PODCAST – Libertarian Alliance Question Time Episode 2


Daniel Harding

The following audio is from the second episode of the Libertarian Alliance’s ‘Question Time’ series.

Host – Keir Martland

panelists –

1) Dan Greene (Co-host, Greening Out Podcast)
2) Dr Andrew Linley (Professor, European-American University)
3) Daniel Harding (Digital Communications Director, Libertarian Alliance)
4) Dr Sean Gabb (Director, Libertarian Alliance)

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7 comments

  • A good discussion, and a better discussion than last time. I thought the health discussion and the women “priests” discussion good. I’m think the managerial elite and the way a large class of parasites now dominate all public and private institutions makes privatisation of healthcare less fruitful than it would have been if the public-private managerial parasites had not established themselves as such a large stratum – they would undoubtedly clean up upon introduction of an insurance system, and the experience would be negative for most people.

    Somehow we need to get rid of the bureaucratic strata – reduce them to the minimum – first. The way the relatively large public-sector managerial class has expanded employment opportunities for the managers and helped to boost the pay differential means that possibly after dealing with public-sector managerialism, the supply-demand equation for the managerial elite would be sharply altered, leading to lower administrative costs throughout the economy and making privatisation of healthcare more workable. A lot of this stuff also dances around land policy: high property values force the managerial elite to demand higher relative compensation than would have been the case had J S Mill’s land value tax been implemented on schedule by Ramsay MacDonald in the 1920s.

    As for the atrocity of women priests, maybe I will write on this this week…

  • Agreed re privatisation. I also think the NHS would be both affordable and only reasonably inefficient if it were run as an old-fashioned bureaucracy.

  • Fascinating and congratulations to all who took part. Very well done.

    However, I urge caution about the section that started at around 26 minutes: The widely-held idea that Scotland is more left-wing. Firstly, there’s my usual bugbear about what people mean by “left and right”. But I accept that here it was mainly economics that was under discussion.

    Nevertheless, many political scientists who’ve looked at the data and done the number-crunching are sceptical about this idea. There are various measures that one could use, but one commonly used in the UK is the (unfortunately-named) Left-Right, a valid and reliable multi-item attitude dimension that asks questions about business, wealth redistribution, industrial relations etc. I’ve used it myself and it’s been used for years in the British Social Attitudes series.

    I’ve spent a little time this afternoon playing around with the 2013 BSA dataset in SPSS. Taking the five individual items – all presented with a five-level Likert-type response set – and combining them into the Left-Right dimension provides a somewhat normally distributed variable with a range from 5 (left-most) to 25 (right-most).

    To cut to the chase… The mean scores for Left-Right for each country – England, Scotland and Wales – show that attitudes in England are very marginally to the right of those in Scotland which in turn are to the right of those in Wales.

    Running a one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with Left-Right as the dependant variable and country as the independent variable indicates that there is indeed a significant difference between the countries in the model. However, Bonferroni post-hoc tests indicate that this is only between England and Wales. It’s Wales that stands out as being particularly leftist, not Scotland.

    So, why the “Scotland is more leftwing” view? Lots of possible reasons. It may be that whilst the attitudes of the population of Scotland are not very different, the corporate attitudes of the oligarchic parties may well be. Or that economic collectivists in Scotland are proportionately more likely to vote than those in England. Or that people support parties for reasons other than immediately economic: e.g. Scottish libertarians who vote SNP because they believe that separation from the UK is a necessary step towards a more libertarian Scotland in the long-term. And so on…

  • Nigel gets it.

    Over the years, opinion polls here show that Scotland is only one or two percent more socialist than England – when the questions are about specific issues rather than about Labour v Conservative.

    Since the war, only the Tories have won more than 50% of the Scottish vote in a UK general election. Except that it wasn’t really the Tories: it was the Scottish Unionist party that won in 1955. Replacing the Unionists (seen up here as Scottish patriots) with a London-centric Conservative party was a huge mistake. Almost everyone here thinks that Scotland is a nation, albeit one that can be happy in a union with the rest of the UK. But the Tories are not seen as embracing that primary loyalty to Scotland. This explains why so many folk in traditional Conservative areas now vote SNP.

