This is quite a change for Sean and here's the key quote:
This being so, why do I propose to vote Conservative? The answer is that a Conservative Government would probably continue with most of the suicidal or simply demented policies of the Blair and Brown Governments. But, at the end of five years, it would then allow a free election as these things have been commonly understood in England. A re-elected labour Government would not.I'm sure that Sean includes Scotland as well.
My own position on the forthcoming election is still in doubt.
Let's go back to when I first became interested in politics - back in the late 'sixties. After a brief leftist phase I discovered the IEA and learned quite a bit about economics. I was excited when Ted Heath won the 1970 election, but he rapidly abandoned his free market Selsdon principles and adopted interventionism. In 1972 I discovered libertarianism, joined the Libertarian Alliance (now directed by Sean), and read all the classic stuff by Mises, Hayek, Rand, Friedman and Rothbard.
Things got worse and worse during the rest of the 'seventies. Inflation was rampant and total economic collapse seemed possible. But as far as I can recall we libertarians didn't concern ourselves nearly so much with civil liberties as we do now. Not because civil liberties weren't important but rather because the Wilson/Callaghan Labour governments clearly wanted to nationalise the economy but didn't show anything like as much interest in nationalising our minds and bodies. Unlike their successors today.
This meant that British libertarians were quite supportive of the Thatcher regime as it gradually reduced the growth of the socialised part of the economy and brought inflation back under some sort of control. Sadly there was no serious attempt to tackle the welfare state but lots of us continued to vote for a Conservative party that was clearly better than the alternative.
Along came John Major - infinitely preferable to his Labour successors who enthusiastically supported the ill-fated ERM debacle. And then we got Blair. I for one wasn't fooled for a moment. Blair and Brown have almost destroyed our country. Not only have they ruined the economy, they have almost completely wiped out our civil liberties that have been won over such a long period. I think that fixing the economy will be an easier task than rebuilding civil society.
In 2005 I voted for the Tories but without too much enthusiasm. In 2007 I voted Tory for the Edinburgh City Council but SNP for Holyrood. This was partly a tactical anti-Labour vote and, thank God, Labour got the chop. But my support for the Nationalists wasn't entirely tactical. I do have a great deal of sympathy for the independence cause. My own background is both English and Scottish and I'm proud to say that I've visited every county in the United Kingdom. I also think that the UK has generally been a good thing.
But times change.
We are no longer a world power and it was the Empire that bound us together. Also, Britain is just about the most centralised country of its size - despite devolution. The dominance of London - largely the result of government policies, not of the free market - harms the rest of the country tremendously, especially those of us far from the capital. Scotland has an alternative identity that's not on offer to, say, Yorkshire. Everyone here, including unionists, has an alternate nationalism to the British one. I think that Scottish independence is likely at some time and I'd quite like to be around when it happens. I see no reason for an independent Scotland to be an economic failure - subject to adopting suitable economic policies. I've got the textbooks! And although some other libertarians may disagree, I think that Scotland's relative homogeneity may well be a most useful asset in the future.
But the SNP hasn't quite sealed the deal for me yet. Every time I decide that I'll abandon the Tories for the Westminster vote the SNP indulges in another bout of nanny-statism. Then I start thinking like Sean and lean back towards the Tories only for them to drop another clanger. I know several of the Scottish Conservative candidates and would probably vote for them out of a sense of loyalty were I to live in a relevant constituency. But fortunately perhaps I've never met the local candidate and so my own vote can't be influenced by friendship. Nor do I know the local SNP person. I have seen the Labour candidate on a couple of occasions. He seems to be slightly more knowledgeable about economics than does his boss. If only this Labour chappie would defect to the Libertarian Party my quest would be over. Oh yes, his name is Alistair Darling.