Voices of Liberty: Interview with Kevin MacFarlane, 1991

1991-vol-mcfarlane from Sean Gabb on Vimeo.

In and around 1991, David Botsford (d.2013) recorded a series of interviews for a programme that he called “Voices of Liberty”. Those he interviewed included many in the British libertarian movement, together with several prominent critics of libertarianism.

DavidportraitThe programme was never made. In December 2007, however, David handed the analogue tapes of the interviews to Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance.

Beyond making a few obvious joins, where interviews span more than one tape, Sean decided not to edit the footage. This means occasional comedy and much dullness. But these are now important video sources from the moment when some thought the libertarian movement was on the point of political breakthrough, but it was really on the verge of decline.

At the time of filming, David obtained signed permission from all persons interviewed to use their contributions as he pleased. He assigned these rights to the Libertarian Alliance.

We take this opportunity to regret David’s early death. In the 1980s, he was a prolific and important writer for the Libertarian Alliance. He was also good company. He has been and will be missed.

One comment

  1. Sadly the replacement of Mrs Thatcher by Mr Major in 1990 meant that large scale discussion of libertarian ideas collapsed – not that Mrs T. was a libertarian (the lady was not), but the 1980s were open to the discussion of ideas (although the campaign of lies and smears against the Federation of Conservative Students led to Mrs Thatcher and Norman T. closing it down – thus destroying a power base of their-own-supporters, which was exactly the intention of the people behind the smear campaign against the FCS, it was a trial run for getting rid of Mrs T. herself), the years of John Major were not open to ideas (more government spending, on everything apart from defence – which was cut, more regulations and handing over more power to the E.U.).

    It was similar in the United States – the period of Ronald Reagan was open to the discussion of pro freedom ideas, the period of George Herbert Walker Bush certainly was not. “No new taxes” (not lower taxes) which turned into HIGHER taxes, more government spending (on everything apart from defence – which was cut), and the “Americans With Disabilities Act” (and endless other regulations).

    If this is the “free market” side of the discussion (people like Major and Bush who hated ideas – who openly sneered at them) there is no discussion.

    By 1991 the era of the open discussion of pro liberty (smaller government) ideas was essentially over in the public realm.


    I can think of some American States where there is “space” in the conversation to discuss smaller government.

    But there is no such space in the national United States – or in Britain.

    A few individuals get ignored – sadly only if some of the “big people” are open to the discussion (they do not have to agree – just be open to discussion) does the public take note.

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