Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Uniting the Libertarian Vote

Mr Blair has named the day and the people get their five-yearly squeak in the echoing corridors of power. Anyone reading this blog knows that civil liberties are the main issue in this election for me. But the people who care about the subject come from every point on the political compass. Left-wingers of the Tony Benn persuasion, right-wingers of the Thatcher persuasion and all kinds of soggy people in between all care about this topic. But how can we all vote to make our voice heard, when we disagree on so much else?

The Conservatives' record is poor on the subject. If the votes on the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 are taken as a "litmus test" of libertarianism, then the Tories fail it. They made a fuss, but they caved in.

The Liberal Democrats talk the libertarian talk and are undoubtedly sound on the issue of ID cards. But in the end they played Labour's game over the Prevention of Terrorism Act. All the mainstream parties were afraid of being branded as "soft on terrorism" in tabloid headlines.

Only the Green Party is completely sound on current threats to civil liberties. Unfortunately they are so unsound on almost everything else that only those prepared to live in loincloths around campfires are likely to vote for them.

Not voting is not an option is it? Our liberties cannot really just end with a shrug of the shoulders.

But it's hard to know what to do. I can only suggest going back to first principles. Forget the Parties. Look at the actual candidates on offer to you in your constituency. Beard them on the doorstep, in the street, at their "hustings" meetings. Write to them and tell them the price of your vote - i.e. the restoration of jury trial, habeas corpus, double jeopardy and respect for minority rights.

Ask them the really awkward question; "Would you vote against the Whips in defence of our ancient liberties."

Then holding your nose firmly if necessary, vote for the person who gives the "right" answer - however repellant you may otherwise find them.

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