In Portugal , UKIP have a good relationship with a eurosceptic party called PND. They are led by Manuel Montiero who is a former MP and MEP for the Portuguese Conservative Party. They are fiercely opposed to the EU Constitution and, like us, want to regain control of their fishing waters from the EU.
They have already achieved some success with an MP in the regional parliament of Madeira and, in the absence of a referendum in Portugal , expect to win MEP seats in 2009. But in a couple months time they might not exist.
A new law comes into force in Portugal in March 2008 that states political parties must have 5000 registered members or they will be declared illegal.
The names and addresses of the members must be given to the Portuguese authorities.
Of the fourteen political parties that exist in Portugal today, only four will be allowed to exist after March 2008.
This situation is truly incredible. It allows the existing parties to stay in place forever and to prevent new parties and new ideas for ever being born.
As one of the founders of a new political party with only a few tens of members so far—owing to the fact that we have deliberately not yet expanded beyond a portion of the UK political blogosphere (although that will change next week)—this is obviously of concern to your humble Devil.
As Nigel says, "could it happen here?" I can't think of a decent reason why it should not; I doubt that the Big Three would object, after all.
And, let us remember that when the first proposals for state funding of political parties was mooted, the plan was to deny funding to any party that did not have at least two MPs. This was a clear attempt to cement the position of the main parties, although the excuse given was that nobody in their right mind would want to give taxpayers' cash to the BNP: apart from, presumably, those thousands of people who vote for said party.
And that's the thing; I might personally feel that giving taxpayers' pounds to the BNP is beyond the pale, but who are the Conservatives and Labour apparatchiks to decide on behalf of those fools who have voted for a legal fucking party?
As I watched the TV tonight, I became profoundly depressed: everywhere there was talk of banning this and that "for our own good"—on Newsnight (fronted by the hideously offensive Kirsty Wark), it was bottles of water, plastic bags (an issue admirably ripped to shreds by John Band), rationed flights, banning 4x4s, patio heaters and other such draconian measures. On Question Time it was people clamouring for a national DNA database.
Truly, the people of this country are not sleep-walking into a police state: they are positively begging for it to be imposed.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"—Benjamin Franklin
The Libertarian Party is facing an uphill struggle and yet... and yet... many people whom I met at the I Want A Referendum demo on Wednesday (a good turnout there was, too) were receptive to our ideas.
Perhaps there is a small glimmer of hope...