Since joining the Libertarian Party earlier this year I have been asked many times what we stand for. I usually explain, in as much detail as the enquirer can cope with, then refer them to the Libertarian Party website.
On the day I was elected Party Chairman in November Chris Mounsey, of Devil's Kitchen, was elected Party Leader. Following is an interview with Chris from the Total Politics blog:
Total Politics's Xander Stephenson speaks to the new leader of the Libertarian Party about target seats at the next election and whether he swears too much.
When you leave your position as leader, what would you have liked to achieve for the Libertarian Party?
Most of all, I would like people to understand that Libertarianism is not about living in some sort of selfish, self-contained Utopia: I would like people to understand that Libertarianism is not just about personal freedom but also about voluntarily helping your fellow human beings.
In doing that, I think that I could make people take the Libertarian Party seriously, something that would benefit the party in many ways. First we could gain more members and more support. This would lead to more votes and more local councillors.
Ultimately, obviously, I would like to have seen one or two candidates elected to Westminster, but that might mean my leading the party for some time! Although, having said that, I think that the mood of the people of this country is swinging more towards Libertarianism – they just need the vocabulary to express what they feel. Oh, and politicians who also believe the same.
Has being leader of a party meant you have to swear less?
Ha! Most of the members know The Devil's Kitchen and they have not petitioned me to swear any less. I do swear less now, but I think that has happened naturally for several reasons – not least that I am simply less viciously angry than I used to be.
Do you hate all other British politicians?
"Hate" is a strong word but I certainly despise most of them as self-serving idiots who have – through laziness or malice – abdicated from their responsibilities. Not only have they given away successively more power to supranational organisations like the EU or the UN, Parliament has given away its power to hold the government, the executive, to account: far too many illiberal measures are pushed through using statutory instruments or mini-enabling acts built into legislation that MPs have simply nodded through.
MPs are the only 646 people in this country who can make law, and most of them are spending far too much time playing at being social workers in their constituencies or working out how much money they can scam from taxpayers' pockets this year. So, whilst "hate" is too strong a word, "contempt" most certainly is not.
Do you admire any current politicians?
I like both Douglas Carswell MP and Dan Hannan MEP: they are both libertarians. Obviously I think that they are in the wrong party but, then again, they are using their position to make a difference. As I say, let a thousand libertarian flowers bloom!
How many members has the Libertarian Party got?
The Libertarian Party has about 500 members at present, but we have new members joining every week. Part of my job this year is to bring my knowledge of business processes to boost recruitment and to improve the way in which we communicate with our members – we have been chasing up some people, for instance, who simply hadn't remembered that their membership had lapsed.
How many seats are you contesting at the next general election - how many votes do you expect to get?
We haven't quite decided how many seats we are going to contest but I can't see us going for more than a couple. I think that this election is going to be a straight Tory-Labour fight as people go for what my father calls the Barbary Ape principle, ie. "I would vote for a Barbary Ape in order to get the current lot out."
We are still debating our election strategy really, although we have been campaigning regularly in a couple of areas. We have been thinking that we should emphasise the voluntary, community nature of libertarianism and then go for NuLabour heartlands – to pick up a cross or two from traditional Labour voters who simply cannot bear to vote for Brown and his merry men.
We'd be happy if we could get the five per cent or so required to retain our deposits but we're really participating in Westminster elections in order to get media coverage. During an election, the media has to at least mention the Libertarian Party – the rest of the year, they simply don't want to know.
This is part one of the interview. Part two to follow at a later date.