UKIP Pulls Libertarians in the Wrong Direction

Today The Economist’s Bagehot’s Notebook blog features a column entitled, ‘The UKIP Insurgency’ that outlines the UK Independence Party’s rise and its potential role in future elections. The eurozone crisis has prompted something of a right-wing resurgence in Europe, and parties like UKIP may soon take up the role of kingmaker in countries like Greece. While much of the support many European protectionist and quasi-nationalist parties are enjoying comes from predictable groups, some are gathering support from an unlikely source, libertarians.

UKIP is one of the most notable instances of this phenomenon. Composed mostly of ex-Tories, UKIP campaigns on an anti-E.U. platform (euroscepticism is so dominant in the party that its logo is the sterling symbol). Anti-E.U. sentiments are conducive to free market sympathies, and many free marketers in the UK find the Conservative Party too hostile to markets, especially given their current partnership with the Liberal Democrats.

While UKIP might advocate for leaving the E.U. it is not a libertarian party. UKIP is against economic and personal freedom, and British libertarians should not be supporting them.

Libertarians in the UK have an unimpressive political record. Margaret Thatcher might be viewed as a great advocate for economic freedom, but her social policies were anything but tolerant. The Liberal Democrats do have a classical liberal wing, but it is in the minority and openly scorned by other party members. There was a short-lived Libertarian Party (LPUK) but it was led by some embarrassing and incompetent people. After the collapse of LPUK its members were welcomed by UKIP.

UKIP’s anti-libertarianism is most clearly seen in its immigration policy, under which a ban on permanent immigration to the UK for five years would be enforced. How such a policy comes close to resembling something a libertarian would advocate is beyond me. The UKIP manifesto also includes a 40 percent increase in defense spending and the injection of three billion more pounds into ‘transport infrastructure’. Such policies hardly exhibit limited government and fiscal restraint.

On social issues UKIP are not any better. Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, posted a video complaining that it was not possible to ban mephedrone because of European legislation. Party members have campaigned for a French style ban on the burqa and niqab. The UKIP manifesto includes the doubling of prison spaces and the introduction of an American “three strikes” style policy for certain offenses. Most libertarians believe in locking less people up and being tolerant of personal choices.

Libertarians all over the world have to deal with the temptations of politics, but surely some principles have to be non-negotiable. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Pro Libertate||

    The secret to liberating the UK is ending decimalization and bringing back the shilling, ha'penny, farthings, crowns, and so on.

    That's it.

  • ||

    Also, murderers and debtors must be gibbeted once again.

  • A Serious Man||

    And traitors hanged, drawn, and quartered, their heads placed on spikes on London bridge and their bodies divided and sent to the four corners of the kingdom.

  • ||

    Yes. And the orphans must be placed in workhouses, that they might know the joys of honest labor.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Guv, clean your glasses for a ha-penny?

  • ||

    Away with you, urchin, lest you feel my cane.

  • 0x90||

    "Ah!" returned the man, with a relish; "he'll be drawn on a hurdle to be half hanged, and then he'll be taken down and sliced before his own face, and then his inside will be taken out and burnt while he looks on, and then his head will be chopped off, and he'll be cut into quarters. That's the sentence."

    "If he's found Guilty, you mean to say?" Jerry added, by way of proviso.

    "Oh! they'll find him guilty," said the other. "Don't you be afraid of that."

    - Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was apparently a court reporter, when for instance, cases such as this were heard.

  • Brett L||

    I was thinking maybe sending Vikings to loot and pillage.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, certainly, the UK was better governed when the Danes were in charge.

  • ||

    No, it's to vote Silly Party.

  • Pip||

    Angry parents are demanding that the principal of a Manitoba public school and two teachers be removed, alleging they stood by and did nothing as two Grade 8 students were tricked into chewing moose droppings by an adult chaperone on a field trip.

    Karen Eyolfson says her 13-year-old son, a student at Walter Whyte School in Grand Marais, bit into the moose droppings after being told by a parent chaperone on the two-day canoe trip late last month that the animal feces were chocolate-covered almonds. She alleges that three staff supervisors — including the school principal — stood by as her son chewed the droppings and classmates laughed.

    Another classmate was also tricked into eating the moose droppings, the school board said.

    "They thought it was a big joke," said Eyolfson, who has since pulled her son from the school.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/ca.....-droppings

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    She alleges that three staff supervisors — including the school principal — stood by as her son chewed the droppings and classmates laughed.

    Maybe that's because your son is an asshole, Ms. Eyolfson.

    Jus' sayin'

  • jacob||

    The kid is an ass-mouth, but a teacher who willingly allows a child to eat shit and then laughs at him needs to be fired.........if the union will allow it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    , but a teacher who willingly allows a child to eat shit and then laughs at him needs to be fired

    Oh, I agree. I was just being an asshole.

  • BarryD||

    That's why I never became a teacher. I never would have lasted in the profession. There's little I could imagine to be funnier than a 13-year-old asshole kid, eating moose shit, especially if I had to deal with 13-year-olds all day.

  • ||

    He is 13. Everyone is an asshole at 13. Just sayin'.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Everyone is an asshole at 13.

    Very very true.

  • BarryD||

    How does that argue against his eating moose shit for it?

  • ||

  • ||

    Pulled from the school? They would be in the fucking hospital if that were my kid.

  • BarryD||

    My GAWD!

    That's moose turd pie!

    (It's good though.)

  • ||

    Poetry on a plate.

  • ||

    Unless moose shit smells like chocolate, that is one grade a retard you're raising there Ms. Eyolfson.

  • BakedPenguin||

    There was a short-lived Libertarian Party (LPUK) but it was led by some embarrassing and incompetent people.

    You don't say.

  • Pro Libertate||

    LPUK? Come one, can we at least try to properly brand these things? Clearly, the party should've be called "Freedom in the United Kingdom."

  • BarryD||

    "Locking less people up" depends. IIRC the UK has some real problems with "street crime" and assault. Libertarians don't oppose locking up violent criminals, do we? I've always understood the libertarian position to be to lock up people who actually warrant locking up, instead of those who don't.

    That could be more, or it could be fewer, depending on current policies. In the US, it means fewer, because so many of our incarcerated are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses, and it means ending Prohibition II, to prevent more violence related to drug prohibition. "Free the rapists, murderers and armed robbers!" however, has never been a libertarian battle cry that I have heard.

    Do not fall into the collectivist trap of looking ONLY at gross numbers, or talking about them as if they have specific ideological meaning.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I've always understood the libertarian position to be to lock up people who actually warrant locking up, instead of those who don't.

    Well, I think you need to have the right ratio of rehabilitation and punishment. As it stands, prisons in the U.S. are just "Universities of the Streets" which, if one survives, produce super-criminals when released. And if you look at the demographics of both the U.S. and the U.K. prison populations, it seems the prisons are also acting like one big radical-Muslim conversion factory. Hell, that's where Malcolm X got his start and that was some 65 years ago.

    So as it stands, I don't see increased incarceration to be conducive to liberty until serious prison reform is made.

  • BarryD||

    Can't disagree, there. I also support prisoners' rights. If someone is sentenced to 10 years in prison for a series of robberies, that does not mean he's sentenced to 10 years of being raped daily. That's not justice.

    I just object to bird's eye judgment of someone's philosophy. Show me exactly why someone is or isn't "libertarian".

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I also support prisoners' rights. If someone is sentenced to 10 years in prison for a series of robberies, that does not mean he's sentenced to 10 years of being raped daily. That's not justice.

    That's why I was saying we need prison reform. I truly believe by the standards of 1776, our current conditions in prison would qualify as "cruel and unusual punishment".

  • SIV||

    Why pay to lock anyone up when it is much cheaper to kill, brand, mutilate or enslave them?

    Standard Libertarian Disclaimer:
    Obviously if there is any question of guilt enslavement would be the preferred option.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I favor locking up only the violent straw men.

  • BarryD||

    I don't know anything about UK crime statistics, though. The UK is known to be more permissive than the US when it comes to brawling, even violent brawling, I believe.

    The London riots a few months back were not exactly examples of what libertarians want, either.

    My point is that "libertarian" goals might look outwardly different, depending on place, time and context.

  • CE||

    Prison doesn't help the victim much. Some people have proven themselves too dangerous not to be locked away, but that's not a lot of people. Most punishment (for theft, vandalism, etc.0 should be in the form of restitution, paying back the damages (plus) over time.

