Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Clear Air In LibDem Contest

The Independent reports that the issue of a smoking ban is, ironically, showing some clear air between Lib Dem leadership contenders:

But Mr Oaten retorted: "I can't support an outright ban. I'm a Liberal ... if you are going to be a Liberal, Ming, you can't pick and mix which subject you are going to be Liberal on."

As I've said before, it is not illiberal to argue for a ban on smoking. The right to fill the room with noxious fumes may be a grey area, but it certainly conflicts with someone's right to breathe clean air. Which of these you take as a priority is a judgement call, and one I am happy to debate. But if we are using the harm principle as a guide, it is perfectly acceptable to call oneself liberal and support a ban on smoking. It's not a question of pick and mix; it's a question of using liberal principles and a belief in freedom to decide on what side of the line that decision lies.