So often we hear UKIP described as a right-wing party, and yet there are many of us in the party who are avowedly left-wing. So how does that work?
Well, for starters, the labels left-wing and right-wing have lost much of their relevance to modern politics. A lot of confusion tends to creep in when the terms are flung around – usually as terms of abuse – to describe positions that in reality have little to do with the traditional concepts of left and right.
One of the biggest confusions comes from the real fight that faces people today: liberty v’s control. Many people see anything authoritarian or state controlled as ‘lefty’, and this can lead to some people describing Cameron as a Socialist! Let me assure you that no one on the left recognises this description. Equally, many on the left consider today’s Labour party a right-wing party that has abandoned any pretence toward socialism.
When today’s parties can be seen in such widely divergent ways, it is clear why confusion over the left / right terms can become endemic. The truth is, both parties are very authoritarian – they seek to control and manipulate the people, usually in order to conform to the overall direction of travel dictated by that most authoritarian of bodies – the European Union.
And here we have another dichotomy. The EU is described my many of its opponents as a ‘socialist experiment’ or as EUSSR. Yet many of us who utterly oppose it see it as a right-wing Capitalist monster that seeks to deny people of the liberties and freedoms they have fought for over centuries. Remember, it was the left that originally opposed the EEC, and both Tony Benn and Michael Foot wrote extensive and damning critiques of the EEC/EU.
So opposition to the EU is not a left/right issue – despite the confusions that its opponents frequently create in their opposition. It is however a freedom / authoritarian issue – and one that unites freedom loving people from across the political spectrum. How on earth, then, does that make UKIP ‘right-wing’?
UKIP is in fact the very opposite of Fascism. It supports and promotes democracy, transparency, and individual liberty – all the things Fascism destroyed. But what else can a lefty find in UKIP to embrace?
Well, before Marx came along with his turgid instruction manual, and began the Marxist tradition of condemning anyone who opposed him as traitors, collaborators, or simply incapable of understanding the real issues (no, some things never change), English Socialism was about the people having the freedom to live their lives without the ever-present control and restrictions of the rich and powerful interfering in their lives and denying them their liberty.
It called for the nation’s wealth to be shared amongst all the people, and not used to keep an elite in an ever-existent position of control. The role of the state was eventually intended to protect people from exploitation. That change never happened. The state gave enough illusory powers to the people to remove them from complete bondage, but at the expense of becoming dependent on that state for that ongoing protection. It simply swapped one form of control for another.
That was never what the original Socialists were fighting for. They were fighting for the freedom for people to live free of control. The freedom of the worker to negotiate a fair wage and the tenant to negotiate a fair rent. And for the people to develop their own means to do this unhindered by the establishment.
It was about empowering people – to give them a say in what happened in their communities and in the things that affected them. To make sure the voices of people were no longer unheard and unheeded.
And that to me is exactly what UKIP is about today. It is the only party wanting to give people a role in determining their futures and that of their communities. It is the only party that can truly shout that traditional left-wing slogan ‘Power to the People’.
Mike Baldock is a UKIP County Councillor in Kent. He left the Labour party in 2009 after they signed the Surrender of Lisbon. He tweets at @UKIPSwale