UKIP Needs To Rediscover Its Libertarian Roots To Survive
In the A-level History classes of a futuristic Great Britain, students will be listening to stories about the two largest political blunders of the 21st century. They will be enthrawled by the tale of when David Cameron accidently obtained a mandate to take Great Britain out of the European Union and Theresa May accidently gave away the Government majority that was doing it.
Theresa May is a severely diminished figure who will now rely heavily on the Democratic Unionist Party for mere survial. Jeremy Corbyn has consolidated his hold on the Labour leadership after proving the Blairites wrong and showing that a Socialist voice is not nearly as unelectable as they had been convinced. Ukip however are on the verge of collapse. If they are to survive they must rediscover the libertarian strand that has never felt more crucial to British politics.
This was always going to be a difficult election for Ukip. Theresa May successfully pitched herself as the clean Brexit candidate and when Labour’s manifesto stated the party would withdraw from the Single Market and thus be able to control EU immigration, Ukip’s two biggest selling points were robbed by the mainstream.
Just as Nigel Farage repeated during his various morning interviews, it wasn’t Paul Nuttall’s fault. This fall from grace would no doubt have plagued any who occupied the top job. There is no doubt that Paul Nuttall’s blunders caused problems, but the brief tenure he was granted before an election left him scrambling for relevance. He has now resigned and Ukip are currently under the interim leadership of Steve Crowther, former Ukip chairman under Nigel Farage, but who on earth should replace him and what should they believe in?
Ukip has always fought an internal battle between a more socially conservative, authoritarian grouping who in recent years have seen the growth of radical Islam as a perfect platform for setting the agenda, and a more libertarian leaning bunch who see flatter taxes, personal liberty and localism as tickets to success. Ukip has blended some aspects of both of these, but there is no doubt that in recent years, largely down to Nigel Farage, the authoritarian right has been the dominant force. If Ukip is to survive, the libertarians need to fight back.
Back in the early 2000’s characters such as Godfrey Bloom represented Ukip on the economy. He may have been eccentric and regularly attracted controversial headlines, but his economics were sound, Austrian-style and liberty loving. Ukip believed strongly in substantial taxation and spending reductions. In an election where all of the major parties were committed to robbing people of even greater sums of their hard earned cash, Ukip missed a great opportunity to steal the mantle as the party of lower taxes. It failed to grasp this opportunity because of it’s half-hearted effort. Whoever leads Ukip going forward needs to re-energise the party’s economic debate. Tweaks are not enough to grasp the attention of the public, wholesale change is required.
On energy, Ukip has been the only sound party for years, yet Roger Helmer seems detatched in fighting against the absurd belief that destroying the world economy is the only way to save the environment. Ukip needs to stop being seen as anti-environment while maintaining the same policies on energy. It needs to be argued that fracking, aside from substantially reducing the energy bills of the low-paid, would actually be better for the environment than watching our industries move into ever less regulated parts of the world where the technology simply isn’t as advanced. It has also never been mentioned that our move towards nuclear and fracking would provide us with a far stronger hand to reject the allegiance we are forced to hold with the Islamists of Saudi Arabia, who have caused no end of harm to the world with Wahhabi terrorism and yet who we still allow to fund extremism at home and abroad. The debate on climate change is being lost by the left. Trump is proving that you can win and implement pro-industrial policies while not pandering to the false gods of wind turbines and solar panels.
While the Conservatives are using the threat of Islamist terror to dismantle this country’s liberty, no serious party has stepped up to oppose them. Free speech is consistently undermined by “hate speech” laws, yet in an age where free speech is on the retreat, its defenders are sparse. The Conservative manifesto belief that the internet requires as much meddling as society is terrifying to anyone even remotely inclined to support liberty, yet who is standing against it? Nobody. If Ukip are to survive then they must seriously consider defending an unregulated internet. It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “Those who give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ukip should champion this message and defend a free internet and a free speech society.
The current message on integration, while palatable in parts, is woefully off the mark. Instead of banning what people wear, checking up young girls skirts and using the force of the state to regulate society, Ukip should be pushing for a change in attitudes, grass-roots and organic. You don’t need to ban the burka if you prove to the country that it represents a vile and outdated form of subjugation. You don’t need to attack Muslim communities for some of the regressive opinions that are held within them to alter those opinions. Instead of merely attacking Islamic fundamentalism for its barbarity, there remains a substantial vacuum in which a fervent promotion of British identity and patriotism may begin to challenge the ideology head-on.
The future for Ukip has never been more uncertain. As yet it cannot be seen who can viably take Ukip forward, but regardless of who does step up to the plate, the party certainly needs to refocus on its fundamental principles. Ukip will only survive if it decides it wants to be in favour of things instead of against them. It’s far harder to present an alternative than to merely attack the status quo, but parties are credited if they offer something attractive. Ukip will be credited if it decides to become a libertarian party once more, if it decides to represent the positive perspectives on issues of economics, security and liberty. If bashing Islam are UKIP’s only remaining cards, it might as well fold them.