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Golden rules from Tim Congdon


Image: UKIP Bournemouth West

Tim Congdon, CBE, is a well-known economist, an honorary professor at Cardiff Business School and founder of Lombard Street Research. He was a member of the Treasury Panel of Independent Forecasters successfully advising Margaret Thatcher on the economy. I had heard that he had spoken very cogently and even movingly at the UK Independence Party Conference, and I was sorry that I missed his speech.

So it was that I shot into London to hear him when he spoke before the Bruges Group. Sitting in the front row I was really able to see and feel his passion as he described how London had become the financial centre of the world and his unbelievable dismay that the British government appeared to be about to chuck it away.

The rule of English common law, including property rights, and a stable, self-regulated, competitive environment had produced the City’s success. And this had been done without the need for government interference. It was in the interest of all the players to make it work. The rules of the London Stock Exchange evolved in the Stock Exchange. They were not imposed from above. They arose from English common law. Congdon quoted Locke, Blackstone, and Adam Smith in describing these developments. (They are described in the Liberty Timeline.)

English common law, of course, was taken to the colonies and the Crown dependencies that are now the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, Bermuda, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. All these children of the Britannic inheritance have stability, the rule of just law and property rights. They are not burdened with over-regulation.

But all this is threatened by new legislation emanating from the EU. On 1 November, the EU’s Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MIFID) will come into force in Britain. This is supposed to reduce the cost of trading stocks in Europe. Tim Congdon believes it will threaten the City of London’s involvement in the international bond market, force tax harmonisation across the EU, increase taxes, and add regulatory burdens.

The EU (supported in this effort by the US Treasury and the UK Exchequer) is also trying to bully and control the Crown dependencies - Bermuda, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man - into complying with onerous EU financial regulations. They are threatening their economic lifelines.

None of this is good or necessary. Britain is sacrificing the prosperity of her people to the EU because the people who work in government do not respect common law and do not understand business.

Talking to members of the UK Independence Party after the event, we were united in wishing that Tim Congdon played a more prominent role in the UKIP leadership.