    Another thing to consider is that we have a four party system up here. The Labour vote is efficiently distributed in that they get few votes in rural and small town Scotland but lots in the cities. That enables Labour to mop up Westminster first past the post seats often with less than half of the vote. But now we have PR in Scottish local elections. In Glasgow in 2003 under first past the post Labour won 71 out of 79 council seats. A Labour city? But they only achieved 47.7% of the vote. In 2012 under PR Labour got 46.72% of the vote but only 44 seats. Not so Labour as you might have thought. And that’s why Labour is now panicking. The first past the post system in May could wipe out large numbers of Scottish Labour seats at Westminster.

    Sean said that Scotland is more community minded than England. I’ve lived in both countries and am half English and half Scottish. I think that Sean is correct.

    But why?

    In the Highlands and Islands – the romantic heart of Scotland – the land is poor and the seas rough. Crofters and fishermen have always had to co-operate for survival. Community mindedness is essential.

    In small town Scotland – in which I grew up – a sizeable proportion of the population never move away. I was at a funeral a year ago and almost all of the attendees still lived in my old hometown. That inevitably leads to a greater sense of community than in the ever-changing suburbs of London, Manchester or Birmingham.

    And even in the cities there is a simple explanation too. Glasgow and Edinburgh are far more like continental cities than English ones. The West End of Glasgow and the New Town of Edinburgh are among the most desirable and expensive residential areas in the UK. But they are communitarian because of the shared nature of the buildings, many of which are occupied by the Scottish upper middle class elite. Scottish life tends to be either remote or concentrated – so unlike suburban England.

    But communitarianism doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, does it? As Hans-Hermann Hoppe teaches us, a libertarian society would of necessity be more communitarian.

    But without the state.

    How to get there is the question.

    • “Replacing the Unionists (seen up here as Scottish patriots) with a London-centric Conservative party was a huge mistake”.

      Spot on.

      It is my understanding that one of the other candidates for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives last time around (I believe he came second) was proposing to dispand the party and form a proper Scottish Conservative Party, one that would probably agree with the London-based Tories most of the time, but which would be primarily committed to addressing Scottish interests.

      An opportunity missed methinks.

  • Perhaps both these comments re Scotland should be promoted for a more efficient discussion?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Seems to me that if people weren’t up in arms about Charlie Hebdo, about 7/7, about the Madrid bombings, about 9/11, about Pym Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, Sandy Hook, Fort Hood, and more and more and more … there would be something seriously wrong with them. The shame of it all is that once the shock wears off a bit it’s back to “business as usual,” excuses for the terrorists, and as here, “we’re overreacting because our ‘leaders’ find it in their interest to keep us frightened.”

    But the natural reaction to be being punched in the snout is anger and the urge to hit back; and the sensible thing to do is to recognize whether this was a one-off incident or whether it was one attack of many, in line with a specific agenda aimed at conquest of what the attackers consider an enemy; an agenda which has two or three basic methodologies, one of which is the arousal of terror. The current state of things is that the populace is alarmed, at least when something excitingly dreadful happens, and the leadership allows itself to be cowed by the terrorists and their own advisors, except for such “leaders” as may actually be in sympathy with the the terrorists’ aims.

    Is there too much “security theatre”? Of course! There are various reasons for that, and they include not just power-lust and the need to feel, and to appear as, important in control; but also lack of moral self-confidence and of confidence that any given proposal will be successful as opposed to making matters worse.

    Of course, I don’t think the Sith and his crew have the slightest interest in protecting any Americans, Europeans, or Israelis.

    . . .

    But it was interesting hearing the panel’s thoughts on the UK’s political situation and so forth; a good discussion. Thanks.

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