In October 2013, Conservatives for Liberty entered the political arena with a launch event at The Barley Mow in Westminster. Daniel Hannan, recently inaugurated as our Honorary President, was our speaker for the night. We were overjoyed that we managed to attract 100 activists to our first event and were optimistic about how this boded for the future.
Just under three years later we held our largest-ever event at Conservative Party Conference, with more than 400 delegates turning up to hear Jacob Rees-Mogg and Toby Young speak – and sip prosecco – at our third annual Freedom Fizz reception. I am unashamed in calling this the best event of the Conference, and it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to know everyone there had a great night, but its timing also reminded me of why I co-founded CfL in the first place.
As I commented over at The Spectator, the following morning came with the hangover of Theresa May singling out ‘the libertarianism of the right’ as inimical to her vision of a more statist, more interventionist, and more intrusive Conservative Party in government. After a promising start, it very suddenly confirmed all we had feared about a May-led Conservative government, and in times gone by that may have resulted in an exodus of liberty-minded Conservatives from the Party.
Three years ago, one of my motivations for starting CfL was seeing this very phenomenon; talented people giving up on the Party over differences in attitudes exposed during the Equal Marriage Bill debate, a Cameron leadership which was increasingly moving away from where they thought the Party should be, and the frustrations of coalition government. But I didn’t see that happening this time. In fact, almost the exact opposite.
In the three weeks following Theresa May’s keynote Conference speech, we attracted more paid-up CfL members than we had in the preceding three months. Objective One of my reasons for starting CfL appeared to have been achieved: keeping libertarian and free market Conservatives in the Party by providing an internal opposition which represented their views and offered constructive criticism (and praise, where appropriate) to the Party leadership.
Conservatives for Liberty has grown enormously over the last three years, not least in the size and shape of our team. From a nucleus of three directors, we now have about a dozen committed volunteers, including an Executive team composed of our Chairman Emily Barley, Campaigns Director Neil Wilson, Online Director Ben Kelly, and myself as Creative Director.
With these milestones passed, we are very excited about where this has placed us to grow further. But we have not come this far without your help. Furthermore, with the current leadership seemingly moving further than ever before from our ideas and with so much at stake in the form Brexit will take, we need you more than ever. If you believe in our mission to change the Conservative Party and the United Kingdom for the better but have not yet joined us, you can do so here. Or, if you are already a member, you can find out how you can get more involved here.
This is an exciting time to be a Briton, a Conservative, and a member of the liberty movement. Be part of it and join us today.
Paul is Creative Director for Conservatives for Liberty. Follow him on Twitter: @Whiggery
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty