Monday, May 19, 2014

UKIP, elections, and messaging

This is something that I have been mulling for a while, and which I eventually posted (as a long and meandering comment) over on Victoria Munro's blog. Since it sums up what I feel about UKIP right now, I thought I'd post it here as a shortcut when people ask me what I think.

Being a libertarian in this country, in this particular age, is a difficult thing (even for the brief moment when the Libertarian Party existed), and deciding who to vote for is also tricky.

Although I am writing this entirely in a personal capacity, I have been a UKIP member,on and off, for a few years. Back in 2005/06/07, I was a even a policy former for the party—along with another six or seven libertarian political bloggers. We set the tone for the first, proper national manifestos—low, simple taxes, sensible energy policy, small state and free trade with the world—and we were allowed to do so.

Having spent a little time with him, I believe that Nigel is intellectually a libertarian even if—like my parents—he is not instinctively one on every topic: many others in the party were—are?—the same.

Whilst the Tories were enthusiastically pushing the idea of compulsory community service state slavery for young people, I saw a UKIP Conference (mostly made up of older people) decisively and overwhelmingly reject such fascism.

I met many young UKIPpers at UKIP meets, but also at events at the ASI, IEA, and the Libertarian Alliance: these are the people who are coming through UKIP Youth and even in the running as MEPs. They were (mostly) articulate, intelligent and passionate—and not racist.

But, as I found when founding LPUK, there is a problem with appealing to libertarians—there just aren’t enough of them. You are not going to win a national election appealing only to them. Further, I believe that UKIP was finding that the annoyed Conservative vote was also reaching saturation point.

In order to gain a decent voter base, the party has had to start appealing to the traditional Labour voters—or those who have never voted. Which means targeting the working classes. And here’s a guilty little secret: the working classes tend to be more pissed off about immigration than the middle-classes (especially the “Islington” middle).

Think of it less as racism, and more as tribalism—and humans are instinctively tribal animals. But, on a more practical level, it is the working classes who believe, more strongly than most, that their jobs and wages have been affected by high levels of immigration.

This is why we have these aggressive immigration posters and messages that, I must confess, make me very uncomfortable too. However, I think that it would be very difficult to deny that they are working. Yes, the libertarians are leaving UKIP but, as I said before, it’s a numbers game: there are more working class people than there are libertarians.

Despite all of this, I will vote UKIP at the Euro-elections, and there are two main reasons for this: first, that I wish to carry the message, very strongly, to the LibLabCon alliance that they do not have a right to be in government, they do not have a right to power—something that Labour and Conservatives have, I think, utterly forgotten (leading inexorably to a corruption almost as total as the Republicans and Democrats in Washington).

The second reason is equally simple (even if less spiteful): I want Cameron to understand that the people of this country do not want to be part of a Federal Europe, and that he’d better hold that referendum or else. After all, even now, the Conservatives are trying to weasel out of it: having crowed about how they had got the referendum legislation through the Commons, they have been very quiet about it being stymied in the Lords (even though they had the numbers to get it through). In other words, I want to ensure that Cameron is kept honest.

I realise that both of these reasons seem rather negative, but I think that they are the best reasons for voting UKIP at this time.
I sincerely hope that, after this particular flurry of negativity, we can once again start to push the positive aspects of the party—the free trade, small state, citizen of the world policies—to the British public.

In the meantime, I will happily continue trying to push libertarian policies through UKIP, the Conservatives, and via any other feasible political means.

UPDATE: to address the substantive point, most sensible economists (including Hayek) agree that, as long as inequality exists between national states, you can have either a Welfare State or free movement of people—not both.

Right now, we have a problem: we want to control immigration, but we cannot limit said immigration from the EU. Which means that we need to limit immigration from the rest of the world even more than we would otherwise.

UKIP's position used to be (I think it still is) that, outside of the EU, we would be able to treat the citizens of all nations equally. Or, indeed, favour those who have a similar cultural background to the British people—those we loosely designate "the Anglosphere".

Regardless, until I see the media Establishment calling the entire Swiss nation "racists" (especially given their recent vote to further limit immigration) then I'll take the commentary of the commentariat with a massive fucking pinch of salt.

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