Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yes. But no...

Young Master Hannan is complaining that UKIP split the "eurosceptic" vote, through a comparison with Canada's recent political history...
In 1993, Canada’s Conservatives were wiped out. The governing party lost all but two of its 156 MPs, and began a 23-year period in opposition. Defeat on such a scale doesn’t happen for just one reason, of course, but the Tories’ single biggest disadvantage is easily identified: the Right-wing vote was split.

The Progressive Conservatives, the established party of Diefenbaker and Mulroney, had been challenged by a younger movement, the Reform Party. Led by Preston Manning, one of the greatest conservative leaders of our age, Reform spilled out from the western prairies, demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime and an end to multiculturalism.

Dan then argues that when the two parties merged, they made a stronger electoral proposition, and the Conservatives have consequently gone from strength to strength.
You can probably guess where I’m going with this argument.

The latest YouGov poll has my party on 32 per cent, and UKIP on 9 per cent. Together, that’s a Conservative government; separately, it’s a Labour government.

Which would scare us all, Danny, if the recent actions of your party—in sharp contrast to the rhetoric of both members of the Coalition—hadn't more than adequately revealed that there is (as Nigel Farage would say) not a cigarette paper between your lot and NuLabour. Apart, possibly, from a basic honesty on the part of NuLabour about their authoritarian agenda.
It’s true, of course, that not every UKIP voter is a former Tory. Then again, the relevant question is not ‘how did they vote before?’ but ‘if UKIP didn’t exist, how would they vote today?’ It seems not unreasonable to assume that the majority would support the most convincingly Eurosceptic party on offer.

Sorry, Dan, but remind me which one that is again...?
So let’s ask the question. Are there any circumstances in which UKIP and the Conservatives might combine? UKIP leaders keep saying that they’d gladly fold themselves into the Conservative Party if it became our policy to leave the EU, but such an eventuality seems unlikely, at least in the short term. It’s true that most Conservative voters would withdraw from the EU tomorrow. So would most party members. And so, I suspect, would most Tory MPs in a secret ballot. That, though, is not party policy.

Which is a round-about way of saying that the Conservative leadership does not represent the views of Tory MPs, Tory Party members or the rest of the country.
[Cameron] made two commitments to Eurosceptics before he became leader: first, that he would allow individual Conservatives, provided they were not frontbenchers, to campaign against EU membership...

Or, rather, that anyone who joined Better Off Out would not get any kind of Cabinet job. It's all a matter of perspective, eh?
... second, that he would withdraw his MEPs from the federalist EPP.

But not, of course, before ensuring that he could get enough MEPs to ensure that the new group would be big enough to get the EU funding accorded to those of a certain size.
Could there, then, be a Conservative-UKIP alliance while the Tories remain in favour of EU membership? Yes.

It's actually vanishingly unlikely.
Full independence is unlikely to be in the next manifesto; but an In/Out referendum might well be. And such a referendum ought to be enough.

Why? We all know that referendums have a tendency to be thoroughly ignored—or re-held until the "right" answer is given.
UKIP’s raison d’être is secession. Sure, it has other policies: tax cuts, selection in schools and so forth. But it exists, essentially, to restore British sovereignty. A referendum would take that issue off the agenda whichever way it went.

But UKIP's raison d'être is, as you say, not about a referendum, Dan: it's about leaving the EU.

And, let's face it, Dan, your claim that the Conservatives are "the most convincingly Eurosceptic party on offer" is on shaky ground. Should you doubt me, perhaps you can tell me who said this back in January?
So now we know: no repatriation, no renegotiation, business as usual. December's 'veto' turns out to be nothing of the kind; at best, it is a partial opt-out. Britain had asked for concessions in return for allowing the other member states to use EU institutions and structures for their fiscal compact. No such concessions were forthcoming, but we have given our permission anyway. The only difference is that, because the deal was done in a separate treaty structure, the PM doesn't have to put anything through the House of Commons. We had a generational opportunity to improve our relationship with the EU. That opportunity has passed.

Yes, Danny: it was you.

Some say that actions speak louder than words. Me? I believe that without actions your words are at best suspect and most certainly meaningless—all mouth and no trousers.

