For British voters who believe in the wisdom of small government and personal freedom – as well as those who believe that the British people are capable of achieving so much more than angrily lobbying for endless new perks and benefits from the state – the 2015 general election campaign thus far has been a dreary, depressing spectacle.
But in Thurrock today, the United Kingdom Independence Party gave what was perhaps their most convincing pitch to voters thus far, with the launch of their 2015 general election manifesto, entitled “Believe in Britain”.
This blog wholeheartedly concurs with the introduction to UKIP’s manifesto, in which Suzanne Evans (Deputy Chairman, Policy) bemoans the remarkable lack of optimism and faith in Britain now evident, to some degree, in all of the other political parties:
If only all politicians could believe in Britain as UKIP does. If only they could share our positive vision of Britain as a proud, independent sovereign nation, a country respected on the world stage, a major player in global trade, with influence and authority when it comes to tackling the pressing international issues of the day.
And on issue after issue, UKIP are making themselves an increasingly plausible, reasonable choice for liberty-minded voters to make when they vote on 7 May.
On fiscal policy, UKIP advocate a flatter, less redistributionist tax structure which puts the Conservatives to shame:
The longer term aspiration of a UKIP government will be to create an income tax structure of a basic rate of 20 per cent, an intermediate rate of 30 per cent, and a top rate of 40 per cent, meaning income taxes will be flatter and lower. Bringing down taxes on working people at the bottom and in the middle ranges of the income scale is our priority. In the longer term, we will aim to restore the personal allowance to those earning over £100,000 and make 40 per cent the top rate of tax for all, as it used to be.
On defence, UKIP can now make a plausible claim to be the new natural party of the Armed Forces, showing a commitment both to our veterans and to the robust defence Britain’s national interests that make the other parties – who have treated the Defence budget as a piggy bank to be raided to fund fuzzy electoral bribes, rather than the most sacred function of a nation state – look opportunistic and immature by comparison:
On the basis that the current base level of defence spending is maintained after 2015/16 at 1.9 per cent, UKIP will increase the defence budget to meet our obligations to NATO and spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence in 2015/16. We will exceed it substantially for the remaining years of the parliament.
We will rebuild our Armed Forces and restore them to their rightful place among the most professional, flexible and effective fighting forces in the world, able to meet the security demands of the modern era and react appropriately to any threat that the UK faces both now and in the future.
But it is on the question of Europe where UKIP’s true strength lies. Finally, Nigel Farage’s party has come to realise that “banging on about Europe” as a standalone issue is not an effective vote-winner among the general public.
It is only when clear lines are drawn between Britain’s entanglement in the European Union and our inability to pursue our own national interests on a range of important issues – from business regulation and healthcare to the tampon tax and immigration – that UKIP’s ideological opposition to everything that the EU stands for can pay electoral dividends. And the 2015 manifesto makes a strong effort to do just that:
The tentacles of the EU stretch into almost every area of our national life. The EU has complete control over British financial services, fishing, farming, energy and trade.
It dictates UK business and employment legislation and immigration rules. It seeks greater control over our law enforcement services, our foreign affairs and tax policy. There is significant momentum behind plans for a EU-wide army and police force. The EU ‘shares’ responsibility with us for many other policy areas, including animal welfare, consumer protection, public health, space programmes, social policy, humanitarian aid and vocational training, to mention but a few.
On these and many other issues, our elected Westminster politicians are impotent. They pretend to have the power to influence these matters, but actually they have none.
And so it is. Even now, David Cameron and the Conservative Party are deceiving the British people by maintaining a commitment to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”, despite knowing full well that the only way to achieve this while locked into the EU’s open borders is to tank the UK economy to such an extent that Britain ceases to be an attractive destination for economic migrants. Whether or not you believe in the benefits of migration – and this blog, together with UKIP, believes that managed migration is a great benefit to Britain – nobody else is willing to tell the British public the truth on the issue of immigration.
Of course, it was not all smooth sailing in Thurrock. The establishment’s continued reservations – verging on blind panic – about UKIP were given voice and a presence in the form of Telegraph journalist Christopher Hope and his smarmy question about the lack of black faces in the UKIP manifesto:
Is the lack of women and ethnic minorities in British politics a serious concern? Absolutely. But it is a problem which affects all political parties, even the oldest and most established parties like Labour and the Conservatives. Minority representation is also an issue which afflicts the journalistic profession – one could just as easily have asked how many members of the press pack that descended on Thurrock for the UKIP manifesto launch were non-white (or “BAME”, to use the preferred lingo du jour). Is the Daily Telegraph and travelling press pack racist, too?
Would those people who encouraged the Daily Telegraph in their ridiculous posturing prefer that UKIP artificially cram their ranks with ethnic minority people in the same way that the Labour Party crams its front bench with women at PMQs? Sadly, the probable answer is yes – because to the politically correct grievance merchants policing British discourse, this isn’t really about checking white privilege and ensuring fairer representation. It’s all about being seen to care, and to be recorded saying the right thing. Words and pictures, not deeds.
But putting aside the posturing and misrepresentation by some quarters of the national media, there are many reasons for supporters of small government and personal freedom to be cheerful today.
UKIP’s main problem throughout their rise has been one of credibility – navigating the difficult path from being a popular protest party to a slick offering capable of attracting votes in a general election. Wavering UKIP supporters still have to wrestle with the dilemma of whether a vote for UKIP is a “wasted vote” in their local constituency, as well as potential real-world reputational issues, since some on the left are determined to falsely equate euroscepticism with racism, and the belief in small government with a callous indifference to the plight of the weakest in our society. With the successful launch of their manifesto today, UKIP have met one of the main challenges in their quest to be taken seriously.
The UKIP manifesto asks voters quite simply to “Believe in Britain“. And when the alternatives are Labour, who want us all to believe in the state, the Conservatives with their rather Orwellian, cradle-to-grave “plan for every stage of your life”, the Liberal Democrats with their promise to eradicate conviction from politics once and for all, or the Green Party with their blind, unthinking hatred of personal independence and success, who can honestly say that UKIP is not the more reasonable party, deserving of every respect and consideration?
The latest batch of polls may show Nigel Farage struggling to win his seat in South Thanet and UKIP’s support dipping from the heady heights of last autumn, but today marks the day when the United Kingdom Independence Party truly came of age as a compelling – and in many ways, appealing – political force.
The UKIP manifesto can be downloaded here: