The UKIP leader just can't make up his mind about caps
On the Today programme this morning, Nigel Farage was asked by Mishal Husein whether he was now finding things slightly harder than he had anticipated. UKIP have dipped in the polls and their ascendancy seems to have stalled a little.
Farage seemed confident that he could get back on track by encouraging those who didn’t turn out at the last election to vote for his party – because of the ‘distinctive’ policies it offers.
But Nigel Farage does have a daunting couple of weeks ahead. Having been named a ‘major’ party by Ofcom, he will find his policies scrutinised as never before.
And as this morning showed, he still can’t give straight answers on his plans for immigration, the issue that he is best known for:
The UKIP leader has already flip-flopped several times over the question of immigration caps. At the beginning of March, also on the Today programme, he axed a proposed migration cap of 50,000, saying that greater flexibility was needed.
He told Husain today that caps were ‘ludicrous’ and that UKIP were instead aiming for targets – but was unable to explain to her what the difference was.
Later in the interview, Husain pointed out that the Australian system, frequently cited as the ideal by Farage, does have a cap in place alongside its skills-based system.
“Do you accept the idea that …if you want the Australian system you need a cap as well?”
Farage then feigned confusion, saying that he thought the question had been about net migration – although Husain had been clear throughout – and agreed that a cap on people coming in was needed – it should be ‘below 50,000’.
On skilled workers
Farage described a ‘flood’ of minimum wage workers coming to the UK, turning the NMW from a ‘floor’ into a ‘ceiling’. Again lauding the Australian points-based system, Farage was asked to define a skilled worker.
MH: “Is a carpenter a skilled worker?”
NF: “Yes he is.”
MH: “Is a plasterer a skilled worker?”
MH: “An electrician?”
NF: “[PAUSE] Yes.”
Husain pointed out that many of these jobs are done by migrants from Eastern Europe. Suddenly Farage’s argument changed; these workers, who he had to admit were defined as skilled, were ‘undercutting’ British workers, and ‘not always up to the same levels of quality’.
On children’s safety
Earlier this week Mr Farage said that, thanks to immigration, people now feel so ill at ease in their communities that they do not want to let their children play in the street.
“I want to live in a community where our kids play football in the streets of an evening and live in a society that is at ease with itself.”
When asked about this today, he said that segregated communities had stopped children playing in the street. He said that in towns like Peterborough and Boston, children no longer played in the street because certain quarters had been ‘taken over’.
Husein asked him:
“Isn’t it the fact that you don’t see children playing in the street much anywhere in the country is because times have changed, people worry about safety and stranger danger?”
Mr Farage responded: “Well that’s a slightly separate question.”
Mr Farage also refused to answer questions about the recent conduct of his party members – David Coburn, Kerry Smith, Janice Atkinson and Jeremy Zeid to name a few – and accused the BBC of bias in their coverage of scandals in his party.
‘Clearly the Janice Atkinson thing was a problem’, Mr Farage said – acknowledging the only issue which was not based on racist or homophobic comments.
Mr Farage said that the problem was with Conservative defectors, and that the media was unfair in its coverage of his own party’s slip-ups.
But over the next month, the UKIP leader will have to get used to these kinds of questions – and prepare some straight answers about why his party continues to attract racist, xenophobic and homophobic candidates.
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.