I’ve been in UKIP since 2001 through the good times and the bad, the highs and the lows of poll ratings, and I’ll be frank and blunt: we’re at a watershed moment for UKIP. Get things wrong – again – and it’s over. This is last-chance saloon.
I believe we must do three things: be radical (i.e. say things the political establishment won’t, not be offensive and then defend it as freedom of speech), talk to people about the issues they bring up (try door-knocking and when a single mum answers the door, what do you say about the only issue that matters to them: the education of their child?) and don’t put barriers in the way of people voting UKIP (avoid policies which will turn people off UKIP even if they’re otherwise UKIP-minded). It helps if we can also take the moral high ground, with policies that force the ‘liberal left’ to admit to their own hypocrisy if they want to challenge us.
Despairing of the policy direction of UKIP at the 2017 General Election (compare 2015 with 2017, see what’s missing, and you’ll see our radical uniqueness has been sucked out), I wrote Britain Beyond Brexit – a collection of policy ideas which provide a clear direction for the future of our Party. I can’t possibly cover all 67 pages in a single article, so here comes a whistle-stop tour of my proposals. For the details please read the full document.
On crime, the Left use ‘rehabilitation’ as an excuse for being soft on crime. I propose that early release should be conditional on prisoners behaving themselves, undertaking education, and finding a job to go to once they’re released. Don’t want to do those three things? Then they can go to ‘boot camp’ style prison wings. We’ll build the prisons we need, support prisoners to get jobs (including in the Army) – genuinely breaking the cycle of reoffending.
It’s proper rehabilitation! Imagine the Left arguing against you: they’ll have to admit their focus on rehabilitation is just an excuse to justify their true belief that we should be soft on crime. You have the moral high ground; you win the debate.
The Left whine about the need to preserve EU regional funding which supposedly benefits poorer communities. When we say post-Brexit we’d still fund those communities, we’re not believed. Instead I propose using the money for genuine tax cuts in our deprived areas, helping the poorest people financially, creating jobs and getting business to regenerate those areas for us: the power of the free market!
You could point to EU funding not providing value for money, arguing that the same communities that were poor in the 1970s are poor today. The Left talk regeneration; you win the debate by showing how lower taxes can make it a reality.
We could be the Party of low business taxation, a Party with a plan to help small businesses whilst making sure big business can’t weasel out of paying its fair share. We could be the Party that pledges to replace the bureaucratic VAT with a fairer tax on sales, making life easier for millions of businesses and eliminating carousel fraud in one fell swoop.
We could be the Party of the working people, reclaiming our ‘No Tax on Minimum Wage’ policy.
We should regain our status as the Party of Direct Democracy and reverse the watering-down of our popular referendum policy.
Let’s talk about teacher numbers, OFSTED, teacher workload, classroom discipline and all the things that parents and teachers are actually interested in but were absent without leave from our 2017 Manifesto.
On foreign aid, animal welfare, transport and the environment, we need our policies to have a caring tone: we care about the environment without obsessing over CO2 alone which puts up energy bills and neglects other key environmental factors, and we don’t need a mis-spent bloated foreign aid budget in order to care about those less fortunate than ourselves and develop poor countries through free and fair trade.
On radical Islamic extremism we must remember we’re a political party and our job is to propose specific solutions: we’re not a single-issue pressure group. I propose a series concrete measures to deal with the actual issues rather than hyperbole. The result? Being tough without alienating voters we need.
Immigration is a whole other article but again, an innovative approach can give UKIP the moral high ground whilst leaving the Left devoid of arguments against us.
With the Party on a life-support machine we need to act, and fast. Britain Beyond Brexit is designed to be a headache for our opponents, keeping us one step ahead whilst being bold and controversial where needed.
With radical policies such as these, we’d need only to sort the ‘minor’ task of transforming our presentation and internal structures. If we do nothing, or refuse to change, make no mistake about it: the Party will be over.