Issues & Ideas, Need to Know, The Parties | 15th April 2015

Ukip manifesto launch: out with the “drivel”, in with the “serious”?

Ukip is launching its manifesto, but there is confusion about some of its policies.

Photo: Getty

By

Ukip is launching its manifesto, which it claims contains “serious, fully-costed policies”.

Its last effort, dismissed as “drivel” by Nigel Farage, included a number of enjoyable proposals such as returning the London Underground’s Circle Line to going around in a circle, restoring the original larger size of British passports, “proper dress” for the theatre, and a dress code for taxi drivers.

In contrast, the top lines of its new programme for government are:

  • A referendum as soon as possible on Britain’s EU membership
  • Controls on immigration, and the introduction of a points-based system
  • Power for voters to recall MPs
  • An extra £3bn funding a year for the NHS
  • No tax on the minimum wage
  • 6,000 new jobs for armed forces veterans in the police force, prison service, and the UK border
  • Cutting the international development budget by £9bn
  • Removing stamp duty from the first £250,000 of new houses built on brownfield sites
  • Business rate cuts for small businesses

A manifesto with Ukip’s core values at its heart. But it has already been plagued by confusion. The immigration cap has caused disagreement among Ukip’s high command.

Suzanne Evans, Ukip’s manifesto chief, revealed confusion about what constitutes skilled and unskilled migrants on the BBC’s Today programme this morning. She said that if gaps in the workforce are identified then farm labourers could come to the UK “if they are needed”.

This is in contrast to Ukip’s immigration spokesperson Steven Woolfe, who said the number of unskilled and low-skilled workers coming to this country would be “zero, ie. a moratorium, for five years”. Woolfe admitted on Sky News to a number of disagreements with Evans on Ukip’s immigration cap (which is supposed to limit skilled migrants to 50,000 a year, but not to put a cap on net migration).

Also, the Conservatives have been beavering away over the figures and point out that Ukip plans to fund 15 spending pledges with cuts to foreign aid, and calculate a “£37 billion black hole” in their spending plans.

Policy detail has never been Ukip’s forte. But nor has it been its problem. Voters don’t look to Ukip for a fiscally responsible, detailed policy plan. They look to Ukip for its tone. Its anti-Westminster establishment positioning and an anti-metropolitan elite ethos. And this all comes across very clearly in its new manifesto.