And the Buttered New Potato and his acolytes—who have a strangle-hold on your party and, alas, this country—have said many fine words (remember the Freedom Bill, the "veto", the promises to restore our freedoms?) but have, in fact, only cracked down even harder on our personal and civil liberties.

The other thing that you fail to appreciate, Dan, is encapsulated in these fragments of your own article...
... Reform spilled out from the western prairies, demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime and an end to multiculturalism...

... and...
Sure, [UKIP] has other policies: tax cuts, selection in schools and so forth.

UKIP has a highly active and enthusiastic youth wingheaded by highly intelligent libertarian businessman Harry Aldridge.

UKIP is not solely about withdrawal from the EU anymore: it was when I first joined back in 2006, but a number of us campaigned for—and contributed to—a fuller manifesto. And that manifesto is, with a few idiotic mistakes, largely libertarian in flavour. Just as Canada's Reform party wanted more than a desired outcome on a single issue, UKIP is now a party "demanding radical decentralisation, tax cuts, a crackdown on crime".

Further, UKIP is the party that understands that people want to have fun: Nigel Farage's well-known affiliation for a pint and a fag is a draw for those of us in this country who are sick and fucking tired of being lectured at by worthy, worthless, miserable fucking puritans.

So, whilst many UKIP members might be persuaded by your party's weasel-tongued promises on a referendum—will this be a "cast-iron" one again, Dan?—those who are developing UKIP's current and future direction are not interested: they are libertarians and lovers of freedom. They will not be conned by the Conservatives' lies and platitudes—because they are not conservatives.

There's a backlash coming, Dan: why do you think that the whole idea of state funding has reared its ugly head again...? The Big Three simply want to shut out the nimbler competitors—rather like the multi-nationals that your party's corporatist policies favour, in fact.

The Big Three parties are all morally bankrupt: this has become increasingly obvious and some of us have principles, Dan. The Conservatives will never have my backing ever again—and I think that most of the young UKIPpers feel the same way.

The previous generations have screwed up: it is time for you all to step aside and let the libertarian youth build a better, happier world.

UPDATE & DISCLAIMER: I rejoined UKIP in January. It just made sense—apart from their immigration policy.


Mr A said...

While leaving the EU is a big issue for me, the overriding driver for voting UKIP is the repeal of the smoking ban. Not just because I want to smoke in the pub, but for what it represents - it draws a line in the sand and says, "This far and no further." The greatest threat to civil liberties, democracy and, it seems, capitalism in this country are the prohibitionist neo-Puritans. They need to be crushed. And UKIP is the only party that even acknowledges they are dangerous, let alone doesn't promise to pay them millions out of my tax bill.

john b said...

"a crackdown on crime"

Awesome! More vast sums wasted on Howard and Blunkett's failed 'bang everyone up' policies, whilst prison populations continue to vastly outstrip the rest of the civilised world. Sane Libertarian Policies For A Better Britain.

FlipC said...

Scratching my head here; if:

The majority of Conservative voters want to leave the EU.
The majority of Conservative members want to leave the EU.
The majority of Conservative MPs want to leave the EU.

Shouldn't that then be Conservative policy?

As an aside does anyone else find it amusing when a Conservative refers to their own Party as "Tory" given the origin of the term?

Umbongo said...

Hannan makes extremely good speeches condemning EU bureaucracy and the ethos of the EU. However, at the same time, he is an enthusiastic proponent of Turkey's entry into the EU which (I assume), in Hannan's world, would thus negate any reason for our leaving.

He is, in the end and after all the blather, one of Cameron's loyal CINOs: well "loyal" in the sense that he would apparently prefer us in the EU (despite its shortcomings) with Cameron as PM to us out of the EU with Cameron in the wilderness with the rest of the modernisers.

rapscallion said...

Nice one DK. Apart from my utter loathing of the EUSSR, I vote UKIP because it is libertarian. I'm very much of the "mind your own business" school. If I want to smoke myself to death, then that's my lookout and no other fuc*er's.

That Wanchor Daniel Knowles has penned yet another anti-UKIP piece in the DT - and is getting a right kicking. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielknowles/100151541/ukip-a-political-force-in-the-2010-general-election-nigel-farage-lost-to-a-candidate-dressed-as-a-dolphin/#disqus_thread

The worm has fuc*ing turned.


Curmudgeon said...

