So, there you go. From the keyboard of UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn comes confirmation that his party are “the party of the working class now”. Labour, as most of us have known for some time now, have moved their focus onto that tabloid favourite, “Middle Britain”, and have left a void which UKIP now claim to inhabit.
But how have they done this? What issues have they addressed to make this claim to speak for the working classes? Well, surely the best place to look is the issues section of their website. After all, this will really show us what the party stand for and how they have grabbed the working class vote. Let’s have a look and discover their recipe for success, shall we?
They start with a general section about patriotism, sovereignty and “getting control of our borders”, all of which can, of course, be solved instantly by leaving the EU. This section doesn’t actually state how it’ll do that, so we need to read further to get to the really good stuff.
” A vote for UKIP is a vote to leave the EU and recover power over our national life.”
Right, so UKIP will pull us out of the EU, then? Despite their leaders constant pronouncements that they are the only party who will give us an in/out referendum (ignoring the Conservatives, Green Party and even the BNP saying that they all would)? So, is there a referendum or not? Unless they think that simply voting UKIP means you are voting to leave the EU (which would be like saying that a vote for the SNP means you want Scottish independence, which didn’t show to be totally true) then they are either promising a refendum, which won’t guarantee leaving the EU, or they will pull us out without asking us first. They’re either lying or they’re lying. Good start.
“Free trade, but not political union, with our European neighbours. We are the EU’s largest export market: they depend on us for jobs – not the other way around.”
Well, that last statement is an incredibly bold claim. There are an estimated three million jobs in the UK either directly or indirectly linked to exports to the EU. It’s impossible to say how many of these may be lost by leaving the EU, but to state that we don’t rely on them for jobs is utterly baseless. That’s before we even start on the 2.2 million UK nationals living in the EU. How would their residencies and, by extension jobs, be affected by pulling out? It’s a sweeping claim UKIP make which sounds punchy, but is hard to back up.
“Immigrants must financially support themselves and their dependents for 5 years. This means private health insurance (except emergency medical care), private education and private housing – they should pay into the pot before they take out of it.”
Let me put that another way. We will let people move to the UK from abroad, as long as they meet, as yet undefined, criteria to demonstrate that they will bring necessary skills, meaning that they will be contributing to both tax and National Insurance from day one. However, we will deny them access to any of the services their money is paying for for the first five years simply because they are not British. Nope, that doesn’t sound remotely unfair or xenophobic to me!!
” Proof of private health insurance must be a precondition for immigrants and tourists to enter the UK.”
Firstly, many countries do not have a need for you to have private medical insurance, so many who come here “with the right set of skills” would automatically be disqualified by this. Secondly, private medical insurance is beyond the reach of most people in this country, so what is being proposed is only allowing already fairly wealthy, probably upper middle class people into the UK. And, it’ll only be from relatively wealthy countries as many professions pay considerably more here than in, say, eastern Europe or Africa. An elitist policy only allowing a certain class of person from a certain class of country. But then, as Nigel Farage said when discussing Germany versus Romanian immigrants, “you know the difference”.
Not just immigrants, though. Tourists as well! One of the UK’s biggest industry is foreign tourism and UKIP are proposing strict conditions on who we allow into the country for a holiday! I can’t see that going down too well in tourist resorts such as Clacton, with its newly-elected UKIP MP.
“ Save £55m a day in membership fees by leaving the EU and give British workers first crack at the 800,000 jobs we currently advertise to EU workers.”
How much? £55 million per day? Well, that is possibly the gross figure, however it doesn’t come close to that amount when you factor in the money we get back from the EU in subsidies etc. After that, the figure is closer to £24 million, and that’s before we talk about the indirect benefit to the UK economy of being part of the free trade agreement with the rest of the EU. Yes, it still costs us, but if ukip can’t even be trusted to get their figures right then there’s a problem.
” Scrap HS2, all green taxes and wind turbine subsidies.”
Woah there, tiger! I’ve no problem with the HS2 policy, but scrapping green taxes and wind turbine subsidies? We are already too reliant on fossil fuels and nuclear energy, so UKIP, in their wisdom, want to take away initiatives aimed at increasing our use of clean, renewable energy sources. Then again, for a party with a history of climate change denial I guess this shouldn’t be a shock.
“Develop shale gas to reduce energy bills and free us from dependence on foreign oil and gas – place the tax revenues into a British Sovereign Wealth Fund.”
So, the idea is to reduce the amount of renewable initiatives and to replace them with fracking. Because, apparently, it is perfectly acceptable to replace one fossil fuel which requires drilling under the ground and nets millions for large corporations with another, only one which may also pollute our water supplies to boot.
“UKIP will abolish inheritance tax. Inheritance tax brings in under £4bn – less than a third of what we spend on foreign aid. The super-rich avoid it, while modest property owners get caught by it. It hits people during a time of grief and UKIP will budget in its 2015 spending plans to completely abolish this unfair death tax.”
The only mention of tax, other than the surprisingly reasonable policy of scrapping income tax on the minimum wage, is one which will, yet again, please the upper middle classes rather than the working classes. All those between minimum wage earners and the upper middle classes get precisely nothing. All those people that UKIP are now the party of are ignored where tax is concerned.
” Make cuts to foreign aid that are real and rigorous.”
Because all those foreigners can fend for themselves. Why should the UK, who built our economic position historically on stripping the poorer nations of natural and human resources whilst giving little or nothing back, help people who are in dire poverty due to our centuries of economic and foreign policy? Why should we try to help our fellow human being if they happen not to come from our small island? Why should we show basic compassion? Horrible, lefty idea.
” No votes for prisoners – that’s what losing your liberty means.”
” Scrap the European Arrest Warrant, which sends British citizens to foreign jails without evidence, just to answer questions – replace it with a proper extradition system.”
I can’t wait for the joy the first time we can’t get a foreign national accused of a crime here sent to the UK because there is no longer a European Arrest Warrant. It’s not my favourite legal mechanism, but the wording here suggests one way traffic against poor, innocent, decent British people, sent to dirty, evil foreign jails.
” Remove the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.”
Or, remove the main external control over the UK government where human rights are concerned. Unlike the Tories’ recent announcement, UKIP do not propose a replacement for the European Convention on Human Rights, which we would need to withdraw from in order to withdraw from the court.
” Prioritise social housing for people whose parents and grandparents were born locally.”
Hands up all those who no longer live anywhere near their parents’ birthplace. Yes, lots of us. My Mum was born in Tilbury and my Dad in Rugby. I now live in Falkirk. Oh dear! And, as my parents were in the RAF, I was born in Germany. So, how does that all work for me or my kids if any of us fall on hard times and need to go for social housing? Horrendously ill-thought out crap!
” Allow the creation of new grammar schools.”
Why? No, really, why? No benefits given. No expansion on it. Just creating new grammar schools. Give us a reason!
” Make welfare a safety net for the needy, not a bed for the lazy. Benefits only available to those who have lived here for over 5 years.”
Ah yes! The old ‘attack the welfare claimants’ line again. With no other identifiable policy other than one which erroneously suggests that the main issue is with, you guessed it, immigrants. Like a stuck record, only with no actual tune.
” No to Political Correctness – it stifles free speech.”
This is not a policy, it’s a populist soundbite. It tells you nothing. What is their definition of political correctness? How will there be “no more” of it? How does it “stifle free speech”? Does banning it stifle free speech itself? Why is being respectful to all, regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion or sexuality so bad? As I said, this says nothing at all about the means or ends. It’s purely weasel words from a bunch of weasels.
” The law of the land must apply to us all. We oppose any other system of law.”
It already does! What on earth is the point of this? Well, it’s that old tabloid fear of Sharia Law being combatted, despite it not being formally observed in the UK and the fact that UK (or Scottish) law applies to everybody!!
” Teach children positive messages and pride in their country. We want to unite through better integration.”
Again, how? And why? Is this meant to educate people’s culture of origin out of them? Are schools going to ignore the more shameful episodes in British history? This is propaganda being brought into our schools, plain and simple, and it is rather terrifying that it is the sort of thing which people buy into without thinking of the implications of it.
” UKIP is a patriotic party that believes in putting Britain first. Only UKIP will return self-government to the British people.”
This is the final line of the page, but what does it mean? Basically, isolation, xenophobia, propaganda, lies, empty promises, perks for the upper middle classes and big business, destruction of the environment, elitism and the destruction of the tourism industry.
That, it seems, is how UKIP speak for the working classes. Nothing on education, poverty, local investment, public transport, child care, cost of living, fair wages, benefits for working people or many of the other issues affecting real people. In other words, they don’t speak for working people. They speak for themselves and their own self interests.
I’ll leave you with these words from Michael Rosen and a plea to wake up and recognise these people for what they really are.