It may be fully costed, but we're still looking at the same irrational UKIP
It was a smart tactic by UKIP today to publish independent analysis on the costing of their manifesto by CERB. They will claim that this makes them more serious, and more honest, than other parties. But the move was undermined by a horrible press conference in which journalists were booed and heckled by the audience; plus, the manifesto itself makes for rather interesting reading.
Here are five things we learned about UKIP today:
They are worried about classic cars
UKIP pledges ‘to help protect the enduring legacy of the motor industry and our classic and historic vehicles’.They will exempt vehicles over 25 years old from Vehicle Excise Duty.
You could be forgiven for wondering why this made it into the manifesto when maternity pay, for example, didn’t. But it has long been an issue close to the heart of UKIP deputy Paul Nuttall.
They want to abolish the Department for International Development
According to UKIP, ‘DFID has already shown itself to be wasteful and lacking in focus on aid outcomes, yet its budget has been protected from recent government cuts.’ They ‘see no reason to keep DFID running’ and plan to close it, merging its essential functions with the Foreign Office, as part of a drive to reduce overseas aid spending by £9bn.
There are certainly problems with DFID – the Committee for International Development found in its 2013/14 performance review that the Department needs to improve its forecasting – in 2013 it spent 40 per cent of its budget in November and December, whereas in 2009 the figure was only 22 per cent.
But getting rid of DFID is not the answer, even to UKIP’s problems; if Nigel Farage wants to get immigration down, he should be trying to ease the ‘push’ factor from other countries, not withdrawing assistance. We are facing some of the most difficult foreign policy situations in a generation, and the UK cannot simply cut itself off from the rest of the world.
Since 2000 UK aid has funded, among other things, the vaccination of 440 million children against preventable diseases and the immunisation of 2.5 billion children against polio. This achievement has been under the aegis of the UN’s 2015 development goals. We cannot simply withdraw from our international commitments. Furthermore, merging DFID’s functions with those of the Foreign Office would inevitably lead to a conflict of interest, and hesitations which would cost lives.
They think it is ‘time to get fracking’.
Classic car fan Nuttall is also a notorious climate change sceptic, and the manifesto contains many pledges which will dismay environmentalists. From ‘investing in coal’, to ‘supporting the development of shale gas’, UKIP’s policies reveal their wilful ignorance on environmental issues. They want to get rid of the EU Climate Change Act of 2008 because it is ‘rooted in EU folly; as always, their stance on the EU obscures all other considerations.
UKIP plan to ‘halt the decline of coal power stations and seek private funding to develop new, efficient plants’, flying in the face of scientific warnings that we already risk missing emissions targets. As with their plans for DFID, a UKIP government would mean isolating the UK from all its international responsibilities and commitments, failing to meet emissions targets and doing untold damage to our global relations.
How can Farage claim to lead a party of ethics when he wants to cut aid to countries facing natural disasters contributed to by emissions from the UK, whilst proposing that we continue with these damaging emissions?
They want to remove all languages but English from official documents.
UKIP say this is because they want people to integrate. Fine, but it can take years to learn English. This will deny people the right to understand the serious legal, medical, or financial decisions that affect them. This seems more than a little exploitative.
UKIP would probably say I am ashamed of being British, but as a country we are notorious for expecting other people to speak our language when we are abroad – and in most European countries at least, English translations are visible everywhere. Not returning the favour is one small step towards creating an image of a hostile, insular Britain that will ultimately look unattractive to students and investors as well as tourists.
Their immigration ideas are still arbitrary
Nigel Farage has long spoken in praise of the Australian-style points system, despite perpetual questions about how exactly he would design this system. Today it was laid out in the manifesto –
‘Work Visas will be issued to skilled and key workers under our Australian-style points based system.’
But this morning deputy chair Suzanne Evans told the Today programme that unskilled agricultural workers from Eastern Europe would be able to come and work here ‘if we needed them’. But we also need plumbers, builders, NHS staff…. so why are the numbers of these people being brought down?
The manifesto also says that people from all nations should be able to work, study and visit the UK ‘on a principle of strict non-discrimination.’ But UKIP will also repeal anti-discrimination laws, meaning that employers are allowed to favour British-born workers.
Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on TwitterLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.