Conservatives for Liberty


I have always believed that, if you feel something ought to be done, it’s up to you to get up and get on with it.

Imagine, for example, a world in which, following Keith Joseph’s decision not to stand against Edward Heath in 1975, Margaret Thatcher left it for ‘someone else’ to represent the New Right in the Tory leadership election? There was, of course, no-one else and the Conservative party would have ended up with either with Heath again or Willie Whitelaw.

Both would have ‘bottled it’ in opposing the vested interests of the trade unions, as Heath did in 1971, and with his economic u-turn of 1972-73 it seems highly unlikely anything would have changed from the failed post-war collectivist consensus. Scholars of the period will know that, in 1974, Margaret Thatcher was not seen as having a cat in hell’s chance of winning the leadership. She was a woman, a grocer’s daughter, and her monetarist ideas were seen as radical, dangerous and mad - not very Tory at all.

Were it not for Airey Neave’s dark arts of electioneering, it is unlikely she would have won at all. How different Britain would have been. It is not entirely impossible we would be in much the same parlous state as Spain or Greece today.

Margaret Thatcher’s life proved that individuals can, and do, leave their mark on history - that they can radically alter the course of events with determined, focused and concerted action even in the most unlikely circumstances and with the odds seemingly stacked against them.

The Founding Of Conservatives for Liberty

It is in this spirit that myself and my colleague Joe Markham established Conservatives for Liberty last month. After watching far too many of our friends and comrades leave the Conservative party under a cloud of disillusion, no longer believing it was for people like them, we realised there was no organisation within the party advocating both economic and social liberalism in the same breath.

The movement has its poster boys, of course - Daniel Hannan, Douglas Carswell, Syed Kamall, Alan Duncan, JP Floru - yet no one group focuses these voices and those of ordinary party members into a klaxon reaching out to liberals and libertarians with the call ‘this party is for you!’

As it happens, all the politicians named above have joined the advisory board of Conservatives for Liberty and Daniel Hannan has kindly accepted the role of honorary president. With their guidance, myself and Joe aim to make Conservatives for Liberty a strong, active and - most importantly - loud voice for the libertarian tendency in the party. We want to reach out to a broad church within this movement and, as co-directors, I feel we represent its poles rather well.

I consider myself a classical liberal, for example, while Joe is very much the libertarian. I am a Catholic yet Joe is very passionately atheist. I am something of a Whig monarchist while Joe is a staunch republican. I dress like a peacock whereas Joe wears a bin bag most days. And so on. But what unites us is our belief in low taxes, low public spending, localism, privatisation of public services, drug legalisation, equal marriage, a shift away from punishment to rehabilitation in the criminal justice system, an end to the surveillance culture, the primacy of civil liberties and a ‘no ifs, no buts’ take on free speech.But more than anything we are united in our belief that all these things can be achieved through the Conservative party and in our lifetimes.

Libertarians and classical liberals have no party to call their own in British politics. The Lib Dems are dominated by social democrats, UKIP has abandoned its pretence of libertarianism in pursuit of the socially conservative Labour vote and the Libertarian party - a political amoeba to begin with - is in meltdown.

We won’t lie to you - we’re not interested in debating the minutiae of anarcho-capitalist theory or abolishing the state. We want to get things done by influencing in small steps party policy and the terms of political debate in Britain -  to make an impact in the little things that make big differences in people’s lives.

The best way for us to achieve this is to concentrate our voices through one instrument - one which broadly sympathises with many of our core ideas and which has access to the levers of power. If you believe in those ideas and want to see them realised, join us at Cherish freedom.

If you want to keep up to date with their work, like C4L’s facebook page.

  • Andrew Witcombe-Small

    If there were more people like you in the Conservative party (or much chance of meeting any at grassroots level) I’d join it.

    • Thomas Stringer

      There are more than most people think. It’s just that we are disorganized. Our new CF National Chairman is a minarchist, and C4L now has 2 MPs and 2 MEPs as well as others supporting them. They are only a month old remember.