An Ollyshambles for libertarianism

15 Jan 2013

With a membership of around 600, you would think there would be little that the youth branch of UKIP – Young Independence – could do to make the news, even if they tried. However, the sacking of its Chair, Olly Neville, has done just that and for all the wrong reasons; an executive decision taken by the party to depose him of his position because of his support for gay marriage.


It has always been clear that UKIP opposes equal marriage rights for gay couples, as it was also abundant that Nigel Farage was only expressing his objection to measures to legalise gay marriage to encourage MPs on the far right of the Conservative party to defect.

To me, this raises the question of whether UKIP really is the “democratic, libertarian party” that it likes to describe itself as. After all, removing someone from an elected position in the party because of a personal view is entirely contradictory to the popularly perceived meaning of libertarianism. A single tweet declaring that he didn’t feel the government should interfere on who you can marry lost him his position whilst one’s supporting prostitution, drug use and even bestiality went unnoticed.

However, many within UKIP and the Conservatives often take too literally the meaning of ‘libertarianism’, leading to it being horribly subverted and open to precedents. For example, Olly Neville argued that bestiality shouldn’t be a crime because the state shouldn’t be able to dictate who you can have sex with – an argument that could all too easily be used to condone paedophilia.

Be that as it may, Conservative Future (the youth wing of the Tories) have held their arms open for Olly Neville, saying that they are the true libertarians- they allow their members to say what they think, even if it contradicts the party line.

But I remember when I became interested in politics, when it was tacitly acknowledged that being a libertarian meant being left wing. Now the right has caught libertarian fever, though it now seems a more mutated version that completely misses the point. This has led to the informal division in the left, between the liberals and the socialists.

In definition, libertarianism meant liberty not anarchy. The rules and regulations that govern nations in terms of laws, statute and taxation were created to protect us and produce a fairer society, not restrict personal freedom. There is nothing free about a society where those with the most money have the most say. This is what nouveau libertarianism is about, and it seems entirely deceptive in name in my opinion.

It is clear too why this form of the ideology has been more popular as of late. I don’t really need to tell you that we live in tough economic times, and in these times those with the most money want to keep hold of it. They see state regulation and centralised taxation as their enemy, masquerading their opposition to this as somehow related to the creation of economic aspiration.

When it comes to welfare, I see it as our duty to help to look after those who cannot look after themselves. Our economic benevolence shouldn’t be purely limited to when times are good- which is why I disagree with the real term cut in benefits. I also think free schools and academies are wrong; why should a child’s education be determined by a postcode lottery?

And it is because of this that Conservative Future are – albeit inadvertently – not telling the truth when they say they are all-accepting of different opinions. They don’t and I simply wouldn’t expect them to accept my views on education and welfare anyway. They are conservative and nothing else, and nor should they pretend to be. Every party stands for what is their perception of freedom, but perceptions of freedom should not influence the ability of a party to conclude rationally what is equal and fair.

By Jake Pitt

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