Having read the UKIP manifesto, it’s clear that there is a frankly bewildering lack of detail in phrases such as ‘we will encourage’, ‘we will seek’ or ‘we will campaign.
But my favourite is ’we will aspire’. It’s obfuscation presented as plain talking. My earlier blog regarding political bingo, deals with this. Anyone can aspire to anything. The great thing about an aspiration is that it doesn’t commit you to anything. An aspiration is another, more grown-up word for a wish. Just imagine saying to an excited child on their birthday, “Now take a deep breath and remember when you blow out the candles to make an aspiration.”
Of course, it goes without saying – and so consequently needs saying – that any political party’s manifesto is likely to contain some morsels that are political scrag-end. But at least with the Tories, one kind of knows what a vote for them’ll mean. Admittedly, some won’t like it, but then they won’t vote for them. The same applies to Labour. But UKIP is the reverse political Ronseal; you don’t know if it’ll do what it says on the tin, precisely because you don’t know what it says on the tin.
So lets have a look at my top 5 UKIP manifesto madness’s shall we –there could easily have been more but I don’t want to bore you.
On education, their manifesto states,
“We will also rule that all parents must be made fully aware of the sex education teaching materials being used, before their children see it, and we will continue to respect their right to withdraw children from sex-education classes if they wish.”
Er… hang on? Which country has the one of the highest levels of teenage pregnancy in Europe? Wouldn’t it therefore make sense for them not to respect the right of parents, who due to some utterly spurious notion of freedom want to remove their children from sex education classes? Isn’t true freedom when one is free from someone else’s control?
(And no I won’t point out the glaringly obvious fact that it’s a bit late in the day for the parents to want to withdraw – it isn’t the horse that’s bolted!)
On the subject of the NHS – for which it condemns both the Labour and Conservatives for using it as ‘a political football’ – it says,
“Numerous EU Directives prevent medical institutions from operating in the best interests of patients. We will scrap the EU Working Time Directive which, by limiting working and training time to 48 hours in any one week, prevents medics learning essential new skills, putting patient care at risk.”
Er..hang on? It’s almost as if the EU is the Scooby-Do gang! “If it wasn’t for those pesky, meddling Europeans then we’d be able to make our junior doctors work until they were dead on their feet. Which is exactly what their patients would be.” Was anyone present at the royal birth suffering the tyrannical limit of working 48hrs? If it’s good enough for baldie and Barbie, then it’s good enough for us.
Whilst earlier on in the manifesto it says,
“We need to get tough on so-called ‘health-tourism.’ Every year the NHS spends up to £2 billion of UK taxpayers’ money treating those ineligible for free care.”
Er…hang on? ‘Up to £2 billion’ isn’t exact. Eye catching granted, but exact – not so much. According to the audit by the Department of Health from which this ‘up to £2 billion’ is plucked, the actual figure is between £1.5 billion and £1.9 billion. And if your thinking thats not much, do please bear in mind that a billion is a thousand million, meaning the tiny difference between £1.9 billion and £2 billion is £100 million.
On the subject of British culture, the manifesto says,
“UKIP will promote a unifying British culture, open to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. This is genuine inclusiveness.
Uphold freedom of speech within the law as a fundamental British value. We believe all ideas and beliefs should be open to discussion and scrutiny and we will challenge the ‘culture of offence’ as it risks shutting down free speech.”
Er…hang on? Didn’t Farage make a complaint to OFCOM concerning comments made on BBC1’s ‘Have I Got News For You’? So a satirical show broadcasts satirical comments and someone who’s appeared on the show as a panellist – Farage – complains. He didn’t complain when he was given prime time exposure on a flagship BBC1 programme. At a time when his media profile needed a boost. Funny that.
And also aren’t British values a rather nebulous concept. Much like ‘sense of humour’ and ‘quality of life’, as a concept its vagueness is its strength. Because everyone knows what is meant by it without the tiresome necessity of giving a specific definition of what it means, or more importantly, doesn’t mean.
On the subject of Heritage and Tourism – of which roughly a third of this part of the manifesto is devoted to measures to save public houses, clearly an issue dear to Nigel’s liver – it says they will.
“Oppose minimum pricing of alcohol and reverse plain paper packaging legislation for tobacco products. “
Er…hang on? Earlier on in the manifesto, when they were banging on about how much extra they’d spend on the NHS, they said,
“We will put an additional £3 billion a year into the NHS in England by the end of the parliament and make sure the money is spent on frontline patient care. We will provide the common sense,…”
Yet according to Pubic Health England, “The total annual cost to society of alcohol-related harm is estimated to be £21bn. The NHS incurs £3.5bn a year in costs related to alcohol. Few other health harms have such high overall costs when the impact on productivity and crime are included.”
So minimum pricing for alcohol isn’t such a bad idea.
“Most of the research in the field derives from estimates made back in 1991. Back then, smoking was said to cost the NHS £1.4-£1.7 billion a year (closer to £2-2.5 billion in today’s prices). Since then, other research has put the cost at £2.7 billion in 2005/6 (£3 billion today) and even as much as £5.2 billion 2005/6 (over £6 billion today).”And that was in 2013!
Again ALL party’s manifestos contain some details worthy of derision; it’s just that UKIP have managed to avoid any rigorous scrutiny until quite late in the day, when their populist appeal has forced both the Labour and the Conservative parties to move ever more to the right, in the hope it’ll garner them more votes. After all, that worked out well in the 1930’s for Germany.
In the spirit of the UKIP manifesto I may not’ve been totally honest when I said I’d only list my top 5.
THIS is by some margin my favourite UKIP manifesto pledge. In the section on housing they state,
“LOCAL HOMES FOR LOCAL PEOPLE
UKIP will encourage moves by local authorities to prioritise people with strong local connections when making housing allocations.”
Anyone else thinking of ‘The League of Gentlemen’, and the village of Royston Vasey with its ‘local shop for local people.’
UKIP is rather like Royston Vasey. Charmingly amusing from a distance, but the closer you get, the more one examines what it actually stands for, the more unsettling it becomes.