The Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty 2014 is now underway at London’s Guildhall.
First impressions are of a bold start, giving increased hope for the sessions that follow throughout the day. This blog was concerned about the title of the first session, which speculated about whether the EU and big business are ganging up against liberty and the nation state when the answer is all too obvious – but fortunately there was little ambivalence in the lively panel discussion itself.
Indeed, when the time came to vote on whether the EU can realistically be reformed, attendees voted 43% yes (wishful thinking) but a solid 57% no.
Hopefully the remainder of the conference will start to unpick what this means, and what Britain needs to do to preserve and protect her national interests in the all-too-likely scenario that the EU will continue on its course toward ever-closer union without paying heed to the wishes of the European people or the results of the recent European elections.
Other highlights so far:
Daniel Hannan suggesting that the EU should become “a free trade area in the model of NAFTA”
Charles Moore, Margaret Thatcher’s biographer, posing the question “How can capitalism work for people who don’t have capital?. Having a strong, compelling answer to this conundrum is vital if conservatives are to rebuild the winning coalition of working and middle classes that Thatcher built in 1979.
The pernicious relationship between big business and big government being made clear in one arresting fact – that there are now more than 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels, taking advantage of “economies of scale” whereby one lobbyist can seek to influence the policies and laws of 28 EU member states. Big business and the lobbyists truly are able to divide and conquer under the protection of the EU.
A timely reminder that “gifts through the tax code and obscure regulatory benefits” are corporate welfare that distorts the free market.
A suggestion that libertarians, classic liberals, Thatcherites and other pro-capitalism sympathisers need to speak of being pro-market, not pro-business in order to avoid being associated with harmful crony capitalism.
Stay tuned to @SamHooper on Twitter for live-tweets from the conference, and to this blog for discussion and analysis of the conference after the fact.