Interview with Friedrich Dominicus leader of Partei der Vernunft (Party of Reason) – the German Libertarians.

The desire to be free is something deep within the human spirit and not restricted to one group of people or nation.  A member of the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties the ‘Partei der Vernunft’ (PDV) or Party of Reason is the German member of the group.

The party was founded in 2009, and campaigns for a minimal state, free markets, decentralization of political power, and direct democracy. It rejects nationalism, racism and any kind of anti-democratic politics.

Whilst the PDV doesn’t have any representatives in the Regional Parliaments or Bundestag they have won elections to local councils.

We interviewed their party leader Friedrich Dominicus, who we are grateful for being able to do this in English.

Could you in a couple of sentences tell our readers about the party?

Well we are a party, whose program is based on Austrian School Economics especially from Ludwig von Mises. We’re Liberal in the good old European sense, and partly even Libertarian.

Property and law and freedom

What are the main issues in Germany you campaign on, what gets Libertarians excited?

Very simple overall: Less government and especially a sound money system.

“We are against the Euro because we want sound money and competition among diverse currencies as espoused by Hayek

What’s your party’s view of the EU and the Euro?

Critical against European Union, but we are for free trade worldwide.  We are against the Euro because we want sound money and competition among diverse currencies as espoused by Hayek.

Germany has seen a rapid rise in immigration in recent years, what’s your party’s view on this and what’s your policy going forward?

We are for controlled but quite open borders.  The main point with us is that no-one should have to pay mandatory for immigrants.. If they cannot care for themselves, they should have to find some warrantor(s) for that.

“We are very fond of Brexit and do envy the British quite a bit about it.  We’re the only party in Germany which really want to end this kind of European Union”

The UK has now left the EU and is due to finally fully transition out at the end of the year, how does your party view Brexit?

We are very fond of Brexit and do envy the British quite a bit about it.  We’re the only party in Germany which really want to end this kind of European Union.  We do want free trade and the allowance that anyone can offer his manpower in all the countries.  We also are for free choice of the right of domicile.

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Different countries campaign in elections in different ways, what methods does your party focus on, and do you have any interesting stories from the campaign trail?

Well we are a very small party and so we have to go online.  Yes we have some interesting stories, but they are not short ones 😉.

What’s your party’s plan for fighting elections and getting the message of liberty out to the electorate?

As always, we point out where the problems are and what comes from following social democratic ways. But liberty is simply not a volitional goal for too many Germans even though we had Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor.

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Please intervene immediately. We hate totalitarian ideologies.

If you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?

1) End the European Central Bank and any central bank.

2) We have to change our Grundgesetz (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany) to something much more liberal

3) Get out of the European Union, or at least end this kind of EU.

Like us they like to share Thomas Sowell quotes
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

“Simplify the laws for taxes and make it much easier to offer your working abilities on the market.

And we’d cut down government as much as one possibly can”

Lastly how do you think your government is handling the Covid-19 crisis, and what would you like to be done to help the eventual economic recovery?

Not much, because their only plan is printing money and higher the debts.  

What we would do is simple.  Simplify the laws for taxes and make it much easier to offer your working abilities on the market.

And we’d cut down government as much as one possibly can.

The Party of Reason are online at https://parteidervernunft.de/, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Interview with Nimit Shishodia political activist and community campaigner

With over 1.3 billion people and a GDP likely to overtake the UK’s in the next couple of years, India is a country we all need to take notice of.

An estimated 1.4 million British Indians live in the UK, and are classified as the largest visible ethnic group.  With Brexit this is a huge market for Britain to trade with and with so many who are either Indian nationals or of Indian descent here, we have a huge opportunity.

We speak to Nimit Shishodia about Indian politics and to get a flavour of the Indian diaspora in the UK.

Nimit thanks for your time.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be living and working in the UK?

I grew up in the suburbs of Delhi.  After my engineering degree, I learnt Japanese for two years. I was intended to go to Japan, but a Japanese company in London had a requirement of bilingual network engineer and I landed in UK and continued to stay here.

“it was great experience to interact with general public as a Conservative campaigner. I found Conservative party members generous, to the group and decent people”

You have become engaged in UK politics and campaigned for Seena Shah the Conservative candidate for Brentford & Isleworth in GE2019. How did you get involved in that?

We, the Mangalam group met Seena in a pub during her campaign and she asked us for help and we decided to support her.  I was the ward coordinator for Syon and Brentford. We have done canvassing, door to door flyer distribution and road shows, it was great experience to interact with general public as a Conservative campaigner. I found Conservative party members generous, to the group and decent people. 

You’re involved in organising India festivals with Mangalam in Hounslow.  How did that come about and what sort of events do you do?

Mangalam is a non-profit organisation based in West London and we primarily do Holi (Color) and Diwali (Fireworks) in March and November, respectively.

I have joined the organisation in Oct 2018 and it has been a great experience so far, with lot of community members and volunteers Mangalam has exponentially grown in last year and supported politics.

Mangalam YouTube channel holds the videos for our activities: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1fPc9IYQj-Ac8p8xfZFHQg

“instead we followed the Mahatama Gandhi’s way of peace – calling the whole act as Gandhigiri. A lot joined on the day for the clean-up and we clearly sent the message out to the other side”

Last year you were recognised by the High Commission for helping clean-up the building.  How did that come about?

We came to know about the mess created around the High Commission of India (HCI).  The Indian diaspora decided not to retaliate in the same way we felt the Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) protestors did to the High Commission, instead we followed the Mahatama Gandhi’s way of peace – calling the whole act as Gandhigiri (the practice of the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi). A lot joined on the day for the clean-up and we clearly sent the message out to the other side.

You have said before this was the first time you had seen the diaspora of the various regions of India come together as one.  What do you think has changed?

I think it was about the country, when people saw what we felt was a threat from Pakistan and PoK protestors over Indian diaspora and HCI, London. People from all over the country united.

What was it like being in the High Commission and most importantly did the High Commissioner serve Ferrero Rocher?

We were treated well in the HCI and we have made so many contacts. Mangalam team was officially invited to dinner by a HCI Counsellor and our efforts were well respected and regarded by the Indian Government, making us feel proud.  Time to time we are invited to various events at the HCI.

The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is in power in India and seem to be breaking the hold the Congress Party had for many years.  The Prime Minister Narendra Modi is depicted as a controversial figure over here, what are your thoughts on Modi?

Modi as a PM is a great leader for India, he thinks out of box, work hard and committed to growth of country.  He comes up with great ideas, but at times with a poor execution plan.

“2019 is the first time I saw Indian diaspora supporting Conservatives at such scale, due to the Labour party’s anti-India propaganda”

How do you think the Indian diaspora in the UK generally view India’s domestic politics?

I feel the Indian Diaspora often get too involved in Indian politics, where as they should also indulge in UK politics, since we live here.  2019 is the first time I saw Indian diaspora supporting Conservatives at such scale, due to the Labour party’s anti-India propaganda.

Lastly with Britain having a more global focus away from the EU, what do you see as the opportunities for our countries collaboration over the coming decade?

UK as a country needs industries, small and bigger.   With leaving the EU, this may be an opportunity to rebuild the country with a self-sufficient and self-sustainable model.  I would really love to see British products exported all over the world, boosting the country’s economy.

The Mangalam group are online at http://www.mangalamhcrg.org/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MangalamHounslow/.

Newly risen, how brightly you shine

Never let it be said the Croydon Constitutionalists don’t work for their readers.  In early December Mike Swadling undertook the sacrifice of visiting Australia, to be able to share some thoughts on their politics with you, and ok take in a little sun.  Indeed the title of this article is translated from the Latin state motto of New South Wales, ‘Orta recens quam pura nites’.  It’s fair to say this is an incredibly appropriate motto.

I had hoped to meet-up with the, or a Libertarian Party in Australia much as I have previously in the US making the sacrifice of a visit to the Libertarian Party of Orange County, California.  Sadly I was not able to get in touch with the party, partly because there isn’t much of a separate libertarian strain of Australian politics, indeed only one member of the federal parliament describes themselves as a libertarian, although a couple do descript themselves as Classical Liberals.

This might be partly because politics on the right in Australia is already coalition between the Liberal Party, the main centre right party and more city based and the more country based National Party.  This coalition does allow for a more broad base for people on the economic right.  It may also be partly because voting is compulsory, this results in turnout often around 91% (a $20 fine for not voting in federal elections) and a centralisation of parties.

