Even their fiercest critics would grudgingly accept that UKIP has tapped into a mood of discontent amongst the British electorate.
Hence the advert in last week’s Shuttle (5th June 2014) thanking UKIP voters for electing five councillors in Wyre Forest would seem justified. Let us hope for the sake of the voters of Wyre Forest that these new councillors prove to be more conscientious than their European Parliamentary counterparts. For all their criticism of Europe, UKIP MEPs are happy to pocket the wages and expenses whilst having some of the worst levels of attendance and involvement.
However, with power come responsibility and the time has come for UKIP to explain exactly what they stand for. Let us put to one side for a moment a leader in Nigel Farage who claims to be a “man of the people” as long as those people are also private school educated stock brokers who hide their money in tax havens. Let us overlook just for a while candidates and councillors who have expressed abhorrent views on race, gender, religion, sexuality and disability (one UKIP Redditch councillor has already been forced to resign) to ask what do they actually believe in?
We know the UKIP view on Europe but all the evidence shows that, when it comes to the next General Election, this issue comes way down on the list of voter’s top priorities. What does UKIP think on education, on health, on the economy, on food banks, on housing, on the environment, on the cost of living crisis? Both the Labour and Conservative Party have policies on the issues that are important to people. What about UKIP?
The early indications are not good. Nigel Farage himself admitted that he had not read their manifesto from 2010 (describing it as ‘drivel’) and when it became clear that previous UKIP promises of regressive flat rate taxes, charging to see your doctor, uniforms for tax-drivers (?), building a fleet of aircraft carriers and so on were not going to bear much scrutiny from an intelligent electorate he junked them all. Instead UKIP have proposed a tax cut for the rich and the promise to re-introduce grammar schools which condemned a generation of schoolchildren to failure. Riding a wave of protest is the easy bit. UKIP might find that proposing real affordable policies which make sense is rather more difficult.
Dr Matt Lamb, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Wyre Forest.