The country of Georgia sits in the Caucasus at the intersection of Europe and Asia. With access to the Black Sea, it borders Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Georgia regained independence in 1991 following the collapse if the Soviet Union, and is now a parliamentary democracy, with a 150 member unicameral chamber. Four members come from Girchi and classical liberal / libertarian party, and we spoke with Herman Sabo (also Herman Szabó) from Girchi and a Member of the Parliament of Georgia.
How did you first get involved with libertarian politics and Girchi?
I got involved in Girchi and politics in 2015 when 4 MPs from the opposition split from the “United National Movement” party and in 2016 created their own political platform called “New Political Center – Girchi” (“Girchi” translates in English as “Pinecone”). At first, I was hired as a media relations manager. I was arranging press conferences and communicating with media representatives. Soon after, I got interested in the ideas of my party and started listening to our politicians. YouTube was also a great help in understanding what our political goals are, and why. Also, what kind of morality libertarianism based on.
While still serving as a media manager, I started my own educational project, “Sabo’s translations“. I was selecting short videos on YouTube about politics, morals, economics, and philosophy, translating them into Georgian for public access.
In 2020 our party gained 2.9% in elections, and now we are holding 4 seats in the 150-seat Parliament of Georgia.
For those that don’t know much about Georgia, can you tell us about the big issues facing the county?
Georgia has population of 3.7 million, a post-soviet country with lots of issues. We’re still fighting with the Soviet legacy in almost every social or government institution. Our education system is almost the same as 50 years ago. Our Criminal code is the same (even stricter) as the Soviet criminal code.
The biggest issue is that after the fall of the Soviets, all the “government property” is still on the balance sheets of a free and more-less-capitalist Georgian government. This means 70% of land, 100% of all forests, and 100% of all mineral goods are owned by the government and excluded from free market economics.
Our judiciary system is a mimicry of the Soviet system, as none of Georgia’s rulers have had the will or desire to truly reform it to achieve an independent and transparent court system.
As a result of all of this, we remain a poor, underdeveloped country, 7 times poorer than the average EU country.
What are the party’s main policies, what would you most like to change in your country?
We are focused on spreading classic liberal values. We understand that drastic reforms and changes could be suicidal for a political party if those reforms are not based on well-explained and well-understood ideas. If we’ll succeed in explaining ideas like self-sovereignty, private property, and freedom of expression, we could lead Georgian society on a way of prosperity and rule of law, free and independent courts, and true decentralization of regions.
We are also very concerned by inflation caused by our Central bank (THE only source of inflation is a fiat-money issuer in every country), and we’d love to have a multicurrency regime in Georgia. Citizens should be free to choose which money they trust and want to use – fiat, crypto, gold, etc.
How engaged are Georgians with Libertarian ideas?
Many classic liberal ideas were natural for Georgian society before the Soviet occupation of our country in 1921. The founding father of modern Georgia, Ilia Chavchavadze, was a classic liberal (libertarian, in modern terms). He was translating and spreading books by famous libertarian author Frederic Bastiat.
Georgians were freedom-loving property owners, with guns/swords in every family, minding their businesses, and had a system of elected judges to resolve their everyday problems. The Soviets changed everything and almost erased the image of “Old Georgian” from the minds of our parents and grandparents.
Our youth are more receptive to Libertarian ideas. They love freedom and feel that those ideas are organic to them, with some kind of gut feeling. The older generation is not very fond of our ideas and ways. They see them as a threat to Georgian identity, but we try to explain that “Georgian identity” is whatever we are saying, not the ideas the Soviet KGB planted in our society.
So far, our success rate is only around 3%. [Note from Editor: This is far higher than in most countries]
How does your party go about gaining support?
Since the beginning, we’ve chosen social media platforms and the internet as our main sources of spreading ideas and communicating with the potential electorate. Amongst Georgian political parties we’ve got;
Youth loves our tone of voice – straight-forward, down-to-earth, easy-to-understand, with good visualizations and infographics.
We’ve supported our communication with actions to prove that we believe in the ideas we talk about. Girchi was fighting against Marijuana criminalization, so 84 of us planted Marijuana on 2017 New Year’s Eve. We were facing 12 years in jail for that Public Disobedience Act. Then we won in the Constitutional Court of Georgia, and now cannabis consumption is legal in our country.
We also fight against mandatory army draft, so we used our Defence Code, which says that “Priests are exempted from the army”. We created our own religious organization – “Biblical Freedom,” and ordained around 50,000 young Georgians up till today. You can read more about this on our Wikipedia Page, in Euraianet, and at Radio Free Europe.
Always keen to speak to those promoting liberty and freedom not just in the UK but across the globe, we were delighted to speak with Martin Hartmann, President of the Libertarian Party in Switzerland.
How did you first get involved with libertarian politics and the Libertarian Party?
In 2012, the Hayek Club of Zurich gave some lectures on Austrian economics at the university in the evening. This made more sense to me than what I had learned in my economics studies. In 2014, the Libertarian Party was founded, in which I have been involved ever since.
For those that don’t know much about Swiss politics can you tell us about the big political issues facing the county?