At a federal level the general election held in May 2019 resulted in a big win for the Coalition in both the House of Representatives and Senate.  This came as a surprise to the national and global media, in the same way that Brexit and Trumps wins came as a surprise.  That all too often the media lives in a bubble that doesn’t speak to the people who voted., Leave, for Trump and for the Coalition was all too evident in their reaction to the win.  Indeed I have written and spoke about this before citing how in 2013 the Ozzies BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, journalists were surveyed with 41% saying they would vote Green, 32% Labor and just 14.7% for the Coalition.  At the next Australian general election the Coalition received 45% of the vote, and the Greens just 8.6 percent.  If you’re interested in knowing more about the Federal Elections I would recommend Helen Dale on Triggernometry after you have finished reading and sharing this page with you all friends of course.

New South Wales

My first encounter down under with Australian politics was to discover this delightful poster on a lamp post in Darling Harbour, Sydney.

I wondered if Jeremy Corbyn worried about his impending election defeat had escaped the country early.  Being in an area where property prices start around the A$1.5million mark (~£750K) and increase quickly, how are these people not already the rich?  Maybe the Islington set had joined me?

My next encounter was a protest against the Carmichael coal mine, set-up in Queensland.  The Stop Adani group appeared to be protesting a private party at Luna Park on Sydney Bay.  The protest was peaceful and from the harbour ferry looked fairly good natured, if a little loud.

A country that has had 28 years of economic growth can afford some environmental protests.  However much of that growth is based on the sale of natural resources including coal to the ever hungry Chinese market.  The fact that the protest wasn’t better attended may be in part because Australia has recently recorded its second straight quarter where the economy shrank on a per capita basis.  Uncertainty is also growing because of increasing property prices which are pricing people further away from jobs.  A private coal mine provides well paid jobs, available to people with a range of educational backgrounds and jobs that can’t be exported.  What’s not to like about that.

It’s safe to say most people didn’t pay too much attention to the protest preferring to enjoy for view of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Fair dinkum

By and large the Australians I encountered where not that bothered by politics.  In a country where the weather is hot and life is pretty good, who can blame them.  One of the immediate things I noticed about Australia was the lack of Police.  Not that it felt like they were needed, it was in my limited experience a country at ease.

There are challenges, not least because China looms large.  Chinese millionaires and billionaires are understandably keen to move their wealth out of the communist state.  This has led to a major property investment in Sydney and the city expanding with new blocks of flat around railway stations in the suburbs (much like London) paid for with Chinese money. This change to an area creates some concern in areas that were full of detached Australian houses, but thankfully no real backlash.  Chinese students are another area of concern.  Australia has 208,000 Chinese students, this brings in much income to the universities, but also means something like 10% of all students are from China.  This number is large, really large in a country of 24 million people.  Walking around Sydney and Melbourne you are aware of the Chinese influence.  Australia is a nation of immigrants and blends a variety of peoples into being Australians exceptionally well.  It needs to continue the self-belief to do that.

The expansion around Sydney is causing problems many of us in Croydon understand as the previous suburbs become part of the city.  An example of this and the part us Croydonians might not understand is at Yarra bay.  The bay which is part of Bottony Bay where Captain Cook first made land in Australia, is at risk of becoming part of a port for visiting cruise ships taking people to Sydney.  The locals are unhappy, and at 8 and a half miles from the CBD (Central Business District where the main attractions are) it does seem an odd choice.  However Sydney Bay is busy and often has a few cruise ships in it.  Whilst maybe not this solution, it’s easy it see the need to change things.  The tricky part for Croydonians is imagining the River Wandle over burdened with tourists.

The woke crowd is around in Australia.  In the public buildings there is always someone keen to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land.  In the many zoos and wildlife parks you are constantly told how everything is endangered.  With a population density of 9 people per square mile, I suspect many species in Australia really aren’t.  Checking the numbers for Koala Bears, you see estimates from experts in the range of 329,000 to 43,000 with doomsdayer predictions rather than any sense of actual facts.  The Immigration Museum in Melbourne was painfully politically correct, but the Shrine of Remembrance was both fitting and proudly patriotic.

But Australians are by and large unaffected by it all.  At one stop in a League Club, talk turned to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.  The government pledged to facilitate a private member’s bill to legalise same-sex marriage in the event of a “Yes” outcome.  It’s fair to say most of those around needed to be reminded of the vote.  The outcome was 61.6% in favour of same-sex marriage.  Largely the people I was with didn’t feel strongly about it, and felt free to talk about the pros and cons of the decision without entrenched views in a way you couldn’t imagine happening in London.  Rather than taking a strong stance on the issue they were more interested in ensuring your reporter had another pitcher of VB.  Rather than make my excuses and leave, I felt best to stay to ensure I was a gracious guest and good representative of the mother country.

