UKIP: still the only home for Libertarians

Olly Neville October 22, 2012 14
UKIP: still the only home for Libertarians

As I wrote earlier, UKIP is the only home for Libertarians. Simon Riglesford has a blog post out today about UKIP, specifically some concerns he has with them

The first assertion Simon makes is that he agrees with a lot of UKIP’s manifesto. He then goes on to assert that that UKIP will never form a national government. This is his first mistake – in nineteen years UKIP has gone from single-issue pressure group set up as the Anti-Federalist League to a full blown political party, coming 2nd in a national election in 2009, commanding nearly one million votes in 2010, reaching 14% across the country in 2012 and is now regularly ahead of the Liberal Democrats by 2 – 3% in the polls, a party with over one hundred years of history and one that is in government. If Simon really thinks that UKIP will never form a government he is being hopelessly naive. If UKIP can go so far with so little money in less than twenty years imagine where it will be in another twenty, especially with the momentum it is currently creating.

Simon goes on to mention that UKIP’s “large number of good policies” far outweigh their “small number of bad policies”;  his complaint is that UKIP campaign on their bad policies instead of their good ones.

Firstly let’s look at the policies he claims are “bad”:

1) Immigration – Simon fundamentally misunderstands UKIP’s immigration policy, which I have explained in detail before but will explain again. UKIP want to freeze permanent immigration, not temporary migrants or those who come here to work. This freeze is for five years;  in that five year period people can move to Britain to work or on temporary visas and after five years will be able to upgrade to a permanent visa. The simple fact is UKIP’s policy, whilst seeming tough, is actually the most open border and libertarian immigration policy of any of the big four parties.
2) Law and order – I see nothing inconsistent with libertarianism and law and order. As Simon notes UKIP wish to reduce a lot of the unnecessary laws we have (i.e via a royal commission on drugs) but crimes such as murder, rape, theft etc would be a crime even in an anarcho-capitalist society. To wish to properly protect property rights is not a violation of libertarianism, in fact it is perfectly in keeping with it.
3) Strong defence – UKIP is not an anarchist party, it is a classical liberal/libertarian one. As such it believes defence is provided by the state, not by private companies. If the state is going to provide defence it needs to do it properly- it is shocking that British soldiers die due to lack of equipment. Simon neglects to mention that UKIP is the only real major non-interventionist party the UK has and as such the only one that those who follow a classical liberal or libertarian foreign policy can support on foreign policy issues.  A fundamentally key role of the state – if it has to exist – is to protect its citizens from harm from others, via a police and a military. UKIP, like Ron Paul, in America believe that we need a strong defensive military. If anyone has followed news about Argentina and the Falklands they will note that British sovereignty is always at threat. Who knows what may happen in ten, fifteen or twenty years time; trained and well-equipped armed forces do not appear from nowhere.  If you want to protect your citizens, it is the unknown unknowns you must be most prepared for.
4) Simon goes on to mention “other anti-market ‘populist’ issues” without explaining what they are. If he were to give me a list of these problems I would be happy to answer them.

Having finished mentioning policies he disagrees with (on my count, three plus a catch-all), he then critiques UKIP because ‘voters don’t read their manifesto’. He argues that UKIP’s core vote does not come from classically liberal types.

Frankly, this is irrelevant. I don’t care if UKIP’s voters are left-wing Marxists, neo-cons, hippies or Daily Mail readers – what I do care about is UKIP’s leadership and policies. If a voter doesn’t read a party’s manifesto then that is their fault, not the fault of the party. The manifesto and the leadership are the key areas to determine where a party is going and what it believes in, and they are comfortably classically liberal/libertarian. That is all that matters, not the ignorance of many who vote for a multitude of parties without knowing what they truly stand for.

Simon then asks, “Where is UKIP’s high-publicity campaign for education vouchers? Or for a Royal Commission on drug policy reform? Or for cutting taxes for the rich (as well as the poor)? These are all UKIP policies, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at their publicity material.” Perhaps he does not watch Russia Today, read the interviews UKIP politicians give to both mainstream and less well known media outlets or see the online spreading of those policies by official and unofficial UKIP channels.

The last link even points out that no big media outlets followed up their story, despite it being pretty newsworthy that the UK’s fourth party were the only pro-legalisation party.

The reason that Simon has not seen UKIP campaign on these issues is twofold.
Firstly he is not looking hard enough. Secondly, he would have to look hard because the mainstream media simply do not want to publicise them. The media offer UKIP interviews on the EU and a little on immigration. They will not interview UKIP spokesmen if they want to talk about other topics; this a sad but true fact. Having personally spoken to UKIP’s press office to ask why they are only on TV talking about the EU, they have told me time and again that this is the only issue that they will only have us on to talk about it.

UKIP make a great deal of their common sense policies on manifestos, leaflets and local newspapers. The fact that Simon has not seen them on the mainstream media does not mean UKIP does not try to push them. If the establishment refuses to acknowledge something, it is very hard to get it out there.

He asks why is it useful to have these policies in UKIP’s manifesto. The answer is simple; it is what UKIP believe in and what they will implement when they get in to power. UKIP’s flat tax rate policy is one that is talked about a lot and is used very successfully to attract former Conservative party members and voters.

Simon, I believe, falls into the Nirvana fallacy. As I have written before libertarians and classical liberals often make the perfect the enemy of the good. Simon believes that UKIP are not perfect so he will not support them. He fails to realise that we have three statist, social democratic, big-government parties in Lib-Lab-Con. In UKIP we have the only party pushing for a more libertarian platform. UKIP are going in the right direction; they may not be perfect but they are the only party trying to take the UK towards a more classically liberal state. Every pro-marketeer, liberal or libertarian that does not join UKIP is tacitly supporting the current big-state direction that this country is going towards. When there is only one party swimming against the tsunami of statism, in not helping them swim, you are helping the wave wash over them.

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