This second blog about the minority parties standing in May brings together an eclectic bunch that aren’t easily slotted into traditional right-left political dimensions. Although on reflection a few might be more at home in the first blog on the far right parties.
Let’s start with Christian parties. Three were active in 2010 but this time only the Christian Peoples Alliance (CPA) has announced any candidates so far. Even then, it’s not very forthcoming. Just two are mentioned explicitly on its website menu and one of their candidate pages has no content. In 2010 the CPA put up 17 candidates. Although they have some historical support in Newham in London, they’re unlikely to reach that total this time, despite rumours of seven selected so far.
The CPA describes itself as a Christian Democratic party and was formed in 2000. It stands for ‘righteousness and godliness’. Which involves being anti-abortion and against gay marriage apparently. Despite that it has some progressive policies in other areas, wanting to end the cap on national insurance contributions so that those earning more than £100,000 pay a lot more tax. It came out against the Iraq war and is greenish on the environment, although rather vague to say the least on global warming. Here it demands a ‘biblical, scientific assessment of ecological research’. Hopefully, this will be rather more robust than the claim of its current leader that the storms of early 2014 were a sign of God’s anger over gay marriage. And the application of its former leader last year to join Ukip is not exactly a sign that its progressiveness runs deep.
CPA candidates were actually well outnumbered in 2010 by a new kid on the block. This comprised the 71 hopefuls from the Christian Party, which split off from the CPA in 2004, gaining some support from black churches. The Christian Party incorporated members of Operation Christian Vote, an evangelist party mainly active in Scotland. There, it recorded the best performance ever for a Christian party. In 2005 it saved its deposit in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, coming ahead of the Tories and just 48 votes behind the Lib Dems.
The Christian Party is more socially conservative than the CPA. For example it wants even more cuts in the public sector and thinks climate change is a ‘more realistic’ description than global warming, as there is no evidence for the latter. And even if there was it’s not caused by mankind but by ‘solar’ (?) On the other hand it suggests observing a day of rest on the Sabbath would help reduce carbon emissions. Better safe than sorry I guess. It’s not announced any candidates of its own yet but is calling for all other candidates to sign up to its Declaration of British Values, which turn out to be freedom of conscience for Christians, opposition to Sharia and European law, support for a referendum on EU membership, and opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
Meanwhile, the Justice for Men and boys (J4MB) party believes that the human rights of men and boys in the UK have been assaulted by the state. Equality of gender outcomes is ‘social engineering’. The party was founded in 2013 by a former Tory and is putting up three candidates in the Nottingham area, a place with a historically high level of female employment and presumably lots of anti-feminists.
While J4MB might have been transferred into the far right blog (along with the Christian Party) what are we to make of the National Liberal Party? Its website, while being anti-EU, also states that the NLP is anti-globalisation, anti-surveillance society and offers the Swiss model of federalist self-determination. Furthermore, its sole named candidate so far is Sockalingam Yogalingam, a Tamil standing in Ruislip on a platform of support for Tamil self-determination (in Rusilip?). Yet key organisers of the NLP were revealed last year to be former members of British nationalist parties, the BNP, NF and the now defunct Third Way. Confusing.
There’s a whole host of one-man (very rarely one-woman) band parties registered with the Electoral Commission. Many of these have websites but thankfully not many have yet announced actual candidates for May. One that has is Alter Change. This curiously named party was formed, it says, ‘to make society better’, with ‘moral, ambitious and progressive’ policies, of which it lists 71. These include banning debt collectors, conversion of bus lanes into all-car lanes, reforming film classification and scaling back on devolution, along with some relatively sensible ones such as free dental check-ups, renationalising the railways and being tougher on animal cruelty. The Party Leader and Treasurer is Shaun Jenkins and the sole candidate entered on the party’s ‘comprehensive list’ of parliamentary candidates is … Shaun Jenkins, who puts himself forward to represent the lucky folk of Cardiff North.
Not all micro-parties offer an intellectually incoherent smorgasbord of policies. The Young Peoples Party (YPP) has been described as ‘geolibertarian’. This combines libertarianism and Georgism. For my Cornish reader(s), that’s not Andrew Georgism but a liking for the Land Value Tax of Henry George. But, although intellectually coherent on the economy, the YPP’s other policies are vague. For example they’re ‘unconvinced’ global warming is happening and have ‘no strong opinions’ on devolution. Or they verge on the barmy, like removing traffic lights.
While the YPP’s stance on the monarchy – they’re ‘happy’ with it – doesn’t sound that libertarian, their general grasp of political affairs may also give pause for thought. Their website oddly states ‘When will the next General Election be held? Your guess is as good as mine’. Does no-one in the YPP have time to read the papers? Not that their two candidates look very likely to storm Westminster on behalf of geolibertarianism anywhere in the near future. Their party meetings seem to take place in a pub off Leicester Square where supporters are asked to look for the table with a YPP leaflet on it. Sounds like a Lib Dem meeting unless it’s a massive table.
Pubs are also the natural habitat of the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP), whose acronym is proving too much for the poor old Guardian, which describes comedian Al Murray’s party as The Pub Landlord instead. This Oxford history graduate is taking on Nigel Farage in the backwoods of Thanet South (are there any woods left there?) and calls for a ‘common sense revolution’. Actually, his policies seem a lot more convincing than many of the austerity-concealing bribes emanating from the Westminster consensus.
Finally, we have the familiar old Official Monster Raving Loony Party, which declares 16 candidates on its website so far. In 2010 it managed 27 and in 2005 19, so it’s well on target to match those numbers. However, it’s beginning to look a bit tired, with ageing ‘activists’ and some feebly unfunny joke policies. They’re also in increasing danger of being outflanked on their loony wing by the supposedly serious neo-liberal policies put forward by the Con/Lib/Lab/Kipper crew.
Especially on a day when Labour appear in all seriousness to be announcing what’s in effect a future tax cut for well-paid middle class graduates (and potential Labour candidates no doubt). This is in preference to something more sensible such as restoring the Education Maintenance Allowance binned by the Coalition Government in England. But maybe it’s just a joke.