We often speak of the harm done to 'consumers' by the impositions of a state that sometimes works in conjunction with commercial corporate bodies. (If Smith were alive and writing today he would surely revise his famous remark to the effect that whenever public servants and men of business meet they are sure to conspire against the consumer.)

But if we were to try to identify this 'consumer' we would struggle, for it is very rare to come across a person who is a 'consumer' of the purest type, that is to say a private individual who is a net taxpayer, not in receipt of benefits, and a person whose income is independent of policy-induced industrial levies and regulations. Thanks to the extension of the state's activities, I would wonder if there are more than a handful of such people in the 60 million strong population of Great Britain.

Thus it is that politicians advocating liberty find themselves rousing not a subset of the population, but attempting to persuade one element in a person's mind to rebel against another. Of course, those arguing from the other side face a similar task, but their work is easier in that they play upon near universal guilt at self-assertion, and the strong tendency to feel safe when sacrificing personal advantage to the 'collective' interest, since we are persuaded that our most dangerous competitors will be compelled to do the same.