How UKIP menace can save the Tory party

Philip Stephenson-Oliver writes that the Conservatives can be the best party for the socially liberal, economically realistic young generation, and should let the “swivel-eyed loons” join UKIP if they want to.

"Swivel-eyed loons" are drifting away from the great cruise liner of the Tories to the annoying frigate of UKIP. (Image from Manchester Pride 2010, by Pete Birkinshaw, on flickr.)

“Swivel-eyed loons” are drifting away from the great cruise liner of the Tories to the loud annoying frigate of UKIP. (Image from Manchester Pride 2010, by Pete Birkinshaw, on flickr.)

Anyone remotely in touch with the changing political climate of this country will know that, on the whole, the public is becomingly progressively more liberal in their attitudes towards racial, sexual and cultural equality and I for one welcome this change. For me it resembles an ever maturing society at ease with itself.

However for a political party to gain in this new territory of liberal and tolerant politics it must not only promote policies that chime with these voters, it must more importantly be seen to be a party that generally believes in a modern, compassionate and liberal social policy. As the country becomes progressively more liberal on attitudes such as gay and racial equality you would find that as the Conservative leadership slowly adopted and modernized its views it would be scuppered by sudden outbursts from its councillors or membership.

David Cameron’s modernising agenda was constantly set back by sudden expressions of ignorance and bigotry from members of his own party.  A Tory councillor from some small village in the middle of nowhere would suddenly yelp out about how the party has now accepted homosexuality as perfectly normal and how they are now furious about the debasement of the family values.

Thankfully this section of bigots, or the “swivel-eyed loons” as one party insider called them, are slowly drifting away from the great cruise liner of the Conservative Party to the loud annoying frigate, The HMS Farage. We saw this just a couple of days ago when the chinless horse-faced UKIP councillor of David Silvestre, a (quite thankfully) former Conservative I may add, blamed the current floods on the gay marriage law.

This drift away of the very traditional Tory voters poses the party several problems.

It first splits the Right wing vote which could deprive the Conservatives of a majority. However it does create a huge opportunity or major catastrophe. The opportunity is to transform the Conservative Party into a party of true social liberalism and economic realism. This could ensure the party establishes itself as the dominant force in British politics for many years to come.

The other option and most likely consequence is a mini meltdown within the Conservative Party. We will see how best the party reacts after the European elections. If the party falls to third place and UKIP tops the ballot there are two ways the party will go. The Right will demand a leadership challenge and demand a reversal of government policy in which case the party will look hilariously divided and will no doubt lose the next election. Or it will stick to the course and promote a more progressive and sensible image.

The only way the party can remain a dominant force in British politics is to appeal to new young voters who on a whole are broadly sympathetic to a centre-right economic policy and are extremely sympathetic to liberal social policy. When young people see Tory MPs wittering on about problems caused by equal marriage you find a huge proportion of potential Conservatives utterly put off. Young people see the concept of not allowing gay people to marry as abhorrent as not permitting two people to marry one another based on the colour of their skin. And many MPs do not see this.

UKIP does give the party a grand opportunity to fundamentally change the makeup of our party. Whilst the hard right drift away and become less of a nuisance to the Conservative cause, the leadership can truly start to appeal to young voters as I feel they are already doing at present. Broadly people like David Cameron more than his own party. And he should capitalise on this.

Labour is seen as dull, incompetent and worse than useless. The Lib Dems have become the political equivalent of a dead parrot. Only true, loyal Lib Dem voters and unsure Labour voters will vote for them during the next election. The Conservatives have a real chance to look the only credible party of government. They will lose this if they have a panic attack about UKIP.

UKIP can act as the black hole into which David Cameron can throw all the old and disturbing ideas that still fester within the party. I suggest he uses it.

Philip is LGBT Officer for Kent Union, at the University of Kent.

@ps349

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/how-ukip-menace-can-save-the-tory-party/

Conservatives must find their voice when it comes to their students’ unions

David Lewis says that university Conservatives need to be productive and engaged when it comes to their students’ unions, and calls on them to provide the voice of reason.

