Just say no

UKIP were in town at the weekend. It might have been interesting, in a Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends sort of way, to see what they were on about, but spending Sunday afternoon in the company of arch-Eurosceptics would be few people’s idea of fun.

The general view is that UKIP have one policy, and that if you asked them why you can’t buy Spangles any more, they’d probably blame Brussels. However, it is worth rummaging around to look at what else they stand for. For example, on climate change, they propose – wait for it – a Royal Commission to “determine the truth behind man-made global warming“. Yes, because we just can’t trust all those scientists. We clearly need a Royal Commission, comprising the finest minds in the British Empire, to decide that climate change is just something The Independent made up.

So perhaps it’s time to pull an old post out of the archives (hey, if they can repeat old episodes of Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week, then we can surely get some mileage out of Stirling Greens Gold). This one’s from May 2009, when the party campaigning to get us out of Europe were campaigning to get themselves elected to the (ahem) European Parliament…

It is not so unusual for politicians to switch their allegiances, but rarely does it happen when they’ve been dead more than forty years. In the early 20th Century Winston Churchill crossed the floor from the Conservatives to the Liberals and back again; now it seems he has left the Tories once more to spearhead the UK Independence Party’s European election campaign. It is obvious UKIP have lacked a recognisable media-friendly figure ever since Kilroy jumped ship, but aren’t there rules governing this sort of thing? One would think that having “Scotland’s best-known horse whisperer” as a candidate and the glittering celebrity endorsements of Frank Carson and Rusty Lee (ask your parents) would remove the need to co-opt the deceased for electioneering purposes, but no.

Looking at their election flyer, “no” seems to the key word for UKIP. Their pink and yellow leaflet (with black and white photo of a v-signing Churchill) gives four things to say no to: the European Union, unlimited immigration, our £40m daily EU bill and “EU control of our lives”. As if to avoid all doubt as to whom we should direct our sulky defiance, each NO is shown as a little EU flag, with the circle of twelve stars forming the Os. It’s so negative you wonder if there’s anything they are actually in favour of (apart from UK independence, obviously).

From their list of policies we learn that they would like to freeze immigration, speed up deportation of illegal immigrants, tear up the Human Rights Act, increase defence spending and “stop persecuting motorists”. They would also replace the current income tax system with a flat tax, an idea the Tories flirted with, then quickly abandoned a few years ago. Everyone earning over £10,000 a year would pay tax at exactly the same rate, regardless of whether they made just a few pence more than the ten grand threshold or the large wheelbarrows of cash Premier League footballers take home every week. It would essentially be a massive tax cut for the rich. For all their blether about how “the future of our nation” should be decided by “those of us who live here”, it is odd that they overlook the fact that, for the last 100 years – since Lloyd George’s “People’s Budget” of 1909, championed by a certain Winston Churchill, incidentally – the British people have supported the idea of progressive income tax whereby the rich pay a higher proportion of their income than the poor.

UKIP are also pro-nuclear. They see nuclear power stations and “clean coal” as our energy sources of the future, certainly not wind farms, which are “visually intrusive” and “noisy”. The party is also sceptical of global warming, stating that it is unproven and that “the security, happiness and prosperity of the nation are too important to be thrown away in the pursuit of illusory aims… It is therefore foolish at present to commit substantial resources and impose harsh restrictions purely in the cause of reducing CO2 emissions”. At least you can’t accuse them of greenwash, unless the bit about encouraging recycling was just spin. It seems the one environmental policy they are really proud of is their idea to “limit environmental pressure from an increasing population by controlling immigration”. In fact, their “vision” concludes with the reassurance that “our party has a full range of policies including a firm line on immigration”. That tells you pretty much all you need to know about the party David Cameron astutely described as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists“.

With yet more astonishing disclosures about MPs’ expenses continuing to creep out (a duck island, anyone?), UKIP hope to capitalise on increasing disenchantment with the major parties. “Put your country before any political party and lend UKIP your vote”, they beg, as if they themselves weren’t actually a political party with a full range of policies including a firm line on immigration, blah blah blah. (Having “Party” in your name is also a bit of a giveaway). Here’s a better idea. Vote Green.

Vote for a party with an ethical and responsible stance on immigration and human rights. Vote for a party that understands environmental issues and is determined to do something about them. Vote for a party that cares about equality, fairness and social justice. Working together with other members of the European Green Party, a Scottish Green MEP can make a positive difference to improve quality of life in Scotland and Europe.

As for grumpy, uncooperative, Eurosceptic UKIP, just say no.

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~ by stirlinggreens on 5. April 2011.

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