  • BarryD||

    That sounds good to me.

    I haven't heard about a lot of libertarian activism, or even opinion writing, in this area. There ought to be.

  • jacob||

    UKIP's policy positions sound in line with Pat Buchanan, save the defense spending.

  • ||

    If you can't form and sustain a libertarian party when you have a Parliament you are seriously fucked.

    Seriously the Marxists, the fascists, and even the pirates have parties in the UK.

  • BarryD||

    The pirates?

    That sounds fun!

  • ||

  • Jerry on the road||

    You can't because the UK has a district system.

  • CE||

    Don't forget the Jedi.

  • CE||

    Don't forget the Jedi.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Weak weak article. First off, violent crime is a real problem in the UK and they probably do need to lock more people up, which can be perfectly consistent with libertarianism contrary to the BS platitude in the article. Second, the UK defense funding is NOTHING like America's and indeed needs to be increased. The immigration bits and transport funding bits are really objectionable but UKIP is still an easy choice for libertarians in the UK. Unless those libertarians wise up and leave.

  • ||

    The reason the UK has such high crime is the simple predictable combination of disarmament of the populace and the influx of criminal cultures from abroad.

  • Pro Libertate||

    And all the good British left, some hundreds of years ago [looks at nails.]

  • Killazontherun||

    With your wrist in or your wrist out?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Out, I think.

  • Killazontherun||

    Thanks for replying. Not that it matters. Just some long forgotten male etiquette peaked my survey like curiosity.

  • ||

    And all the good British left

    They were either shipped off as criminals to Australia or worse moved to the American colonies.

  • ||

    Those traitorous bastards! Every good Englishman knows you have to go down with your country.

  • ||

    Weak weak article. First off, violent crime is a real problem in the UK and they probably do need to lock more people up

    I doubt it. They are probably tossing pot smokers in jail rather then doing any real police work.

    My guess is they need to throw different poeple in jail and the net change would be negative.

  • BelowTheRim||

    I'm sure Feeney knows more about UKIP than I do, but I have watched numerous YouTube videos of Nigel Farage.

    Farage frequently harasses and yells ad statist beurocrats who were unelected and rathar appointed to the EU Legislature.

    His party might be a joke, but he loves standing up to the political elite ruling class of Europe.

    For that I certainly give him credit and scorn you for using him as an example of his party's malfeaseance to liberty...especially bc you cite nothing specific that Farage has done except hate on Euro Law which is simply one step closer to one world gov't.

  • ||

    Farage's speeches in the European Parliament are refreshing. However he is not representative of the party. Farage did briefly step aside to let Lord Pearson lead the party, and it did not go well. I actually do think Farage is some sort of libertarian, but his party definitely is not.

  • vagrant2k5||

    I don't think UKIP is a libertarian party, at least not anymore, but I certainly believe that Nigel Farage himself is a libertarian. If you read his autobiography 'Flying Free', he expresses a lot of personal views that UKIP as a whole would probably not agree with.

    I think where he falls down, is that he tries to sell UKIP as a libertarian party when it is not.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The eurozone crisis has prompted something of a right-wing resurgence in Europe, and parties like UKIP may soon take up the role of kingmaker in countries like Greece.

    ZOMGDISASTERKAPITALISM

  • ant1sthenes||

    Something about that second clause doesn't sit right with me. It's technically correct, but sounds asinine.

  • TFG||

    Apparently, being a libertarian requires that you believe all humans are interchangeable blank slates and therefore national borders are antiquated and unnecessary.

    This is probably the main reason I am no longer a libertarian.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    ^^This^^ is why nobody takes libertarians seriously.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Shit. Forgot the smiley again.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Shat is why nobody takes libertarians seriously.

  • ||

    Damn it CN, that is why nobody takes us cereal.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Apparently, being a libertarian requires that you believe all humans are interchangeable blank slates

    So, if seconds after your birth, you were taken from your parents and whisked off to China, you believe you'd still grow up to speak English and crave steak and potatoes?

    Or are you just confusing acculturation with blood and soil neo-Romantic genetic determinism?

  • JeremyR||

    So all immigrants are whisked away to their new countries seconds after birth?

    If immigrants assimilated, then no one would mind. But they don't in Europe and they are increasingly not assimilating here, thanks to political correctness. At least some immigrants.