The League Clubs and Returned and Services League of Australia Clubs (RSL) are interesting places, supporting respectively rugby league clubs and former service men and women.  The clubs are often major venues with a mix of places to eat, drink, be entertained and importantly gamble!  The Pubs as we would think of them are often called Hotels due to historic licencing laws.  These clubs are the main entertainment venue in the sprawling suburbs.

One welcome input from politics was Hawke’s LargerBob Hawke was the Australian PM of much of my childhood.  Many Australians reasonably blame him for the move from a laissez-faire Australia to today’s more overtly taxed and regulated nation.  However the larger was great and policies aside, we can all only wish all political legacies taste so sweet.

Parliaments

Australia is a federal nation.  Each state and territory has significant independence from the national government in Canberra.  So each state has its own parliament.

My first visit was to the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney.  At first glance you will notice how similar to the UK parliament it is.  The parliament is split between the Assembly and Council.  These broadly represent the equivalent of the House of Commons and House of Lords.  If you weren’t clear about that correlation the Green and Red benches and carpets make it clear.  On top of that the fact Hansard take notes in parliament and the Assembly calls out Stranger in the House if they see a non-member cements the deal.

They admit they copied the model from the UK.  The Britishness of the founder members and the honouring of the Queens visit make it clear how closely we are aligned.  The Assembly currently has the Coalition in the majority, members are elected in single member constituencies using a preferential system.  The Council also held by the Coalition is elected by proportional representation in which the whole state is a single electorate.  Could this be a better model for the UK to import from the former colony?

The NWS Parliament council chamber is quite small, frankly as it should be.  It won’t come as a great surprise the Parliament building keeps expanding as its members ‘require’ greater space and acquire greater powers.

Assemblies of New South Wales and Victoria.
You could almost play spot the difference.

The Victoria Parliament in Melbourne, also models itself on the UK parliament.  My reputation preceding me meant I was granted a private tour, or no one else turned up on the day.  I will let you choose the reason.

Victoria and specifically Melbourne split themselves from New South Wales in 1850 and a rivalry (bordering on contempt) still exists today.  Victoria is politically to the left of New South Wales.  The current government is Labor with a large majority in the Assembly and being the largest party in the Council.  As with New South Wales the Assembly members are elected in single member constituencies using a preferential system.  The Council is elected from multi member super constituencies.   The more proportional system leads to some smaller parties like the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Justice focused on “putting victims above criminals”, Animal Justice Party, Transport Matters Party opposed to the deregulation of taxis, and The Reason Party a “civil libertarian alternative” formally known as the Australian Sex Party.

This leftness of Victoria has seen a more ‘progressive’ set of laws from the parliament.  My otherwise excellent tour guide was keen to point out that the Victoria Parliament was the first to pass laws for seat belt use and to allow assisted dying.  As if infringing liberty and making suicides easier were positives.

Still the parliament is representative.  Despite moves to ‘collaborate’ and align laws across all the states in Australia, as we find leaving the EU, more devolved power at a local level, meeting the different needs of different areas is immensely positive.

Sports Mad

The last sacrifice your intrepid reporter undertook was to tour the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) the 100,024 capacity home of Australian Cricket and Australian Rules Football.  The ground is home to 4 Australian rules football teams and the local area includes a Rugby League and Football (soccer to them) stadium and is home to the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.

The record attendance at the MCG was 143,750 for Billy Graham in 1959.  I mention this because I find it an interesting fact, and to note as someone who isn’t particularly religious it’s small wonder so many were brought together to praise god in a country quite so wonderful.

Title image by Squiresy92 with elements adapted from SodacanOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Leavers of Croydon, eh?

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “newspaper of record”, and with a weekly readership of 2,018,923 is Canada’s most widely read newspaper on weekdays and Saturdays.  They also came to see the Leavers of Croydon at our recent drinks.

Thanks to Teresa Eng for interviewing us on the day.

