NB. The Libertarian Alliance as an educational charity takes no view of party politics. The following reflects the opinions of the author alone.
A Brief Word on the Conservative Leadership Election
By Keir Martland
(30th June 2016)
All of the candidates stink. All of them backed intervention in Syria in Autumn 2013 and December 2015. All of them backed the Libyan Regime Change in 2011. None of them has a strong track-record in defending civil liberties.
When the nominations closed at noon today, I was terribly dispirited. I had long hoped that civil libertarian and right-wing patriot David Davis would stand. When it became apparent that he would not, I had hoped that the rebel anti-interventionist John Baron would secure a nomination. He was unsuccessful. So who on earth does that leave?
First things first, I do not believe that it would be right for a ‘Remain’ camp politician to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister. The people have spoken, for what it may be worth. Therefore, I cannot bring myself to support either Theresa May or Stephen Crabb. However, let me devote just a few words to these two candidates.
I do fear at the moment that Theresa May could emerge as the “neutral” unity candidate given her relative silence during the Referendum campaign. Given her experience, many may turn to her as the caretaker Prime Minister Britain needs in order to guarantee “stability” and – worse still – “security.” To her credit, she has made her assurances on the European Union very firm: Britain will leave if she is Prime Minister. This is, I suppose, very fair. Yet Theresa May has asked us to consider her record. On the basis of the highest ever net migration to Britain, draconian anti-drug laws, and fascistic Surveillance State legislation, I do not see how any libertarian or traditional conservative could support May.
Little can be said of Stephen Crabb. Where did he come from? His meteoric rise can only be compared to that of John Major in 1990. Therefore he must surely be regarded as the Cameron puppet candidate, owing his every advance to Cameron, and with a platform of so-called One Nation Conservatism not entirely dissimilar to Cameron’s own empty, vacuous “Big Society” message. If you want continuity, support Crabb. But I thought that’s what we voted against on the 23rd June? Oh yes, David Cameron would be a very good back-seat driver.
Now I turn to the Leave supporters in the leadership race.
Liam Fox is an unapologetic neoconservative. He is a staunch supporter of the United States and its foreign policy. At the same time, however, he is not a supporter of Open Borders, he is strongly anti-EU, and something of a cultural conservative. If he became Prime Minister in September, he would take us out of the EU pronto. Yet, he is a divisive figure with a pretty damning scandal relating to an “adviser” from 2011 which just won’t go away. No, it can’t be Fox.
Michael Gove is perhaps a slightly softer-neocon than Fox, and yet his Education Reforms were unmistakably Blairite in their essentials. Indeed, Gove is – or maybe “was” – a close personal friend of David Cameron, and is rumoured to want George Osborne to stay on as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Gove’s initial support for Boris Johnson (until his brilliantly ruthless betrayal at the last minute) may indicate that he will simply adopt the BoJo platform. This platform is not particularly inspiring. It is essentially continuity, i.e. we stay in the Single Market, there is no major change in the Government’s macroeconomic policy, and even more immigration is encouraged through an amnesty for all illegals. Therefore, perhaps we can expect something like “associate membership” from Gove along the lines of the EEA. It is too soon to tell just how far Gove will deviate from Johnson’s platform. Some encouraging noises were made during an interview on the BBC earlier today, but I do not see how we can trust Gove any more than Johnson. Both were journalists. Both are opportunists. Both are typical Political Class politicians.
I hear that Austrian School libertarian MP Steve Baker has endorsed Andrea Leadsom for the leadership of the Conservative Party. I am not sure if this is true, but I am inclined to offer my own halfhearted backing anyway. What can be said in her favour? She seems to have some understanding of banking and finance, perhaps obtained during her decades in business or from conversations with Baker himself. She appeals to my conservative side on other issues such as immigration and her non-support for “Gay Marriage.” She also doesn’t appear to have any dirt on her, and cannot be regarded as in any sense a “divisive” figure. Of course she is far from perfect and she does seem to believe in at least some of the Climate Change scam. But above all, her own Euroscepticism does not appear to be tied to a rabid neoconservatism or to come with strings attached. In other words, Leadsom is the Brexit candidate.
Fox and Gove should pull out as soon as possible, for they are both divisive and unlikely to win. The two of them should stand behind Mrs Leadsom unless they want the Brexit vote to be split three ways before the vote goes to the membership. For the avoidance of any doubt, however, this is no more than a halfhearted endorsement; Andrea Leadsom is only the best of a truly awful bunch.