Better safe than sorry – With Corona as well as with the whole climate discussion, people have forgotten self-responsibility. They can no longer decide for their lives. And they don’t want to. They would rather be “on the right side”. So they look for a general guide or leader to tell them what to do. The consequences: A bigger state, more debt, higher taxes, more laws and rules.
What are the party’s main policies, what would you most like to change in your country?
Our constitution emphasizes federalism and subsidiarity. Unfortunately, we are experiencing just the opposite: centralism and one-size-fits-all solutions. Returning to the principles that have made us successful is crucial. Better alternatives to a centralized one-size-fits-all approach would be a federal competition of systems and ideas – or even better – privately competing solutions. Private solutions outperform services provided by the state by far.
How engaged are the people of Switzerland with Libertarian ideas?
Unfortunately, they are not really committed. The majority follow the existing system, which leads to all the failures we currently have. Perhaps they live in fear of trying something themselves and taking responsibility. At least some awakening during Corona has made the Swiss think about alternatives.
How does your party go about gaining support?
We participate in elections – without a real chance, but to reach the public. We meet physically at least once a month. And we maintain a network of freethinkers by means of our libertarian calendar with all liberal events in Switzerland. We also write quarterly election recommendations and participate in legislative deliberations.
Lastly, do you have any thoughts on British politics?
Remain independent! Allow secession. Reject all centralism and socialism. Don’t let the EU take control away from you again. Stop all government spending outside your country – no development aid and no wars abroad.
I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that there’s something to be said for living under an existential threat. I don’t want anyone to be threatened or come to harm, but the reason for being, and the drive a common enemy gives, really does seem to improve a society. Much is made of the blitz spirit, but I’m not sure the benefit was worth the nightly visits from the Luftwaffe. But as I’ve written about before Britain used to know how to react to evil in a way we no longer do.
I recently visited Israel, staying in Jerusalem. Before I left I was told to be careful and asked if it was safe. As any resident of Croydon or London generally would know, safety can be a relative thing. What I found was a city that despite recent events, felt very safe, and a society where people could wander around engrossed in their lightly held mobile phones. Something most Londoners know better than to do.
As a history buff it’s great to be in a land when you can be snobbish about not taking much of an interesting in anything not BC, and certainly not anything less than a thousand years old. Israel uses the BCE (Before Common Era) and CE (Common Era) notations for years. Whilst I find these generally dreadful (what for heaven’s sake denotes the Common Era) I can just about forgive a Jewish state for not wanting to recognise “anno Domini nostri Jesu Christi” (AD). Beyond the history though this was a country that, to put not too fine a point on it, cut the crap.
The old city of Jerusalem demonstrates a knack for avoiding the superfluous when visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall (often known as the Wailing Wall). Both require men and women to pass via different entrances, both have different dress codes for men and women, and the Western Wall had different sections for men and women to ‘wail’ at. There is no choice of pronouns. If the armed IDF (Israel Defense Forces) guards and Police don’t persuade you of the seriousness of the rules the religious guardians will. Israel is consistently ranked highly as a LGBTQ country and markets itself as “The ultimate LGBTQ travel destination” but when it comes down to it some things weren’t up for debate in the City of David.
The old city of Jerusalem is a fascinating place where you can turn one corner and see ‘free Palestine’ T-shirts everywhere, turn another and be surrounded by Menorahs, walk on a bit and follow the path Christ took to his crucifixion. One of the best sites to visit in the old city is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A site from the 4th century which covers the sites Christ was crucified and buried at. The church is shared by the Catholic Church, Armenian, Greek, Ethiopian, Syriac, and Coptic Orthodox churches. Although the primary custodians are the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches, the keys are held by a Muslim family as the various Christian denominations couldn’t agree who between them should be able to open the church. The current holder popped by as we toured and said hello to our guide, a friendly elderly man he checked on the work going on inside the building and wandered off, seemingly passing blessings to all he encountered.
I joked on one tour with some fellow Londoners that we probably often walked past teenagers carrying guns back at home, here of course, they were IDF soldiers. Whilst on national service, soldiers are taken around major historical sites. On approaching them you see what looks like any school trip, teenagers in a uniform, laughing and joking. It’s not until you notice that every so often one of them is carrying a machine gun, and many have side arms. This isn’t a normal school outing. But that’s not all you notice, whilst all Jewish, almost 2000 years of the diaspora since the failed revolt against Rome, and the 2,500 years since the deportation to Babylon and migration to Ethiopia (although this date is contested), has meant Israelis at least look a very mixed ethnic bunch. Aside from ethnicity the IDF volunteers will come from a variety of cultures, and whilst all speaking Hebrew (and most English) will likely have differing third languages. All this leaves aside the many Arabs that volunteer for service. But the thing you notice is the shared sense of purpose, you notice these teenagers enjoying each other’s company, whilst still acting responsibly. You notice they are as one, pulled together in adversity, and through service. Later out in a bar I happened to chat to a couple of staff about how they found national service. One barmaid who had finished her 2-year stint a few years earlier (men serve for 32 months, women for 24 months), said she felt national service was like kindergarten, “a very hard system I wanted to break free from”. But she showed no animosity, no anger, no hysterics, you all too often see from westerners of the same age. It was matter of fact; it was regardless of her relative youth, mature.
