Organ Transplants and human property rights in “new” Britain, the one you don’t recognise any more…News Release: “New Labour: New Cannibalism”

In Association with the Libertarian International
Release Date: Monday 14th January 2008
Release Time: Immediate

Contact Details:
Dr Sean Gabb on 07956 472 199 or via

For other contact and link details, see the foot of this message
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“Cannibalism: New Labour’s Next Step” Says Libertarian Alliance

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties pressure group, today denounces Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s proposal that organs for donation be taken without consent from the dead.

Libertarian Alliance Director, Sean Gabb, says:

“Whenever British politicians or their clients want to do something particularly gross to the rest of us, they announce it in a special  ‘caring’ tone. Watching Gordon Brown at work today, his voice so slow and husky it was barely audible, was rather like being lovebombed by Fred West.

“When the law allows organs to be harvested from the bodies of the dead without the explicit prior consent of the dead, or the explicit consent of the next of kin, the State becomes effectively a cannibal.

The proposal may save one or two lives. But it also puts lives in danger. Many National Health Service hospitals are chaotic infection traps. Their unwashed wards swarm with doctors who are high on drugs to stay awake, who think an epidural goes into the arm, and who frequently speak barely a word of English.

“Give these people the right to harvest organs, and no one without private insurance will be safe. Doctors will take organs from patients who are not dead. They will ‘accelerate death’ for patients whose organs they want for friends or paying clients.

“We are told that we shall have the right to opt-out of this presumed consent scheme. I do not believe NHS bureaucrats are efficient enough to draw this to the attention of medical staff. But I do believe they will eventually be efficient enough to withhold treatment from those patients whose records on the database now being constructed show a lack of consent.

“And presumed consent really is only the beginning. Let this through, and it is only a matter of time before blood donation becomes compulsory. After cannibalism, after all, vampirism is very little.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes that no organ or bodily part should be taken from any person for any purpose without the explicit prior consent of that person, or, if dead, without the explicit consent of the next of kin.


Note(s) to Editors

Dr Sean Gabb is the Director of the Libertarian Alliance. His latest book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, may be downloaded for free from It may also be bought. His other books are available from Hampden Press at

He can be contacted for further comment on 07956 472 199 or by email at


  1. This post and this very serious issue picked up by Delaware Libertarian. Thanks for keeping everyone aware of what happens if we take our health care system down the same road, guys.

  2. Not sure what “Lovebombed” means, Richard. Perhaps Sean made it up; after all, English is a fecund language. On the other hand I think it might mean what a sexual predator like Fred West thinks (thought) he is/was doing to his victims.

    The British State, in this repellent proposal, will think it is loving its FARM ANIMALS by “granting them the previously unattainable opportunity of an essential (of course!!) organ transplant not previously available, due to TORY CUTS/IRRATIONAL CONCERN FOR PERSONAL LIBERTY IN THE FACE OF SUFFERING” (delete which one you like less…)

    But as it said under “socialism” in that great book “Rip Van Australia”, if someone has a “right” to (say) medical care, then that makes someone else a slave who has to provide/pay for it/donate the organ.

    The “LOVE” bit is what Gordon Bwon is doing on the Wireless Tele Vision, towards “his” voters, and the “BOMB” bit is what will get done healthcare-wise, to those who now will have to explicitly refuce consent.

  3. It’s fine to say: “… no organ or bodily part should be taken from any person for any purpose without the explicit prior consent of that person.” Living or dead…

    But Sean’s principled objection should have closed down at that point.

    For years beyond counting, body parts (particularly bones) have been “harvested” from mortuaries, Funeral Directors and crematoria. Under Tory AND Labour governments. In “private hospitals” AND NHS hospitals.

    And that’s just in this country. “National Libertarianism” does not seem to be a coherent proposition. Either you support _human_ rights or you don’t.

    The overwhelming bulk of “organ-legging” (to use Larry Niven’s felicitous phrase) takes place in the Third World, carried out by “private” operators, often for the benefit of First World patients. This looting of bodies is happening to thousands of corpses, right now. And we might keep in mind that poor people in poor countries are being forced by “economic necessity” (not “necessary” at all, in fact) to sell body parts while they are still trying to stay alive.

    Sean sees no problem with the relatives giving consent to the removal of body parts. I certainly do. If the departed was a lifelong opponent of “organ-legging”, it seems cavalier to say that they can cheerfully allow the corpse to be looted. Are they supposed to own it? To dispose of, contrary to the deceased’s deeply-held personal or religious convictions?

    The differences between the Conservatives, New Labour and the Liberal Democrats are paper-thin. None of them respect the most basic human rights. None of them can be trusted with _anything_.

