Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 169
10th March 2008
A Day with UKIP
by Sean Gabb
I drove down to Exeter last Saturday the 8th March 2008, to speak at a United Kingdom Independence Party rally. If I had bothered checking in advance that the round journey would be 600 miles, I might have declined the invitation. I am glad, though, that I did not check, and that I did accept.
Imagine, if you can, a party rally, put on by one of its regional branches, and attended by several hundred decent, ordinary people. Imagine, then, being able to watch a dozen or so people called to the podium to speak fluently and with passion about what they truly think. Imagine also being able to mingle throughout with the leaders and elected representatives of that party. Imagine all this, and you have UKIP.
I watched parts of the Liberal Democrat conference on television yesterday. As with all the Regime Parties, these people talk about the need for commitment and fundamental change, and then carefully avoid saying or promising anything that might resemble either commitment or change. What I saw on Saturday with my own eyes was politics as it always used to be in England.
I last voted Conservative in 1997. Since then, I have voted UKIP whenever possible. So far, I have done this as a means of punishing the Conservatives for being so dreadful. I will now vote UKIP because I like the party and because I admire its leaders.
I will not summarise my speech, as I made a video record of it, and of the one made by Marc-Henri Glendening of the Democracy Movement. There was some coordination between us, and so our speeches are worth watching one after the other. I am never happy with filming in a room where public address equipment is in use, but the sound quality is adequate. Our speeches are available courtesy of Google Video. In time, I hope, UKIP will make its own video footage of the whole rally available on-line.
Now, though it was right to say how much I enjoyed myself last Saturday, the real purpose of this article is to confirm in writing what I did say then several times. I was approached by one very senior person in UKIP and by someone who has the ear of other senior persons, and asked if I would like to stand in the European Elections, and with a position on the party list that would give me some chance of being elected. I said no, but am not sure if my refusal was taken as more than false modesty.
There would be certain advantages in having me as a candidate. I am a clear and prolific writer. I speak reasonably well without notes. I can think on my feet. I know how to handle the media. I am not that old, nor particularly displeasing to look at. I have shown no tendency as yet to megalomania, and most of the things in my private life I would not have known are more comical than scandalous.
This being said, my answer is still no. I do not wish to stand with any party endorsement in any election that I might win. Here are my reasons.
First, I am Director of the Libertarian Alliance. This is a non-party organisation. I accept that we have had our greatest impact during the past thirty years on the youth movement of the Conservative Party, and that we now have a certain influence within UKIP. But we do have supporters in the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties. For all these parties are loathsome at the top, there is some chance of libertarian pressure from the membership. And there are still some libertarians who do not share my opinion of the European Union. It is one thing for the Director of the Libertarian Alliance to say what he thinks as an individual, but quite another for him to be a UKIP candidate.
Second, I have certain qualities that, while useful for directing the Libertarian Alliance, rule me out as a party politician. I am poor at giving and taking instructions. I am not much of a team player. I have little charm, and am easily bored with the ordinary things of life. What interests me is often seen by others as unimportant or obscure. In politics, I would be another Enoch Powell, but without the brilliance.
Third, there is the nature of my opinions. I may believe in withdrawing from the European Union, and I may be a firm patriot. But I have also spent much of the past thirty years trying as clearly and persuasively as I can to say things that most would regard as not on but considerably beyond the lunatic fringe in politics. I believe in legalising all drugs. I am not for decriminalising possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, or for diverting the enforcement budget to “education”. I would make it no more illegal to buy a packet of heroin than it is now to buy a packet of tea; and I would not allow the authorities to spend a penny of our money on telling us whether and how to use it. I believe in repealing all the race relations and other hate crime laws. I would allow employers and landlords to qualify their advertisements with phrases like “niggers and faggots need not apply”. I do not believe possession of child pornography should be a crime. I do not even believe it should be a crime to publish child pornography here that was made abroad by and with foreigners.
I like to think I can justify these opinions – plus all the others I cannot be bothered to mention or may have forgotten that I hold. But it should be clear that no party mad enough to adopt me as a candidate would get a fair hearing ever again in the media.
And so, I wish UKIP well. I wish it more than well. It is our last and our best hope in politics. I enjoyed last Saturday in Exeter. I look forward to the weekend after next at another rally in Morcambe. If I am seriously asked, however, to do more than this, my answer must be thanks but no thanks.