Who do you vote for, if you’re a Brexiteer? A libertarian? A free thinker?
It’s a tough question. The Liberal Democrats are anything but liberal. Labour have never been more big-state than they are today. The Greens and UKIP, supposedly at opposite ends of the political spectrum, equally favour massive state intervention in our lives, from energy to free speech.
Brexit, for most people, is the great freedom issue of our age. That’s why we voted for it, after all; ‘Vote Leave, Take Control’ will be remembered through the ages as one of the great slogans in our history. Yet it has been taken up as the central cause of Theresa May and the Conservative Party; a patrician group grounded in the idea that they, above all, know best.
Since the nation voted to leave the EU, the Conservatives have struck a decidedly illiberal tone. Granted, this has come as the nation has undergone a series of terrorist attacks, and the mood of the nation has begun to turn, slowly, towards one of prioritising security. But is this right? Is it acceptable that we allow ourselves to resign elements of our autonomy, to possibly undermine our liberty permanently, on the back of a temporary phenomenon?
This has long been an ambition of a certain wing of the Tory Party; it was Theresa May, after all, who was responsible for the ‘Snooper’s Charter‘. Labour, meanwhile, when in office, wanted to introduce mandatory ID cards, in the manner of an East Germany or other police state, and under their watch, police DNA banks exploded in size, while Britain’s citizens become the most watched in the world as CCTV appeared on every camera. But these most obvious example are not the only indication of the lack of choice on offer to British voters who value freedom over all else.
As illustrated by Chris Snowdon in the Spectator last week, our lifestyles are increasingly coming under the remit of the state, and no political party is willing to change tack. Plain packaging for cigarettes has been introduced under the Conservatives, while the SNP are quietly dredging up alcohol legislation that could irreparably damage Scotland’s burgeoning whisky and craft beer industries. Labour, meanwhile, have proven themselves the ‘nannyist’ of all, proposing effective bans and brutal regulation on many forms of online gambling, TV bans on junk food adverts, sugar taxes, and a childhood obesity strategy ‘within 100 days of election.’
In the Speccie today, Ross Clark suggested this election was one between generations; the young and the old. I think he is only partially right: it is an election between the young and old of this country who want more control over their lives. For libertarians, they make up the other side of the great divide, but simply don’t have a dog in the fight.