Wednesday, 24 October 2018

UKIP on the mend?

UKIP have been in a troubled state since the EU referendum. After the resignation of Nigel Farage the party has experienced a succession of dud short term leaders. At one stage matters had so deteriorated that some were suggesting that the party should be wound up, since its main raison d’etre no longer existed following the vote to leave the EU. However, since new leader Gerard Batten has taken charge, UKIP once again seems to have gained a sense of purpose. So it is worth examining its current policies to see whether UKIP has anything worthwhile to offer.

UKIP has traditionally placed itself to the right of the Conservative Party. In theory this was a shrewd move, given the Tories infatuation with big business and surrender to political correctness, resulting in a significant proportion of the electorate effectively becoming disenfranchised. Yet it has to be recognised that the Tory party still manages to maintain a sizeable brand loyalty, aided by the first past the post electoral system which makes it difficult for new parties to gain a foothold.

UKIP’s interim 2018 manifesto gets off to a good start by declaring the intention to move in a ‘populist’ direction. This involves opposing ‘government from Brussels by the EU, open-border uncontrolled immigration, and imposing an alien politically correct cultural agenda’. They intend to ‘protect our freedom of speech and the right to speak our minds without fear of the politically correct thought-police knocking on our doors’. These are all matters which the Tories have conspicuously failed to address.

UKIP stands for the complete and total withdrawal from the European Union that the electorate voted for in the referendum. This will allow Britain outside the EU to become a more prosperous nation, regain control of its trade policy, free business from unnecessary regulation and regain control of agriculture and fishing. It will also mean that no more money will be paid to the EU, and that Britain will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

UKIP rightly point out that “mass uncontrolled immigration has been extremely damaging to Britain. We have imported cheap labour by the million. This not only exploits migrants but depresses the wages and living standards of those at the bottom end of the economic scale, and drives up property prices”. British governments have clearly failed to control immigration from outside the EU and so UKIP policy is that in the future it will be necessary that immigration for permanent settlement must be strictly limited. However, UKIP’s proposed ‘points system’ to control immigration may not be the best way forward, since it appears open ended. In comparison a ‘failure to train’ levy of at least £10,000 per annum on businesses for each immigrant they employ, would raise money and better achieve the objective.

UKIP rightly identifies that the current housing problem has largely been caused by uncontrolled immigration, declaring that the ‘supply of housing simply cannot keep up with demand. We cannot stabilise the housing problem until we have controlled immigration’. Attention is drawn to the unacceptable practice whereby overseas investors can buy up properties, particularly in London, and then keep them empty. Policies are proposed to significantly increase the rate of house building, although the use of ‘modular’ construction techniques seems questionable.

UKIP will reform education to ‘re-focus on teaching children the basics’ and encourage the building of new grammar schools. They will seek a wider range of different types of school to make ‘our secondary school system more responsive to the differing aptitudes, capabilities and speed of development of our children’. Sensible proposals for higher education include dropping the artificial 50% admissions target, and waiving tuition fees ‘in subjects vital to our national life’ such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

Some additional common sense measures proposed by UKIP are that they will end investigations into ‘hate crime’ and ensure that police ‘investigate real crimes against the person and property as a priority’. They will end involvement with the European Arrest Warrant and the one sided USA extradition treaty, replacing them with new treaties that ‘protect the fundamental rights of UK citizens under our laws’. UKIP will also scrap the Climate Change Act, end subsidies for renewable energy and ‘rejuvenate the coal industry’. So all in all UKIP would deliver a much needed radical change of direction in British politics for which they must be commended.

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