UKIP offers Thatcherism on steroids, with a dash of Weimar
UKIP has managed to elected a leader who is arguably to the right of Nigel Farage.
Paul Nuttall of the UKIPs convinced 62 per cent of the party’s 25,000 selectors that he was the man for the job. (For context, that’s five per cent of the 500,000 who voted in Labour’s leadership election.)
But how will his views play with the 3,900,000 people who voted UKIP in the 2015 general election, and with the wider public?
Nuttall has called for referendums on banning abortion and bringing back the death penalty, and has said ‘the very existence of the NHS stifles competition‘. If the first two might be popular with a voting minority, the latter ought to put Nuttall’s UKIP beyond the pale.
But as with Donald Trump – who Nuttall echoes today in promising to ‘put the Great back in Great Britain’ – we shouldn’t let the extreme nature of a leader’s comments distract us from his party’s policies, which would be a serious threat whomever was elected.
UKIP’s general election manifesto in 2015 was mocked for its picture of Nuttall posing in front of a photoshopped bookcase. But the real scandal was not the contents of the bookcase, but the contents of the manifesto. These include:
1. Tax cuts for the better off, with a tax giveaway even greater than the Tories have just announced. UKIP’s manifesto called for raising the threshold for the 40 per cent tax rate to £55,000, lifting the personal allowance to £13,000, and the abolition of inheritance tax.
UKIP’s ‘longer term aspiration’ was for cutting the top rate of tax to 40 per cent, and ‘restoring the personal allowance to those earning over £100,000’.
2. Ditching workers’ rights by repealing ‘Labour’s Human Rights legislation’, probably the Human Rights Act, and ‘amending’ the EU working time directive, ‘because it actively restricts the British work ethos and therefore our economy’.
3. Charges to use the NHS for thousands, restricting use of ‘non-urgent’ NHS services for ‘migrants’ who have lived and paid taxes in Britain for less than five years.
4. Welfare crackdown, with a lower benefit cap (i.e. less money for those in need), no child benefit to parents with more than two children who are ‘new claimants’, and no child benefit for parents who work and pay taxes in Britain but whose children live abroad.
5. Cuts to foreign aid from 0.7 to 0.2 per cent of GDP, and scrapping the Department for International Development, (along with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The Tories beat them to the latter).
6. Draconian immigration rules using visas, curbing welfare and housing rights, and introducing an ‘Australian-style points system’.
There’s more. Under ‘education’, (Nuttall was then education spokesman), UKIP came out against sex education for primary schools, as this ‘risks sexualising children’. UKIP would also let parents take their children out of sex ed classes.
Nuttall’s section backed grammar schools, free schools, and home schooling. It also said Ofsted should ensure schools promote ‘British values’ to combat extremism, and should stop ‘criticising widely-held Judeo-Christian beliefs’ – in other words, scrutinise Muslim schools, but not Christian or Jewish ones.
And might those ‘widely-held beliefs’ cover gay rights and women’s rights? I think I can guess, since Nuttall and UKIP oppose anti-discrimination laws.
These policies should speak louder than Nuttall’s words today. His party would enrich the wealthy and strip the vulnerable of their rights and protections, creating a more market-based society with a weaker social safety net in an all out assault on equality and justice. It offers Thatcherism on steroids with a dash of Weimar.
Under Nuttall, or any other leader, UKIP remains an enemy of working people, their rights and their welfare, and a friend of power and prejudice.
The left should never tire of pointing this out, of confronting UKIP leaders with its policies, and of speaking to voters about how they can really ‘take control’ of their lives.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.