    I've lived in St. Louis for way too much of my life - 30 years ago I knew a decent amount of muslims, but I had never seen a woman in a hijab, much less full out burka.

    Now when I go shopping (at Wal-mart, no less, no strange store) dozens of women are in hijabs (some of them children) and probably 3-4 in burkas.

    By contrast, Indian immigrants do more or less assimilate. Other than grandma in a Sari, they look exactly like Americans.

  • jacob||

    Now when I go shopping (at Wal-mart, no less, no strange store) dozens of women are in hijabs (some of them children) and probably 3-4 in burkas.

    Oh the horror! How did you survive? Were you able to douse them all in pork blood so you could continue shopping safely?

  • ||

    and they are increasingly not assimilating here

    Actually Hispanics are assimilating at faster rates then any previous immigrant generation before.

  • BarryD||

    To their credit, they have some damned good food, which certainly helps.

  • ||

    So all immigrants are whisked away to their new countries seconds after birth?

    Considering their previous country was Wombville? Yes, yes I do.

  • ||

    So all immigrants are whisked away to their new countries seconds after birth?

    Considering their previous country was Wombville? Yes, yes they are.

  • ||

    So all immigrants are whisked away to their new countries seconds after birth?

    Considering their previous country was Wombville? Yes, yes they are.

  • ||

    WOW. Busy squirrels.

  • Robert||

    if seconds after your birth, you were taken from your parents and whisked off to China, you believe you'd still grow up to speak English and crave steak and potatoes?


    Hell, talk to Ron Bailey, who apparently believes that had his zygote not formed at a particular time, even if to the same parents, he wouldn't just have been different --he'd've been nonexistent!

  • ||

    So what are you now?

  • jacob||

    a troll

  • SIV||

    The links in the article don't support:
    UKIP is against economic and personal freedom, and British libertarians should not be supporting them..
    Everything I read seems to indicate UKIP is for moving to less government while holding the remainder more accountable. You're not getting anywhere by associating with the LDP.

    Thankfully the last of my British ancestors left that shit hole in the early part of the last century

  • Russell||

    Libertarians following in the bootsteps of UKIP Vice Chairman Lord Monckton may be bound for Boot Hill

  • Tulpa the White||

    There was a short-lived Libertarian Party (LPUK) but it was led by some embarrassing and incompetent people.

    The difference is that ours is long-lived.

  • 21044||

    Margaret Thatcher might be viewed as a great advocate for economic freedom, but her social policies were anything but tolerant.

    Examples and citation needed. You are writing a bunch of Labour Party talking points.

    I lived in the UK before Thatcher was PM and after. Thatcher took the UK kicking and screaming into the 1960s.

    You want some liberty and economic BS covered up by "it's for the children," go with the Labour.

  • 21044||

    Despite my agreement with no Euro and with the desire not to fall under the German/French hegemony and Euro sniveling servants. The UKIP is a bunch of racist bastards. Whoever it was who compared Buchanan with the UKIP, you made a pretty good comparison.

  • Robert||

    OK, smarty pants, then who should libertarians in the UK affiliate with?

    Whatever the UKIP is like overall, I scoff at your deciding which principles should be non-negotiable. It may well be that UK libertarians have decided that, given what's on the agenda for now, the best tactic is to help the UKIP, for what they can reasonably do now. And who's to say they can't also help move the UKIP in a better direction for the long term?

    Know where you exert the greatest influence? It's in an organiz'n which is about 50% in agreement with you and 50% disagreement. Then you're at the center of balance, able to swing them in one direction or another. If you join an organiz'n that agrees with you close to 100%, that's a waste because you can't move them much farther. if you join and organiz'n that agrees with you close to 0%, your influence on them will be too small. Look for a party of people half of whom disagree and half agree with you, on avg. considering all issues that are being discussed.

  • ralphs||

    The UK Libertarians were hit by a conservative mole and disruption operation REASON's author ignores: they had been doing very well with several people elected in their first years. They're re-organizing.

  • Azathoth!!||

    I'm not sure that disagreeing with the leftist infiltrations into libertarianism disqualifies one to be a libertarian.

    On the other hand, accepting leftist ideas--considering that the leftist endgame is a statism so pervasive that it can't be seen--might.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement