The EDL endorsement proves that UKIP’s faux-libertarian pretense doesn’t work


3:46 pm - April 6th 2013

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by Alex MacDonald and Olly Neville

On Wednesday evening, The Backbencher broke the news of how the English Defence League’s leader, Tommy Robinson – aka Stephen Lennon – endorsed UKIP and their policies on immigration and Islam. It was a controversial interview, and we found it fascinating to hear the comments from the EDL’s most senior figure about where his political allegiances lay. The EDL, on its official Facebook page – which boasts over 18,000 ‘likes’ – has written comments which throw the radical-right wing organisation’s weight fully behind UKIP and the oratory finesse of Nigel Farage.

Farage himself is unlikely to welcome the endorsement, despite the EDL boasting a significant amount of online support (2/3rds of the number of Facebook fans as UKIP). This is because the majority of British people overwhelmingly reject the politics that the EDL espouses, and association with an anti-Islam group will threaten to drag UKIP back into the territory of ‘BNP in Blazers’ accusations; a view the party has put some considerable work into dispelling.

But why do Farage and his Party – of mostly older white men – so often get dragged down into the pits of British politics by highly despised groups which advocate all sorts of nonsense?

Well, despite being a fully fledged political party with a well rounded if woefully uncosted manifesto, UKIP has only ever really focused on two main issues: The EU and immigration; often linking the two via tough rhetoric on the EU’s internal open borders and how they give access for migrants to travel easily to Britain. Election after election, be it town or Parish councils, London Mayoral or EU elections, regardless as to whether the position they are running for has any influence over immigration or not, UKIP will push immigration as hard as they can; which can see all range of weird and wonderful leaflets coming through your letterbox. Indeed UKIP’s London Elections campaign saw them sauntering around the Capital in a bright purple taxi which demanded that Londoners say ‘No to Open door Immigration’, despite the Mayor of London having no actual control over Britain’s immigration policy.

Farage
Nigel Farage is unlikely to welcome the EDL’s endorsement.

UKIP are the only party that has found the need to ban the BNP, EDL, and NF members from joining their brigade – something that is not always effective – which in itself suggests that their politics attracts undesirable members. Moreover, accusations of racism have dogged UKIP from the very beginning, with their founder quitting and calling the Party ‘morally dodgy’ and ‘extremely right wing.’ This was highlighted in recent times when a Tory MEP wrote that Nigel Farage had allegedly said some highly controversial comments in regards to ethnic minorities.

UKIP’s stance on immigration is not the only area where their policies have caused problems for their image, their former leader Lord Pearson – who was heavily backed by Farage, and Robinson of the EDL – pushed the policy of a Burka ban with great significance in UKIP’s 2010 General Election campaign. The notion was met with horror by many voters, commentators, and newspapers that a political party would attempt to regulate the clothes we can and cannot wear.

But why do we care? Why do we care if UKIP is anti-immigrant, opposed to gay marriage, and at one point became so authoritarian it wanted to regulate your clothes? Well it’s not because we are worried that UKIP have enough support to win in 2015; nor are we writing this because we are affiliated with a party and have a particular motive to win back lost votes; and nor is it for some personal vendetta against the party – even if one of us was recently scorched by UKIP’s wrath. No, we are writing this article, and highlighting these issues because despite the authoritarian politics that UKIP provides, they still have the nerve to call themselves libertarians.

Politically speaking, it may be smart to advocate for closed borders – we see it as a dreadful policy – if it means that you could win votes. It may be a politically smart move to continue to push for a protected NHS, oppose individual rights to gay marriage, decide what people can and can’t wear if you think you can gain votes in the process; but that doesn’t make it libertarian in the slightest.

Libertarianism is about freedom of the individual and being allowed to live in an environment as far away as possible from the shackles of the state. For example, libertarians would not want the government to increase defence spending by 40%; adopt a much tougher stance on crime and punishment; control who citizens can or cannot marry; and impose a strict border control policy – those ideas are in direct contrast to the idea of ‘don’t tread on me’.

