Dishonest Debate

I seem to spend a lot of time defending Ukip nowadays. I’m not a Kipper, nor will I ever be, as I disagree fundamentally with party politics, and, as with all parties, while I agree with some of their policies, I disagree profoundly with others – notably their attitude to Green issues. I do, however, share a broad outlook with them over two key policies: one is a desire to empower people through direct democracy, and, since it is anathema to any sound principle of democratic process, to withdraw from the EU.

Nevertheless, I do believe strongly in honest debate and oppose strongly those who misrepresent others, be it from genuine ignorance, more cynical reasons, or their own bigotry. Since Ukip are coming in for a great deal of flak, much of which seems based on prejudice rather than facts, I often feel compelled to defend them. If people are criticising them based on falsehoods rather than their actual policies, that suggests that they are unable to win the argument on policy.

A classic example of this came to my attention recently when a friend shared a post featuring this image:

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It attracted quite a bit of attention seemingly, but I found it both ignorant and bigoted. I’ve decided to take its authors to task over their key points. Their comments are in italics, followed by my responses.

“Telling people the problems we face are caused by others, be they immigrants or Europeans is not very nice.”

Your starter for 10: falsely equating a desire to control national borders (as we traditionally have done in modern history and as the vast majority of countries still do) with ‘blaming immigrants’ and then equating a desire to leave an undemocratic supranational organisation with ‘blaming Europeans’. Are you really so incapable of making a distinction between the EU (a political organisation) and European people? Really? By your own logic, since you clearly aren’t keen on Ukip, you must hate British people too.

“Locking down Britain’s borders will damage trade and make everyone poorer. We are a trading nation.”

This standard portrayal of Ukip as autarkist is simply bizarre! Exactly which part of leaving a protectionist club (the EU) which discriminates against non-members and precludes us from making bilateral trade agreements with non-EU members in order to open up trade to the WHOLE WORLD is ‘locking down borders’? Show me any Ukip document which talks of ‘locking down’ rather than ‘controlling’ borders. The difference may be difficult for some minds to grasp, but it is, well, ever so slightly important. Ukip constantly talks about opening trade to the wider, non-EU world. How can you turn that on its head logically and claim it means ‘locking down borders’?

Indeed, we are a trading nation, so we should be able to trade freely with the world, shouldn’t we? Or should we confine our trade to the conditions set out by a predominantly white club (the EU)? Frankly, your support for an organisation which specifically discriminates against non-EUers and puts up trade barriers with poorer countries sounds a bit racist to me. No, let’s ramp up the faux outrage rhetoric in kind… It disgusts me!

We absolutely do indeed require immigrants to support our economy, with a third of NHS staff comprising immigrant workers. This is a sad indictment of how bad we are at recruiting indigenous people into the health professions and does of course deprive poorer countries of their own medical expertise, but these are separate, albeit important issues. Ukip have no objection to such immigration, where it benefits our nation and Farage himself has said “[a] points based system will fill jobs needed.” In other words, where you have a situation where jobs can not be filled by British workers, you fill them with immigrant workers. This is precisely how many nations around the world operate.

“No political force in Britain has traded in this kind of politics since the 1920s.”

The fact that you can’t distinguish between free marketeers and fascists speaks only of your political ignorance. Which 1920s political movement was this? Assuming you’re equating UKIP with Moseley’s BUF (the 1930s is the decade you’re looking for by the way – Moseley was a Labour MP for most of the 1920s; but don’t let facts get in the way of your prejudices), you’re simply embarrassing yourself.

Try looking at a political compass and also grasping the difference between those who favour small government versus large government. I think you’ll find that fascism involved just a ‘tad’ of a role for government. The fascist movements of the early 20th century dogmatically rejected free market capitalism for a start and put the state at the heart of the economy. In the case of the Nazis (to give them their full original title, the NSdAP, or National Socialist German Workers’ Party), you may find a clue in that second word. National SOCIALIST. Socialism is not known for its love of free-market capitalism and neither was Hitler.

If we turn to the Left, your assertion that Ukip is trading on fascist ideologies is as ridiculous as someone claiming that Ed Miliband has Stalinist tendencies, or, given that the SNP waves its socialist credentials proudly and is nominally nationalist, that makes the SNP Nazis too! Well, I guess we should be on our guard for those upcoming ‘purges’ in Edinburgh then – The Night of the Long Cabers, perhaps.

“In fact WW2 was all about defeating a country whose people had been told they were being thwarted by outsiders.”

Brilliant over-simplification and revisionism over the causes of WW2! No role for long-standing anti-semitism, anti-Bolshevism, German imperialism, the Dolchstosslegende, anger at the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and a financial market crash resulting in a recall of US loans to Germany then?

Again, comparing Ukip to Nazism is causing me to react with ill-concealed laughter. It merely goes to show how ill-educated many people are about modern European history and politics. Whenever I hear someone equate Ukip with Nazis, to me they are proudly declaring “I know absolutely feck all about politics and history.” – all with a stupid, self-satisfied grin on their face.

“Blaming others is a route to power that leads to disaster because it has no positive aim.”

I’m glad that you don’t ever blame others for anything, but just to get this clear in my mind… You really believe, despite all that Ukip state, that they ‘blame’ foreigners rather than the EU as an organisation and our membership of said organisation?

