It’s election time in the UK. And in between driving over people’s feet, tripping up on national TV, and locking journalists in a room, the candidates have actually found the time to release some policies.
The quickest of skims over these policies reveals that, as is traditional, libertarians have drawn the short straw. For all the different views being presented this time round (What should happen with Brexit? What’s level of immigration should Britain have? Should the state be large or very large?) there’s still no party with a substantial commitment to liberty.
There are bright spots. The Liberal Democrats want to legalise cannabis and treat drug addicts like human beings (insane, I know). But for the few freedoms that get a nod, there are countless others that get the shaft.
I’ll be writing about the specific parties and how they stack up for libertarians over the next couple of weeks. But in the meantime, here’s a handful of the massive issues for which no party is even pretending to care about:
In June 2016, the European Union announced plans to force IT companies into removing access to “online hate speech.” Considering that the EU has defined hate speech to include “disrespectful public discourse,” and the internet doesn’t really deal in respectful public discourse, that’s a pretty major blow.
So, whatever else you think about Brexit, it should at least be a chance to reaffirm Britain’s commitment to free speech, right? Nah.
There are no signs whatsoever that a post-Brexit Britain would become a haven of free expression. The Lib Dems and the Greens want to sneak Britain back into the censorious EU. The Conservatives are responsible for bringing in Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs), which allows the government to ban anyone who shows a “lack of respect for the rule of law” from using social media.
It may not surprise you to learn this, but nuclear missiles are dangerous. Really, really dangerous.
As such, there’s never a bad time to have a debate about whether or not the state should keep wasting taxpayer money on potentially world-ending, outdated, dick-measuring apparatus.
That’s not the debate we’re having in Britain, though. The debate we’re having is between one side (The Conservatives) whose leader won’t rule out pre-emptively nuking other countries, and another (Labour) whose leader has said he’d never push the button but wants to keep spending billions on nukes anyway.
The first of those is crazily sabre-rattling. The second is mind-bogglingly wasteful. Neither is great for libertarians.
On the subject of throwing money away, the Lib Dems, Labour and the Conservatives have all pledged to meet the NATO target of spending 2% of budget on defence. Only spending 2% of a country’s money on defence might sound like a dream to American conservatives, but Britain is an island surrounded by allies. The rest of the EU clubbing together to invade Britain might be Nigel Farage’s greatest fear/secret dark fantasy, but it’s never going to happen.
To the credit of Jeremy Corbyn (the aforementioned Labour leader), he’s an anti-royalist. Presumably the only reason the Queen hasn’t chopped his head off for treason is because he’s repeatedly said he won’t campaign on getting rid of her.
Apart from that? All the other parties bloody love her. Sorry freedom lovers, democracy supporters, and people who think our nation should stop cosplaying as an enchanted kingdom, we’re going to be stuck with an unelected head of state for a long, long time.
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