Often foreign elections aren’t of interest except to the most obsessed followers of politics, but who allies of the United States elect as their leaders should matter, because when our allies have strong leaders it helps this country, especially if they are on the center-right of the political spectrum.
Think about the Cold War, and not just President Ronald Reagan’s strong leadership but the help of the UK’s Margaret Thatcher (Conservatives), Canada’s Bryan Mulroney (Progressive Conservative) and West Germany’s Helmut Kohl (Christian Democratic Union).
So that is why you should care about elections abroad and particularly the general election in the United Kingdom on May 7. Now, normally conservatives in this country would support the Conservative Party (Tories) in the UK but I am going to tell you why this election is different and why you shouldn’t.
David Cameron (C-Witney) has been the leader of the Tories since 2005. His brief was to detoxify the brand and modernize the party. And that was a good goal and he had my support in 2010.
Part of that detoxifying was the embrace of the “Big Society” and being softer on social issues. Even thought it wasn’t part of their 2010 manifesto, Cameron led the effort to legalize gay marriage. I didn’t agree with this (especially as the European Court of Human Rights may force churches to perform gay weddings) but that wasn’t the issue that caused me to break with the Conservatives.
It was the issue of the European Union and Cameron’s effort to finesse the issue. For years the elites have been pro-EU while the base and grassroots of the Tory party have not. Cameron promised a referendum and even gave a “cast-iron” guarantee of it if the Conservatives won in 2010. When the issue came up in the House of Commons, Cameron and the leadership did everything to stop a referendum bill from passing. Their attempt to pass a referendum lock for 2017 and promise a vote on the question of Europe after a renegotiation is a fig leaf.
The European Union is one of the most anti-Democratic institutions in the free world. The current European Commission led by Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker wants more and more powers to transition the EU into a state. Juncker has called for a European Army and leaders in the Parliament (the only elected body of the EU) want more and more fiscal integration.
Cameron has tried to play both sides of the issue, but it has become clear to me that he wants Britain to remain in Europe no matter what – and that idea is a disaster. The euro has been a disaster that is threatening to deliver the continent into the hands of more extremist parties on the left and right. Cameron, the political class, and the big business class are wrong about the EU, and Britain should leave.
So who should American conservatives back? Ed Miliband’s (Doncaster North) Labour? Dear God, no; Miliband will wreck the economy with policies right out of the disastrous 1970s where Britain became the “sick man of Europe.” Nick Clegg’s (Sheffield Hallam) Liberal Democrats, the coalition partner of the Conservatives the last 5 years? Even worse, because if there’s one principle that the Lib Dems have been consistent on (and they haven’t been consistent on anything else) it’s servitude to the EU and it’s transition to statehood.
The party to support is the one I am a member of, the United Kingdom Independence Party. UKIP is led by a YouTube star and longtime member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage. For years it’s been derided as a single-issue party that only cares about leaving the EU. That is the top priority, but as the party has grown and matured it offers a wide range of policies (some I agree with and some I don’t) that shows it has the right path for the UK to follow, especially if the voters get a chance to have their say on the question of staying in the EU.
When Farage claims you can’t put a cigarette paper between Cameron, Clegg and Miliband on Europe, he’s correct. If the Tories don’t get an overall majority and put together another coalition with the Liberal Democrats there won’t be any referendum.
Under Cameron, the elites that drove Thatcher from office over her opposition to formation of the European Union have won the day with the Tory Party. Those elites sneer at the Euroscepticism of the Conservative grassroots, and will call Farage and fellow members of UKIP, loons, fruitcakes, clowns, and even closet racists for not agreeing with them.
Now unfortunately, I am asking you to back a party that won’t win an overall majority and form the next government. Farage will not enter 10 Downing Street as the next British Prime Minister. But cheer for UKIP, and hope the party gets enough seats at Westminster in the event of a hung parliament (no overall majority). If that happens, then UKIP can extract a free and fair referendum on membership of the EU as part of the price for propping up the next government. That would be the best case scenario for the UK and for America.
Author’s note: I am a fully paid up member of UKIP and have been so since late in 2014. Also after 10 p.m EDT on April 29 there will be a special edition of Foreign Matters and myself and Stephen Glaug will preview the general election in the United Kingdom. The parties, the leaders, the policies. Please tune in.