Israel has no written constitution, but like the UK has a Supreme Court who in recent years has grabbed more power, becoming a modern Kritarchy. With no constraining document the court has become in effect a new legislative body, holding power without the democratic accountability. Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government is trying to change this, allowing the parliament to overturn the court’s verdicts with a simple majority in the Knesset. I confess to knowing none of this as I visited the museums across the road from the legislature. Seeing a protest gathering I decided to wander up to ask what was going on.
Having been on a couple of protests I can say the first protester made the common mistake of protestors, of eyeing everyone not 100% on board with their views with suspicion. Whilst polite enough he clearly couldn’t accept that my asking him what the protest was for was born from ignorance not disagreement. As an aside a note to protestors, not everyone is as fascinated by your subject of protest as you are. Maybe you should consider using the protest to grow the number of those aware of the issue, not just making it a test of the depth of faith of those attending. Anyway, eventually I found someone who could explain the protest to me, and in what I was finding to be an increasingly typically Israeli way (the first protestor aside) was able to explain both sides of the issue. Whilst giving her own view she was able to show balance.
Speaking to a few more people it became clear, this was broadly a left-wing protest. A protest by those who believed in (often global) rules by an anointed class, more than they believe in democratic mandates. Whilst my sympathy wasn’t by nature with them (I don’t pretend to know enough, to hold firm views on the issue), this was a friendly protest and a protest by patriots. One group made a point of showing they were ex-IDF, another was singing all the way, most all held Israeli flags. You simply couldn’t imagine a similar level of patriotism from a centre right protest in the UK, and certainly not from a centre left protest in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand or much of Europe.
The history of Jerusalem made it a fascinating place to visit, as was my short trip to Bethlehem in the State of Palestine. But the people of the city were fascinating in the way they acted, similar to how I remember we did, in a more straightforward time.
Back in March I spent a week in Florida, a trip to see among other things, the USA Men’s Soccer team play Panama (they won 5-1). Why would I (a Brit) do that, you might ask. Well apart from the sunshine, the lack of lockdown with commitment to freedom in Florida, and the opportunity to find myself drinking cocktails on Daytona beach, a mate had a spare ticket.
As anyone who has ever visited the United States will understand, the impression I came away with was one of unabashedly patriotism. Which leads to two thoughts, why aren’t we left with that impression from Hollywood and our media, and how do we get some of that in the UK or even just England?
‘Soccer’ as our cousins in the US insist on calling our noble game has been growing rapidly in the US in recent years. Their topflight football ‘Major League Soccer’ (MLS) has expanded from 20 teams to 29 teams since 2016. After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia the national side has now qualified for Qatar 2022, with a team of an average age of 24 who should be at their peak for the 2026 World Cup jointly hosted by the USA, Mexico and Canada.
Football is best played in a stadium where supporters are close to the pitch, fans are singing, and they have roofs over much of the stands to keep the noise in. The Exploria stadiumin Orlando ticked the boxes for the physical requirements, and the US fans sure brought the noise. Soccer support in the US runs somewhat as a counterculture, for people who fall outside the mainstream. It has a base both in the universities of the well-travelled middle class, and in recent immigrants who bring their soccer traditions to the US.
Match day means a few drinks to warm up for the game. Fan zones nearer the ground and general enterprising zones of pubs further away. The Stars and Stripes were ubiquitous but then they often are in the US. The crowd on route was a mix of accents, races, regions, all routing for one thing, the USA.
It’s fair to say many people on route did wonder who these people were in sports kits. Soccer for all its progress is still a minority sport in the US. But once people knew that the USA, their team, their nation, was playing at frankly anything, they could not have been happier to see us, even to see the English bloke tagging along.
Back to my two questions. These Americans no matter where they were born were proud to be American, ‘why aren’t we left with that impression from Hollywood and our media’?
The media, political, ‘expert’ class who frankly blight our lives too much don’t get it. To quote C J Cregg from the TV show The West Wing, “Being considered an ‘average American’ is something Americans find to be positive and comforting”. I think this is equally true if most Brits, all too often we’re just not meant to show it.
Maybe it’s that bad news sells, but surely somewhere we should see that Americans love America, they couldn’t be happier to celebrate their nation, which in many cases is their new nation. It’s common among US soccer fans to have their state name and the number it joined the union embraced in the back of their replica shirts. This leads to little more than some gentle ribbing and largely becomes a great conversation starter. You would struggle to imagine that in the UK.
Which makes me wonder ‘how do we get some of that in the UK. or even just England?’ There have been various initiatives to get the Union Jack n government buildings. Although it often feels they are swapped out as quickly as possible. It’s never been the case that local councils, government agencies, schools and other state institutions routinely fly the flag or flags.
The 1st century BC, Hillel the Elder said “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”. The elites might not be, but Main Street USA is certainly for the USA. For societies to function we don’t need high taxes or welfare systems, but humans do need to feel part of a community at multiple levels. For us to respect each other’s rights to say things we disagree with, the ‘man on the Clapham Omnibus’ needs to feel the other person is stuck on the same bus with them.
