Theresa May becomes our prime minister today, once David Cameron has handed over the seals of office, and she is invited to kiss hands with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
It is particularly galling for liberty-minded members like ourselves that Theresa May is not only not the leader we would have chosen, but because of the ridiculous selection process this party operates, she is not the leader anyone chose – save for the 199 Conservatives MPs who voted for her in the House of Commons.
But, because it is only fair to do so, we are giving Mrs May the benefit of the doubt despite our serious misgivings about her conduct in the Home Office over the last six years. Like with Mr Cameron, with whom we frequently disagreed, we will support policies we feel are consistent with civil and economic liberty, and will be relentlessly critical where we feel they are not. She has been called “collegiate” and one area we stand beside her with is her commitment that “Brexit means Brexit”. We will, of course, hold her to this but her respect for the will of the people, when so many have sought to ignore it, is admirable.
But let’s not beat around the bush here – the early signs are not looking good and, in all likelihood, Mrs May is going to keep us very busy over the next four years.
It is already being reported that her first act as prime minister will likely be to appoint an almost 50 per cent female Cabinet. It is simply astonishing that a woman who became, by a long way, the frontrunner in the leadership race purely on the basis of merit should now seek to appoint a Cabinet purely on the basis of genitalia. Our chairman Emily Barley has made her feelings on this very clear on this blog.
We must also, loudly and forcefully, oppose any further attempts by the former Home Secretary to push forward with the so-called Snoopers’ Charter and increase Government surveillance of British citizens in a manner this organisation believes is disproportionate, unnecessary, and immoral.
We must fiercely oppose any further attempts by Mrs May to curb freedom of expression and outlaw certain political points of view under the smokescreen of Government-mandated “British values”. This country has a proud history of tolerance and a “no ifs, no buts” respect for freedom of speech which, in the nineteenth century, even extended to us harbouring Karl Marx – a man who wanted to overthrow state and property – from the tyrants of Europe. Bad ideas must be crushed by reasoned argument, not by arbitrary force.
We must decry any further attempts by the Prime Minister to outlaw consensual sexual acts by adults and the recording and distribution of said sexual acts. It is simply outrageous that the state feels it has any role in policing morality in this way, and the fact something as “vanilla” as face-sitting ended up on the blacklist is a damning indictment of the ridiculousness of this positively Victorian policy. So much for being a “moderniser”, eh?
Then there is the depressing reality that, on economics, Theresa May is essentially Ed Miliband in kitten heels. It is the sincere hope of this organisation that she picks an economic liberal as her Chancellor because she is simply economically illiterate. The fact she has, with a straight face, proposed curbs on chief executive pay would be hilarious if it wasn’t so terrifying. This is a woman, who in being called out by Jacob Rees-Mogg on her attempt to push through the European Arrest Warrant without a vote in 2014, has shown she has no respect for due process. She does not understand property or individual liberty and she does not care.
Our conclusion? Theresa May is not only an authoritarian with no respect for civil and economic liberty, she is not only most definitely not a libertarian, she is in no way even a conservative. But Conservatives for Liberty was founded with the expressed purpose of giving people like us a voice in just these circumstances and the worst thing any liberty-minded Conservative can do now is leave the party. This is YOUR party. Make your voice heard and take it back!