UKIP is under pressure. It has been dogged with claims of ‘racism’ and criticised for advocating policies including privatisation of the UK National Health Service and scrapping employment rights. Opponents including Labour, the Greens and the British National Party have put UKIP policies under close scrutiny. Trade Union groups like Unions Together and individual Unions such as Solidarity have vehemently attacked what they claim are “anti worker” policies from UKIP.
So how have UKIP reacted? They have chosen to issue a very defensive leaflet which attempts to deny the allegations in the very last week of the campaign.
It seems that Nigel Farage believes that the criticism of his policies is having an effect. The UKIP leaflet implies it is just Labour pointing out that they want privatisation of our NHS and to scrap employment rights. In fact of course the claims are made by a wide variety of groups.
The leaflet denies the claims outright without qualification. It even makes the bold claim that “UKIP is the Party standing up for working people”. So what are the facts?
Scrapping Employment Rights
The small business manifesto tells everyone that employment rights would go under UKIP.
Their small business manifesto says:
3.1 Employment contracts
“UKIP would put an end to most legislation regarding matters such as weekly working hours, holidays and holiday, overtime, redundancy or sick pay etc”
3.2 Parental leave and Statutory Maternity Pay (‘SMP’)
“UKIP would abolish SMP entirely”.
UKIP also say they want to scrap all legislation protecting employees from discrimination and harassment at work. So what redress would women who faced discrimination have? How about people sacked because of their political views or because they were Gay? Under UKIP plans the answer is – none.
The whole thrust of UKIP policy is to balance power firmly in favour of employers. Labour aren’t lying about this, they are not plucking allegations from thin air, UKIP are pushing an anti-worker agenda.
UKIP seem to be embarrassed now by their Small Business
Manifesto but you can still find it online at:
The UKIP Small Business Manifesto has never been rejected or amended. UKIP have never said anything different on employment rights. This is despite the fact that at the Wythenshawe by-election both Trade Unions Together and the Solidarity Trade Union called them on it
Privatising the NHS
The UKIP leaflets claim Labour is lying when it says they want to “close the health service”. Of course Labour has never said this but they have pointed out the antipathy UKIP has for the NHS. They have also pointed to UKIP support for privatisation.
Where do Labour get these ideas about UKIP from? Well UKIP actually. Their 2010 Manifesto (now torn up by Farage but not yet replaced) said they wanted to:
• Franchise out key services including hospitals and GP surgeries to companies and charities.
• Create voucher system to allow people to opt out of NHS system entirely.
Now that the manifesto has been disclaimed by UKIP how is anyone to know what their policies are? One way is to look at the public statements of their leadership.
UKIP have written about the NHS and it is publicly available. Labour and others aren’t lying – they are.
Their Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall says:
“I would argue that the very existence of the NHS stifles competition, and as competition drives quality and choice, innovation and improvements are restricted.”
“Therefore, I believe, as long as the NHS is the ‘sacred cow’ of British politics, the longer the British people will suffer with a second rate health service.”
Despite what Nuttall and UKIP say, most people here in the UK believe we have a good health service and not a “second rate” one. They do not want the NHS tampered with or privatised. UKIP have failed even to outline their proposals for an alternative to the NHS.
You can find the views of their Deputy Leader here: http://www.paulnuttallmep.com/?p=712
UKIP is trying to balance appealing to an anti-immigrant vote with being ‘anti-racist’. The UKIP leaflet stresses the diverse membership of UKIP.
UKIP have also been at pains to say that they are not against all immigration.
This has led them to be attacked by the British National Party.
Nick Griffin, Chairman of the British National Party (BNP), told the BBC:
“UKIP’s claim is that they would limit immigration, but their actual policy is to limit it to net immigration of 50,000 a year.”
In practice, this would entail allowing one migrant from what UKIP thought of as “our traditional sources of immigration… namely Africa and Asia” to settle in the UK for every British national who emigrated – “and that is over a quarter of a million people every year… plus 50,000”, he said.
“UKIP are saying that they don’t want white immigration – eastern European immigration. They want immigration from the Third World, black or brown immigration.
“We’re saying that we don’t want white, black, brown or green, because the country is full and immigration is unfair on the British people.”
As well as being attacked from the Right by the BNP others on the Left are attacking UKIP for racism. Farage has made excuse after excuse about all the UKIP candidates who have made racist comments. The main one is that he couldn’t be expected to know the views of his own candidates. That rather begs some questions. Why are these people attracted to UKIP in the first place and why is he putting them forward as candidates if he doesn’t know much about them?
That aside Farage himself sails close to the wind on racism to put it at its most neutral. When Farage was quizzed by LBC over why it was acceptable to say, as he has, that people should be nervous about Romanians moving in next door to them and what the difference was between Germans and Romanians was, Farage said cryptically: “You know what the difference is.”
The Sun newspaper reacted furiously declaring that Nigel Farage, the UKIP party leader was a racist.
“Nigel Farage was challenged yesterday on whether UKIP is racist,” the leader comment read. “He put a gun to his head and fired.”
It concluded the devastating attack on the UKIP leader by stating: “It is not racist to worry about the impact of millions of migrants on Britain, as we have argued for years.
“It is racist to smear Romanians for being Romanian.
“Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, did just that.”
The Greens seem to be benefiting from some who might have voted UKIP deserting them over the racism claims while the BNP is regaining support because some believe that UKIP are weak on immigration!
That UKIP has had to put out a defensive leaflet in the last week of campaigning shows that public criticism is hitting them hard. UKIP are losing both working class people concerned at immigration and protest voters who don’t like racism. Trying to be all things to all men doesn’t seem to be working so well now that UKIP policy is under scrutiny.
It should alarm many if UKIP get an excellent vote this Thursday (May 22), despite a growing anti-UKIP momentum. One reason they might see a good vote is that debate on race-related topics has been so stifled in the UK and anyone raising questions so bullied, ridiculed and abused that many ordinary folk just ignore cries of ‘racist’ – justified or not. Another reason is that by the time the momentum away from UKIP kicked in many will have already voted for them because of postal voting! They may regret it now but their vote is cast. So UKIP will do well in the European elections but the General Election next year is likely to be a very different story…
By Patrick Harrington