Students at UKC protest against an SU leader's attack on employability

In 2012, students at Kent, including Conservatives, protested against an SU leader’s attack on employability. (Photo by Daniel Barnby)

For too long student unions have been seen as the uncontested, unaccountable platform for left-leaning Labour students. But only when conservative and reasonable-minded people actively engage with student politics can we reshape the union agenda and enable new passageways into the Conservative Party for young people.

The bias against common sense and reasonable ideas is indeed, at times, off-putting and intimidating. There is a very real sense that what is accepted as practical and common sense in everyday life is treated with scorn and contempt within the students’ union bubble. Questioning the causes and the policies of this cell has in the past opened one up to ridicule and pejorative labeling. This is why it is more important than ever for conservative-minded students to find their voice and stand up for something reasonable and relevant to students, the majority of whom fall outside this union bubble.

It is easy for such people to give up on engaging in sheer disillusionment. What is less helpful though, yet understandable is those who idly criticize the activity of students’ union without doing anything meaningful to engage. There is a perception that many are simply the ‘anti-squad’, who from behind their keyboard, or among themselves, only speak out at what they are against. I fear decades have been wasted this way. The student conservative message has to be more than this. With little direction coming from the party, and no particular tradition of young conservatives engaging in student politics, those of us who genuinely care must seek to find our own positive message and an engaging alternative to the stale and irrelevant status quo which attracts so little interest from students.

This is exactly what conservative-minded students at Kent University are doing.

A growing group of us at Kent are finding our conservative cause within our students’ union. This is not an organized movement, or one at all involving the national party. We are trying to make the conservative brand accessible and relevant at a level that we understand better ourselves than those in CCHQ, and without the support of CF.

Many students known to be conservative-minded have overcome the bias against their association and have overcome the odds to get elected in key positions. This has been achieved through much hard work and effort. At Kent we have conservative-minded people elected in key positions such as LGBT officer, and three out of four ‘democracy zone’ chairs–Union Council seat-holding roles.

These are exciting times. We are defining our cause as we attempt to make student’s unions more relevant to the wider student body. We are a growing group of young conservative-minded people, adapting to make a success out of a conservative message within the institutions most immediately available to us.

We are determined to find constructive ways of reforming our students’ union and promoting causes we believe are at the heart of the university experience.

Our message does not come straight from NUS or a political party. Rather, we are creating our own tradition, and attempting to change the landscape of the student political scene at university.

This is not to say that Kent Union is a comparatively bad students’ union. The problems Kent Union has are typical of students’ unions across the country: left-wing bias, democracy deficits, poor engagement, and alienating political action (such as an attempt by our VP Education to ban BAE from promoting employment opportunities to our brightest science and computer science undergraduates.)

 

'Support Graduate Employment'--a successful campaign partly co-ordinated by Conservatives at Kent

‘Support Graduate Employment’–a successful campaign partly co-ordinated by Conservatives at Kent. (Picture by Edd Greer)

This is why efforts cannot stop in Kent. There is scope for co-ordinated efforts across the country for conservative-minded students to make a difference at every university students’ union.

Why does this all matter? What is happening at Kent is quite extraordinary. Our conservative political societies are thriving and our success and relevance in student politics is ever-growing. With the Conservative Party fighting two years of critical elections this year and next, we in Kent our broadening the Conservative appeal through engaging with our community and detoxifying the party brand, so sadly felt by young people, through the positive work we are trying to achieve in student politics.

Anybody still in need of convincing as to why Conservatives should get involved in student politics should pay a visit to Kent and see for themselves how our positive work is affecting association membership.

We must not become complacent. We must continue to find our voice and deliver it through the authenticity of our conservative-minded individuals. Conservative students are starting something at Kent that can do so much good in our union institutions and for the national party. What we have achieved so far must continue and inspire others to carry it on. Who knows? Years down the line we may have a proud Conservative tradition in students’ union politics. What we are doing at Kent may just change the landscape of student politics.

David Lewis is a Kent Union councillor and chairman of the union’s Community ‘zone.’

@david_lewis91

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/conservatives-must-find-their-voice-when-it-comes-to-their-students-unions/

Why are fewer women being selected to stand for the Conservatives?

Amy Atkinson looks for the reasons as to why the ratio of Conservative women to men MPs and PPCs isn’t going to improve any time soon.

