Donna Edmunds will be standing in the South East for UKIP in the European elections. She is currently a councillor on Lewes District Council. She describes herself as follower of Hayek.
UKIP has come under heavy fire from libertarians in the last year for calling itself a libertarian party. They’ve been pointing to the party’s stance on gay marriage, and the calls from some within the party to ban the burka and saying “See? Can UKIP really call itself a libertarian party?”
As a pragmatist, I believe the more important question is: “Of the four parties most likely to have an impact on the next general election, which is the most libertarian?” The answer to that question is clearly “UKIP”.
With Red Ed swinging sharply to the left, the spectre of Marxist socialism is once again raising its ugly head over Britain. Already £2billion has been wiped off the value of British owned energy companies and further investment in energy infrastructure threatened, and Miliband hasn’t got anywhere near No. 10 yet.
The Conservative’s answer to this is essentially to stare at the ceiling and twiddle their thumbs. We simply won’t see the sort of open, free trading society that libertarians crave without first leaving the European Union, and Cameron has made it very clear where he stands on that issue: he thinks we’re better off in. Shackled to a Marxist socialism project of the kind not seen since the early 20th Century.
By contrast, this is what Farage said in his leader’s speech at conference last week: “UKIP is dedicated to liberty, opportunity, equality under the law and the aspirations of the British people … We know that only by leaving the union can we regain control of our borders, our parliament, democracy and our ability to trade freely with the fastest-growing economies in the world.”
Not convinced? Compare, for example, the parties’ stance on aid. Cameron thinks that helping poor Africans means taking money from his own working classes and handing it to African dictators. He has stuck resolutely to his 0.7% GDP target of state mandated charitable giving, despite the fact that the department for international development is struggling to find projects to fund with all the cash washing through it, and despite the fact that the British people are already among the most charitable on the planet by themselves, without any help from government.
UKIP’s stance? Here’s Farage again: “[If we leave the EU] We get the ability to strike free trade deals. We can abolish tariffs on African produce and do more to raise living standards there than any amount of aid.”
As a libertarian, I know which position I’d rather back.
Normally at this point, someone mentions the gay marriage debate. But let me ask you this: is it really libertarian for the government to promote the rights of one minority group over the rights of another? That doesn’t sound much like libertarianism to me. I don’t want a government which takes sides, I want one that stays right out of social matters. One that allows people to follow their own beliefs, whatever they may be.
Others of you will say: “Ah, but you want to limit immigration, that’s not very libertarian”. Let me tell you – as the daughter of an immigrant, I’m not against immigration. Of course people want to come to Britain to work hard and make a decent life for themselves and their families. We should be proud that they still do! But a policy of free movement of the kind last seen in the 1800s, when people could travel freely across the world without a passport rests on a number of assumptions. Mostly, it rests on the assumption that the labour market is a completely free market, unfettered by government regulation, yet at the moment, that’s not the case. It also doesn’t make sense to have a free movement policy when our welfare state is so generous and open to all newcomers. When welfare was first introduced in the late 1940s it was envisaged as an insurance policy – it would only pay out if you had previously paid in through national insurance payments. Immigrants therefore couldn’t claim. Now any European can send our benefits cheques to their familes back home, and many do. They also impact heavily on state schools, housing and the NHS, and as these services are also not free from the yoke of state control, the market can’t step in to provide extra capacity.
So yes, as a libertarian, in theory I would welcome free movement of workers. As a pragmatist, I can see that we’re not in a position to realise it yet.
When I say to people that I believe UKIP is a libertarian party, I don’t mean that we would disband all elements of the state, set tax at 0% and let the people of Britain fend for themselves. To me, that goes beyond libertarianism into the realms of anarchy. But I do vehemently believe that if UKIP, as a libertarian party, came to power we would see a rolling back of state intrusion into people’s lives on a day to day basis. The BBC poll tax would be scrapped; powers granted to local authorities and private companies to tax, fine and confiscate property would be reversed; punitive taxes would be abolished; some of those 3000+ reasons for the state to enter your home without a permit would be overturned. That to me is libertarianism in action, and they’re all policies that none of the other parties are offering.
At the next election, you’ll have a choice. I’ll assume already that you don’t want to back Red Ed or his groupies in the Un-Liberal Non-Democrats. You could indulge in tactical voting and back Cameron’s Tories, but do you really want Labour-lite, led by The Man With No Convictions in charge of the country? You could simply not vote, but let me tell you, the party leaders will never see your ballot with “None of the Above” scribbled across it. The only person who will ever see your protest will be a tired council worker before it hits the bottom of the recycling bin. Meanwhile, the politicians will simply assume that you were too uninterested to vote at all and will merrily ignore you entirely.
Or you could vote UKIP. You could send a clear message to all the Westminster parties: we’re tired of your socialism, and we’re tired of your student union party politics. We want a government willing to set the people of Britain free – free to study, free to work, free to raise our families as we see fit, away from the scrutiny of the state, and most of all, away from the ever greedier grasp of Brussels.