Guest post by Dr Richard McGrath
The recent European Parliament elections and the Newark by-election over the weekend has further focused British media attention on Nigel Farage's United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP (or even Ukip) for short.
In the European elections, UKIP were the top-polling party, outperforming the Tories, Labour and moribund Liberal Democrats. In Newark, they came second to the Tories but thrashed Labour, with the Lib Dems losing their deposit (just as Libertarianz Party candidates used to, but then again Libz were never the other half of a ruling government coalition). It's probably safe to say UKIP have established themselves as a serious contender in British politics - even though, in a similar fashion to NZ First, they are largely seen as a one man band with their popularity due in large part to the homespun charm and Muldoon-like common touch of party leader Nigel Farage.
Now I have to say I like listening to Nigel Farage when he cuts loose on the EU hierarchy, for instance telling arch-Eurocrat Herman van Rompuy that he has the charisma of a damp rag.
UKIP has now become entrenched in the national consciousness to the point that they are the butt of several jokes currently doing the rounds, such as:
- Recently a poll suggested that UKIP would make a terrible government... UKIP have since had him deported, and
- Although a UKIP MEP has suggested that Bongo Bongo Land doesn't actually exist, it is still ranked higher than Scotland or Wales in the latest FIFA rankings.
Anyway, I saw an article in the Guardian posing the question What Would a UKIP Britain Look Like? It listed a couple of dozen policies, and I thought it might be instructive to compare them with the policies Party X (a champion of limited constitutional government and the restoration of individual freedom) might promote -- and to come up with some sort of rough measurement of correlation between UKIP policies and the libertarian way.
I gave each policy equal weighting which is probably invalid, but hey, I'm writing this so I can make the rules.
So, here are the policies split into two groups. Firstly, the ones a libertarian could maybe live with:
- a flat 31% tax (income + National Insurance) with an GBP11.5k tax free band at the bottom: a (small) move in the right direction, but still a very high tax grab
- cut council taxes (what we would call 'rates'), cull town hall 'non jobs' (hurrah!)
- double the defence budget (I give this guarded support, because it's still on the spending side of the ledger)
- five year wait for British citizenship (too long) but no welfare benefits during that time (very good)
- end active state promotion of multiculturalism (read: Islam - way overdue)
- life prison sentences mean life (but surely should include a restorative aspect AND not be taxpayer funded)
- scrap the Human Rights Act so that dangerous imams and the like can be deported (yes, this should apply particularly to Islamic terrorists and their aiders and abetters - they are the enemy of Western civilisation)
- scrap the Crown Prosecution Office and devolve prosecutions to local police (provided the latter can act competently)
- increase the size of the armed forces, buy new aircraft carriers, more jet fighters and nuclear armed subs (sounds good to me, national defence is a legitimate government function, though I have little or no knowledge about what is actually currently needed to beef up the UK defence capability)
- franchise out GP surgeries and hospitals (yes, if this means privatisation)
- voucher system to allow people to opt out of the NHS (a good first step)
- smoking rooms in pubs (allow pub owners the freedom to decide)
- basic cash benefit for unemployed (not ideal, but as this entails scrapping the equivalent of our sickness and invalid benefits it would be a step forward - similar to a Universal Basic Income)
- no benefits for anyone not resident in the UK for 5 years (although adding in a sunset clause on all existing benefits would be even better)
- stop subsidising the UN climate change panel (why stop there - withdraw from UN membership altogether)
So far, sounds great. But now, the not-so-good policies:
- build more nuclear plants (possibly a good idea, but this is not the business of government)
- build more prisons (shouldn't be needed when all those imprisoned for victimless crimes are released)
- five year freeze on immigration (I support open immigration of those sympathetic to, and/or respectful of, Western values)
- work permit time-limitation (see comments above re immigration)
- 'boot camps' for young offenders (the horse has bolted by that stage, it's a knee jerk response and I'm not sure these have been shown to achieve much that is positive)
- matrons, not managers, to run hospitals (not really any of the gummint's business who is appointed to run them)
- free eye tests and dental check (oh God, it's starting to sound like Winston First)
- child benefit for first 3 children only (this is subsidised breeding, kids should not be meal tickets)
- 'supporting' (i.e. subsidising) coal power, opposing wind farms (energy generation should not be the gummint's concern)
- ban schools from showing Al Gore's deeply flawed propaganda film (schools should be able to choose what they show kids, with accountability to - and support from - parents)
- incentivise (i.e. subsidise) the production of electric cars (WTF?)
- build 200 mph railway lines... (Jesus wept)
So, the score cards are in, and the result is as follows: Good 15, bad 12.
As Liberty Scott suggests, while there is much to like about it UKIP, is not a libertarian party. Support for it should be tempered with reservations over the obvious statism, xenophobia and greenism of many of its policies.
One final message: UKIP if you want to. The lady's not for kipping.