Here in the UK, we could stand up that bit more for the country, for our nation within the UK and for the country as a whole. For all the problems with our history we should remember all the good our nation has done, we should remember we are part of a 54-nation commonwealth. We are a democracy and broadly, although under constant attack, we have free speech. We should also remember we have no hope of living in a harmonious society, if we refuse to believe in the nation, we live in.
It was great to see unabashed patriotism in the US. A belief in their state, their team, their country. I don’t for one moment think waving a flag, or all the flags of the UK will bring everyone together and solve all of society’s ills, but in a world where more people are from more places, we need to find ways to build communities. Unashamedly getting behind our flag, and our nation, isn’t a bad place to start.
Lorena Serantes is a political scientist from Spain, whose blog covers a range of interviews with people engaged in politics in the UK. She has interviewed Mike Swadling of this parish, and candidates for political parties across the spectrum of UK politics. We spoke with Lorena about what’s driven this project, what she’s discovered and her views on politics in the UK and Spain.
Lorena thanks for your time.
Can you firstly introduce yourself to our readers and ask what made you undertake interviewing pollical candidates from across the UK?
I am a young political scientist who was born in the wrong place. I grew up with the wish of becoming a lawyer or a judge, but two years before starting my degree studies I decided Law was not for me. My second option was to study something that had to do with politics because I got involved in a local electoral campaign. A political party reached out to me in order to ask me if I would like to be part of the candidacy list locally and I agreed. I was 18 years old and was learning about the Spanish political system and how parties worked, so it was exciting for me to take part in that campaign as my ideological background was beginning to “flourish”. That party has changed a lot, I think even more than myself, but I have to admit if they were to call me now I wouldn’t say yes. During my university years we had many subjects where they made us read American and British politics’ related papers, I knew more about the USA, however, reading about the UK became far more interesting as the years passed. When I had to write my final dissertation it was clear to me that I needed to analyse something that had to do with the UK and the party system. Parties and political theory are my favourite areas of study within the main Political Science discipline. Therefore, I analysed the UKIP’s political discourse and the theoretical debates around considering it a far right party or not, using the software MAXQDA, which I had never used before.
The idea of interviewing UK politicians didn’t come from my own will at first, it was an idea my Master’s final project tutor came up with when I was finishing the writing part. He told me: “Why don’t you try to talk with an MP from the SNP?” (I was analysing Scottish nationalism after Brexit) and my answer was: “I’m gonna try”. I had low expectations because here in Spain politicians don’t respond emails, and I thought it would be the same for UK MPs. It turned out I sent like six emails in one week and I received five responses. It was exciting because I spoke with Alyn Smith, the MP for Stirling, and then with a few more MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, the SNP and Sinn Féin. I received many replies from MPs who were very busy and politely told me they couldn’t participate but the experience was fantastic. You don’t get that from Spanish politicians, I know it first hand. After that, British politics has been my main interest and I try to follow everything that happens there: I followed the Tiverton & Honiton and Wakefield by-elections, partygate and beergate, the factionalism within the Conservatives and Labour, etc. I have my opinions, my views like everyone else but when it comes to analysing the political events that happen in your country I keep those thoughts away. I have interviewed communist candidates and very right-wing politicians, conservatives, liberals, socialists, nationalists… I like to get myself into those ideals and think like a conservative or a socialist, or whatever, depending on the people I’m talking with, because something that I always keep in mind is respect. I’m not a Brexiteer but if I’m interviewing someone who is and whose main campaign is to break all ties with the EU, then I respect that and ask him as if I were a Brexit supporter. That’s the job of political scientists. I’m not a journalist so I’m not trying to get people angry. If I could help with a campaign I would do it regardless of the party.
I keep on dreaming about moving to the UK at some point, because that’s what I want to do in the future if I can afford it, but I was brought up in a working class family and I’m disabled, so we struggle to get by. I think better times will come. I hope your country is waiting for me because I’ll go there as soon as I can. While I’m still here I’ll be supporting Wales, Scotland and England in the World Cup 😉
What’s been the hardest part of interviewing candidates and what’s surprised you about the process?
There are candidates who like to speak about their campaigns and what they want to do, those are the local champions who get into politics with excitement and you can tell that by simply looking at them while they’re telling you this or that, and then you find people who don’t have a political program, they are just there to repeat what the leader of their party says. I already know what Starmer is saying, I don’t need a local candidate reading me the UK-wide Labour Party manifesto. This is just an example, you find that in Labour, the Conservatives, the Greens… Those interviews are boring and it’s hard to listen to the whole “song” again and again, but candidates who have a vision of their own and talk about local issues or policies they would support in their area, those are the ones I enjoy listening to. If I don’t know a place they’re talking about I search it, that way I end up learning more about the geography of the UK. I know where most of the counties are situated, but I’m a mess with cities’ locations.
What interviews have you enjoyed the most and what interview stands out the most?
