29 April, 2012
For those who have known me and my political beliefs, I expect you have probably seen this one coming from a mile off. After months of publicly criticising the Coalition government’s authoritarian tax-‘n’-spend policies, I’ve finally defected to UKIP, the one political party in the UK that actually wants to reduce the size of government.
I think it’s very easy to see how uncomfortable it is to be a libertarian in the Conservative party. The recent assaults on civil liberties are not something we can blame the Liberal Democrats on, and the only effort to reduce the tax burden has in fact come from their party. I’m not afraid to admit that there are a few things UKIP policies that make me slightly uncomfortable too – for example, I am in full support of David Cameron’s plans to equalise our marriage laws, and my views on immigration differ slightly from UKIP’s in the fact that I am only anti-state handouts for immigrants, and not immigration per say. However, this is far outweighed by good, libertarian policies – for example, a flat-rate tax of 31% including national insurance, along with an increase in the personal tax allowance, would mean a tax cut for every single person in this country. Cutting spending down to 1997 levels is a step in the right direction towards the size of state I would like to see in this country. Farage himself supports the legalisation of drugs and prostitution, allowing individuals to make their own choices about their own bodies. The policy of leaving the European Union, a vile bureaucracy-loving authoritarian institution that now decides 75% of our laws, obviously speaks for itself. Yet it is certainly not the sole or even main reason I defected. When we compare party policy and manifestos, UKIP’s clearly outweigh the Conservatives; they are my natural home.
But why defect now? Quite frankly, it is an absolute waste of my time and energy to be in a party that I criticise more than I defend, that I’m frankly embarrassed to campaign for, and that has gone so far from the Thatcherite principles that made me wish become a member in the first place. I was utterly sick of it. I cannot, in my heart of hearts, go up to a member of the public and tell them to vote Conservative because a majority Conservative government would be the best thing for them to have, because I simply don’t believe that anymore. The latest budget was an utter farce on top of a string of policies that have failed to cut taxation to aid growth and put money back in the pockets of the people the government are so determined to take from. The recent affront on civil liberties in regards to internet privacy is a disgusting U-turn from a party that campaigned so strongly against Labour’s stance on freedom in opposition. Ten billion pounds given to the IMF, a veto that turned out to be nothing of the sort; the list of left-wing authoritarian tendencies this government has displayed is endless. I would rather be “shouting from the sidelines” than betraying my principles on a daily basis from within. If this is childish, or cowardly, then feel free to label me as such, but I feel that I am doing the right thing. Waiting around for the Conservative party to go back to how it was under the days of Margaret Thatcher has become increasingly pointless when I know that there is a political party out there that believes in the same things that she and I do.
I also know from first-hand experience what a great party UKIP is to be part of. I will miss my friends from the Conservative party, many of whom are good people whose political views mirror mine. My decision to defect certainly is no reflection on the personal calibre of 99% of Conservative party activists. However, I already have many fantastic friends in Young Independence who are down to earth, like a damn good night out, and are exclusively motivated by principles and not career prospects. UKIP have been extremely welcoming to me already and I feel that I can speak out against any policies I disagree with without the constant presence of CCHQ breathing down my back as soon as I waver from the party line. UKIP is a democratic party that knows that it is there solely because of its grassroots members, something which the Conservative party seems to have forgotten. All in all, leaving the Conservative party and joining UKIP feels like a massive weight off my shoulders. I can’t wait to campaign and get involved with a party that I feel I can be proud to be a member of, and stand up for liberty once more.
Christina is the former Chairman of Leeds Conservative Future and current Chairman of Leeds Liberty League. She is currently studying for a BA in History at University of Leeds and lives in London during the rest of the year where she is involved with organisations such as the Freedom Association and the Adam Smith Institute. She tweets at @chrstinadarling (no first i!) and blogs at http://www.politicsandgin.wordpress.com.