According to a poll conducted by ComRes and published in the U.K.-based The Independent on Sunday, the euroskeptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is the U.K.'s favorite political party and its leader, Nigel Farage, is the second most popular leader of a major British political party (he follows Prime Minister David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party).
Ed Miliband, the less than awe-inspiring leader of the Labour Party, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who has had to deal with a lot of unfair criticism from ungrateful members of his own party, are the least favorable political leaders.
Breakdown of the poll results below:
What's interesting about the popularity of UKIP is that it could deny the two largest parties (the Conservatives and Labour) a majority at the next general election, leaving the U.K. with its second hung parliament in a row. In this May's European elections UKIP could do very well by taking advantage of euroskepticism in the U.K.
While UKIP may be enjoying some popularity, it is important for British classical liberals to remember that the party is not, despite what its constitution says, a libertarian party. UKIP's hostility to to free trade and capitalism was highlighted last year by Farage's rhetoric surrounding Bulgarian and Romanian immigration.
I have written before about how UKIP is not a libertarian party, but it is especially worth highlighting months away from European elections. The European Union is an institution that is worthy of the mockery and anger that Farage is known for (see clips below):
However, the hostility Farage and his UKIP colleagues have towards the undemocratic and regulation-obsessed European Union is not reason enough for those who calls themselves libertarians to support UKIP.
I don't understand the appeal of politics, but if British libertarians do want to get involved in politics they should not forget that there are classical liberal or classical liberal-leaning politicians outside of UKIP. In the Conservative Party Steve Baker MP, Alan Duncan MP, Douglas Carswell MP, and Daniel Hannan MEP each have libertarian sympathies. Even in the Liberal Democrats, a party that is wrongly categorized by many in the U.S. and the U.K. as being part of "the left," politicians like David Laws MP and other so-called Orange Bookers are sympathetic to competition and economic liberalism. The exception to this description of the Orange Bookers is Vince Cable MP, who contributed to The Orange Book but is more of a social democrat than a Gladstonian liberal.
May is still a few months away and recent news suggests that the British economy is improving, which may help the Conservatives and make some people more hesitant to support UKIP, which includes many disillusioned Conservatives.