I enjoyed them all, don’t think I can choose because they’re all special, I guess my favourite interviews are the ones with candidates that got elected. I know this will sound ridiculous but when the results were being declared and names of people I had talked to were coming out as “ELECTED” I felt a bit proud, like I had been part of the campaign. I celebrated some of the results and congratulated many of the candidates. Local politics in Spain is something very boring, you don’t even know who’s running in your municipality and the campaigns are horrible. The candidates almost always call the national party leaders to visit their area, but nothing else happens. I have lost all interest in Spanish politics, but the UK is a bit different, at least it still has some emotion and the feeling I got during the interviews was that local communities are really important for the British people. I loved the campaign and I’m sure I would have done many more interviews if I had been there.
What party’s or parts of UK politics have you found most interesting or surprising?
The Conservatives are an interesting party, they have liberal-conservatives, social-conservatives, nationalists, remainers, brexiteers… It’s a party that knows how to deliver good messages, and I think it has great politicians who are a bit overshadowed by Boris Johnson and his doings. I like Theresa May, Tobias Ellwood, Sir Ken Clarke was also a good one, and from the young ones I would say Kemi Badenoch is also really good. Dominic Raab is my favourite Conservative politician, and I know by saying this I put myself at risk of being laughed at. His discourse is not always the best but he speaks clearly and his calm voice gives me a sense of seriousness that I can’t find in other ministers like Gove or Rees-Mogg. The local Conservative candidates tried to go absolutely local in this campaign, and it was a very good move as partygate and the pre-rebellion situation in the party weren’t helping. They knew it was going to be a hard night for them in many places, but Labour’s strategy to “send a message to Boris” didn’t work quite well. Labour was an interesting party before Starmer, and no one within the party can stand him: some say he’s too stiff, some want the party to move to the left (as it should be)… They are in a complicated moment, because they know the Tories are doing very bad but instead of people shifting from blue to red, it’s Conservative voters who are not showing up to vote. Wakefield has shown us that Labour is winning thanks to abstention, is that enough to secure a government in the next general election? That’s the question.
I also loved how the LibDems and the Greens grew in Scotland, which is a different scenario because of the Yes-No dynamic within parties. I remember one candidate I talked to who was running for a pro-independence party while saying further steps into devolution would suit Scotland better than independence. The Scottish Greens are becoming the alternative to the SNP and step by step they will need to clarify whether they want to stay in a comfortable position going hand in hand with the nationalists or begin to draw their own path. I like their local candidates, they’re close to the people and green policies are going to be the future. I don’t like the social liberal current the Greens have in England and Wales, we’ll see how they handle it.
I was surprised to see true socialist candidates within Labour, I think it is no longer the party of the working class and that puts these people between a rock and a hard place, you know, they have to ask voters to elect a Labour councillor and at the same time they need to promise things that go against their leadership’s desires. I met a few Corbynite candidates and others who were more centrist but didn’t like Starmer. His weakness is his own party, he doesn’t have the support of many local branches across Britain. The Conservatives are more intelligent and successful at hiding their internal disagreements.
How do UK and Spanish politics compare, what are the big differences you see?
Everything is different. You have the FPTP system (the STV in Scotland), we have the D’Hondt system. You have single candidates for a ward, we have lists. You can run as an independent, we can’t. Parties in Spain, be it from the right or the left, are still contaminated by some elements from Franco’s dictatorship doctrines. He created this concept of National-Catholicism which was a mixture between ultranationalism and Christian fundamentalism, and you can see that within the main parties. To give you an example, when a regionalist or minor party wants to pass a bill to condemn Francoism and recognise its victims’ right to truth and justice, the two major parties vote against it. During 2014-2016 Spain went through a fragmentation of the political spectrum, which isn’t likely to happen in the UK. Right-wing and left-wing parties were founded, as alternatives to the two-party system. It turns out, Podemos and VOX are the same. VOX is openly Francoist, Podemos is no longer a “revolutionary” party, but a platform for new social democratic elites to jump on board. The debates have lost its sense after the Catalan nationalist parties have shut up to let the Spanish government carry on as if nothing had happened. No one is talking about Catalonia anymore. What I like about British politics is that parties are not cults where you have to agree with the leadership, or you get expelled. That happens here. The first time I watched a parliamentary session it was very weird to look at Conservative MPs yelling at other Conservative MPs. It surprised me to see members of the cabinet apologising for doing something wrong. Even if it’s just a way to pretend they care, I’ve never seen that happening here. The thing that annoys me the most about Spanish politics is the fact you must belong to a political party to stand for election, even in your municipality! Independent politicians don’t have a say.
