Leaving UKIP for the Liberal Democrats

I finally decided to leave UKIP in June this year.

Let me first say, this has not been an easy decision. It has taken me a year of talking to fellow party members, scrutinising Lib Dem party policy and wrestling with my own personal & political convictions. In the end the right choice was for me to join the Liberal Democrats.

When I look back at my time within UKIP I struggled with many of the party’s policies. I would frequently tell myself that soon the party would reform it’s politics and views. I was always conscious about the party’s image and how the wider electorate saw us. I would be constantly at odds with members over certain policy areas such as immigration, foreign aid, climate change denial, poverty and education.

For me UKIP was and is all about ‘good’ sound bits which carries little substance. During the European and general election campaigns we saw many disturbing jibes at immigrants and people with HIV which was fuelled by right wing populism. Some members were brought to the media’s attention over racist and anti semitic remarks over social networking sites. For me the party does not fit my view of an inclusive society.

Looking at the issues we face today we have a Tory Government that is against personal freedoms and human rights. We have a a Labour Party that is running around like headless chickens. In my view it’s down to the Liberal Democrats to set forth an agenda that stands up for the oppressed and those who just want to get on in life.

Looking back on their time in Government they (Norman Lamb) led the way in championing for mental heath which is something I feel passionate about.

Being in the Liberal Democrats gives me the opportunity to fight for the things I truly care about.

My position regarding the EU and Brexit

I have always been a Eurosceptic, I will continue being one however at the same time I am a pragmatist. While we are in the EU it’s important that we work hard in securing the best deals for our country, joining partnerships in helping to create sensible and reformed policy.

This is something that is foreign within UKIP. UKIP’s voting record within the European Parliament is rather worrying for a party that claims to be putting Britain and her interests first.

I have always believed that we need ‘radical’ EU reform, one that is transparent, ethical and gives a hell lot more power back to member countries. Until I am convinced otherwise, I am currently considering voting OUT

Even though the Liberal Democrats are mainly pro-EU, the party is very much a broad church.

* The author, who is known to the LDV team, is a Classic Liberal who is passionate about social justice, and was a member of UKIP before joining the Liberal Democrats.

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47 Comments

  • Leon Duveen 28th Jul '15 - 8:25pm

    Welcome Jakob, & I hope you do challenge our views on the EU. Not because I think we should leave the EU but unless these views are challenged, the validity of our arguments will not be tested . Most Lib Dems love a good argument and I look forward to hearing you at conference.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Jul '15 - 8:27pm

    The current Tory government is cutting spending on mental health now that we are not there to stop them.

  • Good to see many different people joining. I’d be interested to hear more from you on EU reform and which changes would convince you to vote IN

  • Douglas Downie 28th Jul '15 - 8:56pm

    Welcome Jakob!

    There is more rejoicing …(Luke 15.7) ( and no I don’t mean that seriously)

    Let’s hope more of the Libertarian wing of UKIP see the light.

    I just don’t know how the Liberrtarian wing can reconcile their free market liberalism with the vile tribalism or more correctly racism that lies at the back of what UKIP has now become.

    I have never understood how UKIP gets away with it – they are saying that if we leave the EU everything will be better -as if we can magically escape the soul-destroying drudgery of trade negotiations. Same sleight of hand/mouth as the SNP., or indeed Greece, as if a vote can magically allow you to opt out of how to live with your neighbours.

    But yes let’s hear the debate.

  • Mark Valladares Mark Valladares 28th Jul '15 - 9:11pm

    Jakob,

    Welcome to the Liberal Democrats. You might be surprised to discover that the Party isn’t the blindly Europhile organisation you think it is. Indeed, our European umbrella party, ALDE, is often to be found calling for more democracy, better accountability and greater transparency. They’re even prone to condemn the excessive regulatory framework.

    On the other hand, there is a sense that closer co-operation is a good thing, where appropriate.

