Author Archives: Neil Lock

Soft Brexit: some thoughts on Roger Helmer’s analysis

For some time, I’ve been on the mailing list of Roger Helmer, the UKIP MEP. I have quite a lot in common with him. Through state funded scholarships, we both had unusual educations (and some would say “privileged,” though I’d disagree). We were both trained as mathematicians; and we have both rejected the prevailing political orthodoxy.

I’ve only been in the same room as Roger once – at an anti-EU meeting, at which he (and Sean Gabb) spoke, in the Conway Hall back in 2005. And I’m not comfortable with some of his views, notably his religious conservatism. Nevertheless, I regard him as a kindred spirit. So, I read what he writes in his e-mails. And when the moment is right, I’ll respond. Thus, this.

In his June newsletter, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be on the Internet yet, Roger announces his retirement from politics. (Another rat deserting the sinking ship!) But he also makes the effort to clarify what Brexit is about. And he does it excellently.

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Donald Trump Gets Something Right

I’ve been critical of Donald Trump in the past. But just recently, he made the best decision he has yet made. Not just for Americans, but for all of us human beings.

I refer, of course, to his decision that the USA will exit the Paris climate “agreement.”

Anyone, who has looked at and understood the facts, knows that the “human emissions of carbon dioxide will cause catastrophic global warming” scare is, and always has been, a scam.

Donald Trump has got this issue right. Probably, he has done so for domestic US political reasons. But his decision has already started to echo around the world. And why? Because, all but uniquely for a politician in the last half century, he has supported truth against lies.

Well done, Donald. And all of us should follow his example.

Some thoughts on the Libertarian Party manifesto 2017

To be found at


  1. The focus is medium term; on things like “the constitution,” an English parliament, procedures for complaints against government officials, and Swiss style referendums. Not bad ideas in themselves, but I don’t feel they are addressing today’s issues.
  2. The word “state” is given a capital S throughout. It doesn’t deserve one.
  3. I feel there is too much emphasis on matters military, and too much kindness towards military people.

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The Manifesto of the Live and Let Live Party

(Author’s Note: Tom Rogers recently made a comment, on a thread about the forthcoming UK election, asking for “plausible and realistic ideas that can be put into action and that will appeal to ordinary working people.” Despite my strong aversion to politics as it exists today, and to politicians of all stripes and all parties, I thought it might be good to set down my best stab at exactly that. Hence this draft outline of a “party manifesto,” intended to spark thought and discussion.

I thought of several possible names for the party – the Good People’s Party, the Sanity Party, the Peace and Justice Party, perhaps even the Zero Agenda Party. But I eventually settled on the “Live and Let Live Party.”)

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Convivial costs

This is a brief addendum to my earlier essays on Conviviality and Good Governance.

In writing my recent paper about diesel cars, I found myself using the idea of “social cost.” The Business Dictionary defines this as “the expense to an entire society resulting from a news event, an activity or a change in policy.” Wikipedia calls it “the private cost plus externalities.” An externality from something is a cost or benefit that affects a party, who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit.

This set me thinking about how a convivial order, which includes a minimal system of good governance, would deal with such costs. (I’m assuming that an unintended benefit to others, or positive externality, wouldn’t require any action by anyone – except that the doer might choose to stop doing it.) The most obvious example of such a cost is the cost to others of pollution, such as air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution. But it can also be applied to other activities, such as the cost to innocent individuals of bad, politicized regulations and taxes. In this paper, however, for simplicity I’ll use the word “polluter” for the party causing such a cost.

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Diesel fumes: Is the UK’s witch-hunt against diesel cars driven by zealotry and greed, not science?

(Author’s Note: This paper is an example of a relatively new phenomenon; “citizen science.” And citizen science deserves citizen peer review. I would, therefore, greatly appreciate review of this paper by those with the skills to do so; whether or not they live in the UK, or drive diesel cars. Thank you.)

The recent uproar over “toxin taxes” on diesel cars in the UK raises many questions. So, in this (long) essay, I’m going to try to get a handle on how big the cost of pollution from diesel cars really is, and whether the schemes being proposed to ameliorate it are sensible or not. To do that, I’ll try to estimate the so-called “social cost” of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars of different ages in the UK, in pounds per car per year.

If my calculations are right, there is some justification for central London pollution charges for diesel cars built before 2006; for, as I work it out, the social cost of the pollution from these cars is almost £300 per car per year. However, the further schemes in London and countrywide, that are planned to start as early as 2019, are out of all proportion to the reality of the problem. They will cost 8 million or so drivers of diesel cars, first registered between January 2006 and August 2015, orders of magnitude more than the social cost of the pollution their cars emit. Worse, these drivers – including me – may be forced to scrap our cars well before the end of their designed lives. Is this not grossly unjust?

According to my calculations, for a diesel car first registered between September 2010 and August 2015, like mine, the London ULEZ entry fees from 2019 for just two days in a year will be almost as much as the social cost of pollution from that car for the whole year, in comparison to a new (since September 2015) car, which won’t be charged at all. That is both unreasonable and unfair. Indeed, for both these cars and those first registered between 2006 and 2010, it would be far better and easier to collect the social cost of pollution through the yearly licence fee.

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