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The first British tea party event

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On the 27th February 2010, "The Freedom Association" (Inc. MEP Daniel Hannan) held the first British tea party event, in Brighton, England. The event took place shortly after the Conservative Spring Conference, at the Hilton hotel, in Brighton.

I should start by stating that I am no expert in Objectivism, but am fairly knowledgeable about the philosophy, and consider myself an Objectivist, even though I may get some things wrong. Nevertheless, I attended the event, as an Objectivist, with the aim of discovering whether it had any potential to be like the Tea Party movement, in the US.

I was troubled when that the door greeter asked me whether I was "there to see Dan", and I responded coldly: "No, I'm here to be a part of the Tea Party movement" - This troubled me, because it's just wrong to make the event about 'one' man, rather than about the movement itself, which should've been spontaneous and grass-roots, rather than highly organised and controlled, like this one was. Other people started arriving, so I went into the meeting room which was pretty small, with maybe 20-25 chairs; barely big enough to fit 40 people into the room! Fox News had a cameraman there, and there was a small podium stand where organisers from The Freedom Association, but mostly Daniel Hannan, would speak. Eventually, Daniel Hannan came into the room and began his speech. At this point, the room was packed with 50-60 people; too many for the small room.

My impression of his speech was that he quoted alot of history, he talked about Europe alot, he spoke about how we need "lower taxation", he reeled off statistics about taxation, he talked about British 'traditions', he spoke of the legitimacy of holding a British Tea Party event, and he mentioned the various bad things that the British Labour Party had done over the years. Furthermore, he spoke briefly about his admiration for Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But of course, you will all eventually be able to listen to the speech and the Q&A session, when it finally gets uploaded, or shown on Fox News. I shall endeavour to keep you guys updated.

The Q&A session entailed Daniel Hannan taking questions from audience, and answering three at a time.

I was questioner number three, and I should probably point out that my heart was beating wildly at this point, but I managed to put the following question to him:

"Isn't taxation a violation of individual rights? You haven't spoken about individual rights anywhere in your speech!"

And in response, he again neglected to mention individual rights, by evasively speaking about generic "individual freedom", "abstract rights", British traditions of freedom, and government's duty to control and provide "The army, roads, healthcare, education and police".

I sat there fuming with anger. "Typical bloody Conservative", I thought, "Always evading the principle of individual rights".

Where was the mention of individual rights? It's a Tea Party event about taxation, so surely individual rights should've been a major talking point?! And what the heck was he talking about when he spoke about the government's duty to provide "roads, healthcare and education"? - That's socialism! :D What about providing courts and enforcing/upholding objective laws? There was no mention of that. He spoke about "lowering taxes" - but he didn't even answer me on whether taxation, which is the seizure of wealth, by force, from disarmed victims, by the government, is a violation of individual rights (all of them).

He either...

1. Didn't know what individual rights are, and why they're so important

2. Knew what individual rights are, but evaded the question and criticism

3. Simply forgot my question and criticism

Overall, I was unimpressed with his speech and his Q&A. I left the Tea Party event, feeling angry and frustrated with a man whom I had greatly respected only half an hour earlier. Quite frankly, if the British Tea Party movement is to have any future, then it will have to continue spontaneously from the grass-roots, rather than by any one man, or any one organisation. The general impression that I got from other attendees, was that it the British Tea Party event was merely an 'extension' to the Conservative Spring Conference, and not a true Tea Party movement in its own right.

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