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Thursday 9 May 2013

The Devil’s Blunt Instrument

Libertarians believe they are on the march, following last week’s local election successes by UKIP. And in the libertarian vanguard is The Devil’s Knife, successor to the even swearier Devil’s Kitchen, and presumably still the handiwork of one Chris Mounsey, whose fifteen minutes of fame consisted of being done up like a kipper by Andrew “Brillo Pad” Neil in the run-up to the 2010 General Election.

The Devil clearly favours Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his pals. So what high-minded libertarian ideas are in the mix? “First, the British people are worried about a particular sort of immigrant—those that they see as ‘foreign’. This is a loose term, but essentially includes people who don't speak English ... UKIP can pledge to target the immigrants that people fear”.

Anyone seeing the significant disconnect between any definition of “libertarian” and a desire to wall up the UK against people talking foreign may be reassured that they are not alone: libertarian this is not. Nor is the necessary suspension of reality to accommodate the UKIP line on energy policy: “UKIP also have a credible energy policy ... we are in severe danger of rolling power cuts next year”.

Blatant dishonesty is not what I’d readily categorise as “credible”, but do go on: “energy bills have soared. UKIP have a credible answer for this—the government should stop artificially forcing up energy prices ... much of the legislation doing so comes from the EU”. Baloney. Most of the variation in energy prices is caused by what any good libertarian should be able to recognise at fifty paces.

And that is good old fashioned supply and demand. Most of the UK’s energy is based on power generation using coal and gas. These are, mostly, imported. Other countries also generate power this way. This tends to drive up prices. These forces do not melt away merely because the country concerned is not in the EU. Perhaps The Devil can do better on UKIP’s economic policy?

UKIP believe that lower taxes will bring higher growth—not surprising when you consider that their fiscal policy was largely written by Tim Worstall”. Ah yes, the kind of reduction in the public sector that would be magically replaced – and more – by the private one. In other words, the forced removal of purchasing power from the economy on the off-chance a kind entrepreneur will come along and fix it.

So that’s an immigration policy that is flagrantly non-libertarian, an energy policy that ignores the rules of supply and demand in favour of kicking the EU dog, and an economic policy that looks forward to chucking a few hundred thousand more on to the dole queue in pursuit of some vision of ideological purity. Probably best to hide behind Farage until the cameras have piled off somewhere else, then.

On that showing, The Devil’s Knife is a very blunt instrument indeed.

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