Tag Archives: Nigel Farage

Three Good Reasons To Support UKIP

The intertubes have come alive with execrations and epithets directed against the UK Independence party this week during local and EU polling. This frothing at the mouth is uncharacteristic in a population usually so apathetic that I doubt even a small minority could name their MP, let alone their MEPs.

Politics, being the game that it is, would not be complete without a bogeyman figure, and for a cadre of politicians whose popularity levels linger at around that of pubic lice Nigel Farage and UKIP is grist to the mill. In the Guardian earlier this week the Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg said of Farage, “I think the mask is starting to slip and what has been revealed behind that beer-swilling bonhomie is a really nasty view of the world.” Unfortunately for Mr Clegg (and the other major party leaders) this kind of attack is counterproductive for two staggeringly obvious reasons: Firstly, 99% of the population is rather attracted by, and enjoys, “beer swilling bonhomie” – it’s what we in the underclass call “socializing”; although Mr Clegg should be congratulated on his adept use of alliteration. Secondly, whether or not Mr Farage’s views are “nasty” is immaterial. Any kind of view, nasty or otherwise, will garner a certain level of support when juxtaposed against Mr Clegg’s party, whose core principle is that it shall have no fixed principles. (We will see this play out spectacularly on Sunday when the EU election results are announced).

However, this being a “serious” blog I am not principally concerned with the politics of personal popularity. Rather, I believe that there are a number of sound ideological reasons to support UKIPs cause to secede from the EU; lest we forget that is, ultimately, their raison d’etre. But don’t take my word for it, I am in good company:

Jefferson on Corruption

“Public servants, at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite the public agents to corruption, plunder, and waste.”

Thomas Jefferson, 1800

Bastiat on the “Acquis”

“…if the law were to be made upon the principle of fraternity, if it were to be proclaimed that from it proceed all benefits and all evils—that it is responsible for every individual grievance and for every social inequality—then you open the door to an endless succession of complaints, irritations, troubles, and revolutions.”

Frederic Bastiat, 1850

 Overton on the European Arrest Warrant and the ECJ

“And therefore (sir) as even by nature and by the law of the land I was bound, I denied subjection to these lords and their arbitrary creatures thus by open force invading and assaulting my house, person, etc. — no legal conviction preceding, or warrant then shown. But and if they had brought and shown a thousand such warrants, they had all been illegal, antimagisterial and void in this case; for they have no legal power in that kind, no more than the king, but such their actions are utterly condemned and expressly forbidden by the law. Why therefore should you of the representative body sit still and suffer these lords thus to devour both us and our laws?

Be awakened, arise and consider their oppressions and encroachments and stop their lordships in their ambitious career. For they do not cease only here, but they soar higher and higher and now they are become arrogators to themselves of the natural sovereignty the represented have conveyed and issued to their proper representers. They even challenge to themselves the title of the supremest court of judicature in the land”

Richard Overton, 1646

There are a number of historical political figures and philosophers who speak to us from beyond the grave about the dangers of remote and extensive government, and tangentially, the foundational principles of the EU. For Overton and the Levellers the House of Lords appropriated powers which did not naturally accrue to it. The European Commission is no different. Bastiat recognized that the law would ultimately be subverted by the politically ambitious and Jefferson elucidated the self-evident: if you take your eye off some people they’ll take the piss; observe:

Whilst I may be an unreconstructed bigot, with a portrait of the Queen Mother tattooed onto his scrotum, an IQ of around 75 and a penchant for listening to Pomp and Circumstance whilst flaying the starving piccaninnies he keeps manacled in the potting shed – as we are enjoined to believe that everyone who considers lending their vote to UKIP must be – I also have a working knowledge of European politics, which is far more than can be said for most EUphiles, and an interest in the cultures and history of its people. So there’s 500 million more reasons why the EU must be dismantled. (Just in case the three above weren’t good enough). In British politics UKIP alone recognizes this.

Tally Ho! To the potting shed!

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Of Course the Handgun Ban is Ludicrous

According the Daily Express (and others) Nigel Farage provoked “Fury” last week by saying, “I think the ban on hand guns is ludicrous.” I say we are in a sad predicament when the statement of such a vacuous truth can provoke “fury”.

Anne McGuire, the MP for Stirling, said that Mr Farage’s views on the ban are “idiotic”. And a Mrs Majorie Davies, who was chair of the Dunblane community council at the time of the 1996 massacre which prompted the ban, said that Farage’s remarks were, “insulting to all the hard work done by the campaigners to bring in the ban. The ban clearly works as there has thankfully never been a repeat of Dunblane in the UK but when you look at somewhere like America it feels like every few months there has been a shooting.”

So let’s take a dispassionate look at the effect that the Firearms Acts of 1997, to which Mrs Davies was referring, have had on homicide and firearms offences in the UK, then hazard a glance at the effect of gun ownership abroad, in order to test these good ladies’ claims.

 I include for your edification and amusement a chart showing the number of homicides in the years immediately preceding and those subsequent to the aforementioned act:

If Anne McGuire’s unseemly accusation that Farage is “idiotic” held any water and that, “the ban clearly works”, per Mrs Davies claims, we would expect to see a sharp fall in the number of murders perpetrated in UK after the 1997 handgun ban. Instead what we see is a broadly flat trend with a greater number of murders in seven of the intervening years and fewer in seven also (as of 2011). This is of course what we should expect: Firstly because criminals tend to ignore bans – that’s what makes them criminals – I suppose the member for Stirling expected all those gun toting gangsters to give up their weapons because John Major and then Tony Blair told them to? Secondly, if one is intent on committing homicide there are tools other than handguns which will do the job just as nicely: “Guns for show knives for a pro.”