    Enjoy the ride…

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Jul '15 - 9:13pm

    @ Richard Underhill,
    Richard I think that you might find an article available on the internet interesting:-
    ‘Mental Health Trust Funding down 8% despite coalition’s drive for parity of esteem”. March 2015

  • I have always welcomed the opportunity to debate issues with members of UKIP on LDV rather than demonising them. There is a sense in which people who choose to spend their time taking part in the democratic processes of this country have far more in common with one another than they do with the vast majority of the population, and I feel that it behoves us to respect that impulse even when we fundamentally disagree with the views of those who are opposing us politically. Maybe that sort of respect can provide a basis on which we can win over many more people like Jakob who have been drawn into politics by UKIP but whose actual political views are evolving.

  • Welcome Jakob,

    Despite the media stereotyping we are not all happy clappy Europhiles.

    I’ve been Eurosceptic for decades but it hasn’t stopped me rising to the giddy heights of local chairman, parliamentary candidate, councillor ….

  • Fao Richard Underhill. 28th Jul ’15 – 8:27pm
    “The current Tory government is cutting spending on mental health now that we are not there to stop them”.

    Sorry Richard, I wish you were correct,….. BUT in fact …

    Mental Health funding was cut in the coalition and Jayne Mansfield is correct. An investigation by ITV News and the charity Young Minds revealed that in the last year alone £35 million was cut from children and adolescent services Mental Health Services and over £85m was cut in the past four years. If we are to make progress we have got to be honest with ourselves.

  • Richard is right in a way. Just imagine how much it would have been cut over the 5 years without Paul and Norman being Health Ministers ?

  • You are very welcome Jakob.

  • Richard Underhill 28th Jul '15 - 10:37pm

    The Tories also promised to contunue with parity of esteem for menatl health. Let’s see if they do.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Jul '15 - 10:43pm

    @ Tim Hill,
    I’m sorry but that argument doesn’t hold much sway with me. I just look at the facts now available under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Maybe, post Health and Social Care Act, you might like to check what power ministers have when they try to persuade Commissioning groups to comply with funding that will lead to ‘Parity of Esteem ‘.

  • Welcome to the Liberal Democrats, Jakob.

    You are absolutely right that our party is a broad church, and we are very welcoming of all views on all areas of policy. We are a party made up of our members, and all of our views are equally deserving of a fair say, and a fair hearing.

    While it is true that a lot of us are pro-EU, we do remain generally in favour of EU reform. We as a party know that the EU can, and indeed should, be better. In fact, a lot of our more (big L) Liberal members remain eurosceptic just like you.

    As a party that broadly supports personal freedom, you may find your views on this have many friends in our party.

    I hope that we get to hear more from you in the future.

  • I can fully respect someone for reviewing their party affiliation based on an appraisal of policy. You say :
    “I have always believed that we need ‘radical’ EU reform, one that is transparent, ethical and gives a hell lot more power back to member countries. Until I am convinced otherwise, I am currently considering voting OUT”
    That is a perfectly acceptable position to hold,… however :
    Ukip policy is based on the assumption that ‘radical’ EU reform is simply not on any Brussels mandarin’s radar screen. They are self appointed, with no democratic mandate and I can assure you that they will accept *no radical reform*, that threatens their authority. Much as we might desire it, radical reform of the EU is a complete non starter, which is why exit is *the* only option.
    The clear intended trajectory of the EU, is further political integration which inevitably involves the erosion and total loss of UK democracy, and the creation of a controlling tier of governance at the level of a United States of Europe. As such, they will never accept, as you suggest giving,… “..a hell lot more power back to member countries.” Hint : Has Greece taught to nothing about the motives of these people?
    The core Ukip philosophy, is that handing our sovereignty to a self appointed undemocratic European body, is a total abhorrence. As a Ukip supporter, I am happy that a referendum is at least on the horizon, because I do believe in direct democracy, and I am ready to accept the will of the people, no matter how the vote falls.?
    As in all political parties there are fools who test our patience, and Ukip is no different. But the Ukip manifesto is a damn good read, and it is worthwhile observing the official policy narrative and not the occasional nutters.?
    Good luck Jakob, in your newly chosen political home.