Spain is a centralised country. The system of Autonomies is a mess, it was done to prevent the Basques and Catalans from seeking independence and to create that image of a united Spain, which doesn’t exist. Galician people have to comply with the wishes of second-homes’ owners from Madrid, an elite that comes here to spend holidays and that still think they can do whatever they want. It happens in Wales and Cornwall, so that’s a thing we share. England has their own national team. Wales has another one and so on. Spain silences every part of the country that doesn’t want centralisation. If you ask for a little bit of autonomy, you’re a radical far left terrorist. Conservative MPs would be called that in Spain by some parties, others would call them fascists. I often say devolution works better despite having less powers transferred that those of the Autonomies in Spain: you are happy being British and even Scottish and Welsh nationalists don’t want to leave the Union because of identitarianism, but because of a different conception of democracy; we are not patriotic because being so means complying with a Post-Francoist idea of Spain that only benefits the same families. Spain lives in the past, and I’m not talking about conservatism. Politics in the UK also has many issues that constantly change from time to time. Brexit wasn’t even a word in the 1990s, Scottish nationalism is quite young, things change. The reason I’m tired of Spanish politics is because there’s no debate anymore. Some years ago there was a parliamentary discussion about how an MP had called another one a “terrorist”, the level has come to those types of debates. The left-wing in Spain is useless, in fact my theory is that it doesn’t exist a single left-wing party. There are really good individuals within the main parties, like Margallo (PP) or Pérez Tapias (PSOE) but they stay in the background. There are a few parties that deserve international attention: like Canarian Coalition, the CUP or the coalition between the PP and the Navarrese People’s Union, which is called Navarra Suma.
You don’t have those in the UK. As for types of parties we’ve never seen here, I would say something like the English Democrats, the Scottish Greens or the exctinct Independent Labour Party. Those are “national phenomenons”.
Do you have any predictions for the next few years in UK politics?
Well, I’m not an expert but I think really interesting events are coming: a general election in which many MPs will lose their seats, a Scottish independence referendum in 2023 (at least that’s Sturgeon’s plan), and the fights within the main parties. Johnson is completely lost, he should resign if he wants his party not to suffer a “bloodiness” of Tory seats. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact. Starmer will face many problems due to what I said before, locally he doesn’t have a strong support. He’s the worst Labour politician I’ve seen. We’ll see what happens.
What’s next for your interviews and blog?
I’ll probably wait until the general election to publish more interviews. My intention is to do the same I did during the local election campaign. I’ll try to get as many as I can. Labour will be able to gain many seats they lost in 2019, so I’m going to try to concentrate my interviews in the two major parties. I would like to be a moderator in an online hustings, that way I could compare all the perspectives. That would be nice, but if it can’t be done, I’ll keep on publishing interviews the same way.
Mike Swadling was interviewed recently by Lorena Serantes Prieto, about the Croydon Constitutionalists, Brexit and the state of the Conservative Party.
Lorena’s blog covers a range of interviews with people engaged in politics in the UK, she can also be found on Twitter at @LoreSerantes.
“Broadly we are in favour of Brexit, Low Taxes, Free Speech, Free Markets, and Rational science not climate alarmism. We try to find national organisations or groups we can partner with on a local level to campaign for these things.”
“I don’t believe it’s possible to negotiate a reasonable deal with a party that doesn’t believe you are an equal. I believe the EU regards the UK as somewhat of a renegade province and it these circumstances it is not possible to negotiate as equals.”
“What is the purpose of a Conservative Government if we have high tax, high spend, high cost of living and low home ownership? The Conservatives risk losing their core support”
For most people in the UK if they are aware of Ben Shapiro, it’s due to his 2019 interview with Andrew Neil. Whilst not one of Shapiro’s finer days, it was an early indication of the extent to which Neil whilst the best on the BBC, is very much an establishment figure who won’t leave the left’s Overton window.
There are endless Ben Shapiro destroys videos, and The Ben Shapiro Show is considered the 5th biggest podcast in the World with 2.6 million daily listeners. The show is published by The Daily Wire an organisation Ben created with Jeremy Boreing and which is fast becoming one of the most interesting news and entertainment organisations in the US. Originally focused on news with a conservative slant, it has attracted new broadcasters including Candace Owens last year.
Having filled the space left by so main mainstream media broadcasters who ignore those with conservative (in the American sense), libertarian, or classical liberal views more recently they have started to expand into wider entertainment to fight back against the woke. Actress Gina Carano joined after she was cancelled by Disney, and they acquired all of PragerU’s content. But it doesn’t end there, with Disney taking a political stance against Florida’s Parental Rights In Education Bill, The Daily Wire is expanding (with a $100 million investment over 3 years) into children’s entertainment.
Is there a market for all this? Well, my personal travels around Florida suggest there is. Watching the entertainment channel TBS, you are suddenly subjected to adverts for other shows telling you how conservatives are subverting free speech (and I thought it was Trump who was banned from Facebook and Twitter). As already mentioned, Disney with a significant base in Florida have decided to weigh in against the state’s popular governor. The Oscars, Wil Smith and Chris Rock aside, was a wokeathon which comparative to 10 years ago nobody watches, and Harry’s Razors possibly the most masculine of products pulled their adverts from the Daily Wire following one complaint on Twitter.
