I wanted to believe that UKIP was libertarian, that their policies were libertarian but presented in an authoritarian way. That the Burka policy was about property rights, that the immigration policy offered limitless work permits and temporary visas and that the law and that the party’s comments on the desire to change politics and Nigel’s on his desire for free thinkers was more than just political manoeuvring.
UKIP however sold out any semblance of holding libertarian principles and beliefs by explicitly targeting the angry and the social conservatives. Their attempt to walk the tightrope between their libertarian youth while explicitly attracting a very un libertarian social cons was done by writing policies with as many caveats as possible, so they could be all things to all people. Take equal marriage, most people, indeed a huge number of the members who have recently joined, believe UKIP’s policy is to always oppose, encouraged by UKIP’s marketing of the policy towards this type of voter. Actually the policy is to support equal marriage, oppose this legislation and only consider it after we remove ourselves from the ECHR. Moving aside the fact that the ECHR is not a threat to religious freedoms, UKIP try and use it to both attract those oppose to equal marriage while keeping their more liberal campaigners happy by talking up the caveats in private.
The clearest point that UKIP is not a libertarian party is how they deal with actual libertarians in the party. By expelling both Richard Lowe the PPC for Chester and myself from our positions over our belief in Equal Marriage they fundamentally showed that libertarians are not wanted. Our treatment is not unique, current MEP Marta Andreasen has highlighted how centrally controlled the party is, with the NEC – controlled by the party leadership calling all the shots. The party caused serious disruption when it overturned the members in the London Assembly Elections to impose their preferred candidate at the top of the list. Actions speak louder than words and UKIP neither talk nor act libertarian.
I wanted to believe that UKIP were a libertarian party, that the angry old men that make up most of the attendees of conferences and meetings were not the ones influencing the party leadership, that they truly believed in liberty and freedom. I was wrong. There was a time when libertarians could influence UKIP and could make their voices heard, day by day that is being drowned out by those that want to drag Britain back to some previous supposed Golden Age while whinging about immigrants, the EU and homosexuals. When it comes to being a truly pro liberty movement I believe that with UKIP we had a chance. We don’t anymore.
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