The event was titled "The Future of the Right in Scotland". I thought this a rather unfortunate description for a day that was really about the future of free market, or perhaps liberal, ideas!
The conference itself was excellent and I liked the 11 am start and 3.30 pm finish.
First off was Mark Pennington who gave a very good talk based on his new book:
The authors argue that government attempts to undertake 'cultural planning' to create social capital are subject to exactly the same problems that led economic and industrial planning to fail. In order for democratic systems to work, they must be limited to co-ordinating certain core political functions.I look forward to getting my copy from the IEA.
At lunch we broke up into three groups. Mark hosted the Environment group and Brian Monteith led the Public Services lunch. I was in the third group, which was hosted by Bill Jamieson of the Scotsman and which discussed the economy. Twenty or so of us had our say round a table that included some heavy-hitters from the academic, banking and investment worlds. Yours truly gave his usual spiel about the Austrian School of economics, about money being created out of thin air, about the fiddled inflation figures, about gold and all the rest of the old-time gospel. Normally this gets some amused smiles before conversation returns to the "real" world. Not this week. The heavy-hitters were nodding their heads in agreement. Keynesianism was nowhere to be seen.
After lunch there was a panel consisting of Professor John Curtice, Katie Grant, Murdo Fraser MSP and David Watt. Professor Curtice teased Murdo Fraser by suggesting that Scotland now had a right-of-centre government that was effectively an SNP-Tory coalition!
This was a most enjoyable event and I look forward to others like it.