Florida does lean Republican, but I mostly spent my time in major cities and you were never far from a pro-Trump t-shirt, flag or hat. Joe Biden ‘I did that’ stickers pointing at the price you are paying on petrol pumps, are I’m told ubiquitous, and Chick-fil-A’s, the famously Christian chicken restaurants have long queues of cars at them. My personal favourite, the ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ slogan is something I managed to see most days on holiday. It’s a slogan that does more than almost any other to highlight the two political Americas. For those that don’t know the story a sports reporter hearing the crowd chant ‘F*** Joe Biden’ decided to tell the audience she heard ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ a reference to one of the participants. As anyone who watches televised football in the UK knows, sports commentators are best to ignore many of the crowds’ chants, or if they must mention them, simply apologise to anyone offended by the unkind comments.
Much like the growing success of GB News here, The Daily Wire is tapping into an audience deserted by the mainstream news and entertainment industries. They are not alone, Heroes of Liberty, Little Libertarians, and PragerU, all make inroads into an audience desperate to be served content they consider suitable for them and their family. None of this is to say I think it’s a good thing. Driving America into separate camps, watching different news, sports reports, eating at difference restaurants, and increasingly doing this from childhood is unlikely to end well. But it is incumbent on the rollercoaster and cartoon provider to stay out of debates on state education law, and entertainment programs to at least pretend to entertain rather than lecture, to foster a societal bond. As Michael Jordan said “Republicans buy sneakers, too”.
What about men’s razors you ask? The Daily Wire even expanded into that. Jeremy’s Razors was set-up by Jeremy Boring and The Daily Wire, they already have 45,000 subscribers, more some say that CNN do for their new streaming service. For good or ill, if you don’t like the business the market is increasingly providing you an opportunity to not buy from them.
As a group that came together to fight a referendum on membership of the EU, we thought we would ask you, what your views are on Net Zero, a possible Referendum, and more generally the environment.
Part 5 in our series of your views. More responses can be found from Part 1.
Thanks to Zack Stiling, and Roald Ribe for their responses.
Zachary Stiling was the Heritage Party candidate in Kenley in the 2021 by-election, and was on the party’s GLA list the same year. Zachary has been interviewed by us and on our Pubcast.
Is global warming a threat?
No. Glacial and interglacial periods occur naturally across thousands of years and, since we made it through the ice age with little more than basic hand tools, fire and animal skins, we should be quite well equipped to cope with a projected rise of 1.5 degrees centigrade thanks to several millennia of scientific and technological progress. Even if global warming was a threat, it would be arrogant and foolish to suppose that we could arrest a natural and inevitable greenhouse period simply by coercing the public to adopt a lifestyle which blends medieval feudalism with an enforced dependence on smart technology. Presumably, some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts such as Barack Obama and Bill Gates are secretly of the same mind, or they would not both have bought coastal properties within the past year.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
No. Few members of the public have a detailed knowledge of climate and there is a danger that the government could increase its fear-mongering to manipulate voters, as the Remain side tried to do with the E.U. referendum. In the event of the government winning such a referendum, it would have a moral imperative of sorts to accelerate its Net Zero authoritarianism.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
The most important environmental action we should be taking is the protection and restoration of our countryside. Other than the fact that the countryside is an invaluable public asset, access to which is a lifeline for many people living in crowded urban areas, the destruction of it leads to phenomena which are immediately attributed to climate change. Before we get carried away with climate, a more immediate cause for loss of biodiversity is habitat destruction; a more immediate cause for flooding is the paving over of green land with impervious materials, which causes excessive surface run-off. We should also make an effort to reduce waste – so much plastic is unnecessary. As far as the climate goes, we should be making use of human ingenuity to adapt, not resorting to fear and authoritarianism in an attempt to control the uncontrollable.
Within the current range of claims made, it is my understanding that no existential threat exists. If the sun were to expand, as it will at some point, that warming would be a threat.
Should we have a referendum on enforced Net Zero targets?
I am against letting any dictator, proletariat, group or majority control and run the lives of each individual. A referendum will not help much given the sense of doom and panic transferred into the population by bias and propaganda.
What action should we be taking on the environment?
The state or collective “we” should not do anything related to hypotheses about the planet’s climate. The “we” of rational individuals should work for more individual freedom, which is the only action that will unleash the creativity and the economic environment needed to enable all to have enough surplus in their life to care about the environment they live in.
This is the fifth set of your responses, further responses can be found from Part 1
Across the North Sea, the Kingdom of Norway with it’s Scandinavian welfare state and history of Vikings is not the first place you associate with libertarians. However the International Alliance of Libertarian Parties does have a representative from the land of the fjords. The Capitalist Party (Liberalistene) (Wikipedia), advocates for a minimal state and free market economics. We speak with Deputy Chair Political, Roald Ribe about the party.
Roald thank-you for your time.
Could you tell our readers about your party?
A huge mix of value-liberal, classical liberal, libertarian, minarchist, anarchist, laissez-faire, individualism oriented capitalists. Common ground is typically no rulers, less government, less laws and regulations, less tax, less bureaucracy, less politicians and so on. Unyielding on principles, on property rights and self-ownership, but flexible on speed of implementation. It will take time to provide enough people with enough knowledge to let them realize that they want anything to change, or to recognize the fact that a better society could and can exist. Our political programs are evolving significantly over time (7 years so far) to reflect that fact, and to try to factor some acceptance of the Overton Window into them and the general communication with potential members and voters. Our name in Norway is Liberalistene. In English the name is Capitalist Party. Where Laissez-faire is implicit in the name.
