Are UKIP a libertarian safe haven?

David Coburn

Any Political philosophy and adherence to it is by degree. Libertarians are no different and express a wide spectrum of views.

UKIP’s Libertarianism is based more on individual Liberty with a dash of social conscience. Libertarianism should be tailored to the British condition. Our solution should be Tunbridge Wells not Wells Fargo. UKIP Libertarianism is more in the spirit of John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith than Ayn Rand and the American Rifle Association.

Too many Libertarians like to think they are in the wild open spaces of Dakota where a man and his Winchester rule. Such a programme does not fit the mature, historic and social matrix of Peas Pottage and Hemel Hempstead. Ours is a sophisticated, mature and generally settled society. Problems are solved not by not tugging on a uniform but donning our Harris Tweed and off down the pub to cook up an equitable solution over darts and a pint.

An extreme Jacobin application of Libertarianism would alienate electoral support in the British context, especially if it touches on the shibboleth of the NHS. Libertarianism should inform our debates and act as our guide but should not become an inflexible dogma.

Too many converts formally of the Left discovered Libertarianism as their ideological Socialist construct collapsed around their ears. They have an unfortunate tendency to raise the banner of Libertarianism and pursue it with the same fanatical zeal they formerly promoted Socialism

21st Century politics has undergone a paradigm shift. 20thCentury Left/Right tribal politics has been replaced by an Authoritarian versus Libertarian polemic. Previous Left/Right supporters can be found under the Libertarian banner- there is nothing unusual about that. Infact, it is an exciting departure where the best minds are engaged in conceptual thought and debate with a view to applying Libertarian policies to the real world

Let’s take a look at the check list. If you agree with all the principles articulated below, chances are you are a Libertarian thinker. If you support these principles you would indeed find UKIP a cosy haven to express and promote your views;

· Small Govt

The State encroaches on our lives – cradle to grave Socialism suppresses Freedom of thought and action. It is hemlock to those who want to attain success or strive for a stake in Society. The old Socialist feudal client State doctrine is dead. Small Government induces people to take responsibility for their own lives and finances

· Meritocracy

A robust, healthy society can only function if the best people get to the top regardless of race, religion or background. The key to a meritocratic society is systematic exam based education– reintroduction of grammar schools enabling working class students the opportunity to enter University. Universities should be free of all charges and fees and only objective factual teaching methods applied

· Taxation

Ever increasing taxation is not working. The Government has no money, only taxpayer’s funds. In order to fund social programmes the Government continues to borrow on credit markets to fund the National deficit. The Coalition will borrow an additional £1 trillion during the 2010-15 budgets on top of Labour’s legacy National debt of £1 trillion plus additional £1 trillion pounds to fund Bank crisis bail outs. This situation is clearly unsustainable. Loss of Britain’s AAA credit rating is more than symbolic. If the Government continues to borrow at this rate Britain will be locked out of credit markets in the future and will suffer the same catastrophic financial scenario as Greece – except there is no possibility of a bailout. This calls for radical solutions. Lowering taxes, creating a Flat tax, reducing Corporation tax & actively supporting small businesses to encourage investment thereby reducing unemployment and creating the conditions for prosperity for all. Coalition management of decline was never an option.

· Freedom of Speech

Recent legislation and on-going discussion of limiting the Free Press must be resisted.

· Social Responsibility

Small government and drawing back the State brings freedom of action but also social responsibility. People will no longer look to the State to provide in the future but there has to be a safety net for our poorest and most vulnerable citizens

· Liberty

The concept of Rights always involves one group gaining advantage over another whereas Liberty is individual freedom and has no impact on another

· Small Businesses

. Britain has always been a Nation of small business owners. The concept of working for the State is not favoured and the prospect of a life-long job has long since disappeared. It is critical that small business start-ups are actively encouraged in order to provide employment, prosperity and a sense of personal success and achievement

· Property rights

All British citizens have the right to enjoy and benefit from their assets. The idea of a Mansion tax, kick your door in Jewellery tax or EU style Cypriot “Bail in” helping themselves to depositor’s accounts is anathema

· Defence

Defence is exactly as it is described. The right of British Government to defend its borders and never to put our Armed Forces in harm’s way unless absolutely necessary. Pointless intervention in the affairs of others which bears little relation to Britain’s security should not be pursued.

UKIP - Popular Libertarianism with a heart and a head

David Coburn

London UKIP Chairman

  • Liberty Scott

    So a British libertarian shouldn’t challenge the national religion of the NHS - the developed world’s most socialist centrally planned health system - even though it is demonstrably inferior to the insurance based models in most developed countries - to gain votes.

    Because of that, and a complete utter lack of any policies that involve cutting spending (beyond leaving the EU), all of what follows about “small government” and lower taxes is drivel.

    UKIP should be advocating for a voluntary opt-out of the NHS, with people able to shift a proportion of their taxes out of the NHS into insurance based alternatives. If it sacrifices principle on one of the biggest areas of state intervention in people’s lives (and grotesque underperformance to the level that it kills thousands a year through sheer negligence), then it’s pathetic.

    A true libertarian would privatise health care and leave it to the market. However, a party that even wants to point in the direction of being libertarian ought to at least be challenging the world’s biggest health bureaucracy.

    • Angela Horne

      but UK citizens can and do use private doctors if they want to

      • Liberty Scott

        having paid for the NHS compulsorily. The best way to make the NHS accountable would be to break it up and allow those paying for it to choose alternative providers and take their tax money (that funds the NHS) with it. Like Switzerland, Singapore and numerous European countries, all of which have much less socialist systems than the UK.

  • Andrew Witcombe-Small

    All very fine, but it will take time and effort to get that message accepted by the grassroots. In my experience as a former Party member, they are completely ignorant of economics (thinking it’s the government’s business to save British firms from being taken over by foreign companies) and care little for freedom, I realise that things are much better higher up the party, and will be voting UKIP next week quite simply because there is nothing else that wants, or is likely, to grab the whole rotten ruling class by the scruff of its collective neck and give it a damn good shake.

  • Joe Bentley

    The most worrying part of this article is the ‘small businesses must be encouraged’ part. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Austrian economics, an understanding which is absolutely necessary for one to grasp why libertarianism works. If the encouragement is verbal then there is no problem, but I do not think that is what is intended here. Winners and losers should not be picked by the government, whether they are your local antique shop or McDonald’s. It undermines our freedom and creates bubbles in economies, bubbles which leave us with the kind of economic woes we are currently experiencing.