Ukip may be sailing towards first place in the European elections, but Nigel Farage unwittingly revealed today how the party is still a long way from becoming a mature political movement. During his interview on the Sunday Politics, Farage didn’t seem to know what was in Ukip’s local election manifesto — in particular whether the party was promising to make any spending cuts. This is a transcript of what he said:
Andrew Neil: You have promised these tax cuts, how much will they cost?
Nigel Farage: No idea. I’m not here to talk about, I’ve read the local election manifesto and it doesn’t make those promises.
AN: It does
NF: We do talk about local services, we do talk about the need to keep council tax down but we don’t talk about income tax. Absolutely not.
AN: In local election campaigning you say you would restore cuts to policing, double prison places, restore cuts to front line NHS, spend more on roads, how much would that cost?
NF: You are obviously reading different documents to me.
AN: It’s your website not mine.
There is plenty proof in Ukip’s 2014 local election manifesto (pdf here) that Farage is wrong about a lack of cuts. Although it’s unlikely the Ukip leader is against the policies in the document, he is wrong in saying it is devoid of specific commitments. Some examples:
- NHS cuts: ‘Oppose health tourism and cuts to front-line doctors, surgeons, dentists and nurses’ (pg 9)
- Policing cuts: ‘Keep real police officers on the beat and stop the scrapping of front-line police jobs’ (pg 10)
- Road spending: ‘Upgrade public transport, especially maintaining and reinstating rural bus routes that many communities depend on and which feed town-centre businesses and markets. Increase provision of free parking to regenerate town centres and boost business’ (pg 9)
- Business tax: ‘Reduce tax and business costs to stimulate the local economy’ (pg 9)
- Council tax: ‘Council tax should be as low as possible’ (pg 4)
- Fuel duty: front page of the local election manifesto states ‘Fighting Fuel Poverty’
Although such things as your own manifesto tend not to matter as much in local and European elections, they will certainly come into play for next year’s general election. Nigel Farage may be able to blag his way into first place by being evasive and capitalising on the high levels of antipathy towards politics, standing for Parliament may require a more serious, and less contradictory, approach.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.