In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

On UKIP

UKIP fuse two rather grotesque schools of political belief: nationalism and populism. They are a foul and putrid stench masquerading as a breath of fresh air. The three main parties have some similarities because, in order to get elected, parties have to appeal the maximal number of voters. Thus, parties usually aim their campaigns at independent voters who are fluid in their political support. This is called the Median Voter Theorem. However, the main parties are not “the same”.

My other problem with UKIP is that they offer simplistic solutions to increasingly complex problems. It is said UKIP are about the ‘big picture’. Their two principal goals are to leave the European Union (EU) and greatly restrict immigration into Britain. This is the ‘big picture’, but when it’s a finger-painting; I have concerns about the people parading it around. A proper critique of the EU would not focus on the free movement of peoples, but on the distant nature of the European Commission and Parliament, the lack of a coherent demos, and subsequent corporatist legislation billowing out of Brussels. All available evidence suggests that free movement is a great beneficence upon Britain.

The irony that the UKIP car is a Renault is not lost. (Photo: Astral Media)

The irony that the UKIP car is a Renault is not lost. (Photo: Astral Media)

For example, this leaflet boldly states:

From the 1st January 2014, 29 MILLION Bulgarians and Romanians have the right to live, work and draw benefits in the UK.

The populations of Romania and Bulgaria are, respectively, 20.1 million and 7.3 million people. I’m unsure about how this adds up to 29 million. The number is wrong, and its insinuations are utterly laughable. There are about 500 MILLION PEOPLE (in big yellow letters) who have “the right to live, work and draw benefits in the UK”, but they are not all in chaotic line at London Heathrow.

Jobs Don’t Have Nationalities

Given this leaflet also complains of “British jobs being offered to non-British workers”, I imagine that whoever wrote this leaflet (as well as most of the people who distribute it) are unaware of the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy. Immigrant labour complements host labour:  it generally does not compete with it. Immigrants also increase economic demand, and so increase the number of “British jobs”. My online discussions with UKIP campaigners usually show they do not understand – and crucially, do not want to understand – basic economic concepts like the ‘lump of labour’ fallacy or comparative advantage.

The newsletter also claims that the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have received £2.3m, £1.9m and £1.3m respectively from the EU over the past four years, whilst poor little UKIP have received nothing. There is no source for these figures, and evidently demonstrate that UKIP is not above cheap and nasty political attacks. What I feel towards UKIP is not “fear” but outright contempt. I desire freedom. The freedom to move between countries is an incredibly important one: it is the freedom to benefit the recipient country with skills, knowledge and experience. It is incumbent on those who exalt rational thought, reasoning through evidence and high standards of political debate to exile UKIP back to the fringes.

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5 comments on “On UKIP

  1. Joshua
    January 3, 2014

    I’m curious – you describe yourself as a ‘libertarian conservative’, which might suggest that you would be rather more sympathetic to UKIP than you are. Conservatives, after all, tend to be hostile to mass immigration (more often for social and cultural reasons than economic ones). In what ways, then, are you a conservative as well as a libertarian?

    • Anthony Masters
      January 3, 2014

      I have been asked to join UKIP multiple times, usually on the basis that I should be sympathetic to them. Political taxonomy is often tricky. I have been called a classical liberal and a liberal conservative before.
      My conservatism emanates from the defence of British parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, a preference for gradual change where possible, empiricism, and a belief in the limited role of government.
      Undoubtedly, my label may annoy other conservatives, but I do think it is accurate.

      • Joshua
        January 4, 2014

        Thanks for the response. I would also probably describe myself as a libertarian conservative (or a ‘Tory anarchist’, to borrow Orwell’s phrase), for many of the same reasons, but also because I think cultural conservatism – in the sense of a preference for monoculture over multiculturalism, high culture over low culture, the nuclear family over single-parent and reconstituted families, and so on – is compatible with political libertarianism (and in some cases they may be mutually beneficial).

        I have mixed feelings about mass immigration myself. I suspect the economic benefits accrue mainly to the wealthy indigenous and the immigrants themselves (which is of course no bad thing, but should be borne in mind). But my main concern is the effect on social cohesion and the possibility of sustaining a liberal culture given a society so divided along racial and cultural lines.

      • Anthony Masters
        January 4, 2014

        It is possible to fuse cultural conservatism with political libertarianism, as long the cultural preferences are disseminated through persuasion, rather than government policy.
        I tend to take the neoconservative view of culture: there’s a core culture — discovered from below rather than determined from above — around which infinite variations are possible. Multiculturalism seems nonsensical, since it would imply that the host culture is a nullity.
        I would say that Britain has been remarkably cohesive over periods of high immigration. Also, cultural and racial divisions can be disseminated through global mass communication, so those divisions needn’t be smuggled through customs in the vessel of a person. It is incumbent on the citizens — old and new — to sustain a liberal political culture, and we do that by persuading everyone around of our ideas.

  2. Pingback: Responding to a UKIP Redditor | In Defence of Liberty

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