The other day I told a friend that I am against further mass immigration to the UK and she gasped. This was tantamount to racism! Well, it gets worse. I’m thinking of voting UKIP!
For decades I have voted either Liberal (now Liberal Democrat) or Green. The Tories are the party for the elite and old Labor were too engrossed in a failing ideology. New Labor betrayed the working class and put Thatcherism on steroids. Further, I have always respected what I perceived as the calm rationalism of many Liberals with their emphasis on liberty and pragmatism.
To quote Sir William Harcourt, former 19th century Liberal Home Secretary and Chancellor:
“Liberty does not consist in making others do what you think right. The difference between a free Government and a Government which is not free is principally this—that a Government which is not free interferes with everything it can, and a free Government interferes with nothing except what it must. A despotic Government tries to make everybody do what it wishes, a Liberal Government tries, so far as the safety of society will permit, to allow everybody to do what he wishes. It has been the function of the Liberal Party consistently to maintain the doctrine of individual liberty. It is because they have done so that England is the country where people can do more what they please than in any country in the world”
Even when Labour accused the Liberal Democrats of betrayal by raising tuition fees I did not flinch. The Liberals didn’t win the election but were a junior partner in a coalition and so could not dictate the agenda and most of the people screaming betrayal did not vote Liberal. If they had prized low tuition fees so much they should have put their vote where there mouth is.
I don’t say that I love the Liberals, just that they seem the best of a bad lot. The fact that they are pro-Europe did not bother me as, very broadly, so was I.
But for some time now I have believed that England, and London in particular, are ludicrously over-crowded. There are too many of us. The roads and trains are horrendously congested, house prices are obscene and gradually, what was once spare communal space is being converted into private concrete structures.
Here’s the point: Though mass immigration may drive up national GDP it does not necessarily drive up GDP per capita and even GDP per capita does not place value on shared communal “goods” such as open space, personal space and time not spent standing on railway platforms freezing your fucking nuts off. In 2014 I may be richer in material goods than my grandparents but I am much poorer in space and in time.
However. I value free movement in Europe and can see that commons rules, a cosmopolitan society and various other Euro-paraphilia are advantages so I had thought that congestion is just a price I have to pay. Up until now I have accepted the pro-Europe stance. The world is coalescing into large power blocks. In a world of super powers Europe needs to stick together. We are economically and politically better off as we can get better deals if we negotiate as a united block. Sounds reasonable.
So what’s changed?
What’s changed is the abject failure of the leader of the main pro-EU party to mount any reasoned defense of the UK’s membership of the EU. What’s changed is that rather than Nick Clegg seeking to convince me with rational debate, he sought to bamboozle me with deceitful statistics, absurd slurs and patronizing rhetoric. (Try saying “wind the clock back” one more time Nick). Far from being a reasoned pragmatist I can see he is another arrogant establishment know-it-all who thinks the public are too stupid to understand the truth. He was TALKING BOLLOCKS and could quite easily have fitted in New Labour along with so many current MPs of all parties.
Of course there are right wing racist in Britain that we should be wary of and since parties like the BNP are going nowhere it’s probably true that some of these people will switch the UKIP.
But I am becoming increasingly aware of a different and equally distasteful form of bigotry that goes un-criticised, overlooked and is now so prevalent that it is acceptable even for national politicians. It is the bigotry of the Left. One only has to read the comments to articles in The Guardian or The Independent to recognise the hysterical and hate filled lunatics which slaver over each article attempting to connect Farage with Putin or brand the Tories as racists for daring to even consider an immigration policy. Many of the articles in these papers are not much better and some Labour MPs treat the allegation of racism like a dog smelling the blood of an injured animal. They throw the term racist about without thought and now even insist that merely wanting Britain to be out of the EU is racist. This is deeply stupid and deeply insulting to a nation that has accepted millions of people from all over the world.
Of course we should be wary of populist parties given what happened in Europe in the ’30s but populism is not a definite indicator of fascism. For years British politics was dominated by the Tories and the Liberals until the newly populist Labour party were propelled into power in the 1920s. Also, the main goal of Nigel Farage is merely a referendum on EU membership which, incidentally, should have been conducted before the Maastricht Treaty was signed. If a referendum were now held then, one way or another, UKIP’s raison d’être should evaporate.
I had heard much of the argument between Farage and Clegg before but Farage made one new statement that made me think. When the European Economic Community (EEC) was formed the world was comprised of separate countries with industries protected by trade tariff barriers. The creation of the EEC was a way to create a large free trade zone which encouraged trade and promoted prosperity. Partly because of the example of the EEC the whole world is tearing down trade barriers and entering free trade agreements. Given this, how did political union get onto the agenda?
Farage made some excellent arguments against EU membership but there are reasons in favour that Clegg (and mindless left-wing bigots) seem too stupid to discuss. However, I no longer believe that British membership of the EU is good by default. I need to be convinced and am having a rethink. Prior to the upcoming election for the European Parliament in May I intend to do some research and perhaps the pro-European lobby will find someone who knows what the fuck they’re talking about.
It’s said that the main reason for “ever closer union” was to put an end to the devastating conflicts between Germany and France. Very good. That’s their reason for remaining in the EU.
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