Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Problem with the UKIP

In response to my piece on the politics of climate change DK lamented that I would not join the UKIP. The main reason I will not do so is that I don't think we should leave the EU. However, I will leave more details on why I am not in favour of leaving the EU till another day as I'd rather focus this post on the reason why, even if I did support leaving the EU, I wouldn't support the UKIP as a way to advance that agenda.

If you are in Germany it would make sense to vote for the UKIP. After the election a coalition would be formed and at that stage you could triangulate the right wing coalition closer to your position. In the UK it doesn't quite work that way, instead, a vote for the UKIP can only work as a vague threat to irrationally hurt the Conservatives even if that means the, more pro-EU, Labour party gets in. This is likely to do as much harm as good for the Better Off Out case within the Conservative party as it removes euronihilists from the debate and upsets the broad mass of loyal Conservative members which causes them to think more negatively of those who wish to leave the EU.

Moderation between the parties goes on in both electoral systems but in Germany that moderation is supposed to happen after the election, when everyone has voted for their parties and the politicians get together to form the policies of a coalition, whereas in Britain it happens in the debate within and outside the parties before the election. The resulting compromise is resolved into manifestos and the parties then offer, at least theoretically, coherent sets of policy to the electorate. I think the British system is preferable as it means that when people vote they know what they're voting for. This should allow for far greater accountability as that manifesto can more effectively form a benchmark against which governments can be judged. Also, it encourages the public to understand that their politicians will have to moderate between different views and leads to a less polarised and angry politics.

I'm not telling those who support leaving the EU they should put up and shut up but that forming a new party is not the way to change the debate. Set up pressure groups, write articles, make your case and change the existing parties. The Conservative Party is not Cameron, it is not the parliamentary party but it is a coalition of members of a broadly conservative disposition. If you think the case for leaving the EU is so strong surely it must be possible to convince these people? If you do not think this is possible then either you need to improve your case or your cause is a hopeless one.


Gracchi said...

Good comment on the distinctions between the electoral systems in various countries. UKIP might gain a seat at most at some point but its voters if they voted or joined the Tory party could ensure that David Davis got the leadership instead of Cameron.

Bishop Hill said...

Presumably though, it is OK to vote UKIP in European elections?