Bizarre political parties: The Boston Tea Party

One of the world's newest political parties was formed in Portland, America, in July this year. The Boston Tea Party may sound like a joke, although it has a long way to go to rival some of the sillier names chosen by fringe or non-serious parties, but its founders claim earnest intent. At the Libertarian Party's (LP) annual conference, the Boston Tea Party's founder Thomas Knapp criticised the LP for "abdication of its political responsibilities", saying that "Americans deserve and desperately need a pro-freedom party that forcefully advocates libertarian solutions to the issues of today". Reactions to the new party, which favours withdrawal from Iraq, repeal of the Patriot Act and an end to the war on marijuana, have been mixed. Postings on the Third Party Watch blog have varied from: "Enjoy your tea" to "This is what destroyed the socialist movement", and "I'm still waiting for someone to form the Anarchy Party. Then a few years later disgruntled anarchists will break off and form the Anarchy Reform Caucus".

The Libertarian Party has regularly won approximately one million votes in nationwide US elections, so some have been quick to condemn Knapp. Others are dismissive. "I predict this Boston Tea Party," states one blogger, "will not, at any point, have any impact on anything".

Sholto Byrnes is a Contributing Editor to the New Statesman

This article first appeared in the 23 October 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Emergency: How only carbon rationing can save the world