The fact is that UKIP have jumped on to the growing brand of libertarianism in order to persuade the public that they are not in fact the bastion of Social Conservatism; but we see through the rhetoric. For us the fact that UKIP are attracting the endorsement of figures such as Tommy Robinson proves that they cannot be advocating the libertarian cause; how could they be if they are getting the thumbs up from the leader of an anti-Islamic organisation?

If UKIP want to continue down the road of Social Conservatism, protectionism, and anti-immigration then that is their prerogative, – and quite frankly it is not our concern – but calling themselves libertarian whilst doing it only serves to damage their credibility, and will damage the identity of what it really means to be a libertarian. This is not a good look UKIP; we think you should remove the word Libertarian from your Party’s description.


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The “something that is not always effective” link is broken.

Proper link here:
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/04/06/the-edl-endorsement-proves-that-ukips-faux-libertarian-pretense-doesnt-work/#comment-441757

(Sorry if it posts twice – functionally this is a bloody awful website).

UKIP aren’t faux-libertarian. This is what libertarianism is always like.

5. Colin Howard

It is difficult to see why any party which endorsed libertarian policies could be anything but anti Islam. This tyrannical ‘religion’ is anti-democratic, anti freedom, anti freedom of expression. Also what’s not libertarian about wanting to be spend enough money to be properly defended in this dangerous world. Are the writers of this piece very young?

Vote UKIP or end up on a reservation, apparently.

https://twitter.com/GABaines/status/320577051448995841/photo/1

@5 and very stupid. I think they can spell politics but that’s about it.

8. Charlieman

@5. Colin Howard: “It is difficult to see why any party which endorsed libertarian policies could be anything but anti Islam. This tyrannical ‘religion’ is anti-democratic, anti freedom, anti freedom of expression.”

What?

I presume that Colin Howard is a selective libertarian — propounding freedom for all (except Moslems).

9. Charlieman

@OP, Alex MacDonald and Olly Neville: “UKIP are the only party that has found the need to ban the BNP, EDL, and NF members from joining their brigade…”

That statement is a bit wonky. UKIP is the only mainstream party that currently has to watch its backside for neo-Nazi infiltration, and consequently it is the only party that has specific rules. In the 1980s, the SDP had similar rules.

Populist parties will always feel the threat of infiltration, from the extreme left or right. If you run a populist or popular movement, membership is something that has to be managed and controlled. Whenever residents campaign about careless parking near a mosque, the group has to consider whether supporters are bothered about parking or simply hate Moslems.

Big political parties suffer from similar problems. The Conservative Party suspended relations with the Monday Club in 2001 (years too late you might say, and I agree).

I don’t know whether UKIP is a libertarian party or a cloak for racists; the party has no philosophical or ideological substance, which makes it appealing to the likes of EDL; until UKIP determines what it will/might be, its influence on UK society and politics can only be negative. Having a policy book is not the same as having a philosophical identity.

until UKIP determines what it will/might be, its influence on UK society and politics can only be negative. Having a policy book is not the same as having a philosophical identity.

I know, right–unlike the mainstream parties, which are run by men with principles who aren’t simply seeking office for the sake of it.

11. Jimmy Aston

A number of previously out and proud EDL supporters/activist running for council in my county on UKIP ticket.
Most have cleaned up/deleted their social networks but google search still shows some of the vile rants.
Surprised if UKIP unaware. Interesting to see what will happen if these people are voted in.

This is rather dark satire. Isn’t it?

13. Charlieman

@10. vimothy: “I know, right–unlike the mainstream parties, which are run by men with principles who aren’t simply seeking office for the sake of it.”

Go down the road and talk to members of a mainstream party, any party. Most of them will be well meaning individuals who you might like/accept socially in other circumstances; perhaps you don’t wish to befriend anyone and, guaranteed, there will be a weirdo in the room.

Not all mainstream parties are run by men. Caroline Lucas is a Green MP but I do not judge her to be mainstream; that is my choice. There are other parties that cannot be described other than mainstream which are led by women; cf Angela Merkel and the big list of women who ran a country.

