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Cheers - AE

Monday, 1 September 2008

Why not UKIP?

Saturday's Hobson's Choice post has attracted comment from a UKIP member, Vindico, who suggests I have a look at their website to find out more about their policies. On Saturday I said:
UKIP are at least well known and might be worth a vote, but are they interested in much beyond getting the UK out of Europe? What do they plan to do about the various abuses of power, the creeping legislation, the databases, 42 days imprisonment without trial, the extension of police powers to non-police etc? Like the Tories they don't really seem to have a policy of changing it.

I admit that I'd only looked at the policy summary and hadn't downloaded the PDFs for the details, but it strikes me that if they were really concerned with the issues of abuse of power, creeping legislation, databases, 42 days imprisonment without trial, and extension of police powers to non-police then putting something in the summary about what they intend to do about it might have been a good idea. But Vindico did mention that some more policies would be announced soon during UKIP's conference, so we'll wait and see what turns up.

In the meantime I'm sifting through the PDFs for the details and some of what I see I like, and some I don't. And some of what I'd hope to see I haven't found at all. Here's a few examples:

UKIP are strongly monarchist and in principle at least I'm a republican. A very small 'r' republican as far as the UK is concerned since the Royal Family really costs so little the issue is pretty low priority for me, but when it comes up again in an Australian referendum (as it surely will) I'll be voting yes to becoming a republic providing there's no repeat of the Parliament appointed President option that John Howard offered. But as a matter of principle I'm not keen on the issue of the monarchy being off limits for debate, reform and possible abolition. The Libertarians wiseIy don't mention the monarchy in their manifesto so presumably the possible abolition of the monarchy is not taboo. As I said, really not a big deal but some points for LPUK there.

I think UKIP, like LPUK, are right to propose a voucher system for education. But strangely UKIP don't feel strongly enough about it to mention it in the policy summary - it's buried in their education policy document - while LPUK mention it in the precis of the education section on their manifesto web page. It's a good policy and I believe both parties are right to include it, but LPUK are the ones shouting it loud and proud. Points to LPUK again.

Immigration is a matter on which I have strong feelings being, as I said on Saturday, an immigrant myself. UKIP's policy summary states that they'll freeze immigration for five years, and it's the second item on the list and also mentioned on their "vision" page ("Our party has a full range of policies including a firm line on immigration") so presumably it's something they feel pretty strongly about too. I've not yet come across the details in the various PDFs but the tone makes me suspect my strong feelings may be rather different from UKIP's. LPUK on the other hand favour the principle of "free movement of goods, capital and people" (my emphasis), but believe that it is not yet practical to apply that to immigration (due to British welfare-itis and non-libertarian governments elsewhere) so propose a points based system until the time is right (sounds a bit Aussie from where I'm sitting). Points to LPUK again, and possibly points away from UKIP depending on the details.

I was pleased to see UKIP are against things like control orders allowing imprisonment without trial, though like the education vouchers I found this in the middle of a downloaded PDF whereas the Libertarians are again pretty vocal about it. But it seems that UKIP are at least mildly opposed to the sort of authoritarian legislation and policies that are commonly used in Britain today, and I give them credit for that. But again, if it's a big deal for them should it not be in the policy summary? And so far I've found nothing about repeal of Britain's ridiculous gun laws, prostitution, recreational drugs etc*. All things on which Libertarian party have a position I broadly agree with, in spite of the fact that I believe they'll have an uphill struggle persuading the British electorate that the gun laws have achieved bugger all for public safety and firearms in the hands of responsible law abiding citizens are nothing to be afraid of, that the sale of sex is illegal more for prudish reasons than because it does society harm, and that the choice to waste your money on mind altering substances to stick in your veins or up your nose should have nothing to do with the government. Points to both UKIP and LPUK, but more to the Libertarians.

UKIP, if you want to describe yourselves libertarian I'd suggest being a little more, well, publicly and vocally libertarian. I think I read or heard someone call UKIP the real Conservative party, and that might not be so far from the truth. Certainly the current Tories strike me as being overly centrist, scared to say anything that might alarm voters, and a bit opportunist when it comes to the media. With no Libertarian Party UKIP would get my vote. But here's the big problem - having ruled out the big three parties I'd be voting for someone who might not even win a seat in the short term, much less someone who might be in the party of government. So why vote for a party that is merely going to be the largest of the parties to not have any MPs rather than the one that is most closely aligned to my own views and opinions? UKIP has got a lot going for it, but the way I see it the choice is between voting tactically and voting my principles. In the former case someone like myself might as well vote Conservative and done with it, and there would at least be the satisfaction of having cast a vote that helps get rid of Gordon Clown (though from this side of the world it looks like no one is working harder to get rid of Gordon than Gordon himself). UKIP has the advantage of having been around a while and becoming well known (not always for the right reasons - Robert Kilroy-Sulk and the Vanitas business, Tom Wise), but frankly that's not a good reason to support a party that you don't fully agree with unless they had a genuine chance of forming a government in the not too distant future and you felt they were at least a good few steps in the right direction. For now at least LPUK is a better choice.

*Since I'm still reading through some of the PDFs I downloaded from UKIP's site I may come across these later, in which case I'll update this post accordingly.


Devil's Kitchen said...

For what it's worth, the reason that I and others started LPUK was precisely because of the reason that you are citing: because we wanted for vote for something that we utterly believe in, futile though it might be...


Angry Exile said...

Perhaps futile in the immediate future as far as winning seats goes, but I'd hope not futile in terms of getting the issues talked about.

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