Chris Tame — Seven years gone today



Chris R. Tame was Britain’s leading Libertarian until his death seven years ago today. What would he have thought of the Government’s current policies?

It’s difficult to believe he has been gone for seven years, but that is something that will be said of all of us in due course, those of us who are remembered, for whatever reason. Chris was and will be remembered only for good ones, save for a small number of people who can see no decency in anyone. You can find some background on Chris here.

I have to report that the Chris Tame Memorial Lecture and prize has not been held since 2011, for reasons I can’t go into here. For similar reasons, the biography of Chris has not yet materialised; I have though been assured that it will at some point.

What would Chris have thought about the current Government’s policies? He was an advocate of free banking, and although there is no sign of that being brought in yet, he would have been implacably opposed to any sort of bailout. If a bank, several banks, or many of them were in danger of failing, he would have advocated allowing them to fail, and at one time he had enough influence to ensure this would have at least been discussed in Parliament if not by the Government, in spite of the usual vested interests screaming that the sky would fall.

Although he was revolted by the mere thought of male homosexuality, Chris would have supported the legalisation of so-called gay marriage. He would have railed at further increases in duty on alcohol, tobacco and fuel, and he would have dismissed as nanny statism the proposed minimum alcohol price, arguing like me that it would have done more harm than good.

It is wrongly believed that Libertarians are wets; Chris was no such thing, he had no problem with the death penalty, either for terrorists or ordinary murderers provided they were convicted by due process, but he would have been utterly appalled at British complicity in the drone programme, and he would have gone ballistic at the mere suggestion that extrajudicial killing should even be considered by any of the Western powers.

He would too have resisted any attempts to plunge Britain into yet more disastrous foreign wars or wars by proxy. Though he would have had no problem with humanitarian aid to Syria or elsewhere, he would have warned against any commitment to Mali.

Sadly, his personal influence had waned greatly long before his death. After he was forced out of his post as Director of FOREST (for reasons I won’t go into here), he went into a rapid decline.

He caught his second – and much younger – wife in flagrante delicto, and she did her best to take him to the cleaners in the divorce courts. In the end he had to give up his enormous apartment in London’s Southampton Row. Then the bone cancer struck.

One thing I never managed to convince Chris of was the merits of Social Credit – “it wouldn’t work” was his reply. When I told him that in modern Britain and the West generally many people were unemployable and asked what they were to do, he replied “Nobody’s entitled to a job”.

Those words would come back to haunt him, because he was in effect frozen out. One of the last times I spoke to him and mentioned this he said that he was approaching 50, and didn’t know what to do. Eventually he did manage to find another job, albeit one far less well remunerated than before, but by this time he had other worries.

This August I will have outlived Chris. I’ve never been fond of exercise, and my health has never been great, but for Chris, who was always radiant, the fitness training, martial arts, abstemiousness and vitamin supplementation counted for nothing as his body was ravaged by a swift and irrevocably fatal illness.

After his death, his ashes were scattered to the four winds from a fishing boat off Ramsgate by his successor Sean Gabb. And both his memory and his name live on in a tangible form as his massive collection of books and other publications was donated to an institution behind the former Iron Curtain.

Lifelong atheist or not, we love yer, geez. Wherever you are now.

[The above article was first published March 20, 2013.]

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