As for the claim that, “there has thankfully never been a repeat of Dunblane in the UK”, what about Derrick Bird? He managed to kill twelve and injure eleven in 2010, which by my admittedly shoddy arithmetic happened after the 1997 ban. It’s true that Bird’s victims were adults and that he used a shotgun and rifle, not a handgun, but the fact remains that the Firearms act did not prevent a massacre from being committed by a gun wielding maniac. Who would expect it to? Does anyone out there really believe that deranged psycopaths can be legislated out of existence by politicians? Besides, there was a previous tightening of firearms regulation in response to the Hungerford massacre of 1987 which by Marjorie Davies “logic” would have prevented the Dunblane massacre from ever happening: It didn’t.

Whenever gun control is mentioned in Britain, just like night follows day, there is always a nanny statist on hand to trot out stories of the terrible number of murders in the USA, conjuring up images of good old-fashioned, wild-west saloon-bar, gun-slinging chaos. Indeed, the Manchester Evening News wheeled out Peter Fahy, the Manchester Chief Con’, who said, “We should all be grateful that we have got such tight gun control in this country – when you look at the States, it’s awful over there“. Of course this is a lie promulgated by knaves and fools.

 In reality the murder rate in the US, whilst higher than in Europe, is low in global terms. What is remarkable about the USA is that it demonstrates, categorically, that firearm ownership and murder rate are NOT subject to a simple linear correlation from which we can blithely attribute a cause and effect relationship.

I include, for your delectation and delight, a chart showing global gun ownership figures versus the homicide rate for a sample of 171 countries:

[Admittedly this data is unreliable, but it is the shape of the plot and the relative position of the USA which maters]

If we were to apply a simple linear regression model to this data (as I have, simply to demonstrate its unsuitability) it would imply that firearm ownership rates above about 0.55 per capita cause negative homicide rates, which of course leads to an obvious policy prescription: If we supply free guns to the under-fives (obviously at tax payers expense) then we’ll see murder victims, like Lazarus, being miraculously raised from the dead within a generation! There is a serious point to this silliness: the anti-gun lobby relies on similar abuses of statistics in order to support the ban. Which is why you shouldn’t.

As a point of interest I have labelled the Latin American narco-states (Honduras is at the top of the chart) where gun ownership is relatively low but murder is rife. Which brings me to a more serious policy prescription: Want less murder? Legalize drugs!

Anyway, the pattern, or lack thereof, demonstrated above is repeated if one examines the USA on a state-by-state basis. In 2001 a survey asked 200,000 Americans, “Are any firearms now kept in or around your home? Include those kept in a garage, outdoor storage area, car, truck, or other motor vehicle.” Once again plotting the rate of positive responses to this question against murder rates in each state for the same year is instructive:

The lowest rate of gun ownership coincides with the highest murder rate (in Washington DC), inconveniently for gun control enthusiasts, and the rest of the data shows little to no trend over a range spanning 10% to 60% of households with guns. Of course the brighter of the gun control advocates out there might complain that Washington DC is an urban area and cannot be compared to a low population density wilderness such as Alaska. This is perfectly true but it makes my point for me: gun ownership is not the major explanatory variable when considering the homicide rate!

Even if one omits Washington DC from the above data set increased gun ownership shows a slightly negative correlation to the murder rate, in direct contradiction to the simplistic “more guns-more murder” thesis of gun control advocates. However plotting normalized residuals pertaining to the previous chart serves up a large helping of heteroscedasticity (the data “fans out” from left to right), indicating that a linear regression model is an unsuitable fit to the data anyhow.

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One can further demonstrate that banning firearms is a fool’s errand by looking at the historical homicide rate in Washington DC itself over a period of many years. In 1976 Washington DC introduced legislation restricting residents from acquiring handguns. The act required all registered firearms to be kept unloaded and disassembled. It is widely agreed that Washington has amongst the most stringent gun control laws of all the US states. Despite this Washington experienced a crime wave in the years after the ban, culminating in the 90’s, with homicide rates around 80 per 100k population. Therefore we would be just as well placed to argue that banning guns causes people to commit murders as we would to argue the converse, but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?

Returning to the European context we see more of the same, which should come as a surprise to nobody. Selecting the members of the EU 15 and EFTA (I have omitted Leichtenstein, principally because it’s a micro-state) as a sample of geographically proximate, advanced economies, once again there is no correlation between gun ownership and homicide to be found:

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Of particular note is the band of data points forming a vertical line around 30 guns per hundred mark. Norway sits atop this cohort with a murder rate of 2.3 per 100k and Austria is at the bottom with a mere 0.6 per 100k. This might force me to revise my opinion that Austria is the fount of all evil; can anyone name an Austrian other than Adolf Hitler or Josef Fritzl though? Happily though, if you were of the equally odd opinion that firearm ownership had any significant bearing on the murder rate then you can now disabuse yourself of that foolish notion too!

Of course I’m thinking rather wishfully. After all the British body politic is singularly unimpressed by facts and/or logical hypotheses, preferring to base their politics on appearing to be “nice” and rolling with the in-crowd. And so we have people holding to the fantastically naive opinion that because guns are “bad” that banning them is somehow “good”. Furthermore we are blighted by a venal cabal of over-paid, under-scrupled journalists and politicians who are all too happy to play to the somnolent gallery given the slightest opportunity. Take for example the apparently “outraged” Labour MP Chris Williamson, who told the Mirror that Nigel Farage’s (correct) opinion on the Firearms ban was, “an insult to victims of gun crime”. This is logically equivalent to stating that questioning a ban on penises would be an insult to victims of rape. But it matters not in the island cult of faux-outrage and lachrymose sentimentality that we call Britain. Here its people like me (and Farage) who are the idiots.