Last week James Delingpole asked ‘does Ukip believe in anything anymore?’ As a fellow party member I just want him to assure him that we do. His question comes as the party is facing the most important three months in its twenty-one year history: over the summer we will choose our target seats for the general election next May, and simultaneously develop the policies that we will take into that election.
We have been accused of having only two policies: withdrawal from the European Union and taking control of immigration, but I believe that this accusation is unfair. We have just fought European Parliament elections and we were the only party that was actually focusing on the thorny issue of Europe and the EU’s flawed Freedom of Movement policy, which prevents us from having the power to control our own borders. The election result reflects the fact that we won the argument.
However, we must move on and develop our policies in other areas. Parties that run narrow campaigns which focus on a few headline policies are doomed to fail in general elections – William Hague’s Conservatives did this in 2001 and Ukip has done it in every election since its inception. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that ‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ If we as party do not broaden our agenda with a raft of policies that resonate with the public then we are doomed to fail because we will be repeating the same mistake.
That’s why I want to see us be bold and brave in the policy announcements we make at our party conference in Doncaster in September. I want to see a commitment to cutting the top rate of tax to 40 per cent in order to support wealth creation. At the same time I want to take everyone on minimum wage out of taxation altogether in order to encourage people back into work. I want to see a grammar school in every single town in this country so we can education by ability and not wealth.
I also want Tony Blair’s commitment of sending 50 per cent of all 18 year olds to university dropped. That would mean we could reduce the numbers of students and do away with tuition fees. I want to see the barmy HS2 project scrapped, with a promise to reinvest in local transport networks some of the money earmarked for it. I want to see a commitment to reforming the NHS so that more of its money is spent on front line clinical staff and less on layers of unnecessary bureaucracy. I want to see a real bonfire of quangos (they still cost us over £50 billion a year).
I want to see drastic cuts to a foreign aid budget which hands money over not only to countries richer than ourselves, but also to barbaric states that carry out hideous acts against women and children. I want to see a commitment to ripping up the hideously expensive and nonsensical Climate Change Act and I want some sanity back in the energy policy debate, with shale and nuclear firmly on the agenda.
I want sentences to mean what they say, real deterrents for would-be criminals and a promise to do away with the Human Rights Act. I also want a commitment to Swiss-style direct democracy to allow the people to decide on issues at both the national and local level via referendums.
I could go on, but I hope that I have already allayed James’s fears. James says that Ukip needs an ideology or an ‘ism.’ Well let me be so bold as to say that although I don’t really buy into abstract ideologies I will give him an ‘ism’ which I believe sums up Ukip: Common Sensism.