I ain't left-wing, I ain't right wing.
I got two wings baby
An' I can fly outta any box
You lot try and put me in.
If I were to try to label my political philosophy the closest set of ideas I can find that appeal would be described as "Libertarianism". There's a reason you've not heard that word too much when it comes to mainstream debate in this country. It's a philosophy which involves the politicians of this country saying things like: "We need less power, less of your taxes and frankly we're going to let you make more of your own decsisions". The career politicians of today are as likely to subscribe to that as turkeys would vote for Christmas.
I'm not a fully paid up card carrying libertarian, I just think there's a lot to be said for the idea that Governments need less, as opposed to more, power and money. As a result of this sympathy for these ideas I occasionally attract callers who ARE deeply into it. They don't hesitate to drop names such as, Ayn Rand, into conversation and I've even had one caller explain "The Nolan Chart" once.
This means I get fantastic emails like the one printed below that I feel deserve a wider audience:
Joan of Potters Bar
Good evening Nick. I can't phone because I have a very bad cold but I want to say that we had a 'libertarian' government in this country when Charles Dickens was alive and it was the result of that system of economics, then known as laissez faire ('let it be'), which brought about the horrific conditions which he describes in his novels and which we frequently see enacted upon our screens.
It was these conditions, arising from the successful Victorian economy, which caused reformers like him to campaign for more fairness towards the poor and disadvantaged by a more equitable redistribution of our national wealth through taxation and other government means. Personal charity abounded during the Victorian era, business people were extremely philanthropic but that did not prevent libertarian economics creating extreme poverty amongst the many for the benefit of the few. It was this situation which made reformers call for government intervention and regulation.
We have only to look to countries like India to see what life can still be like for the many in a largely unregulated society. People like yourself and your 23 year old caller, are ignoring the past and are in danger of propelling the people of our country into a neo-Victorian era with no protection for the poor and weak. We cannot look after every old and sick person ourselves, we cannot all be self-employed entrepeneurs, we need government help to stop the extreme exploitation which has previously happened without it. That is not 'socialism', it is a cry for the 'liberte, egalite, fraternite' of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment which curbed the excesses of the Industrial Revolution and brought us the freer, more equal (fairer), more caring society of today.
When preaching neo-libertarianism, as you so frequently do, beware of throwing these babies out with your bathwater!
I don't usually reply to emails as we get too many but this one was so good here is my response:
I'm undecided about Libertarianism (laissez faire Government) and think perhaps its appeal for me stems from the fact I've grown up in an era when state power has frequently appeared to be out of the control of normal people such as you and I.
The war against Iraq was a real catalyst for some huge shifts in my opinions. It became apparent to me back then that no matter how many people opposed the Government, if the issue was part of their agenda, there was nothing you could do about it. Since then a number of things appear to be unchangeable when it comes to the world of politics. The EU is a good example. No matter who you turn to in the world of serious politics there appears to be no one who opposes it. Another is the distressing rise of the authoritarian "big brother" state during New Labour. None of that power over people will ever be given back.
The appeal of Libertarianism is it seems to be a political philosophy which argues that politicians should have less power instead of more. It puts focus upon these people who say they rule us and asks them to justify each power they claim over us.
The Nolan Chart
THIS ARTICLE ALSO APPEARS ON THE LBC WEBSITE UNDER THE HEADING NEO LIBERTARIANISM.