@Voluntarist says #UKIP more liberal than Alex Massie

UKIP has become the third party of British politics according to Sky News and several polls and so Twitter is buzzing with discussion about whether they are libertarian enough for libertarians, or liberal enough for most voters.

Before long, Alex Massie’s article of November was doing the rounds again on Facebook. His Spectator article points out some of the policies that UKIP promotes which seem, to Alex, to mean “UKIP is not a libertarian party”.

When I shared that article here, @Voluntarist shared a fisking with me on Twitter that deserves wider circulation. In his view, UKIP’s are more libertarian than they look at first.

So, in the interests of balance, over to @Voluntarist:

Not sure where he’s going with opposing energy subsidies being ‘illiberal’. Most libertarians I know are against corporate welfare.

“Moreover and even though I rather approve of UKIP’s desire to increase the tax-free personal allowance it does not take a bear of any great brain to appreciate that the already-wealthy will be the biggest beneficiaries of UKIP’s tax policies.”

The already-wealthy are typically the biggest beneficiaries of any tax cut, because they bare the greatest tax burden. No, that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out but it has nothing to do with personal libertarianism.

“Global warming, of course, ‘is not proven’”

That’s not stated, and most libertarians do believe that AGW is overstated. UKIP calls for a greater study into its impacts and the actual scale of what’s happening.

“Why? Because it is oil and gas or because it is foreign?”

Because we have plenty of gas under our own land which would be in common use if we didn’t overregulate it or subsidise the expensive alternatives.

“It’s a queer sort of libertarian that wants to double the number of Britons incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure. But that’s UKIP’s policy.”

No it isn’t, but being able to dole out effective sentences for criminals is desirable. It’s not libertarian to be soft on REAL criminals, and as you say UKIP wants a royal inquiry into drug legalisation and greater protections on free expression which would reduce the number of people put in prison for the wrong reasons.

“I think it is also true that many libertarians are quite rightly sensible to the fact that many of our fellow-citizens are not at all liberal and that, this being regrettably so, the tyranny of the majority is much to be feared.”

Agree with this one.

” Equally, it must be possible that the protections afforded by the Human Rights Act are not exclusively enjoyed by ‘criminals’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ and might also be something to be cherished by clean-living, stout-hearted Britons.”

Which is why UKIP supports a British Bill of Rights, instead of outsourcing our morality to a corrupt external court.

“…thereafter only open to those who are well-educated, wealthy and ‘fluent in English’. In other words: Australians and some South Africans are fine, Poles and Nigerians may be less welcome.”

Complete misread of UKIP policy. We support a work visa scheme for those who want to come here to work, and a path to citizenship via working and paying into the country.

“And since libertarianism is, at its best, an internationalist creed this seems antithetical to libertarianism in the terms I understand it.”

Libertarians realise that open-door immigration and a welfare state are not compatible. They have to choose one or the other.

“But what are those traditional values? A whites-only immigration policy? Women in the kitchen? The working-classes knowing their place? Gays denied the right to marry one another? UKIP doesn’t say.”

Free speech trumping the right not to get hurt, a belief in democracy, equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome, working being the norm for the working class…?

“‘Children are taught to be ashamed of our past.’ Really? It is not so long since I was at school myself but I do not recall – outside of divinity lessons – any great instruction on how to feel properly ashamed.”

We spent longer in history talking about slavery than we did talking about the First World War. Which do you think would inspire shame and which would inspire pride?

“If by multiculturalism you mean those people who are stupidly tolerant of forced marriages, honour killing and the general thwarting of women’s rights to self-expression and fulfillment, then you have a point.”

And that is, again as specified by our manifesto, exactly what we mean. We mean cultures which are incompatible with our core values of equality, tolerance, democracy and freedom.

“There are some obvious – and serious – problems with integration but there is nothing wrong with multiculturalism provided those myriad cultures operate within the norms of British standards of behaviour.”


“UKIP figures want to pass laws telling British citizens what clothes they may – or rather, may not – wear.”

This policy will be gone when the manifesto is rewritten. Additionally, the only intention was to ban the burqa in a situation in which covering your face would not otherwise be acceptable.

“UKIP conclude that ‘Political correctness is stifling free speech’. Actually, it is Britain’s parliamentarians, cloth-brained prosecutors and fatheaded police officers who are doing that. Can’t blame Europe for this.”

Nobody tried to blame Europe for that. We blame cultural marxism and idiot politicians for it, that’s why we’re against it.

“Nevertheless, what’s deemed political correctness these days used to have a different name: good manners. It’s not ‘politically incorrect’ to tell a Paki joke, it’s just usually stupid, boorish and rude.”

No, it’s not politically incorrect to tell a Paki joke. It’s politically incorrect to say ‘policemen’, or ‘lollipop lady’, or to believe that not all immigration to the UK is good, or to believe that men and women are equal but different, or to point out that Islamic paedophile gangs are a big problem in the north… but it’s pragmatically correct.

It’s politically correct to believe that women, or black people, are not able to succeed on merit so we need to give them assistance. Personally I just find that insulting to the millions of women and ethnic minorities who are more than capable of taking on their white male colleagues and compatriots for any position of their choosing.

“It is a tendency that believes, occasionally naively, in humanity. There is a cussed don’t-tread-on-me streak to it too for sure, but fundamentally libertarians believe the best is yet to come. They embrace the future.”

I don’t think any of this is at odds with UKIP.

“UKIP, on the other hand, strikes me as being a party for reactionaries and monomaniacal euro-obsessives. Their vision of Britain is, I can’t help but feel, a Britain besieged and on the point of collapse.”