Female Tory MPs last year assembling to mark the centenary of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison's passing. (Photo from margotjames.com)

Female Tory MPs assembling in 2013 to mark the centenary of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison’s passing. (Photo from margotjames.com)

The lack of women MPs in the Conservative Party has been a reoccurring issue in the past couple of years. The local Conservative Associations are not selecting many women and David Cameron wants to have more women standing for Parliament in 2015. Currently, 63 candidates have been chosen to stand for 2015 either in Conservative-held or winnable seats, with only 19 of those being women.

A lot of people may be up in arms about this, suggesting that more women should be selected because we are now in the modern age where feminism is strong. More women are becoming successful and landing top jobs, so why are fewer women being selected to stand for the Conservatives?

To those who are not involved in the Conservative Party, it might seem that the Conservatives are sexist. I can say that there are some people within this party who are sexist; however, didn’t anyone stop to think that some women are merely not interested in becoming an MP, or that Conservative Associations do not feel that the women who are putting themselves forward are good enough?

Issues of women standing are further highlighted with the fact that several have or are standing down due to personal reasons, some due to family reasons. Family life is one of the main reasons women will not stand for the Conservative Party or any party in Britain. The Labour party can scream from the rooftops saying “we have the most female MPs,” like it is some sort of competition, but only 31% of Labour MPs are female—not the majority of the party.

Being an MP is a difficult job and it is very difficult for women to raise a family whilst trying to solve the issues of their constituents and travel to London every week. Admittedly women do know of the pressures that come along with being an MP before they even think about standing.

Laura Sandys in South Thanet and Lorraine Fullbrook in South Ribble, who were elected in 2010, have already announced that they will stand down in the next election due to personal reasons. Louise Mensch stood down two years ago, again stating personal and family reasons, to which she was completely slaughtered by the media and Conservative Party. In Louise Mensch’s situation, it could be suggested that she probably should not have stood, but you do not know how difficult something is until you try it.

Aside from the difficulties that come along with being an MP, it is widely known that fewer women are interested in politics compared to men. Perhaps, instead of David Cameron complaining about the local associations not selecting women, we should also highlight the fact that women are not as interested and less are standing in the first place. Fewer women vote in elections compared to men and if you ask the average woman if they like politics, a lot will say they are not interested.

A couple of months ago I was in a department at the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, and it just so happened that it was 12pm, so PMQs was on. I was happily watching it, and a woman walked in with her daughter; her comment was: “oh PMQs is on, how depressing!” We should try to change this attitude. At an early age, if Politics was on the curriculum, we might spark an interest in women as well as men and therefore lead to more women standing.

If you look at the Conservative Party as a whole, there are a lot of women who could be potential candidates but for some reason they do not stand. I can only speculate as to why that is. But from my own personal view, I am put off by the fact that it would be difficult to raise a young family and spend half of the time in London rather than being with my family.

I would also like to raise the issue of ‘all women shortlists.’ Is there no more of a way to be patronising and demeaning to a woman than to allow her to be selected on a special list that is only for women? Every woman knows that politics is dominated by men, so why allow it to be easy for her to be selected?

All women shortlists show to women that they have only been selected because of their gender, not because they are a good candidate and have been chosen on merit.

For the Conservative Party to select women there needs to be a change in attitude amongst women about politics to begin with. For those women who are thinking about standing, there should be more support behind them, and they should be chosen on merit.

@AmyAtkinson3

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/commentary/why-are-fewer-women-being-selected-to-stand-for-the-conservatives/

The Left, the students’ unions, and the NUS: We were warned, but it’s not too late

The logo for the Democrats & Reformists Network.

The logo for the Democrats & Reformists Network.

Some things are just accepted as a given. The United Kingdom won’t do well in the Eurovision Song Contest. The NUS and students’ unions are mainly controlled by students who are politically left of centre is another. However, just because it is so now, that doesn’t mean it always has to be so.

Following the sad death of Baroness Thatcher, I took some time to discover more about her time as a member and President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. While looking through the archives from the late 1940s, I discovered a letter written to the Editors of the Association’s magazine, News Digest, by one of Thatcher’s contemporaries. This letter was a prediction, a warning, and a solution – and one that stands as true today as it did when it was written over 70 years ago.

