‘We need to have a domestic policy agenda that adds up’ — Nigel Farage said on the Daily Politics today. The Ukip leader aptly summed up, and proved, one of the main challenges for his party as they attempt to become a mature force.
Farage did his best to disown anything the party stood for at the last general election. Andrew Neil quizzed him on a variety of official policy positions, many of which are inconsistent and unfortunately remain on their website or available in official documents.
On replacing Trident, Farage claimed his position was at odds with what is stated on the party’s website:
‘Andrew Neil: Is Ukip now against replacing Trident?
Nigel Farage: Yes. That’s a debate we’ve been kicking around for sometime in Ukip
Neil: So you’re now for a non-nuclear defence strategy for Britain?
Farage: No, I don’t know where you got that from.
Neil: From your website, the Ukip defence website
Farage: That is not the case. It was the case…when it comes to websites I’m not the expert’
Farage was also asked whether it was still Ukip policy to introduce a compulsory dress code for taxi drivers. His response — ‘Do we? That’s news to me’ — doesn’t inspire much confidence. He also denied it was still party policy to repaint all trains in ‘traditional colours’. ’Absolutely not, I’ve never read that. I’ve no idea what you’re talking about’, he responded. Farage attempted to shut down the debate by disowning anything before his time:
‘Under the last leadership [of Ukip], we managed to produce a manifesto that was 480 sides long so you can quote me bits of it I won’t know. That’s why I said none of it stands today and we’ll launch it all after the European elections’
The party are not blind to the issues with their policies. This disclaimer used to appear on parts of their website:
Unlike many of the personal jibes towards Ukip (loonies etc), attacking them on policy grounds will make voters think twice. Conservative HQ is having plenty of fun on Twitter pointing out Ukip’s obscure policies, such as returning the Circle line to being circle. But does any of this matter to Ukip voters? A significant chunk of their supporters are protest voters who’ve given up on the main parties. It’s unlikely these people care about the colour of trains any more than a sensible economic strategy.
Highlighting these polices is a reminder of how far Ukip have come in three years but also of the challenges they face to produce a credible, consistent manifesto in 2015. Having an out of date website with an agenda Ukip no longer supports is unacceptable and as their response to Cllr David Silvester’s comments last week showed, Ukip still have plenty of growing up to do.