When the 2010 manifesto was written, Britain was on the verge of collapse. Our economy was in the dumps, unemployment was at amazing levels and the deficit just kept on going. I don’t think most UKIP members are euro-obsessed or reactionary — those times have passed and we’re a party in evolution.

“I like to think that an essential part of libertarianism is its faintly touching belief that many things are getting better.”

And many things aren’t. The decline of freedom of speech in this country is alarming. The debt keeps piling up, and poor monetary policy has devalued the pound to its lowest point in a long time. Believing that things in general are getting better shouldn’t stop us challenging those which aren’t.

“There are serious difficulties that must be overcome but the trend toward human freedom – in Britain and, in fact, across the world – has been moving in the right direction.”

We have people being arrested for calling people mean names on Twitter, and others being persecuted by having foster children removed because of their political beliefs. Meanwhile, the right to free speech has been eroded, the right to protest has been eroded and the personal taxation burden is ever-rising. How is this a move towards individual freedom?

“UKIP’s website also offers you the chance to enter a draw for a whole, shiny, real Gold Sovereign. Because, as you know, gold is ‘a safe haven in troubled times’. Perhaps it is. But appealing to goldbugs is a sure sign of crankery.”

Because most libertarians support the monetary status quo, right? All is wonderful in la la land where our money is worth less today than it was yesterday?

I think the author of this article is probably less libertarian than the majority of UKIP members are.


  1. I still suspect the UKIP has over 90% of Daily Mail Readers in their membership, who like advertisement in style of “5000 new people settle here every week. Say no to mass immigration” or “let’s support royal mail, nuclear power or . The remaining <10% can be quite young and libertarian, but can they outvote the DMR? I doubt it. And until they change the manifesto and direction I simply cannot join the party, I do not like brown shirts with tiny black/yellow dots.

    Here are some examples from the manifesto:

    Click to access UKIPmanifesto1304a.pdf

    1) A 10-year enhanced defence equipment
    programme with an additional £4bn p.a. on
    top of the currently-budgeted £8bn p.a.
    –Who are we going to protect the country from? Or invade, sorry,
    liberate another Libya?

    2) A 25-year programme of building nuclear
    power stations that will provide Britain with
    50% of its future electricity demand. This will
    cost on average of £3.5bn p.a.
    — I like nuclear power but when it is operated by private operators,
    who will buy insurances from their pocket and not use the state as the
    main insurer: how much damage would an INES7 event cost, how much
    worth is a piece of British land in ~20 miles radius?

    · Introduce ‘Production Enterprise Centres’
    across the UK to support companies in research, design, prototyping
    and marketing.
    These would provide small and medium-sized
    enterprises with the skills they need to enter
    domestic and export markets from which they
    are currently excluded
    — In the USSR we had state research institutes, where people were
    playing chess and drinking tea. Nice piece of plan economy if you like
    chess and tea!

    · End mass, uncontrolled immigration. UKIP
    calls for an immediate five-year freeze on
    immigration for permanent settlement. We aspire to ensure that any
    future immigration does
    not exceed 50,000 people p.a.
    — Why 50k people and how are you going to select them? Brides from
    Thailand first and if some places left, then these who pay a little
    fortune in taxes? Conservatives stopped Tier 1 program back in 2010
    (these who qualify normally pay more taxes then they can take from
    NHS, roads, police and so on) and it doesn't look like immigration has
    significantly decreased, quote from

    "Estimated total long-term immigration to the UK in the year to
    December 2011 was 566,000. This compares to 591,000 in the year to
    December 2010 and has remained broadly at a similar level since 2004
    Estimated total long-term emigration from the UK in the year to
    December 2011 was 350,000. This compares to 339,000 in the year to
    December 2010."

    I can rather understand "Allow to come only these who earn at least
    50k GBP". But what would a poor daily mail reader say, who desperately
    needs a bride from Thailand or Russia?

    · Safeguard British weights and measures (the
    pint, the mile, etc) which have been undermined by the EU. UKIP will
    also provide proper support to the Royal Mail and the Post Office as
    key British institutions
    — In the 21 century I wish more DHL Packstations
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packstation) and not lazy postmen
    delaying my parcels over the weekend. I do not have much against pints
    and miles, I can convert between metric and imperial systems easily,
    but I do not want to pay taxes to support Royal Mail.



  2. Some of his critique of UKIP is valid, but I can’t quite work out what he thinks libertarianism is. The snide remark about goldbugs is strange. Maybe Massie could enlighten us all on what libertarians are supposed to think about money and banking.



  3. My problem with UKIP is that some of their policies are so non-libertarian, This leads me to the conclusion that they are not libertarians at all, but merely Tories in flimsy libertarian clothes which will soon be discarded at the first sniff of office.



  4. The Daily Mail thing comment was an “ouch moment” – for example the vile stuff they have been pushing, spitting on the memory of Nancy L. as a “gun nut” and “paranoid”, is utterly horrible. And yes some UKIP people are Daily Mail readers.

    As for UKIP – it is far from perfect.

    But Alan Massie is clearly worse. I am sure he would hate libertarians (i..e “gold bugs” as he calls people who do not support fiat money) more than he hates the (far more moderate) UKIP.

    As for the Frankfurt School of “Cultural Marxism” (i.e. the P.C. movement) – that is exactly the sort of thing libertarians are AGAINST.

    As is (or course) “social justice” (which is incompatible with the the to-each-their-own definition of justice).

    And I am NOT a member of UKIP.



  5. I repeat (in case it was not clear) the question is not “are UKIP pure libertarians” – they have never claimed to be.

    The question should be “is UKIP better or worse than Alex Massie”.

    And Voluntarist is clearly correct – UKIP is better than Alex Massie.



Leave a Reply to James Rigby Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s