It reads:

Sir,

There exist certain student (or should I say undergraduate?) organizations whose aim is to promote cultural and social contacts between universities at home and abroad, and, in this age of collective bargaining, to represent the point of view of the university student to the rest of the community. At present there is a grave danger of these organizations becoming the tools of Left-wing political parties. The tendency of this sort of bias is, firstly, to discredit the student community and eventually the country; secondly, to bring the organizations themselves into disrepute by the backing of irresponsible, though doubtless desirable, political schemes. It would be a tragedy if the public at home and students abroad come to consider some of the statements made by delegates as representative of university opinion.

The remedy is in our own hands. Unfortunately our Political opponents often take a far more vigorous interest in such movements than ourselves, and the present situation is only due to our apathy. We must make use of the democratic machinery provided to redress this bias. Our aim should be, not like the Socialists, to stamp our own political creed on these organizations, but to lift them above politics and to make them achieve the ends for which they were founded.

Yours, etc.

G.H.Elliot.

New College, Oxford.”

It’s all there really – what more can I add? We can continue to simply moan about our students’ unions and the National Union of Students, or we can follow the lead given to us over 70 years ago by Mr G.H. Elliot and get involved, give students a real choice, and make some change.

Yes, its going to be an uphill struggle, but what’s truly worth doing that isn’t? So if you want to learn more of how you can get involved, I encourage you to check out the Democrats and Reformists Network – a relatively new group within the NUS, bringing together centre-right students.

And remember, “the present situation is only due to our apathy”.

Jack Matthews is studying for a DPhil in Geology at the University of Oxford and is founder of the Democrats and Reformists Network. Twitter: @jackjmatthews

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/the-left-the-students-unions-and-the-nus-we-were-warned-but-its-not-too-late/

Challenge your mindset beyond left and right

I have only recently decided to start considering myself a Conservative, primarily due to friends trying to get me to join KUCA. They succeeded in ‘converting’ (as it was put during the Christmas meal) me, but it is not like I was converted from Labour or the Lib Dems. No, I was converted from refusing to align myself with a party to calling myself a Conservative.

Have a good think about it, and don't be afraid to learn

Have a good think about it, and don’t be afraid to learn

But I am still refusing really. I have a horrible feeling about political parties in the same way I have a horrible feeling about religion. There are so many different ways of thinking that there will never be agreement. That is a good thing – it is the main point of this article in fact – as if there is agreement throughout then something is either perfect (nothing is) or people are not thinking for themselves.

You will notice I said I have a horrible feeling but then said I am glad there is no agreement. Too many people believe that because they are active within a party (or a religion, or a scientific theory) that they must align themselves with the thinking of the party. I see it again and again, in politics and in most other groups that I am part of. Too many people follow their peers instead of challenging them.

One member of my family hates it when I correct her, often saying “You think you know it all, you do!” or that “You should never correct adults” but it is quite the contrary really. I do correct people when they make mistakes that I know the fact of, and I love it when people correct me (because it means I am learning instead of getting things wrong every time). I strongly believe that we should be actively trying to improve how we think, our knowledge and our view of the world really.

Before I called myself a Conservative I always said that I was ‘right wing but without a party’, but even then I would often swing left wing for some areas (such as policy on the Internet, which I could talk forever about). Too many of us think about politics as left to right. But, even when splitting it into areas such as Immigration or Economy, I really don’t think it enables us to challenge our mindsets enough. So what if you are quite left wing about one policy but far right for another? Real life doesn’t have a scale like that.

Every event, every moment, every single thought that pops into your head affects practically every other opinion you have. So instead of being scared about challenging the status quo, or – worse – the opinions of your friends and peers, instead please just use your brain to really think about each opinion rather than following the crowd. Oh, and don’t forget that it is better to learn from others than to be arrogant and ignore them.

