UKIP - a general election summary
This is the fifth in a series of weekly blog posts giving an overview of each of the main eight political parties' manifestos ahead of the General Election in May.
The UK Independence Party (UKIP) was set up in 1993 to campaign for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. That remains its core aim but it has a full range of other policies, with particular emphasis on cutting immigration. Nigel Farage led the party from 2006-9 and again from 2010 until present.
UKIPs main pledges are to introduce an Australian-style points policy, used to select migrants with the skills and attributes needed to work in the country - covering people from inside and outside the EU. Bring net immigration down to 50,000 people a year, create priority lanes for UK passport holders and increase UK border staff by 2,500. They also intend to introduce tougher English language tests for migrants seeking permanent residence and opt out of the Dublin treaty to allow the UK to return asylum seekers to other EU countries without considering their claim. This said anyone who currently has the legal right to live, work, or study in the UK would not face deportation in the event of the country's withdrawal from the EU.
UKIP have caused much controversy on the lead up to the general election and have even spurred the creation of mockumentaries showing a dismal Britain governed by the party. Below we have summarised in more detail some of their pledges surrounding the Economy, Healthcare, Education and the Environment, much of which you probably haven’t heard amidst the hype around immigration and the EU.
UKIP’s flagship policies appear to be to cut taxes: they’d like to cut the top rate of tax from 45p to 40p, increase the personal allowance further and to abolish inheritance tax. To be fair, unlike the Conservative Party, who have a similar wish list, UKIP have been more specific on where at least some of the money to fund these tax cuts would come from: ending almost all development aid and withdrawing from the EU.
UKIP will challenge Labour on its key battleground of health, repeating a pledge to invest £3bn more on NHS frontline services and will target elderly Conservative supporters by promising to increase funding for elderly social care to £1bn per year.
UKIP’s policy on education is indeed very clear and very distinct from that of other parties. They want to bring back grammar schools (and presumably, a “secondary modern”) in every town, something Nigel Farage claims would be good for “social mobility”. The net effect of this however would most likely disadvantage poor children and help those who are from wealthy backgrounds.
The party's official energy policy document, which was published last September, draws attention to the EU's target for generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and attacks the government for promoting wind turbines to meet it because "the net reductions in CO2 emissions are trivial or zero”. Also and most bizarrely, the energy policy document includes a section dedicated to unadulterated denial of the science of climate change.
While UKIP are seen by many as a racist, one issue party, their broad range of populist policies are likely to appeal to many and stand them in worryingly good stead in the run up to May 7th.