In light of the recent highlighting of a small number of UKIP misdemeanours in the national media over the last week, the following article went up on The Huffington Post from our North East MEP, Jonathan Arnott, earlier today. It lays out far better than I can what UKIP is really about….
In the media, we hear a lot about the 0.3% – those candidates for Ukip who’ve said or done stupid things, things which neither Ukip nor anyone else in the country would. They’ve had the oxygen of publicity for far too long. I want to talk about the 99.7%, about what we believe.
We’re the champions of democracy, the people who believe that if your MP is involved in a scandal you should, if you have enough support, be able to force a vote to remove them. We’re the people who put that into practice: when Douglas Carswell MP and Mark Reckless MP joined Ukip, both of them immediately put themselves before the voters in their constituencies and asked them to re-elect them. They did. But before Ukip came along, politicians who defected never bothered to consult the people that matter: you. We’re the people who want the public to be able to force politicians to listen through calling a referendum on key issues, to drag democracy kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
We’re the people who believe there’s a wider world out there, and that we should be part of it. We shouldn’t be part of yesterday’s club, looking only to a declining Europe when the globe is changing. We should be developing trade links internationally, with emerging markets like China and India. We should be helping the world’s poorest nations through trade – not through policies which send aid yet trample on their ability to develop their own economies.
And whilst we’re on the subject, our bloated foreign aid budget of £1billion a month has been going to Argentina, to countries with nuclear and space programmes, and even to countries in the G20. Ukip believes that aid should have a focus on relief from disaster rather than creating dependence. Humanitarian and other aid should be used quickly and efficiently; how many lives could have been saved from Ebola if the political will had been there sooner?
We’re the people who are sickened that hard-working people on the minimum wage are subject to Income Tax, and would raise the tax threshold so that no-one doing a standard working week on minimum wage would pay a penny piece. We’re the people who believe in tax simplification, the people who think the small business of today is the big business of tomorrow, the people who don’t believe that multinationals should be able to lobby for excessive legislation to give them a competitive advantages over the small businesses which just can’t cope with it.
We’re the people who want an energy policy that’s planned for the long term, not the short-termism where renewables are pushed before they’re competitive and prices spiral so that millions are in fuel poverty and many pensioners have to choose between heating and eating. We’re the ones who believe in developing technology on renewables, getting it to work properly and then introducing it.
We’re the people who are bitterly disappointed that so few children from working-class backgrounds make it to universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and who are committed to changing the education system to give everyone a real chance in life. We’re the people who believe in grammar schools – not the system of the 50s and 60s which saw underfunded secondary moderns fail young people, but a system where individual needs are taken into account and where proper vocational training is an option, allowing young people to learn skills and trades.
We’re the people who want us to take tougher action on crime, to keep our streets safe and – yes – because it’s actually in the best interests of those who might be tempted into a life of crime if a line is drawn in the sand and society makes it clear that repeat offending won’t be tolerated. We’re the people who believe you can have both punishment and rehabilitation in the same system, that you can protect the public and punish the criminal whilst giving them every opportunity to change their ways.
We’re the people who want to honour our Armed Forces who risk their lives in the service of this country, to make sure that those who have served long enough have a guaranteed job in civilian life when they come out. We’re the people who would offer our ex-servicemen who have suffered injuries or psychological trauma in the line of duty priority medical treatment. We abhor the fact that so many of our prison population are ex-Armed Forces: that shows just how poor care for our veterans really is. We’re the people for whom the Military Covenant is serious, not a gimmick.
We’re the people who want to safeguard our NHS, to oppose Labour’s private finance deals and to protect it from health tourism whereby those who haven’t paid into the system come to the UK to get something out. We’re the people who would scrap hospital car parking charges, which have become little more than a tax on the sick.
We’re the people who are in tune with public opinion on immigration. YouGov recently polled this issue in detail. 71% of people agree with immigration from those who are wealthy and bring money into the country; so do we if they improve our economy. 68% believe in allowing foreign students at our universities; so do we – but they must pay their way just as British students overseas do. 63% of people believe people with high education and skills should be allowed into the UK; so do we as long as those skills are needed in the British economy. For those coming to work in patient care in the NHS opinions are more split: 50% support this. In our view they must speak English well enough to do the job – and we want to train more medical staff here. We’re also worried that importing NHS staff from poorer countries can deprive those countries of much-needed workers.
By 48% to 38%, people believe we should help those fleeing war or persecution. We believe that we should do our fair share, but we also believe that international law should be respected – and that people should claim asylum in the first safe country they come to. That’s why we aren’t happy with the camps of potential immigrants at Calais seeking to sneak into the UK.
And just 13% believe that those with no skills and low education should be allowed to move to the UK. We side with the people here too; we’ve seen the problems that an unlimited supply of migrant labour from 27 other EU countries has had. We know that it causes wage compression and impacts on the ability of people to get a job. We’re the people who want a fair, ethical, colour-blind immigration policy which makes the right distinctions.
We’re the people who want to end British taxpayers’ money subsidising bullfighting, and to ban the cruelty that is the live export of animals. We’re the people who don’t want the UK interfering in foreign wars, or British soldiers dying in pursuit of unclear military objectives.
We’re the 99.7%. The soul of Ukip runs through us. You may or may not agree with us, but that’s what’s in our DNA. We are the beating heart of Ukip, the people offering a new way of doing politics. Don’t judge us on a tiny minority, judge us on the 99.7%.
Follow Jonathan Arnott on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JonathanArnott