The New Party turns out to be the same as the old one.
(As an aside, it has to be said I don't much like the idea of AIT being a compulsory showing in schools, especially without it being made clear that it is both a polemic and a one sided view, with differing opinions also offered. Kids are not stupid; they know when they're being taught bullshit, and when it comes between choosing either Al Gore's view or Melanie Philips', I'm pretty sure who'll they'll plump for.)
Probably like most people, I'd never heard of this new grouping that was err, claiming to be new. The BBC's article notes that:
Mr Dimmock is a member of the "New Party", apparently funded by a businessman with a strong dislike of environmentalists and drink-drive laws.
When asked on the BBC's World Tonight programme who had under-written his court costs, he paused long and loud before saying that "someone on the internet" had offered him support.
The New Party's website is similarly disingenuous as to whom's paying the bills. The about page only announces the support of two hardly well-known figures:
The New Party is pleased to acknowledge the support of:
* John Harvey-Jones
* Vivien Saunders
John Harvey-Jones is a former chairman of ICI, and according to a highly sycophantic and probably self-written Wikipedia profile, a Wienerite, one of the heavy influences on Thatcherism and the "New Right". More well-known admirers tend towards the neo-conservative (at least when it comes to foreign policy, in Sullivan's case) school of thought: Andrew Sullivan, Mark Steyn and the ghastly Michael Gove like to be thought of as his disciples. Vivien Saunders, is err, a former golfer and golfing coach.
How about policies then? Considering that the New Party describes itself as "a party of economic liberalism, political reform and internationalism", it's not much of a surprise when clicking on their manifesto to learn that they're in favour of a flat income tax:
On present figures, the personal allowance would be £12,000 and everyone would pay 22 per cent of all earnings above this level.
This is about as grossly unfair as you can possibly get, and is the complete anti-thesis of "progressive" taxation, from a party that claims to be progressive. It doesn't stop there though. The New Party also wants to "cut the cost of the state", which for cut you can read slash and decimate, although they claim that this will mostly target bureaucrats, as no one wants to see nurses and bobbies lose their jobs. Quite how they'll manage not to do that when they propose to make £35 billion of savings as a minimum, not a maximum isn't explained.
They also claim to have a moral purpose:
Many of our problems today can be traced back to the loosening of family ties and the breakdown of shared values. The tax and welfare systems, far from supporting families, have contributed to these problems by undermining personal and civic responsibility.
Ah yes, it's all the fault of the welfare state, a familiar refrain of the Telegraph whenever something goes wrong! While their position on criminal justice and prisons is relatively liberal, their attitude towards drugs is of a similar moral bent:
Downgrading cannabis has not been a success. The police have had their job made even more difficult and there is evidence that a growing number of people are experiencing mental problems as a result.
This is errant nonsense, especially from a political party claiming to be standing for social liberalism. They're also completely clueless over the Human Rights Act:
The Human Rights Act is a misnomer, it serves no useful purpose and has been hijacked for political ends. Not only has it fuelled the compensation culture but it has also diminished the role of parliament by requiring the courts to make judgements on political matters. We shall therefore repeal the Human Rights Act. We would, nevertheless, remain signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and it would be a matter for parliament to determine its response to the judgements by the European Court of Human Rights.
Considering the Human Rights Act implements the ECHR into UK law, all repealing the HRA will do is make the route to justice even more distant, expensive and difficult.
Perhaps most enlightening though is their policies on the environment and climate change, or rather, the almost complete lack of them. They touch slightly on it in "facing the energy crisis", to which their solution is nuclear power, also mentioning "environmentally friendly towns". The rest is in their "Internationalism" section, which rapidly goes from concluding, despite the IPCC's findings, that "we must ensure that we do not rush into new taxes and controls without considering their real effects," to bringing up the old misnomer that the fact that India and China are developing at such rate that anything we do is a waste of time. Their solution is:
We should concentrate on developing and diffusing new technologies, revisit nuclear generation (which is now much safer and produces little waste) and provide positive incentives for developing countries to support cleaner technologies. The recently announced Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development which includes countries which did not support Kyoto is a welcome step in the right direction.
And that's it.
Why could their apparent aversion to anything more concrete be? After all, according to their PR bumpf on their challenge to the sending out of AIT, "climate change is clearly taking place". Delving a little deeper into their national policy committees, you soon find that their nominal supporters include:
Alex Black, who's a self employed Road Transport Contractor. His reasons for supporting the New Party are:
I was disillusioned with all other parties after visiting MPs & MSPs with no positive responses despite putting practical propositions forward. I organised & took part in the fuel protest, and was surprised at the level of support from the public. This encouraged me to think that there was maybe a chance for people getting more democracy from the system that the New Party was proposing.
Robert Dunward, New Party chairman, who has been involved in... the haulage industry and Sandy Bruce, the owner of the modestly named Sandy Bruce Trucking.
The rest are a rag-tag bunch of businessmen and small c conservatives, all apparently united by the mouth-watering prospect of paying the same rate of tax as those earning slightly more than the minimum wage and smashing the state, while sitting in the camp of believing that climate change is happening while also refusing to do anything about it. The only reason for why these natural far-right Tories are setting up their own party is that the actual Conservative party has turned into a centre-right cult with more in common with the right of the Labour party than their "progressive" vision of the future. The so-called New Party then in actuality wants to turn the clock back: right to the 19th century.
Update: Poor Pothecary has also turned his sights on the New Party, and discovers via the Scotsman that it was set up by Robert Wilson Menzies Durward, a businessman who cut his political teeth opposing the aggregate tax and drink-driving "witch-hunts". He's also behind the Scientific Alliance, (SourceWatch) which just popped up on the BBC News to criticise Al Gore's dual-taking of the Nobel Peace Prize. Spinwatch also has more.