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A Matter of Clarity

We are often asked by enquirers why the New Party does not get together with other small parties. A common proposal is an alliance of parties deemed to be "patriotic".

Well, if small minded narrow nationalism, an isolationist foreign policy, trade protectionism and anti-immigrant sentiment comprise the yardstick for patriotism, we are happy to be left out of any such schemes.

The New Party is a party of economic liberalism, political reform and internationalism. We want to see Britain improve and progress but we cannot endorse the sort of ideas that are put forward by the various nationalist factions.

Sometimes nationalist arguments resonate because they tap into a perceived problem, which is certainly the case with the European Union. There are major problems with the policies and direction of the EU, though our criticisms of the EU are nothing to do with what might be considered "nationalist" arguments. We are more concerned with the democratic deficit, the ratchet-effect of EU policies, the failed social and economic model of the EU and the drift towards a dangerous "Euro-Gaullism" in foreign affairs. These affect all member states of the EU, not just Britain. If the EU were to be reformed radically to address such issues there would be for us no major problem on "national" grounds - and we certainly would not wish to see the UK escaping into a protectionist comfort blanket and rejecting proper engagement with the rest of Europe.

Nor do we go along with the English nationalism of those whose main concern is an English parliament and a day off for flag-waving on St George’s Day. Devolution has been a bit of a dog’s breakfast and we see no reason to extend it. Besides, 83% of the seats in the House of Commons represent English constituencies. By all means tidy up a few anomalies in the system, but let’s not invent unnecessary institutions.

And unlike most of those who rattle on about nationalism, the New Party supports a forward looking, inclusive and robust foreign policy capable of promoting good governance, democratic rights and the rule of law. We support the widest possible free trade and the opening up of markets. We recognise that globalisation, for all its problems, is a positive challenge and not a threat.

When people say they support nationalism they usually mean an outlook that rejects rather than embraces globalisation, that is opposed to wider engagement with the world and is closed to outside influences. They frequently adopt language that artificially flatters our own country’s place in the world while at the same time promoting a victim mentality to suggest that our country is uniquely discriminated against.

Make no mistake: the New Party rejects this narrow-minded nationalism just as surely as we reject the "World Government" fanatics. Actually, supporters of World Government are just like nationalists but simply place their allegiance at a different level. It is the rejection of free competition in a pluralistic world they both have in common.

We no more wish to consort with petty nationalists than we do with command economy socialists. (And some, like the BNP, manage to combine both those ills in what might be called, ahem, national socialism.)

The New Party is the only serious party of economic liberalism in this country today. Certainly the Conservatives cannot lay claim to that title. Sir Keith Joseph once claimed that the Conservatives in post-war Britain had pursued socialist policies for thirty years – the default position to which the Conservatives, sadly, have returned. Economic liberalism cannot coexist with a protectionist state.

The institutions of socialism are all around us – the matrix of benefits, regulations and services that attempt to bind us within the embrace of the state. Over half the population is dependent for most of their income on the state. That situation cannot continue, yet all three main parties subscribe to its continuation.

Economic liberals have won most of the arguments in the past thirty years but they have been thwarted by vested interests who retain their influence over policy. That is why we need to build a new party committed to real reform and liberal free market principles. Joining forces with petty nationalists is not the answer.

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