Last week Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, distanced himself from the Ukip 2010 manifesto, which he stood on in Buckingham constituency in the General Election. Mr Farage also allegedly wrote parts of the manifesto. Which is an interesting claim bearing in mind that he also announced that he had never read it before. Which no only puts the manifesto into question but also if Mr Farage has lied about either reading or writing the manifesto.
These claims came out last week on the BBC’s flagship politics show, the Daily Politics, where he said he hadn’t read it. And on LBC where he wrote it off as ‘drivel’ and announced that it had been scrapped 16 months ago in favour of a new one.
In light of this I have decided to explore what was in the 2010 manifesto and compare it to what Ukip policy is now. The results are very surprising.
It’s commonly known that Ukip’s 2010 manifesto has a £13bn hole in it. This may be due the confusing nature of their economic policy. On the surface it seems to be very liberal and in many respects libertarian. But as you dig into it you begin to see that it’s far more protectionist and state orientated.
This is interesting as the manifesto points out that they “Recognise the dangerous levels of national debt and accept there is no alternative to major cuts in government spending.”
Take for example the 10 year “Defense equipment program” that would spend an additional £4bn on defense. Which would be added to the £8bn that was already being spent at the time. This would be part of a proposed 40% increase in the defense budget. Ukip proposed creating new jobs by expanding the army up to 25% and doubling the size of the Territorial Army. They also desired to spend more on military research and expand contracts to UK defense companies. In effect they were advocating a UK version of the US Military Industrial Complex.
Other big spending projects aimed at creating jobs include a proposal for £30bn to be spent on flood defenses. And a prison building program “structured so that British manufacturing firms are placed to win a substantial share of the systems and components work.” It seems that all of these projects are biased towards British firms. Including their plans for new infrastructure. In fact infrastructure spending is where one of the most surprising items on their manifesto is, two brand new High Speed Rail networks. The networks that they proposed are almost identical to those of HS2 which they have opposed quite staunchly for the last few months.
However not all of their proposals on the economy are that bad. For example they pledged to remove red tape and EU directives to allow businesses to grow. They proposed a flat rate of income tax for people earning over £11,500. Ukip also wanted to lift anyone who receives a certain amount of money from the state out of tax to prevent the money needlessly flowing round in circles. Other proposals would see VAT replaced with a “Local Sales Tax” that went directly to local councils so that they had a source of income that would allow them to scrap council taxes. And of course they wanted to scrap inheritance tax, and separate High Street and Investment banking. Many of these proposals are, in economic terms, quite sound.
However when it comes to banking policy it seems as though they have been borrowing from US politics again. They propose making the Bank of England the regulator of all UK Banks. In effect creating a Federal Reserve type system.
Ukip’s economic policy now is a bit more ambiguous. We haven’t really been told much about it other than off the cuff remarks in Newspaper opinion sections or on BBC Question Time.
We know that Ukip want to keep the Flat Tax as proposed by Godfrey Bloom. We also know that they want to cut our foreign aid contributions, which would again save us a great deal of money. But beyond that we know very little.
In terms of infrastructure we know that they’ve changed their views on High Speed Rail. But that they maintain their stance on Nuclear Energy. They also seemingly support the Fracking Movement, which is a step in the right direction.
However I fear that their new manifesto may see a further lurch towards protectionism. Certainly in a debate I had with Roger Helmer MEP, on Twitter, he seemed to suggest that the party would work to promote home goods over foreign ones by putting higher tariffs on foreign goods coming into the UK. In fact he, and many party activists, seem to believe that for the UK to survive outside of the EU that we much become self reliant when it comes to food and other goods. So much for the libertarian party that wants to “trade with the world”.
SOCIAL ISSUES 2010:
All that can be said to introduce this section is, if you thought that their economic policies were quite far to the right “You ain’t seen nothing yet”.
The biggest of the social issues that UKIP addresses is Immigration. Of course they are still known as the party that wants to stop all immigration to the UK. In their 2010 manifesto they proposed making overstaying a deportable offence. Checking in depth if people who were marrying foreigners are actually getting married for love. And counting people in and out of the country, including UK citizens. This would be enforced by, once again expanding the state, hiring 20,000 new border staff.
In terms of constitutional policies they wanted to introduce referendums on any policy, provided 5% of the population want it. As well as introducing directly elected PCCs, Education and Health Boards. They also supported the recall elections for MPs. Both are arguably quite good policies but then it gets a bit odd.
“Oppose disestablishment of the Church of England” and “Recognise the numerous threats to British identity and culture.” As well a pledge to “Safeguard British weights and measures…” Not to mention the proposed Burqa Ban to “Tackle Extremist Islam”. And to top it all off they want to create a “Commonwealth Day” and make St Georges Day a national holiday. It’s all rather reminiscent of BNP policy not too long ago.
On welfare they seem to have been quite sensible. They suggested removing people on benefits from Tax and lowering the amount they receive. They also want to reserve welfare for UK citizens only.
In terms of Healthcare they wanted to introduce a voucher system to allow people to go private and to try and stimulate competition between the NHS and private companies. The same voucher system also exists for schooling.
With regards to healthcare and education, Ukip don’t really differ from the Conservative party. They also proposed Free Schools and teachers learning on the job.
SOCIAL ISSUES Now:
The biggest change since 2010 is obviously they introduction of the Marriage Act (Equality) that passed though the both the Commons and Lords last year. UKIP had no stance on this in till the bill was introduced. At which point they took the populist Right view to oppose it.
Other than we again don’t know very much about their social policy. Although their stance on crime and punishment is still the same. “Life must mean life” in terms of prison sentences. And of course the anti-Islam, anti-Immigration sentiments still exist within the party; which was best exemplified when Nigel Farage said that we should open up to asylum seekers, to receive a storm of messages on Social Networking sites from core support who don’t want them in the UK.
They also, quite rightly, still defend their anti-PC and pro-meritocratic vision for the UK.
FOREIGN POLICY 2010:
Foreign Policy in the 2010 manifesto wasn’t a very long section. In short it spoke of leaving the EU, of course, regaining our seat at the WTO and setting up a Commonwealth Free Trade Area (CFTA). As well as actively perusing trade with other trade blocs and Free Trade Agreements.
In terms of treatment of Asylum seekers and refugees from abroad they proposed setting up, for lack of a better word, detention centers. These would hold asylum seekers and judge wither or not they should enter the UK or in some cases just hold them in till the troubles in their own countries are sorted. Possibly one of the most alarming policies in the manifesto it ignores the facts that many people may not ever be able to return to their home countries as well being a potential black hole for state funds.
A final point on their 2010 Foreign Policy is that they claim to want to support “genuine human rights”. They give the example of the Free Tibet movement.
FOREIGN POLICY Now:
Well we found out last year that UKIP are anti-war. A move that reflects the public’s opinion well, as well as having a sensible non-interventionist justification. However Ukip still seem to believe that we need a much larger armed force.
But of course one thing hasn’t changed in terms of their foreign policy. They still want us to leave the EU. And quite right too.
The only conclusion available is that the changes between 2010 and now are what most politicos already know. As Ukip have become more popular they have shifted further towards right wing and reactionary principles. They have become less about freedom and free trade and more about building the state up in its more authoritarian areas (Army, Police and Justice) as well as abandoning principles of Free Trade.
2014 will no doubt give us a taste of what UKIP wants to put in its 2015 manifesto and it will no doubt be even more hard line than their 2010 as they aim to make themselves look different to the other main parties, and as they continue to try and bait defectors from the other parties.
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