“seeking office” is the most difficult argument to counter. Perhaps, “there is nuffink, there” is best. A lot of the MPs who have stood for a single term in recent years determined “I’ll do something else”.

Few politicians achieve a ministerial role; the best to be expected is ministerial boot polisher. But cut the cynicism; I like idealists; I never wish to be ruled by cynics.

Charlieman,

I wasn’t suggesting that ordinary party members are bad people, or that they are involved in politics to advance their careers. What I was suggesting is that the parties are run by people who are motivated by the desire to hold office and not by principles or particular political philosophies.

15. So Much for Subtlety

13. Charlieman

Most of them will be well meaning individuals who you might like/accept socially in other circumstances; perhaps you don’t wish to befriend anyone and, guaranteed, there will be a weirdo in the room.

But that is also true of non-mainstream parties. Even the EDL and the BNP. They are not in politics because they want to be a Bond villain.

Not all mainstream parties are run by men. Caroline Lucas is a Green MP but I do not judge her to be mainstream; that is my choice.

I think he was using men in the generic sense there. Although the double standard here is impressive. Everyone is upset because the EDL – a group that UKIP has no ties to or control over – endorsed UKIP. While the Greens continue to have members such as Bea Campbell who regularly took cash and gifts from the Stasi. So it seems LC deems someone saying something about you bad, but someone else employing someone with ties to genocidal totalitarian regimes just fine and dandy.

I like idealists; I never wish to be ruled by cynics.

Totalitarian parties have always been ruled by idealists.

16. So Much for Subtlety

But why do Farage and his Party – of mostly older white men – so often get dragged down into the pits of British politics by highly despised groups which advocate all sorts of nonsense?

Because people like you continue to try to smear them. Did Farage and/or UKIP ask for this endorsement? No. Did they lobby for EDL support? No. Do they show any signs of even wanting this support? No. But the smear is too good to let go isn’t it? So although UKIP has done nothing wrong whatsoever, you will continue to link them to “highly despised groups which advocate all sorts of nonsense” (that is, people who hold opinions you do not approve of) in order to undermine their electoral credibility.

And I assume provide justification for some sort of legal ban.

It is utterly transparent and not a little bit sad.

17. Charlieman

@14. vimothy: “I wasn’t suggesting that ordinary party members are bad people, or that they are involved in politics to advance their careers. What I was suggesting is that the parties are run by people who are motivated by the desire to hold office and not by principles or particular political philosophies.”

Well you could turn that accusation around. How do we, as citizens, hold politicians to their promises to serve us?

I do not wholly accept the argument that “parties are run by people who are motivated by the desire to hold office”; the simple fact is that all parties find it hard to find *any* good candidates for office.

Let’s do a for instance: John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan. The bloke has a “do not touch” sign on his head; you know immediately that this bloke should not be given power beyond Parish Councillor, but somehow he became Home Secretary.

John Reid’s presence in parliament tells us that political parties have a huge problem finding good candidates.

18. Charlieman

@15. So Much for Subtlety: “Totalitarian parties have always been ruled by idealists.”

Does this mean that I am safe from you because you are just a cynic?

“Did Farage and/or UKIP ask for this endorsement? No. Did they lobby for EDL support? No.”

Indeed. Now ask yourself why, having made no effort to obtain this endorsement, they got it anyway, and you may begin to grasp the point.

20. Colin Howard

Surely the bottom of the barrel has been reached when you have to smear a group by fastening on to undesirables who support it. Can anyone suggest that all the ‘main parties’ don’t have some nasty supporters? And to answer Charlieman’s, comment 8, suggestion that I was against freedom for Muslims, well I’m not. I’m in favour of freedom for everyone: it is Islam that is against freedom. It’s surely not too difficult to distinguish between a creed and its supporters, many of whom had no choice at birth.

It is difficult to see why any party which endorsed libertarian policies could be anything but anti Islam.

Indeed.

But your politics tend to be defined by the way in which you express your opposition to their authoritarianism. A state ban on Islamic dress is not a libertarian response……

The other question is what on earth Olly Neville, who seems to self define as an anarcho-capitalist, was doing among the right wing fossils in UKIP. Entryism is a noble calling, but you have to be careful where you go!!!

