Sunday, 23 February 2014
I’m pretty sure I know what I believe in, politically. A relatively small, minimal tax state that serves the people, providing defence, law and order, diplomacy, education and emergency services, leaving the rest in the hands of efficient private enterprise best suited to supply the needs as and where they arise. I’m also certain about the kind of society I want to live in. A self-reliant, well-educated, civilised and tolerant population of people with ambition but also with a sense of proportion, unenvious of those who do well for themselves and generous towards those who need help.
I’m a realist as well and I know that none of this is actually achievable, or at least not for very long. The big state cannot be relied upon to hold power without becoming corrupt and private enterprise cannot be relied on not to generate monopolies and wield state-like power itself. Populations similarly are largely incapable of becoming civilised without restraint. The fact is everybody has a part to play whether it be mover or shaker or production line drone. And whoever holds the reigns of political power can only ever shift the balance a little bit one way (state) or the other (private) while the population’s part in the process is to be perpetually dissatisfied.
But one thing seems to be self-evident – give people a living without exacting effort from them in return and they grumble less overall. So the greater proportion of people that are effectively kept by the state, the greater the momentum towards ever more government. Which is the entire problem with Europe. People are fond of saying they are pro-Europe, but anti -European Union; it’s the same thing. There is no country called Europe, but that is the ultimate aim of the EU. And given that its officials are appointed rather than elected, the daily output of the regulation machine goes largely unreported and its aim is ever more expansion and control, the EU resembles totalitarianism far more than it does democracy.
But in the UK, like many other countries in this union of soviets, where your behaviour is controlled by ever more edicts, the greater mass of people simply believe what they are told, that in is good and out is bad. That in is prosperity and out is squalor. That in is freedom and light, while out is cold and miserable and nationalistic and therefore nasty. Look at your passport; above United Kingdom it says European Union. In the future it will only say European Union and all two-and-a-half of our main political parties have signed up to that. But they daren’t say it out loud, which is why only Nick Clegg, with nothing to lose, is picking up the gauntlet Nigel Farage threw down months ago.
I sincerely hope Farage will wipe the floor with Clegg and I fully expect him to do so. Clegg’s standing is low, the LibDems looking as if they were prepared to sacrifice principle for the sake of power, but we already know the planks on which he will fight this battle. He will repeat, over and over again, the lines his masters have given him, about jobs, trade and peace and love and he will look slightly ridiculous. Farage, for his part will have to resist the temptation to get boisterous and to point and laugh because his greatest weapon is his sheer likeability and the tone of common sense he strikes. But I fear it may all be for nought in the end.
A year ago, in sheer frustration at the refusal of any party to even consider an in/out referendum, I joined UKIP as a show of support. I never intended to be an activist and I have never believed – as some evidently do – that a party made up mostly of defectors would be capable of returning more than maybe one or two MPs, let alone form a government, but enough was enough and my protest was duly registered. But after the way the Wythenshawe by-election was fought by the local UKIP branch – mirroring the LibDem approach of altering policy to suit the local voter - I’m not renewing. Despite the mainstream media painting UKIP as ‘far-right’ (which they never were) I’m hearing far too much left-wing, big state, benefit state rhetoric just now.
Seeing how formerly Euro-sceptic ministers are now tight-lipped about their old views and handle their about-turns with barely a twitch, I have little hope that any new party would be able to retain their founding principles for long. You never get to hear why they converted, either. It’s like a sect, the EU-Moonies, where formerly sane people now recite Agenda 21 like the prayer that saved their lives. There is something rotten at the heart of the European Projekt (the Kinnocks, for one) and it looks more and more as if there is nothing we can do to escape it. By all means vote for UKIP where they have a real chance of election, but for goodness sake, whatever you do, don’t let Labour back in to finish us off for good.