Written by Stephen McNamara
In response to Christopher Wilkinson’s article in the previous edition of Free Speech I would simply like offer an alternative libertarian political party structure that fits both within the electoral legislation and the principles of individual libertarians too. As many of us know, philosophy and ideology is one thing, but we live in a world where collective politics have a monopoly on political power in the UK and most other countries. This leaves libertarians with few choices. Do they struggle along as independent candidates at elections, or can they voluntarily organise in such a way to tackle the disadvantage they face?
According to the Electoral Commission in the UK, for a party to be registered, it only needs two people. One must be a Treasurer and the other a Nomination Officer. There is no legal requirement for a party to actually have a Leader, even if they still need to register one and call that person the “Leader” on their form, but in practice, some political parties will operate constitutionally with co-conveners or other types of title. This gives libertarians the opportunity to turn an entire party structure upside down. Instead of a leader and their team, a party could simply elect an administrative team whose jobs would be to serve the party’s membership. Those members would then be able to organise locally, and voluntarily, to stand for election on libertarian issues that mean more to them than the party as a whole. The party’s position would simply be to provide the administrative assistance and a brand name, upon which to advertise with.
Another issue of political power is that held by corporations. Their ability to lobby politicians and use their financial influence often goes unseen by the majority of voters. Even socialist leaning activists will notice how much power these organisations possess but will mislabel it as capitalism instead of what it really is – corporatism. Legally, a political party can purchase, hold, and earn from shares. Libertarians willing to voluntarily organise into a legally registered political party, can also start to accumulate shares in businesses and corporations, allowing libertarian voices to be heard at AGMs and eventually hold some influence on these corporations themselves.
Then there are the elections themselves. Independent candidates are often grouped together with “Others” and their personal views are generally ignored by most. Unless a particular independent libertarian candidate is well known locally and very active in the community, they are very unlikely to win a seat relying on the protest votes alone. A well organised political party whose focus is to support its members will be able to assist the different candidates with funding, campaign strategies, party branding, and many other things usually limited or unavailable to independent candidates.
Libertarian parties of the past have their flaws because of the limited thinking of individuals running them, but by flipping everything upside down, we could see a very productive organisation that actually supports individual libertarians.