  • “Good sound bites without much substance”
    I think you will have a touch of déjà vu

  • The best way of looking at the European Union is as a project that is perpetually ‘work in progress’. Always has been, always will be. However I continue to believe that it’s in Britain’s best interest to be an active member of it and we should have joined it and helped form right from the beginning.

  • John Tilley 29th Jul '15 - 8:44am

    Tim Hill
    The facts are those as pointed to by Jayne Mansfield.
    Some of us in LDV were making the point long ago (well before the leadership campaign) that the ‘spin’ around Norman Lamb’s role as a junior minister in the Department of Health did not really stand up to serious scrutiny.

    It is understandable that loyal party members will want to make the most of the influence once exercised by the handful of former Liberal Democrat ministers . However, for 2020 and beyond a constant harking back to a “golden age” of Comservative Coalition will not help us get out of the mess we are in.

    If we are to win more converts from UKIP like Jakob (welcome to the party Jakob) we need to be more honest and open about what was really achieved before the disaster of the general election. Otherwise we will just keep on repeating the same mistake and we will never climb much above 8% support and hundreds of lost deposits.

  • Welcome Jakob. It is good that you have taken the time to think through the issues and change accordingly.

    The Lib Dems have an internationalist outlook because there are many problems affecting the UK that cannot be solved by the UK government acting alone. Therefore being part of the EU is a logical step to take.

    When people call for “major reform”, they need to be specific what they mean. For example, should national governments determine water quality? waste disposal standards? human rights? The EU has actually got much better at getting rid of the silly rules, though there is the potential to do more.

    Very often it is the national governments that take a sensible EU -wide agreed framework and turn it into micro-management in the UK’s own regulations on the subject.

    The other point to make is that there is HUGE misunderstanding of the actual realityof the EU – thanks to decades of tabloid bogus scare stories. I could give a long list but I will mention two:

    The belief that the EU is a huge monolith: in fact, the EU Commission employs fewer people than many councils in the UK and the law prevents the EU from spending more than 1.27% of GDP. It is in fact around 1%. The federal US Government, by comparison, spends 20% of GDP.

    The belief (quoted by John Dunn above) that EU decisions are taken by “unelected bureaucrats”: WRONG. Decisions are taken jointly by the 28 Government Ministers (ELECTED in their own countries) and the European Parliament (ELECTED directly by the people). The “unelected bureaucrats” do table the proposals for debate and decision but that is what the member countries have asked them to do.

    The further reality is that they are not actually “unelected” or “bureaucrats” but politicians (one from each of the member countries appointed by each of the 28 countries) to do the work AND confirmed in their jobs by the elected European Parliament.

    So the “unelected bureaucrats” actually have MORE democratic legitimacy than the “unelected bureaucrats” who run each of the UK Government Departments.

  • Stephen Robinson suggests :
    “..and the law prevents the EU from spending more than 1.27% of GDP.”
    The reality behind that spin, is that of all the contributory funds handed over to this EU monolith, some of the 28 countries, are Net recipients , and some are Net contributors. Most certainly, the £20 billion per year we send them to waste, could definitely be spent better here supporting our own public services. Imagine some of the UK problems you could solve with an extra £20 billion per year !? And let’s not forget that they send us back some of that £20 billion, and have the audacity to call it ‘EU funding’,… like we haven’t noticed that it is our own money recycled back to us?? The brazen cheek of these EU bureaucrats never fails to amaze me.
    “The “unelected bureaucrats” do table the proposals for debate and decision..”
    Exactly! The illusion is that somehow, the 28 government ministers hold the final decision. But as Stephen tentatively acknowledges, the available choices, to be decided upon, are a ‘set menu’ presented by *unelected bureaucrats*. It’s a bit like Chef telling diners that ‘the soup of the day is chicken mushroom’. The 28 diners of course have the *final decision* on whether to order soup or not?
    Ukip suggests we leave this ‘take it or leave it’, no choice EU restaurant, and eat elsewhere?

  • Alisdair McGregor 29th Jul '15 - 11:11am

    One thing that really annoys me about UKIP – and the Tory right (& this isn’t a dig at you, Jakob), is the very term “Euro-Skeptic”

    UKIP & the Tory right are not sceptical about Europe, the Euro, or the EU.