Assuming he is a libertarian, he would do better to mix with like minded people. He could start off with this lot, perhaps.

http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2013/04/thursday-speaker-adriana-lukas/

A weak attempt to close down debate on issues that non-Guardian readers know are critical to their families and country.

23. So Much for Subtlety

18. Charlieman

Does this mean that I am safe from you because you are just a cynic?

Ha! Just wait until I am in power. Unlike them, I am into politics because I want to be a Bond villain. The lair and all. In fact I would make the Satanists look like the Women’s Institute.

19. Jimmy

Indeed. Now ask yourself why, having made no effort to obtain this endorsement, they got it anyway, and you may begin to grasp the point.

A grasped the point. It is still vile. Presumably the British Communists used to endorse the Labour Party and now the Greens. That does not mean the Labour Party was responsible for the Gulag. Although the fact that the Greens are so comfortable with the totalitarian Left does say something about them. Come back and tell us when UKIP endorses a friend of Hitler’s.

24. Robin Levett

@SMFS #15:

Totalitarian parties have always been ruled by idealists.

True dat; Josip Vissarionovitch Djugashvili was quite the idealist.

#23:

Presumably the British Communists used to endorse the Labour Party and now the Greens. That does not mean the Labour Party was responsible for the Gulag.

I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, Mr Guilt-by-association; the sound of squealing tyres as you reversed your previous position drowned it out.

9 charliemwn has said a lot, but

The BNP backed ken Livingstones for its second choice at the 2012 mayor election

Comedians Kevin day and Ricky to lingo. Among others were ex nF. Who went over to the left

Labours Lord Glasman said labour should listen to the concerns of those who sympathise with the EDL

One ukip MEP was ex labour m.p Robert Kilroy silk

26. the a&e charge nurse

[20] ‘it is Islam that is against freedom. It’s surely not too difficult to distinguish between a creed and its supporters, many of whom had no choice at birth’ – in my experience of this debate many liberals have terrible difficulty making this distinction.

None of the libs have anything good to say about true islam but become rather anxious when anybody points out the obvious problems when states are run along islamic principles, and how such sexist, homophobic and anti-rational sentiments are entirely at odds with the aspirations of western democracies.

The OP tells us the EDL facebook page has 18,000 likes or 0.029 of the population – this is hardly surprising because the political right has NEVER been a significant political force in this country.

The EDL is obviously being used as a proxy for something else, and the covert message is usually that insufficient opprobrium with the EDL is somehow tantamount to citizenship failure.

@23

Most far left parties endorse Labour “faute de mieux” so your analogy is partly correct. Nevertheless fans of Uncle Joe were still being asked to endorse the party that signed up to NATO and the Bomb and would have had to do so through gritted teeth. This is where your analogy breaks down. On issues of race and immigration, there’s hardly a jot of difference between them on policy.

@25

“In 2004, when the London mayoral election was held on the same day as elections to the European Parliament, 44.6% of BNP second-preference votes were cast for UKIP and 20% for the Conservatives. In 2008, 36.2% went to the Conservatives, 17.8% to UKIP and 13.8% to the English Democrat candidate. By 2012, 29.9% went to the Conservatives and 29.8% to UKIP.”

[bbc]

29. Colin Howard

Pagar, 21. Fossils are dead. UKIP is very much alive. Small but important inaccuracy. If by attaching ‘right wing’ to UKIP you meant to say ‘small government’, no problem. Perhaps you could explain what is noble about entryism in the absense of a war needing spies. Also you might consider going easy on the exclamation marks. Along with wild gestures, they are a common sign of someone having difficulty expressing himself.

The authors’ “Open minds, open borders,” linked in the OP, is, in my view, bonkers:

http://thebackbencher.co.uk/open-minds-open-borders/

I do find it quite amusing that all the socialists have a problem with the EDL yet are quite happy supporting the Labour party responsible for racist genocide in Iraq. It must be their placards! The disgusting way socialists never account for their actions, their obscene use of death camps, their inferiority that their only way to riches is through the public purse and theft and yet they focus on a few northern piss heads. Stay classy, eh?

