The British General Election VII: UKIP

1. Home Affairs

A. Taxes and Economy:  Abolish inheritance tax and introduce a 35% income tax rate between £42,285 and £55,000 (then increasing to 40%). Set up a Treasury Commission to design a turnover tax on large businesses. Cut foreign aid budget by £9bn a year. Scrap HS2. Save £8bn a year in membership fees by leaving the EU. Lower the VAT rate charged on restorations to listed buildings.

UKIP actually proposes what the Lib Dems have been talking about – a mixture of cuts and increases in tax. As a policy, this makes good sense. It shows a willingness to make tough decisions, whilst showing a willingness to concede. The problem with how they have billed this is that they have pitched the cuts as pure savings – but the costs of leaving the EU are never once mentioned. As a party contending to be taken seriously, this is problematic. Moreover, the abolishing of inheritance tax is an extremely right-wing stance, which is potentially fatal for any coalition other than with the Tories. The turnover of businesses is a smart policy – it is counterintuitive because it presumably will require business to be headquartered in the UK for the law to have  jurisdiction. Having to pay a tax seem a good incentive to change HQ.

B. The NHS: An extra £3bn per year in NHS funding paid for by quitting the EU and through “middle management” cuts. Keep NHS free at the point of delivery. Stop any further use of PFI, and encourage local authorities to buy out their PFI contracts early where it is affordable to do so. Ensure all visitors and migrants who have been here for fewer than five years have NHS-approved medical insurance as a condition of entry to UK, with £200m of the £2bn saved to be spent on ending hospital parking charges in England.

Middle management seems to be the great whipping horse of these general elections: the Tories claim to have struck it over the last five years, whilst the SNP are saying they did not go far enough. Although they also have joined on the bandwagon claiming to protect the NHS, it seems difficult to accept considering they have moved for the scrapping of the traditionally aesthetically viewed gastric band and breast enhancement operations – but there has been no indication as to whether those required for medical reasons will be preserved.

C. Jobs: Allow firms to offer jobs to British workers first “without the fear of being sued for discrimination”.

At first glance, it seems something that cannot be done without being outside of the EU. Indeed, this seems to be the sentiment which runs through the majority of the UKIP manifesto: make claims which can only be satisfied by the removal of Britain from the EU. Discrimination however, is objectionable at common law too.

D. Education: More grammar schools. Scrap sex education for children aged under seven. Scrap tuition fees for students from poorer backgrounds who take degree courses in the sciences, technology, maths or engineering. Allow universities to charge same amount for EU students as non-EU students.

Alternative routes into work are great selling points because of the appeal they have to current generations of students who are suffering from the breakdown of the “traditional” routes. However, it is not clear that there will be much choice under UKIP if they remove tuition fees for students with lower social-economic indicators. University has been found to be a powerful platform to equalise those who go in with vast differences.  It is difficult to see how restricting this will have an overall net benefit.

E. Law and Order: Repeal Human Rights Act and replace it with UK Bill of Rights. Withdraw from European Arrest Warrant. No votes for prisoners. Those jailed for offences affecting their community should be banned from returning to live in the area, as a condition of their release. “Complete overhaul” of police taking into account “best practice from other countries”.

Introducing a UK Bill of Rights would be largely unnecessary – it would either mirror existing common law rights, or it would introduce more rights in which case it wold simply mirror the Human Rights Act. Banning offenders from returning to the areas in which they committed crimes is something that is being trialled in America – but where it has been successful, it seems to be because the crimes were gang-based or otherwise related to the society. Again, it seems that a policy of UKIP is prima facie incompatible with Europe. Some may have noted the decision of the European Court of Justice in Hirst v United Kingdom [2005] which found that a blanket ban on prisoner’s voting right is incompatible with membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet the judgement allowed a very large loophole: a graduate ban would be permissible. This was because removing the right to vote is permissible – as long as it is article 3 of the first protocol (of the ECHR) compliant, which a blanket ban is not.

2. Foreign Affairs.

A. Immigration: Introduce an Australian-style points policy, used to select migrants with the skills and attributes needed to work in the country – covering people from inside and outside the EU. Tougher English language tests for migrants seeking permanent residence. Anyone who currently has the legal right to live, work, or study in the UK would not face deportation in the event of the country’s withdrawal from the EU.

Whilst the Australian points system is an attractive proposition for those who argue that immigration should be selected for exactly the kind wanted by the government. Firstly, it should be understood that the Australian system was always designed to combat the threat of illegal immigrants. Arguably, this is not the principle threat to the UK.   Secondly, it should also be highlight that this position requires subscription to the belief that there will be the types of people whom the government want to come, who will apply – instead of turning to possibly less attractive but easier to get into countries – which will be massively easier given the continued existence of the EU. The UK, unlike Australia, is surrounded by equals in the sense that standards of living are largely high across the EU. Australia is instead largely isolated in its high standard of living in the area, which consequently attracts a greater portion of the regions migrants.

B. EU: Leave the European Union. Remove the passports of any person who has gone to fight for a terrorist organisation and deport anyone who has committed a terrorist act. Cut foreign aid budget by £9bn. Create a Veterans Department to look after the interests of ex-service men and women.

As with much of the manifesto, UKIP would have done better to focus on the national rather than the international. Instead of putting the ideological aim of leaving the EU first, they should start with the benefits. As it is, their case has repeatedly been rejected because there seems to be no engagement with the fundamental question of net benefits of removing. The Tories seem infinitely more mature in proposing a referendum.

A sound economic policy, not least underlined by substantial cuts to the things that most people see affecting them least (foreign budgets) is a smart move. But this broadly what the Tories are proposing. The real area of distinction is the anti-European stance. As has been argued elsewhere and by more able people however, the MEP elections in 2014 should not be read as being an open and shut case for the party. The results were consistent with the rise of “anti-Brussels diktat” rhetoric which could be seen in other countries. It might be expanded that this is a classic use of a controversial case, to an a non-specialist audience, to have a powerful impact. As has been noted, how correct this is should be doubted.

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5 thoughts on “The British General Election VII: UKIP

  1. Very interesting, and informative. They have smartened up their presentation, but to what extent can a party that came up with a self-confessed ‘drivel’ of a manifesto in 2010 be taken seriously on these matters? They appeal to some basic sentiments of a section of the UK population.

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    • Thank you for your comment. I think that they have come on in leaps and bounds. To some extent I think that it should be recognise that they have dealt well with their growth. Ultimately however, I would argue that they have not outstripped their “adversarial position” in British politics and this does come through. There has been some great coverage about how their media image is focused on pretending they are from the outside.

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  2. More surveillance, censorship and fewer Snowden’s please!!!

    I’m surprised you did not mention the ‘increased intelligence capability’ (p.65) of the ukip manifesto. I asked Patrick O’ Flynn about this, I said in light of the Snowden case, I thought we needed more Edward Snowden’s, more open government, less surveillance. Patrick O’ Flynn said we needed ‘fewer Snowdens’, (reported by Richard Taylor) because of ‘national security’ threats. Never mind that most government’s role out the all too convenient excuse of ‘national security’ to censor public interest, inconvenient truths. So much for change then!!

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    • Unfortunately, O’Flynn is not coming to the hustings debate in Cambridge – so you cannot quiz him! I think you raise a good point though: discussions as to national security are woefully lacking in the run up to elections.

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