    They’ve taken a position and they aren’t going to ever change it. That’s not scepticism, that’s just obstinate euro-phobia.

  • I’m sure there should be room in our party for people who would like us to leave the EU, just as in the newly-merged party there should have been room for people who wanted us to leave NATO (but support for NATO was oddly enshrined in the party constitution).

    I disagree with Jakob’s position, but it does seem to me perhaps to be genuinely Eurosceptic. This word is horribly misused and most people described as Eurosceptic are not sceptic(al) but fixedly anti. A sceptic is unconvinced and dubious about something.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Jul '15 - 11:59am

    John Dunn

    The core Ukip philosophy, is that handing our sovereignty to a self appointed undemocratic European body, is a total abhorrence.

    But it has already been handed in effect to a self appointed undemocratic global financiers body. Why is Ukip never bothered by that?

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Jul '15 - 12:06pm

    John Dunn

    Hint : Has Greece taught to nothing about the motives of these people?

    The problem with Greece was that it borrowed a lot of money and couldn’t pay it back. If it wasn’t in the EU, it would still have faced that problem.

    We in the UK are facing a similar problem, albeit one of private rather than state borrowing. People have been encouraged to hugely over-borrow, and it could all come crashing down, perhaps triggered by a rise in interest rates. Then let’s see what the global financiers do to us.

  • Denis Loretto 29th Jul '15 - 12:58pm

    Liberal Democrat members are overwhelmingly in favour of UK membership of the EU but being a eurosceptic certainly does not disqualify anyone from joining the Liberal Democrats. There are of course others of that persuasion already in the party and it is hardly surprising that a rather disproportionate number of them have felt drawn to post on this thread coupled with the usual selection of non-Lib Dems. I note reference to the inevitability of a “United States of Europe” etc.

    To me the actual situation is that the UK is on the pig’s back vis -a-vis the EU if we play our cards right.

    The UK does not have enough clout to redefine the fundamental principles on which the EU is based. However the UK is very important to Europe and certainly has enough clout to ensure that it is not forced into the Eurozone unless and until that is the clear wish of its people by future referendum. That is not going to happen anytime soon and may not happen at all. Therefore the EU will go forward on two levels – eurozone and non-eurozone. As the European Council has acknowledged,this means making proper provision to fully protect the interests of both these categories. Coupled with the increasing evidence that the call for sensible reforms in current EU practices and institutions is becoming more widespread there is every reason for the UK to work with others to achieve reforms while staying very much in. Why? Because we have this highly beneficial situation –
    1. Full and equal access to the single market – bearing in mind that even if we were to attempt renegotiation of such access after exiting the EU we would have to conform to all its rules – like Norway..
    2. Unquestioned continuance – and probably extension – of lucrative third country industrial investment. Ignore current warnings from Nissan et al at your peril. They only manufacture here to gain access to the EU market – they can and will go anywhere they want.
    3. Freedom for our citizens to settle anywhere in the EU or to roam with minimum restriction – millions of expatriate Brits across Europe must be deeply worried about the prospect of Brexit.
    4. Freedom to set our own interest rates and all the other powers accompanying the maintenance of a separate currency .
    What’s not to like?

  • “But it has already been handed in effect to a self appointed undemocratic global financiers body. Why is Ukip never bothered by that?”
    Ukip *is* very much bothered by that. Have you not noticed that it is your beloved EU bureaucrats, that are having secret trade talks under TTIP. Unelected EU bureaucrats are selling its citizens down the river,.. and in secret. A measure which Ukip have condemned often. It is the inverse of what you say, Matthew, in that it is Lib Dems who are happy with TTIP talks ‘in the dark’, and the secret handing over of EU citizens rights to global corporations?

    “The problem with Greece was that it borrowed a lot of money and couldn’t pay it back.”
    And the problem with Germany and France, is that they were happy to lend them that money. But due diligence goes out of the window, when you can ship thousands of new Merc’s and BMW’s. But now that Greece has proved to be ‘sub-prime’, Germany has decided to do a ‘Repo’ of their sovereignty and democracy?
    European Union,… United until,… it isn’t.?