@ShaneHudson

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/challenge-your-mindset-beyond-left-and-right/

Working in a constituency engine room

Have you ever wondered what it is like to work in the political engine room that is an MP’s office? Amy Atkinson has been working over the summer for Jessica Lee, MP for Erewash, and writes about the experience

I found it quite easy to gain work experience in an MP’s office. A couple of months before I finished university for the summer, I emailed the office manager asking if I would be able to do a couple of weeks work experience just to gain more of a political knowledge away from youth politics, and to experience what real politics is about. I visited the office a month before I started the work experience just so I could gain a feel for what the office would be like and the people I will be working with. They were all very welcoming and I knew I would be happy to work in the office for a couple of weeks.

I started the work experience in July 2013 and I am still working here–I enjoy it so much. Working here has definitely showed me the meaning of politics: working together to help others.

Jessica Lee, MP for Erewash

Jessica Lee, MP for Erewash

Working for Jessica Lee MP is more rewarding than I anticipated. I knew I would be working with her to help constituents with any problems they might be having but I never imagined that this side of politics would be the most rewarding. Knowing that you are helping someone with their problems and when you find out that their problems have been solved, it is wonderful to hear and gives you so much motivation to help others.

This side of politics is rarely mentioned in the media as they tend to mainly report on the negatives and scandals which occurs in Westminster. They do not shine a light on the most important side of politics: the side where MPs help their constituents. Jessica Lee has an open office where constituents can just pop in; that way she can deal with the constituents as soon as they visit the office and it makes her more available to her constituents.

Not only do we help constituents with individual cases but we also organise events that will help them in other ways too. Jessica Lee is currently organising a jobs fair for her constituents where businesses will provide information about jobs that they are currently advertising for. Last year, she hosted her first jobs fair, more than 1000 people attended and most of them now have jobs or apprenticeships. This year she is hoping that the jobs fair will be even more of a success.

I have really enjoyed my time working in the office over the summer. I have learned what real politics is about and I have been able to help constituents with their issues. I hope to help Jessica Lee on her campaign for another term as MP in 2015.

@AmyAtkinson3

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/working-in-a-constituency-engine-room/

Running a successful CF university branch

Matt Boughton, 2012-13 President of the University of Sussex Conservative Society, writes about the importance of Conservative branches at universities and how to make a success of them.

University of Sussex Freshers Fair 2012 – Conservatives standing out from the crowd

University of Sussex Freshers Fair 2012 – Conservatives standing out from the crowd

While the majority of Conservative students up and down the country enjoy the summer holidays, university branch chairmen will be in the process of planning their events for the upcoming term. University branches are one of the most successful areas of Conservative Future (CF) and are a great instrument for recruiting members, and the success of CF locally is often helped by having a thriving university branch.

The ability to sign up numerous members in a short space of time is one of the reasons why University branches are of such importance–and there is no better way to recruit members than making the most of Freshers Fair. When so many people come together in such a small space the potential to attract supporters is huge. If we are able to make ourselves known to the average student it can only further our likelihood of success–and so standing out from the crowd is important. We are an easy target for those on the Left, but by getting a good crowd of existing members we can show students that our voice shall still be heard in higher education.

Balloons, bright colours and free goody bags tend to go down well with students and when no money is exchanged, us undergraduates like it. Not every society, let alone our rival political groups, will provide freebies and so making the most of the resources from CCHQ is paramount.

When I was President of the University of Sussex Conservative Society, we used our Freshers Fair to capitalise on this distinctiveness by all wearing blue T-Shirts (preferably CF ones!), blowing up the balloons and handy out as goody bags to as many people as possible. This enabled us to sign up 135 members as it gave people an incentive to join. Inside were the usual leaflets and also flyers we produced about whom we were and our upcoming events. We realised that it’s okay having a presence for Freshers Fair, but to get people actively involved with the party we needed to create an incentive to attend future events

To get people involved, big and exciting events need to be planned. It’s easy when joining a sports club to say ‘Come to training at 6.30 next Thursday’ but this is harder with a less structured weekly schedule. At Sussex, we arranged an afternoon tea at a local country home just 3 days after Freshers Fair which was well attended and praised by new members. Not only does this increase morale of existing members but it provided to be a fine opportunity to get to know fellow Conservatives starting university.

But the bread and butter of any branch affiliated with the Conservative Party is to campaign, especially in marginal seats. In Brighton we have two 40/40 seats where the student vote could be important. The associations have been excellent and have built up a great relationship with local Conservative students. As well as having both local MPs coming to meet us, we have been out to do some campaigning for them while also heading up to CCHQ to help out with phone canvassing. These events will increase in the run up to the General Election, but, even in the few sessions we did, it gave our new members the opportunity to feel what it is like on the ‘inside’ of local politics. While not the attractive side of politics, campaigning is the most important work that university branches do and when it is appreciated so much by local associations it can only help build up the resources needed at a local level over the next couple of years.

Students phone canvassing for the Corby by-election at CCHQ

Students phone canvassing for the Corby by-election at CCHQ

Yet where university branches really maximise their potential is through appealing to socially active students. The enjoyment of a good night out with colleagues cannot be ignored. Many people go to university in order to enjoy themselves, and some students put this ahead of their studies and political activity. Finding equilibrium between campaigning and social events is crucial in order to appeal to students with different priorities. From a day at the races to a night out in town, added in with a spot of campaigning in a marginal seat, university branches are able to appeal to a great deal of students and this potential must be maximised in order to grow.

Every association seeks to strike a balance between members and campaigning. It is no different at university. With so many people in one place at the same time universities provide a unique opportunity to recruit new members and arrange different, well attended events. The potential for university branches is endless; the planning is extensive, but get it right now and our university branches could well make or break our fortunes at the next election.

@MattBoughton93

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/running-a-successful-cf-university-branch/

Join the Home of One Nation Conservatism

TRGThere are many strands of thought which flow through the Conservative Party’s rich history and have contributed to it throughout the centuries, but none have done as much to define it as One Nation Conservatism – and it has found its home in the Tory Reform Group for over thirty years.

One Nation Conservatism can trace its roots back to Edmund Burke, who emphasised the organic nature of society and its reliance on social and political institutions, and Benjamin Disraeli, who imbibed this vision with a social conscience. Since then it has influenced many of the party’s greatest statesmen, such as Lord Randolph Churchill, Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill, R.A. Butler, and Harold Macmillan. As a political compass, rather than a rigid set of rules, One Nation Conservatism helped pave the way for Britain’s transition towards embracing the welfare state and universal suffrage without compromising the fundamental social and political institutions our society depends upon.

When the TRG was founded as the modern home of One Nation Conservatism, Peter Walker put it very well when he said ‘My objective as a Tory was to get the correct balance between efficiency and compassion. The trouble with compassion devoid of efficiency was that it never provided the means to exercise compassion. The trouble with efficiency devoid of compassion was that it created a society so divisive that efficiency itself was destroyed’.

During Margaret Thatcher’s premiership the TRG lived up to this mission by supporting the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, with its 1976 publication supporting the sale of council houses to tenants; Geoffrey Howe’s 1981 austerity budget; Michael Heseltine’s Enterprise Zones and Development Corporations; and Ken Clarke’s budgets which helped deliver low debt, low inflation, and high growth. It was crucial that the failed socialist experiment be scrapped without undermining the state’s ability to help the most vulnerable in society.

Their example has continued to inspire senior Conservative figures, including both David Cameron and Boris Johnson! Today in government One Nation Conservatives are helping deliver the Coalition’s much needed public services reforms at a time when the finances are once more in dire straits because of Labour misrule. As a party we are now having a vibrant and dynamic debate about how to change the state so that it is more economically efficient and more socially compassionate. In this exciting political climate it is the Student Tory Reform Group’s aim to inspire the next generation of Conservatives to explore the One Nation tradition and to take it into the future so the vision of Burke and Disraeli can live on.

If you want to learn more about STRG or get involved then please feel free to join our Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/studenttrg/, follow us on Twitter at @ToryReformGroup, or email me at student@trg.org.uk. You are also more than welcome to come to our events later this year, which includes our Student Reception at this year’s Party Conference in October and our Autumn Reception with Michael Heseltine in November.

David Cowan is Student Chairman of the Tory Reform Group.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/join-the-home-of-one-nation-conservatism/

Apologists and hypocrites: libertarian international policy

AuthenticLiberty

Picture by Alex Tiley.

