TCW: Europe is not enough Nige. Bang the drum for social conservatism

Mr Cameron’s tactical gambits to keep one step ahead of Ukip will not bring disaffected Tory voters back into his fold.

But the failure of Ukip to define any other policies that resist or counter Mr Cameron’s fatally flawed modernising tendency will.

It is true that Ukip remains the only party to pledge an exit from the EU and to stand up for the UK as a nation state once more.

It is true too that, unlike Nick Clegg, Ukip's supporters do not believe it to be unpatriotic to reclaim the nation’s borders. But though this logic may escape the likes of Clegg and Cameron, Ukip can’t rely on it. Just being party of protest is not enough to be taken seriously.

On Sunday Mr. Farage did make a first stab at dealing with this on Andrew Marr’s television programme. He mooted three new proposals - a grammar school in every town, taking people on the minimum wage out of tax, and reducing the top rate to 40 per cent. So far so good, but really, really, nowhere near far enough - given that Ukip has been around for 20 years.

Nigel needs to spend less time lunching with Bepo Grillo – he should know better than anyone the EU is a lost cause – and more time on how to land the 20 seats in Westminster at the next election he hopes for and needs.

What he has to get his head round is that his EU-sceptic supporters are either economic liberals or social conservatives. He has to persuade how, like a horse and carriage, they go together - in fact depend on each other.

Not to disappoint, Mr Farage too must show himself as radical in his response to culture as to the economy - to the lone parent crisis, to oppressive equalities legislation, and to youth and male unemployment - just as much as he has been on controlling immigration, deregulating business and cutting taxes.

He needs to communicate what no other party leader seems anywhere close to understanding - the Aristotelian principle that it is only through discipline that freedom comes.

That’s how he explains why a small state, competitive, deregulated free market economy depends on socially conservative social and family policies – policies where families not the state dictate how their children are reared; policies where education is competitive and is whole-class directed rather than individual child centred and led.

Then he needs to get up to speed with the facts:

that over the last 25 years married families, especially those with one earner, have been punished and undermined while lone parent and cohabitatees have been rewarded, to the detriment of their children; that too many married families have been pulled into the higher tax bracket by fiscal drag, kyboshing any aspiration and assigning them to a new form of middle class poverty.

This done he must pledge to reverse this state of affairs by:

1. Reforming taxation to put the married family first and to reverse the decline in marriage.

This is fundamental to everything else.  As Holly Hamilton-Bleakley wrote this weekend, to underestimate the value of what happens in the home is to misunderstand a fundamental driver of the economy.

Reforming taxation to make for a competitive yet responsible society also means:

· raising the threshold on the 40 per cent tax rate to £70,000;

· upping the value of the transferable tax allowance, gradually to the full allowance (as David Davis argued for) and extending it to the higher rate tax bracket;

· removing the child benefit cap to stop the punishment of one earner couple families where one spouse wants to stay at home to look after the baby or children.

2. Dismantling the costly tax credits system (saving £33 billion) and other choice-less childcare subsidies and tax allowances; deregulating childcare; and re-instituting  child allowances.

This costly  ‘work’ and childcare incentive has brought four fifths of all families into the benefits system while failing to increase real productivity; favouring dual earning families and institutionalised childcare it has undermined families' choice to bring up children at home.

3. Bringing back grammar schools and technical and other specialist schools based on competitive entry with entry points through to the age of 17 to cater for late development;

4. Ending state interference in family life – those inappropriate laissez-faire/ ‘informed choice’ policies and contraception services that have encouraged rather than prevented destructive teen sex and drug use;

5. Cracking down on liberal drug and alcohol policies that leave children unprotected.

Mr Farage and his team must show as much determination and confidence in fighting these culture wars as they've shown in their war with the establishment over the nation's borders.

The Conservative Woman
  • Druth

    None of the parties publish a manifesto these days and UKIP are making the mistake of copying the failed parties in this regard, and confusing this with ‘being professional.’ However they have published their manifesto for years previously and so its no secret what they actually represent.

    Once we get out of the EU, regain our sovereignty and control of our borders etc a lot of people would move on and UKIP would become – as it already self-describes – ‘broadly libertarian’. Again you can often apply this ‘broadly libertarian’ principle to a given situation to get an idea what UKIPs stance would be.

    There has always been some friction within UKIP between the libertarians and the (mostly Christian) social conservatives and there has been some changes in direction depending on the leader at the time. Unfortunately in this debate many people confuse UKIP for what they want it to be.

    Libertarians favour less state interference and with regard to ‘the family’ this would tick many of your boxes, however arguing for the benefits of the family is different from the state actively promoting the family or any other choice of lifestyle.

