The following is a guest post by Tony Brown. Tony was a Political Adviser to the former Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy and its predecessor, Europe of Freedom and Democracy.
It is a truism that for political freedom, you need choices - which means a real opposition. Part of the reason many campaigned to leave the EU was because the EU's suffocating consensus precluded alternative policies, beliefs and approaches - including belief in an emphasis on freedom.
Survey British politics today and it is questionable whether we have any real choice at all.
Boris has just put through a significant 'across the board' tax increase deliberately designed to hit everybody: national insurance and dividends so all of employers, employees and shareholders have to pay. Concepts of increasing the tax take through growth and lowering rates to maximise revenue have disappeared. It also follows, inevitably and logically, that higher taxes transfer resources from the individual and private sectors to the state so 'small(er) state' believers have no home. And, in passing, it is worth noting that the idea of legalising marijuana as so many states now are and making it a new source of revenue as per, say, Colorado, was called for in the Telegraph but never even considered by the Government. Now both Labour and Tories are high-tax parties.
The statist approach of restrictions and testing continues. It contrasts very interestingly with the Danish declaration that for them the Covid crisis is over: not because it has disappeared, but because they have learned to live with it. Instead we in Britain have threats of new lockdowns with Labour having consistently attacked the Tories for 'too little, too late', not being tough enough, etc. (For the record this has nothing to do with opposing vaccinations as both I and everyone I know got themselves fully vaccinated as soon as they could and feel much safer and better for having done so.) As I have previously written, the UK travel regime with its complex procedures and high, multiple test costs, makes going abroad a bureaucratic nightmare and has caused airport chaos and personal misery. In Belgium, for example, tests for incomers are free; for those leaving they are half the cost than they are in the UK and require only a single nostril swab. This makes the whole procedure less invasive, less uncomfortable, quicker and cheaper.
Boris has committed the country to a whole series of green targets and measures to achieve them. Almost no-one I know is against green measures per se. But they have a very real set of practical questions, including:
- Will it make any worthwhile difference with countries like China, India, Nigeria and Brazil industrialising as fast as they can?
- Is the resulting benefit worth the higher cost of living - affecting especially those who are poorer the most?
- Will the motor car be priced out of many people's reach and with what consequences for mobility?
- Do we have viable, practical plans to deliver the resulting, essential extra generating capacity - especially as wind, solar, tidal etc. are fluctuating and weather dependent: imagine the consequences of a cold, overcast, windless, autumnal day?
- In short, are we trashing our standard of living, especially for the poorest, for no real benefit except perhaps to China - and thus as Allister Heath has written, making choices which guarantee our decline compared with China, India, much of south-east Asia and even parts of Africa and south America?
Labour and the Liberal Democrats, of course, attack the government for not greening fast enough or deeply enough!
George Orwell explains powerfully and eloquently in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm how for a regime to exercise real thought control, you have to internalise the fear to make certain thoughts 'unthinkable'. You do this by punishing their expression so anybody who has the temerity to say them is reprimanded and then punished: thus a people learn what simply must never be said or thought. What else is current 'wokery' but this? We do not have the US's written guarantee of freedom of speech. Instead we have trial by social media causing people to lose their jobs and livelihoods when they have not even broken the law - all reinforced by the endless advertising propaganda we see on television for what we are required to think, especially about climate change and suffering. I don't want to be told in an advertisement that 'we HAVE TO do something' - and that's a direct quote from a current ad. No-one has actually explained how SMART meters offer any benefit at all: rather dogmatic assertions are broadcast at us, attempting to make us feel guilty. (What I am doing in response is quietly boycotting companies, products and requirements wherever I can without inconveniencing myself.) Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP believe we are not woke enough, whilst the police are effectively instructed that rules about obstruction and damage to property do not seem to apply to Extinction Rebellion because these guys are 'on the side of the angels' thus above the law and all the rest of us will just have to put up with it or become the ones arrested!
Labour provides no alternative to any of this, nor do the Liberal Democrats. Outside of its commitment to independence, neither does the SNP.
I know the Freedom Association is - rightly - non party-political. But this is a non-party analysis. We are now effectively voiceless in UK democratic politics - and come future elections I plan to either go fringe, spoil or not even bother because I feel I have no-one to vote for!
All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.