“We’re a sovereign nation – we don’t need to be told what we can and can’t do. I’m not worried about a no-deal Brexit. Let’s get on with it

HILARY AND ROBERT JUDGE

“The Remainers’ favourite excuse is “no deal.” The U.S., China and India, three of the world’s largest economies, trade with no deal. I’m proud that the majority of the British public were smart enough to see that the dots didn’t add up. The whole thing about no deal being a kind of Armageddon is complete fabrication”

TIM DUCE

“The EU is a country, but I’m not a United States of European. I’m British. I want us to be a self-governing entity”

MIKE SWADLING

Full article – https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-the-faces-of-brexit-leave-and-remain-supporters-reflect-on-three/

Libertarian Party Orange County, California

We’ve all heard of the Republican and Democratic Parties in the USA, but the third party of the US is the Libertarian Party. Third place in the last 2 presidential elections it is a party that promotes civil liberties, non-interventionism, laissez-faire capitalism and shrinking the size and scope of government. When I was recently in Orange County California, I visited the local chapter www.lpoc.org at their Executive Committee Meeting.

Part of the greater Los Angeles area, Orange Country contains a number of cities including Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, Fullerton and Newport Beach where at the public library the meeting was held. In the 2018 House elections, Orange County, a famously Republican island in Democratic California, elected 6 Democrats for the House of Representatives, taking 4 seats from the Republicans.

Orange County has 1.7 million registered voters, of whom 13,000 (~1%) are registered Libertarians. The party has about 80 members, and like all minor parties’ struggles with a lack of resources to get its message out. As someone who has sat on many a committee meeting for a smaller party, the meeting felt very familiar and reassuring, if slightly depressing that I travelled 5000 miles and the challenges are much the same.

How did the Libertarians fair in the last elections?

California operates a top two primary system for many (but not all) races, whereby the top two candidates in the primaries run off in the main election. This often means both candidates are from the same party. The system works against smaller parties and meant the Libertarians had very few candidates in the local elections. The party have been successful in raising concerns about the system in the local media https://ocweekly.com/third-parties-shafted-again-in-oc-on-nov-ballot-thanks-to-jungle-primaries/

In Orange County between local, state wide and national elections, the Libertarians did field three candidates. This included a 2nd place finish with 24.8% of the vote in 69th district race for the California Assembly. In neighbouring Riverside county Libertarian Jeff Hewitt won a role on the board of supervisors (think something like a GLA member). In this race he raised $600,000 more than UKIP and the Greens spent combined in the 2017 General Election and was still outspent 3 times by the Republican candidate he beat.

Getting onto ballots varies by election type. Some elections require a filing fee, some only signatures, which requires a lot of campaign effort https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_requirements_for_political_candidates_in_California. Once you are on the ballot, getting basic information out to voters in the formal information packs can cost thousands of dollars.

The focus for the party now is the 2020 election cycle and getting candidates elected. They really are focused on winning elections. Emphasised a few times in the meeting was the need to focus on issues not philosophy, and the need to be a political party not a philosophy club. There was a strong feeling Libertarians had for too long been focused on ideology rather than getting votes. The Chair used the slogan “reasonable solutions for issues we all care about”, which felt a great way to move forward. Have Libertarian principles, but be relevant to people.

Local campaigning differs in a few ways in the US. Anyone who has campaigned in the UK will know the joy of finding, using and trying to not get bitten by, letter boxes. In the US the federal government owns your ‘mailbox’ as such leafleting is less of a feature. You can leave a leaflet on a porch or stuck in a door, but can be fined if deposited in a mailbox. The feds wanting campaigns to pay the US Postal Service for leaflet delivery. The local party runs a table at the student fair, operates on social media and does canvassing although this really requires greater numbers of people than available.

Everywhere there is more money in US politics, even the local group has exceeded the $2000 funding threshold to report to California Political Practices Commission. This is someway north of what most small local parties in the UK would have. They are thinking of investing some of this in a button making machine, something very American. Much like at home where local Labour and Conservative clubs support but aren’t officially linked to the party the group has two Libertarian clubs (groups that meet up) which are a mix of party and social gatherings.

What are the issues in Orange County?

The main traction for the Libertarians is fiscal conservativism, with lots of support for social media posts on less regulation for businesses and lower taxes. They are also starting to focus on the more positive immigration stance of the party to set them apart from the Republicans. In an area where housing is as expensive as London, zoning rules to help reduce property costs is also coming to the fore.

It was great to see a bit of politics from across the pond. Also how a smaller party operates with a lot stacked against them. The fight for individual freedom and liberty really matters, and these guys plugging away for it get my support every time.

Author Mike Swadling