32. Robin Levett

@DtP #31:

I’m not a socialist but this:

the Labour party responsible for racist genocide in Iraq…The disgusting way socialists never account for their actions, their obscene use of death camps

bears some explanation. I didn’t support the war, but I’m not sure I could make this argument against it with a straight face.

@32 – quite right.

34. the a&e charge nurse

[31] ‘the Labour party responsible for racist genocide in Iraq’ – not sure what this means.

Yes, the war was illegal, and yes there was a covert agenda – but the only person responsible for genocide (in any meaningful sense of the word) was Saddam who seemed to enjoy murdering Kurds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Saddam_Hussein's_Iraq

Dubya & Tony took the view that Saddam’s bad behaviour presented an ideal opportunity to secure western oil claims as well as greater geopolitical influence in the region.

Both presumably took the view that resource wars are inevitable so they might as well get the ball rolling sooner rather than later – the invasion has sweet fa to do with socialism, not least because Tony is a neocon, and NuLab were little more than facsimile of the tories.

35. John Reid

28 without a doubt that most bnP supporters second choice in the 2008 mayoral election went to the Tories, but it doesn’t change the fact that the BNP choice for mayor in 2012 said that their supporters second choice should be ken,

“it doesn’t change the fact that the BNP choice for mayor in 2012 said that their supporters second choice should be ken,”

Even if that happened (and I have my doubts), it is at most the opinion of a rather bewildered Uruguayan. The plural of anecdote is not data.

37. Robin Levett

@DtP #33:

So what is your explanation for your claim?

@37. I retract and withdraw all insinuation.

@ 19. Jimmy

A year ago Robinson was trying to start his own party. Now the wheels fell off that particular cart he’s trying to pretend he’s not standing in elections on a point of principle. I think his main motivation is publicity for himself.

As for the point as to why UKIP even need to have a ban on the far right the Labour party was the only party that needed to ban Militant. That didn’t make them totalitarian Trotskyists. I don’t remeber anyone saying ‘well the tories don’t need to ban Militant’.

“That didn’t make them totalitarian Trotskyists.”

No, it attracted trotskyists. Hence the ban. You make my point.

Colin @ 29

Fossils are dead. UKIP is very much alive.

Excellent point and I concede I was wrong.

Let’s go with dinosaurs.

42. So Much for Subtlety

24. Robin Levett

True dat; Josip Vissarionovitch Djugashvili was quite the idealist.

Indeed he was.

I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, Mr Guilt-by-association; the sound of squealing tyres as you reversed your previous position drowned it out.

The problem with debating with yourself Robin is that it is just playing with yourself. Where have I ever said that the Labour Party was responsible for the Gulag? Oh right, I never did. You made that up didn’t you? Not very grown up now was it? When are hols over and Sixth Form starts again?

43. douglas clark

Quite weird that our English colleagues are making a distinction between the EDL and UKIP.

Frankly, if I were a muslim in England and thankfully I am not, it would look like the two cheeks of the same arse.

Both parties pretend that holy jihad, oops! a Crusade, against muslims is an inherent obligation of all true Englishmen.

Is this what being English has become?

44. the a&e charge nurse

[43] ‘Both parties pretend that holy jihad, oops! a Crusade, against muslims is an inherent obligation of all true Englishmen’ – wrong, our crusade is against ignorance and intolerance (in all its myriad forms).

You can’t develop an understanding of world were there is no requirement to produce meaningful evidence for your beliefs.
Well you can, but don’t be surprised when all manner of crazy ideas are rationalised because people say they are doing gods work.

This link from a recent thread – kill the bloggers – now I wonder which religion would propose such outrageous violence – any guesses anybody?
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/breaking-news/death-to-bloggers-bangladesh-islamists/story-e6frea7u-1226613966218?sv=77818a7f700554d69830c9dbaa98f596#.UWAorVi_jzM.twitter

43. douglas clark

“Both parties pretend that holy jihad, oops! a Crusade, against muslims is an inherent obligation of all true Englishmen”

Do you have the slightest evidence UKIP has ever suggested such a thing?

@40. Jimmy

“No, it attracted trotskyists. Hence the ban. You make my point.”

It attracted trotskyists because it was a party of the centre-left/left. Totalitarian leftists are therefore attracted to it because they have a rhetorical overlap with such parties and they want to be able to use such parties to disguise their unpopular ideas.

It would be facile to suggest that left wing rhetoric was inherently bad because it is used by totalitarian leftists. It would be equally facile to suggest that right wing rhetoric was bad because it is used by totalitarian rightists.

47. Robin Levett

@SMFS #42:

True dat; Josip Vissarionovitch Djugashvili was quite the idealist.

Indeed he was.

Clearly “idealist” is another of those words for which you have a private definition, like “communist” or “terrorist”.

I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that, Mr Guilt-by-association; the sound of squealing tyres as you reversed your previous position drowned it out.

The problem with debating with yourself Robin is that it is just playing with yourself. Where have I ever said that the Labour Party was responsible for the Gulag?

Nowhere – but since I didn’t claim you had, this is something of a strawman. My claim (the clue is in the name) is that you have in the past indulged pretty liberally in guilt by association; Bea Campbell and the Greens comes to mind as but one example.

Oh right, I never did. You made that up didn’t you? Not very grown up now was it? When are hols over and Sixth Form starts again?

In the circumstances, you may want to reconsider this part of your comment. “If the cap fits” and all that…

48. John Reid

46 labour is/ was a democratic socialist party, militant were un democratic trots, it’s expulsion was to keep labour as a democratic socialist pary,

Regarding the BNP Richard baker brook, GLA member was ex labour and had labour as his second choice too, I even saw at the count a couple of people who voted lib dem as their second choice after the BNP

From the OP:

…and we found it fascinating to hear the comments from the EDL’s most senior figure about where his political allegiances lay.

Why is anyone fascinated by what some football hooligan down the pub says?

“Why is anyone fascinated by what some football hooligan down the pub says?”

Because some polls have them in third place.

51. So Much for Subtlety

47. Robin Levett

Clearly “idealist” is another of those words for which you have a private definition, like “communist” or “terrorist”.

Come and rejoin the reality based community Robin. It is better than where you are. But by all means, share with us your in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of Stalin’s mind. I would love to hear how you knew exactly what he thought and why. In the meantime, I will stick to what we do know – his often stated, and idealistic, beliefs. He wanted to make a perfect world. That is pretty idealistic.

Nowhere – but since I didn’t claim you had, this is something of a strawman.

Sorry but you are claiming I reversed my position. In that prior e-mail which position do you think I reversed?

My claim (the clue is in the name) is that you have in the past indulged pretty liberally in guilt by association; Bea Campbell and the Greens comes to mind as but one example.

I love your projection boyo. I do not attack Campbell by association. She took money from the East Germans. She took free holidays from the Stasi. I attack her for what she did. The Greens have endorsed her. I do not say that makes them guilty of supporting the Stasi. I say it makes them guilty of bad judgement and not having a problem with people who took money from the East Germans. Again, no association. They are condemned for their own actions.

Words do not mean whatever you want them to mean.

52. Robin Levett

@SMFS #51:

The Greens have endorsed her. I do not say that makes them guilty of supporting the Stasi.

From your comment at:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/02/28/green-party-write-social-justice-into-their-constitution/#comment-438246

comes:

The Green Party mean the same by social justice as anyone else. Well anyone else on the left of the political spectrum. The Green Party are a social democratic party, essentially.

To the first sentence, no they don’t or they would not have endorsed Bea Campbell. They are fine with the DDR.

which followed:

Nor do they mean what Social Justice usually means. After all, they took Bea Campbell as a candidate. Bea Campbell had no problems accepting regular freebies from the old East Germany. Back when she was still a member of the British Communist Party. Which is no surprise. But she has not repented of it in the slightest. So that is what she means by Social Justice – barbed wire fences, dogs and IKEA using slave labour.

at:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/02/28/green-party-write-social-justice-into-their-constitution/#comment-438215


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