I was planning to write the latest addition to my short and instantly forgettable election blog series, but then the first of the winter bugs came along and knocked me off my perch. I’m back on it again (sort of) and am inspired by the high point of any election campaign, that being the publication of UKIP’s manifesto.
To say UKIP is a spent force in British politics would be an understatement. But it is worth remembering that they managed to reach 27% of the vote in the 2014 European Parliament elections. And it’s reasonable to conclude that this incredible showing influenced both David Cameron and Ed Miliband, to commit to a Referendum on EU membership, in their respective 2015 manifestos.
How have the mighty fallen. Cameron ran away after cocking up the Referendum and is now hiding in a Shepherd’s Hut, stoking the wood-burner with remaindered copies of his autobiography. Miliband sits on the back benches musing over what might have been, if whoever came up with the Ed Stone idea had never been born; and UKIP.
UKIP. I always thought, at least from the time when Farage mounted a coup and took it over after the ’97 general election, that UKIP was a deniable asset of the extreme right wing of the Tory party (formerly known as The Monday Club). Its goal was always to get us out of the EU, other policies were irrelevant, except insofar as they would deliver that goal – immigration (as a proxy for racism) being the card they always played, year in, year out.
There was another faction operating over the same time period – we’re talking about 20 years ago, which also wanted out of the EU – though for a subtly different set of reasons. These were the Hayekians, the libertarians, which morphed into the Hard Right group of Think Tanks and their apparatchiks orbiting 55 Tufton Street, with their wealthy US billionaire funding. This group wanted the UK to be free of the shackles of EU legislation – directives which the UK were required to sign up to – on everything from workers rights, to environmental protections. One particularly influential source of funding was the Koch Brothers, who supported the Tufton Street conspirators very generously. They made their billions from fossil fuels and weren’t going to allow any quasi-commie EU legislators stop them from destroying the planet in the name of Big Profits.
The two factions have worked together over the past couple of decades, though I think it’s fair to say the relationship has been fractious. It’s been suggested to me that this fractiousness is just a cover and they are really one group. I am not convinced, but history will tell us in the end. That they split into Vote Leave (the Tufties) and Leave dot EU (the far-right) during the Referendum campaign is illustrative, even if they did evidently work together when it suited them.
Anyway, enough ancient history. Is there anything worth saying about UKIP’s manifesto? Arguably the best thing to do would be to ignore it. But that would be a mistake, because UKIP still represents a small proportion of the electorate. People really do believe the stuff they write.
The manifesto is a weird mix of state-authoritarian and low-tax libertarian and in that sense politically it makes no sense whatsoever. However, this accusation could equally well be applied to the Tory party manifesto, so that doesn’t get us anywhere.
On agriculture, UKIP is of course thrilled that we are leaving the hated Common Agricultural Policy. Everybody seems happy about this, aside from farmers, and agricultural policy experts who have been thinking very carefully about what the consequences might be if the replacement is even worse.
Aside from the bleedin’ obvious that leaving the CAP means we will have to produce a “tailor-made” policy (duh), UKIP’s first priority for UK farming is anti-microbial resistance.
“a wide range of grants with tackling anti-microbial resistance as a major priority.”
this is the top priority.
Following that UKIP are very concerned about “traceability and origins of raw materials”, “country of origin, method of production, transport and slaughter.”
They finish with the neat idea that they will ” incentivise more British students and young people to pick the harvest during their summer holidays rather than relying on foreign labour.”
No detail is provided as to the methods of incentivisation – cattle prod? or perhaps just making a summer of hard manual labour a requirement for any EU student wanting to come and study in the UK.
On methods of slaughter, I’m not going to sully this piece with any comment about the rampant Islamophobia which reeks from this document, other than to say it’s there.
The agriculture section is mercifully brief, but Energy gets its own page. But this is mainly used to reconfirm UKIP’s climate denial position. Marine Plastic is a big problem and Deforestation (remember the far-right loves trees) but – and just to emphasise the point, it’s in bold so you can’t miss it “there is no climate emergency.”
UKIP would reintroduce coal burning power stations and fracking, because, of course, energy autarchy is the goal they seek. But this is where it gets weird. On the one hand UKIP argues there is no climate emergency, but on the other they argue that there is no need for action because the UK’s GHG contribution is so small.
Well, which is it to be? Climate Chaos either exists or it doesn’t. Why would UKIP want to invest in carbon capture and storage technology (they do), if CO2 isn’t a problem?
On the environment, UKIP is terribly keen on the Green Belt, but are desperate to build houses all over brownfield land. Has no-one pointed out to them how much of the Green Belt is brownfield land?Apparently it’s “uncontrolled mass immigration” which is the main threat to the Green Belt. who knew.
There’s the usual guff about allowing farmers to drain their land – they already can and do.
Apparently, after leaving the EU UKIP “will uphold high environmental standards that protect our air quality, waterways, woodlands, farmland and other habitats.”
Well yes everyone’s saying that, aren’t they. But the truth is the standards will slip, whoever gets in power.
And Forest. UKIP loves forests, and trees. They “will protect our woodlands and end the sale and privatisation of woodland managed by The Forestry Commission and National Parks.” In this respect UKIP makes the same basic error as every other party – confusing woodlands with conifer plantations.
There isn’t much else to say, aside from UKIP’s position on Science. UKIP feels that science has not been kind to their world view. UKIP feels it is the only party that truly understands the scientific process and that all its policies are based on the best available science. They use some interesting examples to illustrate their scientific underpinning.
The first one is – yes you guessed it – ritual slaughter. Then it gets weird. Science is apparently causing too many road signs.
“Transport, where suspect ‘scientific’ studies have often been used to justify excessive signage, usage restrictions and road furniture which allegedly increase traffic flow and reduce congestion, and the over-zealous introduction of monitoring cameras and deterrents like speed bumps which allegedly improve road safety and reduce accidents, though common-sense, anecdotal evidence and other, arguably less partisan and more objective academic studies, suggest they frequently achieve the opposite.”
Yes, they’ve fallen over their own hurdle. It’s “common-sense, anecdotal evidence” which is what’s best, if you don’t like the science.
Then comes climate change. “Dogma is no replacement for objectivity, especially when there is so much at stake financially.” Well, yes – it’s difficult to argue with the sentiment.
But UKIP, never being more than a few metres away from a racist dog-whistle, then gets all confused again that maybe there is something in this climate change conspiracy after all, suggesting that the UK’s GHG footprint is “comparable to that of some single cities in the third world.”
Blame the poor!
This final point broke my irony meter. It could almost be a straight steal from any number of reports critiquing the climate denial movement:
“While considering published research, UKIP recognises that it is important to determine who fund-ed it, and what the aims might be of the funder, and also examine the record of the researchers concerned so as to determine if they too are likely to have an agenda. There have been instances when data has been falsified, or analysed only selectively, so as to support conclusions that fit the requirements of a lobbying group. That is not good or acceptable science and needs to be exposed.”
I’ll finish (as this is already way too long) with a final thought. UKIP will halt the rollout of 5G mobile phone technology until it can be proved that the waves are “fully safe for human beings, animals, plants and microbes.”
The clues are littered through this manifesto. The obsession with food origins and contamination, microbial resistance, litter, and now, to crown it – mutation of plants and microbes into new and terrifying monsters.
Yes, it’s Colonel Jack D Ripper explaining that the Commies are poisoning his “precious bodily fluids.”
And people will vote for them.