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Jul '15 - 1:25pm

    @ jakob,
    I have some gripes about the EU and I want reform too. However, until immigration was pushed as the central issue, I don’t remember people being overly interested in the EU, and I think that past polls support what I am saying. It wasn’t near the top of the list of concerns of people, myself included.

    What are the powers that you want given back to member states?

  • Phil Beesley 29th Jul '15 - 4:59pm

    @Jayne Mansfield: “However, until immigration was pushed as the central issue, I don’t remember people being overly interested in the EU…”

    Writers of the TV programme “Yes, Minister” spotted difference in 1984. They wrote about the “Euro-Sausage” and the “British Sausage” 30 years ago.

    Of course, British people have been interested in the EU and concerned about delivering an EU for British interests. British people are wary that “subsidiarity” is not always consistent with the ideas proposed by EU “leaders”.

    The “European problem” is not about immigration. It’s about the undefined European ideal which is so brilliant that the idealists can’t tell citizens about it.

  • J George SMID 29th Jul '15 - 5:00pm

    Welcome Jacob! Some people follow, some people think, and some people think and act. As the famous quote by Paul Samuelson (1970 Nobel Prize in economics) goes: “When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?” It takes courage to ‘cross the floor’ so to speak.

    Could you tell me why you classify yourself as ‘Eurosceptic’?

  • Jakob Whiten 29th Jul '15 - 5:27pm

    Thank you for you kind and supportive comments.

    Funnily enough, the party are currently sending out a generic survey regarding the possible EU referendum. It would be nice to see the party have an independent group that puts the case for UK independence in a progressive light.

    I do find that the majority of people link euro scepticism with being anti immigration due to how UKIP and others have put forward the case of getting out the EU.

    For me I don’t like the way the EU creates it’s laws and how it’s not rather ethical in how it runs it economy.

    Though I am not against the EU it per say, I would happily work with the EU for the common good. However I think it needs to be more transparent, open and accountable.

    I must say you all have given me food for thought!

    Sorry if what I have said does not make any sense – been up for 27 hours….

  • “handing our sovereignty to a self appointed undemocratic European body”

    This is just plain dishonest. Remember those elections to the European parliament? Remember how the members of the council represent democratically (OK not very democratically in the case of the UK) elected governments?

  • Welcome Jacob! Please feel at home, and we can argue later 🙂

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Jul '15 - 6:56pm

    @ Phil Beesley,
    If people have been so interested in the EU and about it delivering British interests, how do you explain the low % turnouts at European elections?( European election turnout % 1979- 1914)

    How do you explain past poll results where there has been such a high proportion of people who thought it would make no difference if we stayed in or left the EU, or said they did not know whether we would be better off in or out of the EU?

    How do you explain the poor showing of UKIP until they hit gold with all the scaremongering and blaming of every problem we face as a country on immigration and immigrants?

    I’m sorry but I don’t agree that it has always been high on most people’s agenda, because it is my view that most people have had more important priorities , like getting on with the activities of living.

  • Phil Beesley 29th Jul '15 - 8:34pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    “How do you explain past poll results where there has been such a high proportion of people who thought it would make no difference if we stayed in or left the EU, or said they did not know whether we would be better off in or out of the EU?”

    I do not reject such questions. I believe that the EU is a good thing …if it is liberal, if it is consistent with liberal values, pushing liberal values. And I am not an UKIPer.

    As I wrote previously: “It’s about the undefined European ideal which is so brilliant that the idealists can’t tell citizens about it.”

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Jul '15 - 9:55am

    Phil Beesley

    I do not reject such questions. I believe that the EU is a good thing …if it is liberal, if it is consistent with liberal values, pushing liberal values. And I am not an UKIPer.

    The issue is that there is a determined and influential anti-EU crowd who push the line that anyone who doesn’t take the hardline UKIP position is a fanatical supporter of the EU as it is currently set up and can see nothing wrong in it. Although the Liberal Democrats have always been in favour of membership of the EU that doesn’t mean we agree with everything it ever does or think it is so super-duper wonderful that it is beyond criticism. But you wouldn’t get that impression from what you read about our position on it in the right-wing press.

