Matthew Feeney has yet again written about UKIP and Libertarianism. Whilst I have covered before (see here and here) about both why UKIP is a) a libertarian party b) the most libertarian UK party as well as why all libertarians should vote for the most libertarian party possible (or else accept responsibility for the Social Democracy than ensues.
Feeney offers just two reasons why UKIP is not libertarian: that the headline of their immigration policy is written in a populist manner, and that they believe in firm protection of property rights via criminal justice.
The second point is clearly consistent with libertarian principles. It is very libertarian to wish to defend the public’s property rights, breach of them by persistent criminals deserve to face the criminal system. One of the only roles of a night watchmen state is police and courts – properly protecting property rights is not just consistent with libertarianism, it is a core aspect of libertarianism. Libertarians are not ‘soft on crime’ they accept (as UKIP does: see here for Farage’s comments on the need to decriminalise drugs and prostitution) that some things should not be crimes. But when someone infringes upon others property rights they should face the criminal justice system, and face proper punishment.
The first point is one that I have answered many times. Feeney makes the classic mistake of only reading headline policy, not taking the time to understand the basis and reasoning behind it. UKIP claims it wants a freeze on permanent 5 year immigration – seemingly non libertarian as Feeney claims. However he fails to look at what UKIP do propose: temporary visas and work permits. While the headline policy seems tough on immigration, under a UKIP system theoretically more people would be able to come to work in the UK than under the Tories’ 50,000 immigration cap by applying for temporary visas (and after the 5 year freeze is over upgrading to permanent settlement) and by workers coming over via work permits. This system keeps the very best of free movement of labour but sells it in a populist way.
Libertarian policies are not the most sellable to the public, the issue with democracy is that to get elected parties must appeal to populist tendency. UKIP do this fantastically by presenting their policies in a populist manner but keeping the underlying libertarianism. It is weak of those who seek to criticise UKIP to not properly understand both UKIP’s policies and what they are trying to do by selling libertarianism under the guise of populism. UKIP are the best chance for a smaller more libertarian state in the UK, they are the only party that wants to take the UK in the right direction. To do anything other than aid their growth is to fight against the UK’s best hope for freedom.
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