In an age when many politicians are criticised for not having distinct opinions, it seems Geoffrey Clark has them in abundance.
Until yesterday, he was the UKIP candidate for a brace of forthcoming local elections to Gravesham borough council and Kent county council.
In fact so plentiful are his opinions that Mr Clark produced his very own personal manifesto for his campaign. Alas, the opinions verge from the right-wing to the very-right-wing.
At the more moderate end, Mr Clark wants to introduce grammar schools “everywhere”, remove benefits from people having more than two children and cut overseas aid from countries with growing populations (“we must attack them for their wantonness”).
So far, so right-wing.
But his big message is that there should be a “serious national debate” about “service levels in the NHS” to address affordability and help cut the “national debt”.
Remove “disproportionately costly” treatment from the over-80s, “giving free euthanasia advice to all folk over 80 years of age, and indeed to all others”.
He also wants a “national referendum about these pressing matters” although he doesn’t elaborate about whether removing walking sticks and hearing aids features in his plan. Or how exactly we are to dispose of unwanted elderly people.
“Other items for review”, according to Mr Clark, include “ceasing all free IVF treatment on the NHS” and, last but not least, the policy suggestion which landed him in so much trouble yesterday:
“…compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Downs, Spina Bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family.”
His disclaimer says:
“To avoid confusion and misrepresentation I do not, and UKIP does not, endorse any of these ideas: they are suggestions of matters for the review body to properly consider…”
So that’s ok then. The slaughter of pensioners and forced abortion of disabled foetuses will at least go before a “review body” first.
The extremism of Mr Clark’s tirade has drawn criticism from across the political landscape – some of it from an unexpected quarter. His Final Solution for Down’s babies drew perhaps harshest criticism from… BNP leader Nick Griffin.
He was scathing:
“The proposal is more than anything a slap in the face to the thousands of parents who have made the decision to keep and love handicapped children.
“It shows how, despite the efforts of the BBC to portray UKIP as moderate and respectable, Nigel Farage’s international safety valve remains a haven for cranks and real extremists.
“It also highlights the extent to which UKIP is a party in which Christian values and basic human compassion do not appear to have a place.”
To quote Nick Griffin as a voice of moderation may be a through-the-looking-glass experience, but necessary too in order to show just how normalised UKIP has become. If Nick Griffin has the moral high ground then you are in trouble.
Predictably, Mr Clark was cast to the wind yesterday; a sure sign that UKIP is getting serious as it hit its highest level of popular support – 9 per cent – in a ComRes poll. But this episode serves to remind people that behind Nigel Farage’s jaunty Euro-bashing lies some truly noxious elements.
Indeed, as Mr Clark says:
“Many voters still believe we are the BNP in disguise, are extremists, madmen or dotty.”
Now why ever would they think that?
• UKIP’s supporters are closer to the BNP than Farage would have us believe – March 12th, 2012
• Progressive politics and the purple peril: The rise of UKIP – April 17th, 2011
• The new BNP? UKIP stands by racist PPC – April 9th, 2010