In his big speech at the Tory conference yesterday, David Cameron said, "Freedom can too easily turn into the idea that we all have the right to do whatever we want, regardless of the effect on others. That is libertarian, not Conservative..."
No, David, it's not. Libertarianism is a political philosophy based on individual rights, personal responsibility, free markets, and limited government. In no way does it imply a lack of concern for others, or legitimate harming them to serve your own interest. Indeed, the paramount importance that libertarians attach to the protection of the individual renders Cameron's statement absurd.
And I suspect he knows it too. After all, back in 2001, he wrote: " I am an instinctive libertarian who abhors state prohibitions and tends to be sceptical of most government action". Now, that sounds like my kind of Conservative.
The rest of the speech? Well, it seems to have been well received. There was good stuff on reforming education, restoring sound money, cutting government waste and reducing corporation tax by three percent. In terms of making him look like a serious man for serious times, it did the job. On the downside, I didn’t like his praise for the NHS and thought using the death of one of his constituents to score a political point was mawkishly tasteless.
Overall: a decent enough speech, but by no means a great one.