“Getting representation for a classical liberal ideological base into the public view, always insisting on less state, less taxes, less power to politicians and bureaucrats, gets our membership (and me) excited”
What are main issues in Norway you campaign on, what gets Libertarians excided?
We have distinct political programs covering most issues on three political levels (all) in Norway. Three levels seems a bit much for just over 5 million people, so we will try to merge the two lower into a local level, and the other a national level like today. As a start. All the “established” parties in Norway, those who are represented in parliament most of the time, seem to agree that there is no maximum size for the state in the economy. Creating a heard voice, a rallying point, recognised representatives of the opposite view, is task number one. Getting representation for a classical liberal ideological base into the public view, always insisting on less state, less taxes, less power to politicians and bureaucrats, gets our membership (and me) excited.
Your country has stayed out of the EU, but what’s your parties view of the EU and the Euro?
The population in Norway has voted against joining the EU twice. Political representatives in parliament still slipped Norway in, through the small back door named the EFTA, with no asking the population again first. Probably because they expected that the answer would be the same as for the EU. So, we are part of the EU, but “only” through the EFTA. There is a majority for it in Norway it seems (EFTA), because voters have bought the political dogma that Norway “needs” such a deal to sell oil, gas, fish, electrical power and other unrefined and raw materials into the EU area or other parts of the world. It will not take much free market knowledge to realize that this is an outright lie. So, we are in the EU, but with no influence. Our party would strongly prefer for Norway to be out of that situation.
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?
Our next national election for parliament is in this year, 2021. So we are in the middle of preparing for it now. The formal election campaign lasts from 10. August till the election day 13. September. Most significant boost in this election campaign is that a former Minister and MP with 20 years of experience in parliament, has joined our party. Mr Per Sandberg used to be Deputy Chair of the Progress Party, but has now upgraded himself ? to the top election candidate for Liberalistene in the Oslo and Finnmark election districts. This has not gone unnoticed in the media, and through his activities combined with our steadily increasing experience with media handling and election processes and campaigns, we get a lot more attention and traction in the media than we have been used to this far.
In addition to the constant hard work leading up to being taken seriously enough to be joined by an established political figure, campaigning is done in various physical forms. Branded stands in streets where we have enough active people to swing it. Talking to people, distributing brochures. In some less urban areas we are getting a lot of brochures distributed straight into mailboxes by single activists. We try to write opinion pieces for different news media, and we are getting better at it. With a couple of pre-qualified celebrities in our ranks, it is getting somewhat easier to get the party included in the media.
At this point in time we do not have the capacity to make a trail of it. In the locations where we have enough active personnel, they organise their own plans and activities in their area, basing the plan on their own assessment of when, how and what kind of effort can be realized by them, and what they think will be most effective there. The central / national organization is mostly a service and materials provider, making brochures and flyers available, ordering tents, flags and other materials in ways that makes it affordable and available for as many as possible.
“It will be interesting to see what kind of trade relations the UK develops with the world going forward by itself outside of the EU. If the UK is successful with that work, as I expect it to be, it may undermine the solid political EFTA support in Norway, which would be perceived as a good thing by our party”
Do you have any views on UK politics you can share?
I think your country did well to finally get the Brexit process into motion, but I expect that the usual suspects will drag their feet and silently sabotage it as much as possible. It is nice to observe that some of your political figures seem to wise up a bit on lockdown policies. It is about (bleeping) time… It will be interesting to see what kind of trade relations the UK develops with the world going forward by itself outside of the EU. If the UK is successful with that work, as I expect it to be, it may undermine the solid political EFTA support in Norway, which would be perceived as a good thing by our party. We hope our countries will continue to uphold the traditionally good relations between them, and continue to work for the best possible conditions for cooperation between the two populations, including as much free trade as possible.
If you could introduce, repeal or change 3 laws what would they be?
A law securing absolute property rights, protecting all possible value from coerced confiscation, especially from the government.
A new law securing negative rights only for individuals exclusively, abolishing any and all privileges given in law to any individual or group.
A new law to require that at least two old laws must be removed for new or changed to be introduced.
“Governments have lost their last marbles if it ever had any, and are flushing down the economic future of many in a hole full of dirty, irrational, fear mongering. The only way to counter this is to provide more individual freedom and economic freedom for business”
Lastly how do you think your government is handling the Covid-19 crisis, and what would you like to done to help the economic recovery?
Lockdown is a travesty against citizens, especially those in the low income bracket. The only rational strategy out there seems to be The Great Barrington Declaration. Governments have lost their last marbles if it ever had any, and are flushing down the economic future of many in a hole full of dirty, irrational, fear mongering. The only way to counter this is to provide more individual freedom and economic freedom for business. Failure to do so should eventually be punished by quite a few voters. In that path, where we expect more voters to arrive eventually, is where libertarian efforts should loudly position themselves. But remember, voters go where they believe is right, not where you think they should. We must make it our business to find the points where those two often differing views coincide with each other, well in advance of voters arriving there.