    The Tories want the new “Arbeit Macht Frei” of ‘Workfare’, an odious import from the US, which has the same underlying mentality and modus operandi of its Nazi predecessor under the SS, a private organization which profited greatly from it. As Sean has told us, it was the Thatcher regime which installed the full coercive apparatus of a police state.

    New Labour were happy to allow the US to arrest British people in Britain without charge or access to the Courts, thence to be “rendered” to Heaven-knows-where, and imprisoned without trial for time without limit.

    The Liberal Democrats (under “Ming” Campbell) wanted a hundred thousand more police on the streets. G*d knows why… I don’t.

    “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” — Judge Gideon Tucker, New York.



  4. I have borrowed nearly the whole of this insert from the Spectator’s blog “Coffee House”, it being full of stuff utteterd by MPs, many Labour also, before Gordon Brown’s sudden apparent admission that the State owns people’s bodies;
    Here starts the Spectator’s post by Matthew D’Ancona; (NB: If The Spectator, to which I am a print subscriber, objects, I will happily delete this full comment which contains their material, at any time they specify.)

    Labour was against presumed consent for organ donation before it was for it
    Matthew d’Ancona 12:17pm
    Mulling over the organ donations row, and the fascinating posts by Coffee Housers, I went back to the last time the Commons debated the issue properly – which was on an amendment to the Human Tissue Bill in June 2004 calling for “presumed consent”. I recommend the debate to anyone interested in the forthcoming controversy over Gordon Brown’s proposals.

    The amendment four years ago was put forward by Dr Evan Harris, the Lib Dem MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, although Tam Dalyell recalled that he had championed similar measures decades before. This was Harris’s summary of the case for change:

    First, it creates a default position that life should be saved rather than a default position that life could be lost. Secondly, as the evidence shows, it saves lives that are currently needlessly being lost; and thirdly, it encourages informed decision making by potential donors during life as opposed to what is inevitably subjective second-guessing by grieving relatives after death. Fourthly, it is more likely, as we have heard, to respect the autonomy and wishes of the deceased, the vast majority of whom would want to donate, while still allowing conscientious objectors to do so while having protection in law for their objections. Finally, it treats relatives more fairly by not imposing life-and-death decision making upon them at a very difficult time.

    The Conservative MP, David Wilshire, provided robust opposition.

    I accept that some people who are faced with the traumatic experience of someone who is dear to them dying will find it almost impossible to cope with such a request. It would genuinely add to their grief. However, others—I have spoken to some over the years—somehow found it helpful in a moment of appalling grief when someone said, in the middle of catastrophe, “Here is something that you could consider doing that would perhaps make the grief more bearable.” Although some people would find the request almost impossible to handle, others would find it helpful to be asked. I am deeply sorry that nobody asked me at the time. However, I think that I know myself well enough to say that if any organs had been removed from my daughter and I could have had the opportunity to object but the matter was taken out of my hands, I would have been outraged for the rest of my life.

    Labour’s Rob Marris got to the heart of the matter:

    I get the feeling that expediency is taking over: we have to change the regime because we cannot get enough organs. I am not entirely convinced that that is the right way to proceed morally, nor that it would work in practice. The most telling remarks that I read on that issue come from James Kennedy, who is director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland. He said: “The tragedy of the recent organ retention scandals [Alder Hey and Bristol] has made it absolutely clear that it is entirely wrong for healthcare professionals to ever presume consent.”

    On the question of “opting out”, the Tory MP Andrew Murrison, made a shrewd point about the demography of “presumed consent”

    I am also against the measure because the people who opt out will be a skewed population. We know that the articulate, the middle class and those from certain sectors of our society are keen on taking affirmative action of one sort or another. It is likely that those who perhaps do not find it easy to articulate a view or, indeed, whose lives are chaotic in a way that would make such issues a lower priority for them might be disadvantaged as a result. We should remember that silence may also indicate a lack of understanding, rather than agreement with a certain policy.
    But the most straightforward and compelling arguments against the amendment were advanced by Gordon Brown’s own colleagues at the time. As Rosie Winterton, the then health minister, said:
    The state does not own our bodies and neither do researchers nor clinicians. We are talking about people making a gift to society, and we must make sure that we enable that gift to be made without presuming that everybody wants to make it.

    And here’s Dr John Reid, then Health Secretary, explaining why the Government had whipped the vote, ensuring its defeat:

    The decision about one’s own body should be for the conscience of individual citizens. It is not for this Parliament, by free vote or otherwise, to impose on individuals a requisition of their bodies after death for the use of the state. That is why there is no free vote. We are giving the freedom of conscience to the people of this country, and we are not prepared to work on the assumption that Parliament should dictate to them that their bodies belong to the state after death.

    So Mr Brown: what has changed?

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