Now, there are probably two questions that pops into most readers minds:
1) Independence from what? Isn’t the UK independent already? The understand why the UK needs an Independence Party you need to understand how Europe is structured politically. Henry Kissinger once asked “Who do I call if I want to talk to Europe?” – Europe, unlike the US, was not (at the time the question was asked) as centrally organized as the US. There was no President or Prime Minister of Europe, so if you wanted to talk to Europe, you had to talk to each country individually. The solution to this was the European Union, a super-national union between European countries. While originally the only purpose of the EU was to promote free trade and peace between European countries (kind of like the US was once just a union between states with a minimum amount of federal government), this is not what the EU does today.
The EU of today has become a monster. The EU interferes in every area of policy today, and the EU law is above the member countries’ laws – even their constitution. This means that if the EU were to decide that abortion should be legal, countries which have constitutional bans against abortions (Ireland) would be forced to legalize it.
The UK Independence Party recognizes that this is absurd and that the UK should be ruled by the Brits (and – in my opinion – the Swedish immigrants). UKIP wants to turn the UK into an independent country once again, and the only solution is the leave the EU.
5/6 regulations come from the EU. The membership is costing Britain about 40 billion pounds every day. The EU stops the UK from having free trade with the rest of the world, a policy that has had debilitating effects on the third world development by introducing tariffs against products produced in countries outside the EU. These are just a few of the terrible effects that the EU membership has had on Britain. Add to this now the current Eurozone mess, and it’s easy to see that the European Unity project has failed.
2) Why not join the Tories? Most Americans who are even remotely familiar with British politics would suggest that the Tories (or, the Conservative Party of the UK as they are officially named) are the conservative party in British politics, and that so I as a conservative should support them rather than UKIP. The UKIP, they’ll tell me – if they’ve heard about it at all – is a libertarian party, more suitable for the Gary Johnson/Ron Paul type of “conservatives”. It is true that the UKIP sometimes labels itself as libertarian – but this is “European libertarian” rather than “American libertarian”. And the difference is huge: British conservatism tends to have a statist, centralist approach to issues. Because of this, the word “conservative” is associated with big government conservatism rather than with the more individualistic, small-government conservatism that is common in the US. The UKIP is what I would call an American-style conservative party. Anyone who doubts this is welcome to read the UKIP manifesto – as you can see, UKIP does not call for the dismantling of the central bank, isolationism, drug legalization or anything else that “American libertarianism” is associated with. UKIP instead supports home-schooling, increased local government, a flat tax and increased military spending, while they – or should I say we – oppose same-sex marriage, multiculturalism (in particular islam), and government wasting money on renewable energy. Sounds pretty standard conservative to me – but if you’re this right-winged in Europe, you’re automatically labelled libertarian.
Having cleared this up: Why exactly am I not joining the Tories? Surely they are much bigger than UKIP – and the party of Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher must make for an excellent home for any conservative, no?
My issue with the Tories is very much the same issue the Tea Party has with the Republican establishment: They’ve gone soft. Like I mentioned above, British (actually, European) conservatism tends to be a lot more statist and less right-winged than American conservatism. Conservative parties in Europe in general do not oppose the welfare state (only seeking minimal amounts of reform), try not to fight with unions and in general accept the idea that government is the solution to the problem; not, like Reagan said, the problem itself. The Tories’ american equivalent would be the Rudy Giuliani-faction of the Republican Party, while UKIP would be closer to Paul Ryan.
The biggest difference, as you may have suspected, between the Tories and UKIP is the EU issue: UKIP demands that the UK leave the EU (we want a referendum on this issue), while the Tories remain obedient to their overlords in Brussels. Because of this, even if the Tories were conservative (they’re not), they would never be able to implement their conservative policies as the EU would be able to stop them, and they could do nothing about it. The Tories are good when it comes to talking the talk, but when push comes to shove, they never stand up to the EU. Kind of like how most Republican politicians are really good at talking about the need for fiscal discipline, but relatively few are good at actually voting for it.