From what I can see, the fundamental aim Ukip has is a desire to get to a situation where politicians are accountable to people. If you bothered to get past your prejudices and read up on the likes of Douglas Carswell and some of his work, for instance, you’d discover a group which fundamentally looks to empower the public. Direct democracy is a key tenet of this movement – a particular admiration for the Swiss system (a country outside the EU with over 25% immigrant population, by the way) of politicians being accountable to people through initiatives, referendums, and recall.

The great irony here is that Ukip is campaigning for precisely the politics the like of which many people call for – i.e. people power. If we had such systems in place and the assertion of the anti-war crowd – that most people opposed military intervention in Iraq – is correct, that war would never have happened. In any case, Ukip has explicitly called for non-intervention in foreign conflicts which don’t directly concern the UK.

“You ridicule politicians in all parties who are attempting to negotiate the future and label their fractious democratic discussion as weak.”

I think you’ll find that a great deal of modern comedy ridicules politicians, and Ukip is on the receiving end of much of this satire. Your simplistic narrative is easily understood and peddled by politically ignorant people and serves the established parties well too. The political establishment hates and fears populism. From what I’ve seen, Ukip have offered and continue to offer to debate seriously the pro-EU parties over these issues. To date, and to his credit, only Nick Clegg has taken up the challenge and the result of that was, based on the polls, a sound thrashing for Clegg. But at least Clegg had the courage of his convictions, which is more than can be said for Ed Miliband, who has also challenged Farage to a debate, but, having had his bluff called, turned tail and fled.

Giving people real power and making politicans accountable through mechanisms such as recall is the last thing the Westminster establishment wants, which is why, despite the best efforts of Ukip’s two MPs and honourable MPs such as Green MP Caroline Lucas, real recall was recently quietly snuffed out (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29784466).

“You are promoting apathy in the political process while energizing (sic) your own supporters.”

Russell Brand is promoting apathy. Ukip is promoting withdrawal from the EU and political empowerment of the public – views which used to be shared by honourable members of the Left and are far from apathetic.

“I am unclear what your vision is? (sic)”

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=ukip+policies

“What unites human beings is huge and wonderful. What divides human beings is small and weak”

How very dangerously naive! Your view is based entirely on a comfortable, decadent, modern, western, largely secular, and Euro-centric view of the world – the view of the historic appeaser which history tells us is ultimately defeated; the rather bizarre notion that everyone shares your compassionate, post-Enlightenment, liberal views. For elimination of doubt, and to quote Orwell, “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

There are people in the world right now who would gladly sever your and my heads, just because we don’t share their religious beliefs. No amount of appeasement or pacifism on our part would save us. This is all happening a mere 2000 or so miles away. As I write these words, I have just read of a judicial execution of a man in another culture. His crime? He loved another man. Another news item on the BBC asserts that there have been 5000 killings by Jihadists in November alone – many of the victims were children (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-30426468). Your energies might be better spent opposing clear and present dangers in the world, even if they don’t directly affect you at this time, rather than the dangers of an imagined manifesto you somehow simultaneously appear to have made up/claim be ignorant of! Please read some more history and current affairs with a more open mind, I implore you!

“The politics of division is unattractive”

On that we can agree. If it were down to me, government would be formed by the whole of parliament working within a semi-direct democracy, where any government policy would be made in the certain knowledge that it would be at the mercy of public initiative or referendum at any point. There would be no systematic, adversarial politics. All parties in parliament would be in power so that the WHOLE public would be represented at all times and not just the alternating interests of small group of political clubs and their adherents. The public and the media would take the role of the ‘opposition’, or scrutiniser of legislation – a role the latter currently fulfils far more efficiently than the official parliamentary opposition does. There would be no more divisive party politics!

“I think elections should be huge celebrations of opinion.”

Only celebrations of opinions of which you approve though, right?

“I don’t think you offer anything positive.”

Given that you freely admit that you are ignorant of their policies, how could you?

If you want to criticise Ukip, do it on the basis of their actual policies and not ones which you project onto them. I very strongly oppose their stance over green issues, for instance, and will happily debate any Kipper on those issues, but I don’t embarrass myself by making out that they’re some re-hashing of an early 20th century fascist party! They’re openly free-market liberals, small government and direct democracy advocates, who propose a meritocratic, points-based system to allow immigrants from any part of the world who can serve the UK economy to enter the country. And they favour trade with the whole world – not just the EU. Criticise those policies, by all means, and there are plenty of people who do.

One more question though… Can you really justify why a white, unskilled Bulgarian should have greater rights to enter the UK than a skilled Indian? It’s irrational and frankly, well… it appears to be a bit racist too. That is today’s situation in reality. It is those who favour today’s status quo and membership of a predominantly white, undemocratic, protectionist supranational organisation who have some questions to answer and positions to defend – not those who advocate open world trade, more open democracy, and accountability of decision-makers to those whom they claim to serve.

So drop the moral outrage and understand that many of us who are seemingly better informed than you (based on your self-declared ignorance) are far more enraged than you about the way party politics works today, and the disenfranchisement of the electorate, and are pretty bloody furious about both it and useful idiots like you, who continue to enable things to carry on as they are by playing the man, not the ball.

Come back and debate real policies when you’ve bothered to read up on them, rather than peddle your own bigotry.

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