The Libertarian Party UK and the Politics of Courage

Hello Sean,

Although I understand your argument, I believe freedom and liberty are not an excuse for truancy. I like you am against state imposed education, I was both state and privately educated, and truancy was not accepted in either system. Indeed my view and that of the Libertarian Party UK is that there should be a voucher system, so parents and children can choose between progressive and effective state schools, free schools and private education. If this were the case, many would opt for private education, state education is very wasteful and generates negative income to the exchequer. Private schools are efficient, achieve results and have a positive impact on the exchequer.

I would like to state that there are now many of us working hard to present a credible, rational and positive Libertarian alternative to the current political status quo. A model not dissimilar to the very effective and credible models of Switzerland and Hong Kong. I appreciate that you are one of the leading lights of the Libertarian movement in this country, and as an academic, seek to question and challenge the system we live in. I would ask that whilst staying critical and impartial, you consider our future political prospects and the ‘credibility deficit’ that has plagued the Libertarian movement thus far. If we are to succeed in gaining ground we must proceeded with careful and considered steps… Interesting argument.

Kind regards


Dear Guy,

I would never presume to ask you to shut up. Please return the compliment – or, if you must put on airs and graces, consider waiting until you have the same thirty year unbroken record as those of us in the Libertarian Alliance have.

9 responses to “The Libertarian Party UK and the Politics of Courage

  1. Any voucher system should not apply to already existing private schools otherwise they will end up being state funded.

  2. This is not an unimportant issue – it strikes to the heart of libertarianism as a philosophy. There should be no state education. In the 19th century, state spending was just 7% of GDP at one point. Of course, in the pre-state education systems (private, church, etc), the various institutions may have had their own policies on truancy – but there was no state policy. It is fairly fundamental to libertarianism that there should not be a state education system. Or an NHS (note the “Libertarian Party”, according to its website, wants to keep the NHS and the welfare state and the state pensions system – and income tax at 15%). There is valid debate on how we get there. Anyone who suggests that all taxation finishes tomorrow and all publicly financed services stop is simply not living in the real world, but a gradual approach to easing the state out is vital.

  3. The voucher system as advocated by Guy would simply bring us back to where we are, but with the added administration costs of overseeing the allocation of vouchers;those parents with money would top up to send
    children to a private school, those relatively wealthy would be able to
    transport kids to a good state school. This leaves the children of poor
    parents doing what they do now, which is to send their kids to the nearest state school regardless of its reputation.Those parents who take no interest in their children would no doubt find some other use for the vouchers

    I do however,totally disagree with using benefits to try and coerce/force parents to comply with the law. What to do about truancy I don’t know. I have taught sixteen-eighteen’s who could barely write their own name. The tales they told of their school experience shocked me, but their family lives were even worse. Typical of the dysfunctional families that have proliferated over the last two decades. Stopping benefits to those parents would not have made them take more interest in their children’s education.

  4. Vouchers would simply bring all education under state control. In order to make sure they weren’t made vehicles for fraud or subsidies for terrorist camps, schools would have to do as told by OFSTED to qualify for vouchers.

    My point, however, is that officers of one libertarian organisation should find better uses for their time than writing letters of instruction to officers of other libertarian organisation. This applies with added force when the instructing organisation keeps collapsing.

  5. It is mortally dangerous to liberty for states to have almost anything whatever to do with education. The sort of people who gravitate to the trade of running states are natural warlords and pre-capitalist/pre-historic “big-men”. While they can’t any longer exactly “get the boys together and raid the next-door-tribe for animals and women”, they still therefore can’t help tending to want to run bigger states, and do more stuff.

    State education systems were, if I have it right, refined to the point of their modern structure in 19th-century-Prussia, for the production of large land armies of semi-automata commanded by “political officers” from an approved class.. For me, that says it all and I would want a Libertarian society to do the opposite.

    There should be no policy directed by the state as so how, or even whether, a person should “be educated”. It’s dangerous. Look at the UK right now and see.

    Having said that, DJWebb is right and we can’t get there immmediately from here.

  6. State education in 19th century U.K. was structured to supply a labour force to drive the Industrial Revolution;mills,foundries e.t.c.;the middle class, which grew out of this and wanted to emulate the old aristocracy, needed an endless supply of servants.Only a basic knowledge of literacy and numeracy were needed, with some provision to fit people for the more skilled jobs.The days of labour intensive industrial Britain have gone, yet we still have hundreds of thousands of people leaving school who need to earn a living, yet it seems to be the case that preparation for industrialism has been replaced by preparation for Marxist ideologically driven ‘citizenship’skills.

    The dilemma here I think for Libertarians, is how/can people be educated to be free. The idea of no education until a person is considered old enough to decide for them selves was discussed by J S Mill. I disagree with this. It doesn’t answer the question of how one can decide on what type of education they prefer unless they have had some education to start with .And if we are hoping for more Libertarianism (freely chosen), how would any one even know what this means without even some basic literacy skills.So, I don;t believe the answer to the current provision of state education is to allow for no education. There has to be a middle ground whereby children can be educated at state expense, equipped to take advantage of what the world has to offer but which does not indoctrinate them with any particular ideology.

    DJWebb might be right that we can’t get there immediately, but we are were we are, and we have to start from here

  7. I don’t see the need for too many competing organisations. I think this is the real point.

  8. I would like to see schools organized like shopping malls, with the _students_ having books of vouchers to pay for their chosen lessons. Teachers’ incomes would correspond to the number of vouchers received.

    Marketized education.


  9. Richard Carey

    The only thing libertarian about the Libertarian Party UK is the word ‘libertarian’ in their name.

    I’d sooner join the Lord’s Resistance Army.