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Speech on the timetabling of DRIP yesterday


Yesterday in the debate on the timetabling of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill, I said: Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con): The subject of the Bill is of profound importance to members of the public who care about such matters, and no wonder because it is the paradigmatic example of the conflict between the rights of the individual and the power of the state as enabled by technology. The Bill can be understood only in the context of the very worst crimes […]

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Book review: A Brief History of Liberty, Schmidtz and Brennan


A Brief History of Liberty by David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan “provides a comprehensive, philosophically–informed portrait of the elusive nature of one of our most cherished ideals”. Each chapter begins with a thesis, comprises a lively, engaging and well-referenced discussion and concludes with questions to consider and comprehensive notes. The theses are as follows: Introduction, Conceptions of Freedom. “Thesis: There are several forms of liberty. Whether they are conflicting or complementary is a matter of historical circumstance.” Chapter 1, A […]

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Speech at Runnymede on the 799th anniversary of Magna Carta


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Two years ago, I attended a two-day Liberty Fund conference on Magna Carta. Today, I was glad to join The Freedom Association to commemorate the 799th anniversary of Magna Carta at the memorial. Here’s an extended version of my speech: Seven hundred and ninety nine years ago today this place witnessed a definitive moment in our history. A document was signed which asserted the rule of law. It was not unprecedented – Henry I’s charter of liberties asserted much the same […]

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A “UKIP earthquake”? No – a landslide for disengagement


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Politicians don’t care much about turnout. That’s why most politicians and commentators don’t talk about it. What politicians care about is winning. There’s plenty of news right now about a “UKIP earthquake“. The BBC reports UKIP gaining 30% in an area where they had not run before. They explain excitedly the prospect of UKIP as a disruptive force. So it seems. However, I’ve just learned that the turnout in Wycombe District — somewhat larger than the constituency — was 41,381, […]

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Smoking kills


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Today, the Commons will vote on whether to disagree with the Lords in their amendment to ban smoking in private vehicles in the presence of children. Anyone who can read knows that smoking kills. And I know, for it killed my stepfather and an uncle. Why anyone does it despite the clear warnings and often lurid images on the packets is a mystery not explained by appeal to the addictive qualities of nicotine. People who wish to live long and […]

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