Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sobre o UKIP

A visão de um Conservador (acho) sobre o UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party):

UKIP’s euro-mania may be its unique selling point, but it’s actually perhaps the least troubling element of the party’s platform. Much of the rest of it, at least as itemised on its website, appears to advocate massively reducing government revenues and simultaneously increasing expenditure on items UKIP deems vital. That’s politics, of course, but it’s politics as written on the back of a beer mat, not the kind of stuff that makes any real sense.

So, sure, merging national insurance and income tax is intuitively sensible and a single 31 per cent rate of tax at least has the advantage of being easy to understand. But actually implementing this is a different matter. 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.

Since the party also proposes to eliminate employer’s national insurance and VAT (replacing it with a local sales tax) one does wonder where the money will come from to pay for the services UKIP pledges to protect.

Because despite all the talk of cutting government down to size, UKIP’s ‘mission statement’ is awkwardly silent on what parts of the government – other than contributions to the EU! – might be axed. I mean, there’s a pledge to ‘bring Quangos under Parliament’s control and cut the cost substantially’ and that’s about it. Really, there’s not much more than that. Who knew John Bull rode a unicorn?

Take energy, for example. UKIP wish to eliminate subsidies for renewable energy and, er, replace them with subsidies for nuclear power. That’s a policy for sure but it’s not necessarily a cheaper one. And since UKIP also want – not altogether unreasonably – to ‘give the public power to require binding local and national referenda on major issue’ it’s not certain they would even be able to build their new nuclear power stations either. What if the people say No?
Global warming, of course, ‘is not proven’ (actually it is; the question is what is the most effective and efficient way of dealing with it) and we need to free ourselves from ‘dependence’ on ‘foreign oil and gas’. Why? Because it is oil and gas or because it is foreign? It’s not clear. (The mainstream libertarian view is that it doesn’t much matter where we source these commodities.)

Indeed, the only government department whose budget UKIP promises to slash is, naturally, International Development. I suspect much of that budget is spent with dubious efficiency and all the rest of it but the idea cutting foreign aid will pay for everything else is populist wankery of the most deceitful kind. (...)

Again, increasing the police budget and spending more on national defence (another thing for which UKIP stands) are perfectly respectable views. Even so, a libertarian-minded fiscal hawk might wonder where the money will come to pay for all this. He – it is usually a he – might also wonder if UKIP’s support for eliminating university tuition fees and boosting the ‘Citizen’s Pension’ to a ‘substantial’ level is really compatible with reducing public debt. He only asks, you know.

But he might also wonder if UKIP’s enthusiasm for increasing the state’s power is really all that compatible with libertarianism as the term is at least sometimes (and in my mind, properly) understood. UKIP wishes to ‘Free the police force from the straitjacket of political correctness’ and it wants to repeal the Human Rights Act because this is necessary to ‘end abuses by convicted criminals and illegal immigrants’. Perhaps. There is, mind you, at least a credible libertarian argument for supposing that placing limits on the police’s powers is one way to protect individuals from the state. 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.

Then there’s the dog-whistling. ‘Permanent’ immigration should be frozen for five years (why only five?) and 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.

UKIP make this pretty clear in the final section of What We Stand For. They say: ‘Our traditional values have been undermined’. 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.

It gets worse. ‘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. Must I now presume that my friends and relatives who are teachers are actually indoctrinating their pupils in a massive programme of national self-abasement?

Then there’s this. ‘Multiculturalism has split our society’. Well, define your terms please. 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. But those people are in a minority. 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. Below that common denominator there is ample room for difference and individual preference.

But if you fail to define what you mean by multiculturalism you should not be surprised – or act offended – if some people wonder if your use of the loaded, imprecise word ‘multiculturalism’ is actually code for something else.

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. And yet these are the people and authorities whom UKIP argue should be given more power, not less. It’s a rum old world right enough. But should we be surprised by any of this? Probably not. After all, senior UKIP figures want to pass laws telling British citizens what clothes they may – or rather, may not – wear. Live and let live? Up to a point, mate.

No comments: