If you like you might as well skip the pre-amble, make like McNulty and head straight for the bullet points.
I became increasingly aware that one or two of my friends (who I naturally cherish and love dearly) consider themselves supporters of, or at least apologists for, the UK Independence Party. I haven’t brought up the subject with them because I (think I) take the view that if a person feels differently from me on a subject then they’re entitled to that opinion. When possible though I will challenge the facts and logic which underpin those opinions. For example, if someone is anti-immigraton on principle (ie. because they just are, or they think everyone should stay where they’re born), then although I disagree with them they’re entitled to that view. If on the other hand they’re anti-immigration because someone’s told them that immigrant Moldovan dinner ladies are putting crack into school dinners, then I’ll challenge them on that particular point.
I don’t think there’s any point telling someone they’re wrong for holding a different view to yours (you’ll probably just entrench their view, and your own may be built on just as weak a foundation), but if you’re willing to respectfully challenge one another’s factual or logical inaccuracies then you’re likely to understand one another’s points better, and maybe one or both of you will change your thinking on the subject.
All that being said, I thought I should take the time to explore what UKIP actually do stand for and why they make me uncomfortable, because although an ad-hominem repulsion can easily be brought on by their leader(s), that’s not in itself a reason to be against them. Because I’m lazy and because my own assumed political identity is dangerously ingrained I had never bothered to look any further into it than that, but because some people with whom I largely get on well and who I respect are supporters of this particular party, it seemed like I had something of a duty to make my argument clear, if only to myself.
So I’ve been through their policies and manifestos (all of which can be found on their website here or hereabouts) and identified in simple terms what it is about them which makes me uncomfortable. These are ‘issues’ which concern me to a greater or lesser extent, rather than facts, but I’m willing to be challenged on them nevertheless:
- Their manifestos haven’t been proof-read (full of typos), so what else hasn’t been checked?
- Bad citation (there are often no references for claims, whether factual or statistical)
- As a party they are climate-change sceptics
- As a party they are anti-renewable energy
- They misrepresent statistics on wind energy (many bodies are guilty of this error and I think it’s in some ways understandable)
- They are anti-foreign aid
- Their manifesto speaks about a ‘tide of mass EU immigration’, despite the majority of immigrants coming from non-EU countries, and immigration having fallen year on year since 2010.
- They support the repeal of the Human Rights Act
- They support withdrawal from the European Convention on Refugees
- They are pro-fox hunting
- They are anti-gay marriage
- They are against giving equal voting rights to prisoners
- They are as a party monarchist
- They are as a party antidisestablishmentarian
- They are strong advocates for the ‘defence’ industry
Hopefully that makes my own feelings quite clear and gives some justification to my uneasiness with the party. On this occasion my instinctive mistrust was justified, but it’s worth going through this kind of exercise because next time it might not be.