When I first heard Ron Paul speak in the 2012 American Republican Party primary debates, I quite liked him. Here, I thought, was a man that understood, respected, and upheld the constitution. For a brief period, he was even my favorite for the Republican nomination (although too radical to receive it).  I guess, in a way, you could even say I was bordering on this ‘libertarian temptation’.

However, I am firmly planted back in the moderate ‘Bush family’ ground of the Grand Old Party once again.

There are many elements of libertarianism that I disagree with, but one of the most contentious I hear is their stance to international politics. Broadly speaking, libertarians advocate a policy of isolationism. They call it ‘non-intervention’ but to all intrinsic purposes it is the same. Amongst other things, this policy would mean that the USA would withdraw its troops from abroad, and focus simply on protecting its borders from attack. The US would essentially refrain from any military missions in other countries.  Their logic is that firstly, these interventions and military presence has no benefit for the US, and that the attacks and problems that the US and the West have encountered in recent years, especially in the Middle East, stem entirely from the continued presence of our troops.

Wrong.

I am aware that I am going to make myself relatively unpopular here, but not only are these assumptions wrong, but also the entire policy is riddled with hypocrisy.

Firstly, let me make one thing abundantly clear: The Middle Eastern Regimes are not our friends. They never will be our friends, and, unless we do something about them, they will try to destroy us.

Disregard what the ‘liberal apologists’ tell you, the regimes of the Middle East, and the radical Islamist terrorist cells that they fund, do not hate us because we are in their countries. They hate us due to deep running, fundamentally unresolvable issues between their autocratic theocracies and our Western way of life. To paraphrase the sentiments of Mitt Romney: the very fact that law, which to the radical Islamist, must come from Allah alone, may somehow be changed by the people (in a democracy), not by their theocratic dictators, is tantamount to heresy. America and the western powers, as the flagships of everything that is democratic and western, therefore, are the most immoral and revolting of nations that must be destroyed.

We need to get this idea that their hatred is somehow our fault out of our heads. They will attack us if we are there or not, they wish nothing more than to destroy everything we hold dear, and replace our governments and societies with the same, radical Islam that constricts theirs. And you tell me you want to take our troops away from their positions where they currently can monitor and suppress these terrorists? Why? So that they can operate freely? If they believed in Christmas, they would think it had come early!

It is the same principle for the regimes. Iran hates us too. The government sponsors terrorism against us, enriches uranium, and threatens to attack innocent members of the UN. The apologists of this world would tell you that all we need do is talk peace with them. The truth is, they don’t want to negotiate with us. Obama went to the Middle East to, foolishly, try to negotiate with Iran, asked them to come to the table, to talk, to become a respectable nation instead of a rogue state, and you know what Iran did? It might as well just have spat in his face. Iran continued its nuclear policy, continued to sponsor terrorism. The Libertarians still haven’t heard the message–they somehow think that Iran will just go away if we leave them be.

I heard the message, loud and clear. But Iran won’t go away. Iran will go nuclear. Iran will attack Israel. Iran will attack us.

In short, all I can see this libertarian policy of isolationism, or the liberal posture of apology, giving us is a disaster waiting to happen. At the minute, we happily exist in a world where watchdog America keeps a stern eagle-eye on any country that might cause trouble. If the libertarians and the liberals had their way? The once bright guardian of liberty, freedom, capitalism and democracy will have stepped down off her pedestal, extinguished her torch, and battened down the hatches.

My final issue with this limp-wristed posturing from the apologists and the isolationists? It’s fundamentally hypocritical, especially from the libertarians. Liberals are still okay with some intervention. Isolationists, and this is why they are so much worse, aren’t. Wait, I hear you say, I thought libertarians believe in freedom from state repression, that the state does not grant rights, but that humans intrinsically have them? Interesting then, that the libertarians don’t want to fight for these rights in other countries… they are basically saying it is just fine if the citizens of other states have their rights abused; its fine for Iran to hang homosexuals, rape women in their prisons, and persecute Jews, so long as they have theirs.

Huh, guess libertarians only care about their freedom, not the freedom of others.

If we want to keep our rights, we had better start fighting against those that want to take them away, wherever they are in the world.

@AFTiley

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/apologists-and-hypocrites-libertarian-international-policy/

What makes libertarianism so great?

