We at MBC have been very privileged to be both witness and participant in the broad policy debate on the centre and economically liberal right of British politics for almost twenty years now. From the inception of the Social Market Foundation in 1989 and the individual membership of Damian Merciar, through to his contribution in a non party aligned capacity, to both the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute of Economic Affairs – the leading intellectual forums of their kind in Europe, we have participated in the debate on the future of our regulated and former monopoly State industries.
We have witnessed and worked in these industries in their privatised and liberalised form, and witnessed the benefits derived from this liberalisation. We have argued for greater accountability of funding for Government sponsorship of “safe” sectors, such as aviation and sponsored medical research. We have helped promote and articulate the case for free trade in Damian’s personal involvement in the new and influential think tank, the Globalisation Institute.
We have argued the case for decreasing regulation as the benefits of competition develop a sector’s market – most obviously witnessed in the mobile telecoms arena, an area that didn’t exist twenty years ago, and one that flourished on the back of a liberalised fixed telecoms market. Who would have thought that not too long ago the Post Office was responsible for telephony in the UK?
Whilst it may be the new hegemony, its safety is not guaranteed. The rise of micro-management, the interventionist instincts of the present Government and particularly the indication that a future Government under Gordon Brown would make things worse – all these are cause for concern.
There is a simple clarity to non-interventionist commercial policy; our business benefits both immediately and in the longer term. The strictures of price transparency and free competition open our activities to the vagaries of customer loyalty, and the requirement to foster this loyalty. Whilst it is very stimulating to discuss Hayekian principles of Economic Liberalism, and the canon of Liberal Greats stretching from John Stuart Mill to Buchanan, it is more profound to contemplate them in practise, amidst the greater prosperity of personal choice.