Punche-Bagge has followed Conference with interest but is slightly dismayed by UKIP’s lack of radical vision in the manifesto.
Overall, it’s a good start, and bearing in mind how quickly produced, deservedly popular. To produce a new manifesto to everybody’s satisfaction is clearly impossible, so the concept of a rolling manifesto is excellent as it allows for proposal of refinements and, where necessary, for the expression of criticism. Accordingly, please accept my comments below simply as food for thought.
There are in my view some serious problems that should be addressed but are not (although some may be best reserved for future manifestos):
- The Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament are simply talking-shops for politicians intent on creating dissent and stirring up bogus grievances. They are endlessly expensive and counter-productive, serve only to distract and confuse, and should be dissolved, with devolved powers returned to Westminster. We have far too many politicians.
- Stormont should be treated likewise provided that his can be squared with the Good Friday Agreement.
- The refusal of our law enforcement agencies to impartially enforce our laws across the board without fear or favour.
- The traditional right to be tried by a jury in open court must be reinstated wherever it has been removed. It needs to be extended to all trials where the “defendant” is likely to suffer life-changing consequences (eg: family break-up, sequestration of assets, incarceration in institution of any kind, extradition, etc). The right to open justice must override concerns of privacy, since mistrials that occur in secret cannot be open to challenge. That which is conducted in secret will always be subject to suspicion rumour and allegation and indeed misinformation; the public can have no confidence in a courts system that cannot be seen to deliver justice.
- The problem of excessive Business Rates.
- The Electoral Commission needs reform to end its institutional bias. At present it seems to be both judge and jury – we need separation of powers?
- The Charities Commission needs reforming to end its acquiescence in permitting inappropriate charities which provide spending channels which most would not consider charitable (examples: The Franco British Council, the Royal United Services Institute, Common Purpose, the list goes on – in fact, any charity that doesn’t get the majority of its funding from voluntary donations from members of the public).
Remove the Non-Essential
Items which may be nice-to-have but in the scale of things are inconsequential should be ditched outright – they distract attention from the vital issues and cause needless argument that could have been devoted to making the case for the main issues:
- Hospital Car Parking Charges.
- UKIP will abandon the roll-out of smart motorways.
- UKIP will stop diesel drivers from being penalized.
- UKIP supports the development of driverless car technology.
- UKIP will scrap the Certificate of Professional Competence.
- We would re-establish the Agricultural Wages Board for England.
- UKIP would seek to minimise the use of Zero Hours Contracts except where they are to the mutual advantage of employee and employer… (also qualifies as meaningless).
- UKIP would seek to rejuvenate the UK Coal Industry (come off it – nobody is going to send men down mines to dig coal any more – it’s either dead or inconsequential).
- UKIP seeks to… address excessive packaging… legislate for bio-degradable bags etc.
- We will encourage local trade by pushing local authorities… to offer 30 minutes free parking (good idea in principle though).
Remove or Clarify the Meaningless
The document is too long and would benefit from application of the flue-brush to remove bland statements which have no clear meaning:
- The problem of failing rail operators could be solved by by taking control by means of a new government owned company to run the franchises. All options would be considered (this does have a clear meaning: “we haven’t a clue”).
- Introduce a Single Farm Payment to support British farmers (how does this differ from the existing EU-based scheme?).
- UKIP would introduce a Modern Food Act to ensure traceability and origins of raw materials (we already have a high measure of traceability – what problem does this solve?).
- Create a National Agricultural Council… (maybe Defra should just do its job?).
- Council Tax needs to undergo a full and thorough review (to what end?).
- UKIP opposes the disempowerment of parents by the state, whereby its institutions… are … supplanting the role of parents… (so what to do about it?).
- We will introduce further safeguards into the operation of the Family Courts to ensure that injustices are not perpetrated on parents (tinkering with a broken system won’t do).
- It is now accepted that one of the key factors… (and the other key factors?).
- An independent national enquiry into local authorities and police forces’ historical failure… (we already have one – the totally ineffectual-by-design IICSA).
- UK laws to protect children must be implemented fully and impartially… (as must all UK laws, and not just for children – so how will we do this?).
- UKIP would repeal the legislation that gives legal recognition for Sharia Law Courts (is there any such legislation? What is it?).
- Islamic extremism is an on-going problem… effective policy ideas will have to be developed whoever is in power (quite so – so what is UKIP offering?).
- UKIP would convene an all-party constitutional convention… that will report and table legislation within the life of a parliament (dream on… the only way to do this would be to propose the measures in a manifesto and get elected to do it, no ifs, no buts – so forget it in this manifesto).