The Founding Fathers of the USA

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”–The Founding Fathers of the USA

Libertarianism is the ideology that best allows for people to lead happy lives. Libertarians will not claim to know what the best means of ordering society are, nor will libertarians claim that they know how best an individual should lead their life. And because they don’t know, libertarians say nobody else does, and therefore the state should have no power to coerce anyone to lead their life a certain way, nor should the government claim it knows how best to structure society. Individuals know best how to run their own lives and not someone else’s life, and an individual will achieve the best quality of life when they are left unmolested by force or coercion.

I have spent a good two weeks agonizing over what to say about libertarianism. The simple truth of the matter is that there is a lot to be said about libertarianism, monetary policy, the free market, voluntary interactions, and a great many peripheral and tangential issues relating to libertarianism, but nothing can sum up the idea as well as this sentence from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

I would make only one small addendum to that: that “property” be added to the list of rights mentioned. Libertarianism is about freedom but it is also about government. Libertarians are not anarchists because the whole philosophy is centered around how best to govern a society–something which requires government. (If you are wondering then what the anarcho-capitalists are about, in a nutshell: they believe the free market can be its own government and supply our needs for government, but let’s not dig into that old chestnut right now).

Libertarians want to be left alone. Live and let live; they don’t want to bother others and in exchange want nothing more than the same from their fellow humans. Of course, no man is an island; libertarians do not wish to lead the life of a hermit. They recognize that human beings are social creatures and so must interact with each other. When they do interact, they must do so on a voluntary basis, which leaves both parties better off (if it didn’t, one of the parties wouldn’t make the agreement).

Of course, part of freedom includes the freedom to make bad decisions, the freedom to fail, and the freedom to be a bad person. The crooked timber that is humanity cannot be made straight, and there always will be people who take advantage of these freedoms. However, with freedom comes the freedom to ignore, the freedom to avoid, and the freedom to pressure; if you don’t like someone’s behavior, ignore it, complain about it, or try to change it. It may seem inconvenient at times, but that is a small price to pay so that we may live our lives as we see fit, without having to comply with dictums from overlords on high.

However, with freedom comes responsibility. The good thing is that most people, when given charge of their life and knowing that they will have to pay the piper if they fail to make good decisions, will be responsible. The proof is in the pudding: hundreds of millions of people of all sorts of talent and abilities and varying degrees of impairment drive at incredibly high speeds in metal boxes throughout the United States everyday, yet only an average of 88 people are killed on any given day. Between the legal penalties for dangerous driving and the lethally self-enforcing laws of physics, most people take driving seriously and so too it shall be for life itself.

Libertarians want freedom and the state is the antithesis of freedom because the state cannot continue its existence without force (taxes, police, jails, etc.), yet the state is also a necessity. Protection from foreign countries and a court system to punish citizens who violate the rights of their fellows and to enforce contracts is all well and good, and nothing more is needed really (well, some schools would be good too, as long as the students get the choice of which school they attend). Of course, to maintain an army and a court system requires a national government, and that demands that a legislature and executive be established.

Humans are flawed beings. As James Madison points out in Federalist 51: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” It is precisely because humans are flawed beings that we need some government: people will lie, cheat, murder, and steal, and those who do must be punished by government. But therein lays the problem: if humans are flawed, then any government run by humans will be flawed. A government created and operated by humans will inevitably begin to suffer the same flaws that prompted a government to be created in the first place.

Libertarians, in addition to their very idealistic view of people and society – that people will live in mutual respect of one another and that society will always reach a sort of Newtonian equilibrium – have a very pragmatic view of government. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, if you give an inch, they’ll take a mile, etc. Libertarians recognize that government is perpetually on a slippery slope, and we must always have our guard up that the government will begin to abuse its powers.

The metaphor I would make to explain libertarian thought about government powers is horsepower. We the citizens are the parent and the government is our child. Our child needs a car to be productive, so would we rather give our child the keys to the Volkswagen diesel or the Bugatti? If we keep government on a tight leash, the odds that we will be abused by our government are kept to a minimum.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.conservativestudent.co.uk/platform/what-makes-libertarianism-so-great/

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