    Jayne Mansfield has it right. For most people the EU is not a big issue, it’s not something they feel has a huge effect on their lives. If it was the oppressive monster that the UKIPer types paint it as, people would surely be able to say when asked just what it is doing to oppress them. If it were really making all our legislation, as the UKIPers claim, wouldn’t political discussion here be centred on what it is actually doing in that way? But it isn’t because it isn’t. Political discussion has been on things like tuition fees, the “bedroom tax” and so on, which aren’t pushed on us by the EU, they’re pushed on us by the UK Parliament.

    If you ask people’s opinion on something they don’t know or care much about, the response you are going to get will inevitably be somewhat random. If I asked you “What do you think of Ponky Fuddleboots?” you would say “I don’t know”. If I had prepared you in advance by feeding you information on bad aspects of Ponky Fuddleboots or ways of interpreting what Ponky Fuddleboots does that make it sound bad, you might answer “Oh yes, I’m against it”. But that does not mean you would have made you own careful consideration of Ponky Fuddleboots and decided your position on that basis.

    Much of supposed public opinion on the EU is similar. It used to be tall stories about supposed regulations which mostly turned out to be ridiculous exaggerations. Now it’s the immigration issue that is used to make people think the EU is a bad thing.

  • Hello again Jakob.

    Hope you don’t mind these further, genuine questions – what do you mean by:
    “I don’t like the way the EU creates it’s laws and how it’s not rather ethical in how it runs it economy.”

    Also:
    “needs to be more transparent, open and accountable”
    This is true BUT there are really only two ways of doing this: spending more public money on telling people what it does (and you know how popular that would be); or letting the media get the messages across, which has been spectacularly unsuccessful to date. Even the BBC has cut back its minimal coverage.

    The bit which is least accountable is the Council of Ministers i.e. the national governments, not the EU per se. They love the secrecy.

    Commissioners reguarly answers questions in the Parliament. If that was given as much publicity as Prime Minister’s Question Time, people might have a better understanding. Read more: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/portal/en

    The Commission staff who draft the EU laws are actually much more accessible than civil servants in Whitehall. You can just pop in to see them. I know: I’ve done it! See http://ec.europa.eu/contact/guide_activity_en.htm

  • Well this wasn’t something I expected to see on LDV. Welcome Jakob.

  • Richard Underhill 31st Jul '15 - 9:07am

    Stephen Robinson 30th Jul ’15 – 10:24am “Even the BBC has cut back its minimal coverage”
    BBC TV Daily Politics gives 30 minutes on a Friday to EU affairs and is broadcast when the House of Commons is sitting.

  • Daniel Henry 31st Jul '15 - 12:10pm

    I’m quite enjoying the debate on this thread, especially the contributions from Stephen Robinson and Matthew Huntbach.

    Welcome Jakub – as you said we’re a broad church which is continually debating and testing our opinions. For my own opinion, I think the EU broadly has the appropriate powers, but would like to see reforms of the process to make it more democratic.

  • Welcome. There is a focus on reform of the EU in the LibDems but it is not clearly expressed while broader pro-European sentiment is. Your influence could help balance that out.

  • That’s good to know Richard Underhill. I read about a year or so ago that the weekly report from the European Parliament was being stopped and I had not heard about the Daily Pol slot. Not exactly mainstream though. If there was even two minutes on the main news bulletins regularly it would make a difference.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Aug '15 - 5:02pm

    Stephen Robinson 1st Aug ’15 – 4:04pm MPs tend to go to theit constituencies on Fridays, so there are fewer to interview, On Mondays they can chew over the Sunday papers again and bring in London MPs.
    The uncertainties over the referendum are another reason.

  • Michael Mullaney 7th Aug '15 - 5:12pm

    Welcome to the Lib Dems Jakob! Glad to have you on board for the Lib Dem fightback in Leicestershire!

  • Richard Underhill 13th Nov '15 - 11:20pm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winston_McKenzie has left UKIP. He was interviewed on BBC tv Daily Politics.

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