Speaking of fiscal discipline, this is another area where the Tories have failed. The UK budget is nowhere near balanced, and the Tories are too afraid to tackle the issue: While the Tories make cuts to the military and law enforcement budgets, they have the nerve to increase spending on foreign aid. Like the US, the UK has issues regarding its entitlements programs, and UKIP is the only party to suggest serious entitlement reform (for example bringing public sector pensions in line with private sector pensions).
On social issues, the Tories are doing absolutely nothing. Despite being technically socially conservative, these issues have taken the back seat the last couple of decades (hey, kind of like the Republican Party). UKIP in general does not take any stances on social issues, instead suggesting these should be decided by referendum. While I would have preferred if UKIP had been explicitly socially conservative, a referendum would at least give us a fighting chance to for example restrict access to abortion, while with the Tories we get nothing but empty talk and broken promises.
Finally on foreign policy issues, UKIP wants to increase defence spending as well as strengthening the UK’s commitment to NATO. There has been a disturbing trend in Europe for a very long time where European countries cut down on defence spending, relying on the US to protect the Free World if it were ever attacked. UKIP wants the UK to be responsible for its own defence and have an army strong enough to defend itself would the country ever be attacked – what conservative would not consider this to be a sound goal? I mean, except for the “conservatives” in the Tories.
UKIP also recognizes the threat that Russia is becoming. This is something that isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be: Russia clearly has ambitions to become the country they once were. Russian politicians still go to bed dreaming of the USSR, and their increased defence spending in recent years reflect this dream. I’ve long argued that Russia is a greater threat than China, and one of the main reasons why I think so is because Russia has shown itself to be aggressive in a way that China simply hasn’t: Russia has recently attempted to occupy a neighbour country (Georgia). China is a lot more isolationist, and hence do not pose the same kind of danger. Also, Europe depends at least as much on Russia as it does on China. China may supply us with cheap clothes, toys and other retail products, but Russia provides us with natural gas and oil – if Russia were to suddenly decide they didn’t want to sell us any more oil or gas, entire countries would likely unravel and societies descend into chaos. This is a lot worse than going without new clothes or toys for a while.
One area of foreign policy where I disagree with the UKIP is the issue of the Iraq war, which UKIP opposed (saying it wasn’t in Britain’s national interest to participate).
The final topic I’d like to talk about is whether or not someone who votes for UKIP is “throwing away” their vote. You see, UKIP does not currently hold any seats in the UK parliament. UKIP has fared very well in the elections to the European Parliament (coming in 2nd in the last EP election in the UK), but so far this has not translated to any success in the general elections. Tory supporters love to claim that a vote for UKIP is a vote for Labour or for the Liberal Democrats (the two major left-winged parties in the UK), kind of like how Democrats claim that a vote for the Green Party is a vote for Romney, and Republicans claim that a vote for the Libertarian Party is a vote for Obama. In the last election, UKIP got little more than 3 % of the votes. However, recent polls puts us around 12 % – a 300 % increase in just two years. I am certain that UKIP is going to win seats in the next election (which will most likely be in 2015), and quite possibly become the biggest British party in the EU Parliament in the next EP election in 2014. I am personally opposed to UKIP running candidates in districts where the Tories are running real conservatives like Daniel Hannan, but everywhere else is definitely fair game. If we split the vote; so be it. Hopefully this will help Tories understand that us real conservatives refuse to be taken for granted. Of course, unlike what tory supporters like to think, UKIP voters are not only people who used to vote for the Tories. Instead of whining about splitting the vote, they should maybe re-evaluate themselves and their policies, in particular with regard to the EU. Like a recent politician who detracted from the Tories to join UKIP said: “I would urge everyone to consider whether they want to be run from the unelected Brussels Commission or Whitehall. I believe in the United Kingdom being the United Kingdom. We fought two World Wars to preserve that.”
What about Kissinger’s old question, about who he should call if he wants to talk to Europe? The answer is Joey Tempest.
Thanks for reading.