I agree with Mr A. While I'm no fan of the EU, the chief reason for me being a member of UKIP is its opposition to modern-day Puritanism. The present Coagulation has just carried on where NuLabour left off in state-sponsored lifestyle bullying.

Dr Evil said...

I'm up for UKIP these days because it has a resoundingly sensible manifesto and a genuine oppositional stance to the big two parties. Forget the Lib Dems; an utter waste of space and on their way to electoral oblivion.

Curmudgeon said...

The Canadian analogy is not really a very good one. The Reform Party grew out of rural populism and had little to do with traditional conservatism. And the merger of the two only took place once the Progressive Conservatives had been completely trounced at the polls.

Katabasis said...

Brilliant piece as usual DK.

And great to hear another libertarian has signed up to UKIP. I think our numbers are now leading to a fairly sizable contingent within the party.

Something else that strikes me about this is how much worse it gets for the Tories the longer they continue without even the pretense of making concessions to stop people departing to UKIP.

Because the longer that occurs, the longer UKIP has time to mature as a party and indeed it is doing just that. Years ago, prior to the founding of LPUK, I took an interest in UKIP primarily due to their anti-EU stance. There was a lot I didn't like however.

Since then the party has developed a whole host of polices I *very much agree with*. They're certainly the only party to have credibly adopted an open opposition to the continual attempts to further restrict free speech and activities on the internet, for example.

What is happening is that UKIP is carving out a destiny as a party with a distinct policy identity that is IN ADDITION to its anti-EU stance. It simply isn't the case any more that it is a single issue party.

And despite some polices I really don't like - especially those of a social conservative ilk, I'm willing to live with them for the whole raft of policies (no longer just one!) that I really side with.

I don't think Dan and so many others outside the party really understand how much has changed and how much is yet to come.

Good Ol' Dan said...

Well, from where I'm standing there doesn't seem to have been much change in UKIP. They are still fairly incompetent, and their main claim to fame at the moment is having overtaken the Lib Dems in an opinion poll. Big deal! They are definitely playing the anti-immigration card as their trump at the moment, and in Bradford West got over 1,000 votes probably due to the absence of a BNP candidate!! God knows why a libertarian would get so enthused by a party that gets more headlines for 'Ban the Burkha' outbursts by its leader than any principled and well-made arguments it may or may not put forward in favour of minimal government and getting the state out of our lives.

Have you had a look at the London mayoral election campaign? What's going on there? Lawrence Webb has not managed to get himself included in any of the media debates that I've come across, which looks like an implicit acceptance of the notion that the Green Party candidate is bound to have a higher profile than the UKIP one, as she's been involved in them and he hasn't! That doesn't look like a serious campaign by UKIP in London .... not by a long chalk. Not to mention the fact that UKIP GLA members who got elected in 2004 defected from UKIP just a year later, when Damian Hockney and Peter Hulme-Cross formed their own 'One London' party. Even this year, the UKIP GLA candidates are not standing as UKIP. They are billing themselves as something anodyne like "Fresh Choice for London' or something equally forgettable. How the heck does that equate to UKIP making great progress if they don't even want to use the party's name FFS?!!!

I've only seen one article in the 'Evening Standard' about Lawrence Webb, and that was the story of how he had suggested that his voters put the independent candidate Siobhan Benita as their second choice. Her response was to put a million miles of distance between herself and Webb, saying she hated UKIP and didn't want their second preference votes! Can you imagine a more hilarious example of political incompetence? To give an unsolicited endorsement to a rival who is obviously a middle class bien-pensant welfarist is idiotic, and the end result should be a very low level of support for Lawrence Webb and UKIP in London on 3rd May. Indeed, I feel that that is exactly what will happen. In 2008, Gerard Batten got a tiny number of votes, and he had his head screwed on!

Come on now, libs, that's enough of these illusions in UKIP. They are not a serious party, and the less said about that plane crash on general election day 2 years ago the better! If you REALLY know something I don't know, then please do spill the beans! In the meantime, may I remind you of your previous thoughts on the subject, my diabolical friend?

Good Ol' Dan said...

By the way, I am *not* Dan Hannan :-I)

I am another Danny altogether!

Steve Perrett said...

Personally, I think Dan Hannan is a closet UKIP supporter.

David C said...

"apart from their immigration policy".
Indeed. What are the chances of changing it?

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