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25 January, 2008

What's that got to do with it?

I see from the local paper that Morecambe is to host this year's UKIP party conference, the UK Independence Party being an anti-European, 'England-first' ¹ offshoot of the Conservative Party.  It's traditional for political parties to meet at the seaside², so if the major parties have conferences in Blackpool or Bournemouth, it's unsurprising that a minority-interest party would choose a second-rate resort.

The slightly disturbing part is that Phil Booth of NO2ID, an organisation I promote each time I write about my opposition to ID cards, is prominently listed amongst the speakers. If he's to attend in a personal capacity, that's fine with me – his own political affiliations are his own business – but I really hope it's not as an official representative of NO2ID.

I can understand a wish to band supporters together for a better chance at gaining representatives into positions of influence, but there has to be a close connection, absent in this instance. There's no causal link between the issues, nor even an especial likelihood that a supporter of one will regard the other favourably.

Opposition to interference into individuals' private lives by national government isn't remotely the same issue as opposition to European central government, so the campaigns should not be actively affiliated. I'm sure many UKIP members welcome ID cards as a means of excluding foreigners, so dislike Booth's organisation, whereas people like me object to the cards³ whilst actively seeking the break-up of the UK into autonomous elements within the EU so disdain UKIP.
For much the same reason, it's important that the public don't naturally associate one with the other. "Fighting ID cards? That's a UKIP issue, isn't it? I don't like UKIP."

It reminds me of the 1991 General Election, in which, at least in my constituency, Plaid Cymru (my party of choice) affiliated itself with the Green Party, in an attempt to get a Plaid MP into Westminster who'd then have to vote according to Green policies. Hence, though I've always wanted Wales to separate from England, Plaid lost my vote – I'd never vote Green. Conversely, one of my English housemates, an environmentalist who considered Welsh nationalism irrelevant, doubted a Plaid MP really would promote Green issues, so the Greens lost his vote too.

1: And yes, I do mean England, whatever UKIP might claim.

2: The Green Party (hardly a major party) seems to have settled on Lancaster for annual conferences. I can't decide whether they're breaking with the 'seaside towns' tradition merely to be characteristically perverse, or whether they're the only party to acknowledge the need to seek higher ground (certainly not moral – I mean above rising sea levels).

3: The National Identity Register, really – never forget it's about the data, not the pieces of plastic.

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