    However this position is ‘in theory only’ and UKIP have often emphasised a pragmatic rather than an ideological approach – ‘the party of commonsense’ – so their position may be determined by what is practical, in the circumstance and at that time.

  • Alex Taylor

    you will have the manifesto, as soon as it is finalized, a little patience is required, as we patiently wait for your Tory manifesto

    • AnotherDave

      I think this website is small c conservative rather than Conservative Party.

    • Rifleman1853

      Alex:- assuming that by manifesto, you mean a list of policies or policy intentions, we can wait for that. What won’t wait is some basic picture of UKIP’s political philosophy.

      Questions UKIP supporters and members are already getting asked are along the lines of this:

      “Okay, UKIP wants to take us out of the EU. So do I. But then what? I’ve heard a lot of statements about what UKIP is against, but what is it for? You’ve described the problems caused by mass immigration – and I’d like something done about that, too. Getting out of the EU would let us close our borders to undesirables, and let us limit both the numbers of immigrants, and let us filter out those who would contribute nothing to our society in favour of those who can and will. But what are you going to do about the undesirables who are already here? You say you’re against squandering billions on windmills and solar arrays; but what are you going to do about the outrageous subsidies being paid to their owners?”

      and on, and on, and on. Yet what happened to Rachel Edmunds, when she defended the right of any business to refuse somebody’s custom – for example, a Christian baker refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding? UKIP’s party chairman publicly slapped her down, and said that, though UKIP was a libertarian party, she had way overstepped the mark, and UKIP’s press office wrote an ‘apology and retraction’ and pressured her into letting them issue it in her name!

      How can Steve Crowther or UKIP possibly square that behaviour with describing UKIP as ‘libertarian’? And, if UKIP isn’t libertarian, what is it?

      UKIP can try and tailor their statements so as to not give offence to anyone, sure; but then we end up in the crazy situation of telling people in one part of the country that UKIP favours a low tax, low spend small government – and then telling voters in Sale and Wythenshawe by election that “UKIP will protect their welfare benefits”!

      As Donna says, is UKIP “only going to be libertarian when people are looking”? If so, it will receive – and deserve – the same contempt voters have for Cameron, who is only EU sceptic when people are looking.

      Go down that road and UKIP will have nothing to say except woolly platitudes and PC speak – in other words, they’ll become just like Labour, Tory and Lib Dems; trying to be all things to all men and ending up being nothing at all.

      It just isn’t possible to achieve anything in politics without offending somebody, and it’s well overdue that UKIP’s leadership got the message. Look at Labour; they try to appeal to people who are staunchly PC, and all in favour of inclusivity and multi-culturalism – yet they also try to appeal to Muslims, who are anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynist!

      Is it any wonder their policies are a shambles, and look like a political ‘pick and mix’? How could they be anything else, when they have no coherent political philosophy on which to be based?

      Neil Hamilton, in an e-mail to me, justified UKIP’s attitude by saying that UKIP was supposed to be a political party, not a debating society, and that the party wouldn’t be able to achieve anything unless it was elected. Frankly, that seems to ignore the success UKIP has already had in dictating the terms of the debate – without having a single MP at Westminster!

      I accept that coming out in the open, and making a clear statement as to just what UKIP believes in, and what its political principals are, will inevitably drive some voters away. But I’m also convinced that UKIP will only gain widespread support when it nails its colours to the mast.

  • AnotherDave

    I think the Holly Hamilton-Bleakly piece mentioned in this article is:

    http://conservativewoman.co.uk/is-good-parenting-a-problem-for-society/

  • VacantPossession

    Yes indeed!

    When a family splits you need two homes, hence marriage break ups contribute to housing shortage.

  • Laura Perrins

    Thank you all for your comments. First, yes the website is small c conservative and we have been very, very critical of the Conservative Party. As for the State interference and the family, currently the State penalises the married family. At the very, very least it should be neutral in this position. And tax allowances are different from benefits.

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  • davidraynes

    The chances of Nigel Farage putting forward a sensible drugs policy (legal or illegal drugs) seems rather fanciful as Hitchens explains here:

    http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/10/nigel-farage-drugs-and-a-major-reason-for-not-liking-ukip-.html

    I took the trouble to write to Fargae, offering my help in devising such a policy. Since I have been studying the UK drugs market and policy probably longer than anyone alive, not a ridiculous suggestion, agree with my general conclusions or not.

    Farage never replied. He looks very much as though he has run out of steam and has no appetite for serious policy making..