing on taxes.

The newspapers came out with stuff about "higher taxes" but I heard no such thing in the speech itself - so unless Mr Cameron has been saying one thing to the conference and another to the newspaper, what the newspapers wrote makes no sense (but then most of what is in the newspapers makes no sense).

On regulations - it must be understood that the do not correct "market failures" they make things worse.

The Community Reinvestment Act (that helped create the Subprime mess in the United States) is an example.

It is a nice idea for poor people to own houses - but it is not a good idea to push people into lending them money they can not repay.

The whole government front Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac concept is also a nonsense. The market is not "improved" by such credit bubble creating entities - it is undermined by them.

I would extend that to the Alan Greenspan Federal Reserve system itself - another entity set up to prevent market failure, that actually makes things worse (and always has).

As for regulations on companies returned to private ownership:

The regulations concerning the railways (for example the compulsory split between owning the tracks and running the trains) doomed the whole project.

I attended the Freedom Zone over the two days and it was nothing short of brilliant. When people spoke (David Davis, John Redwood, Matthew Elliot to name a few) anyone in the audience could get up and put forward their view. This is what freedom is all about.

As for rampant libertarianism, you could class some of the views by some members as ultra libertarian yet some, as Simon Richards points out, were far from that sort of view.

Is it really so ultra libertarian to support low taxes, strong national defences and smaller Government?

Some broader thoughts on the conference, which I didn't attend but caught bits of on the news and some of it on-line and on BBC Parliament (in between work and the school run).

What I saw of David Cameron's speach I liked. It had ideas and was well delivered. Although I don't think he needed to dwell so much on the whole "novice issue", it was a cheap insult by Brown and other parts of DC's speach showed he has the qualitites to rise above such tosh.

I viewed what I saw of Michael Gove's speach similarly, Andrew Lansley's too - to a lesser extent. How ever I didn't hear about how their ideas were going to be funded.

I was disappointed with what I saw of Eric Pickles and Caroline Spelman (both of whom I respect) I thought what they had to say was lost in poor delivery. I think both they, George Osbourne and a number of other seemed to struggle with the auto cue.

Bearing in mind the economic world events I thought we got some good coverage in the media.

Without being complacent, I am not too worried about the cut in our lead in the polls, I think it is a reminder how quickly things can change in politics and warning against complacency.

It is hard not to suspect that David Cameron is an etatiste. His half-witted policy on the now-discredited and out-of-date climate scare is an example of what appears to be an instinctive interventionism not readily distinguishable from that of Labour. One understands that both he and the party are currently receiving massive funding from Zac Goldsmith, who in return requires blind faith in the baseless orthodoxy of climate alarm: but a true Conservative leader does not dance to the tune of his funders: he thinks for himself. When Cameron has the courage and common sense to stop sacking shadow ministers who dare to mention the scientific truth that "global warming", and has the honesty to admit that his previous views on the climate were without scientific foundation, he will begin to look like a Prime Minister in waiting. As it is, he looks more like a teenage environment campaigner.

David Cameron has tried to claim the mantle of libertarianism before. As I recall, it was in Germany in the speech which people heard about three paragraphs but no authoritative text from CCHQ (it was reported on CH). This was the one where the quotes were about his libertarianist credentials and about government getting off the backs of the public. Thats why Im so confused by his comments at Conference because in that speech he tried to claim similarities to Thatcher whilst deriding her philosophy.

The sad thing was he almost had me until his outbursts.

Cameron, said if we fail in Afghanistan then the Taliban come back and the terrorist training camps will come back so our armed forces are defending our freedom and our way of life.

Afghanistan President Karzai said: We were fully in charge of Helmand before the arrival of the British forces and when they came in, the Taliban came. American and the British forces guaranteed to me they knew what they were doing and I made the mistake of listening to them.

David Cameron knows that regardless of the war in Afghanistan there is already a network of British terrorism training camps preparing recruits for mass murder. Security officials believe hundreds of men including a gang that made a failed attempt to bomb London's transit network have passed through camps across the English countryside. Parks in the Lake District, in northern England, and the New Forest, in southern England, and quiet corners of the southern counties of Berkshire, Kent and East Sussex were all used for such training.

Jonathan Evans, head of domestic intelligence agency MI5 has said Britain faces an ever growing number of potential terrorists within our borders currently about 2,000

How can armed forces in Afghanistan protect us from a danger that is already here, how can they defend our freedom and our way of life fighting another costly hopeless Vietnam type war?

Our boys are not in Afghanistan to defend our freedom and our way of life and it’s not the terrorist that have taken away our sacred, habeas corpus protection against illegal imprisonment, it’s our own lawmakers that did that and they spy on our every move and rob us of our rights and document and index us all like cattle or criminals and they lied about Iraq and 9/11 and Afghanistan and it’s not a war against terror, it’s a war on our freedoms and way of life so the real enemy that we need to worry about is the enemy within.

The people of this country never wanted war but our politicians voted for war spending billions of taxpayers money engaged in two unnecessary wars and from that comes the backlash of terrorist attack and Government erosion of our civil liberties all in accordance with their strategy. Study the Iraqi war, 9/11 the inside job, Northwood Conspiracy. Code-named Operation Northwoods and you will hopefully understand that the powers that be consider the lives of our soldiers and civilians to be expendable.

The will of the Government is never the will of the people, all Governments are corrupt knowing this we give them unreserved authority to slaughter other civilians, imprison a teacher that discharge an empty air gun confronting miscreants while protecting armed police that kill civilians, like the innocent boy, shot dead at Stockwell tube station. If we want to know who is to blame for all this and so much more we need only look into the mirror. We gave them unconditional authority and one day we will pay the blood price!

Libertarianism, liberty, the 'freedom' to choose.

Nudging..........meanwhile in the real world. Any form of coercion (nudging) is against freedom of choice and free will.

Any choice that people make will have an outcome that can broadly described as 'good outcomes' and 'bad outcomes' If people destroy their lives through excessive drinking, over eating, over promiscuity etc. then in a free society they are free to do so.

However, we must remember that true liberty does not exist without some form of constrait i.e. consequence.

It is the job of a true conservative government to make those consequences robust, for instance, if you abuse your body, should you really expect the tax payer to foot the bill? or jump the queue of the hoards of less fortunate in our Healthcare system that are terein through misfortune and not self infliction? or if you chosse to commit crime, should you expect a tap on the wrist - of course not.

That is why our society is broken, because of excessive liberty (of the self indulgent and hedonistic variety) and insufficient consequence.

What Britain needs is an Authoritarian, Libertarian, Conservative Government.

I am grateful for the eforts of Simon Richard and the TFA for keeping the conservative movement in the UK on its toes.

Keep nudging at them Simon!

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. (St Paul)

Tim, you suggest "investment in relationship education"; there may be some needed, but more important is providing a better framework in which it can take place, such as putting sex education within the context of relationship education, rather than the other way round; also, using History, English Literature, Drama and Religious Studies to educate children about relationships, rather than making heavy weather of 'sex' in biology lessons.

In your vault you have listed 100 sensible questions to put to Conservative councillors. Maybe getting across the idea that young people can be thinking about 100 questions that are relevant in the forming of relationships would start to change the culture? This is not rocket science requiring massive investment.

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