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Preface by Dr Alan Sked
The Single Currency
The Welfare State
The Health Service
Agriculture and Fisheries
Immigration and Border Controls
Preserving the United Kingdom
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UK Independence Party MANIFESTO March 1997
PREFACE by Dr.Alan Sked Leader, UK Independence Party
The UK Independence Party is Britain's only mainstream, democratic party committed to withdrawing the United Kingdom from the European Union and replacing membership by a free-trade agreement. It was founded by half a dozen people in September 1993 and in less than four years -- without the help of any billionaires or former cabinet members -- it has established itself as a permanent fixture on the political scene, with a unique and increasingly popular message. According to opinion poll findings, 40% of the British people want to quit the EU forthwith and another 40% want merely to trade with it. This means that, potentially, 80% of the electorate could be converted to vote for the UKIP, if its credibility continues to grow. Fortunately for Britain, it is continuing to grow.
At the Euro elections in 1994, the party's first big test, it secured some 157,000 votes in only 24 seats-- the equivalent of two-thirds of a million votes nationwide, had we contested every seat. Not a bad start given that the party had been founded merely ten months before!
After our election broadcast we received 30,000 enquiries. Since then we have established national headquarters in Regent St., a national newsletter, a regional HQ in Salisbury, and a separate Scottish organisation; we have secured representation on local councils, and have started a youth and student group, Young UKIP, with university branches around the country. We have held two highly successful national conferences (the second attracted over a thousand national delegates) and have usually come fourth after the major parties in by-elections.
Such sure and steady progress testifies to the political wisdom of the British people, whose democratic right it is to hear the arguments and to decide on their future. Our main worry at this election, however, is that the major parties -- plus the nationalists in Scotland and Wales -- will continue to fudge the arguments, or indeed refuse to discuss the major issue of the day. This is the imminent abolition of the pound sterling, and with it, the loss of Britain's ability to manage its own economy and the emasculation of the British parliament. This may well be the last meaningful parliamentary election in British history, if the major parties and our supine media get their way.
To show that there is a genuine alternative, therefore, this manifesto maps out how Britain can retain her independence, and which policies are needed to rejuvenate her once withdrawal from the EU has been accomplished. Certainly, given the policies and institutions of the European Union, no rational voter could assent to continued membership of it.
After a quarter of a century, it is perfectly plain that "Europe" (EU,EC,EEC) is not working. It is bureaucratic, not democratic. The overwhelming majority of the people of this country boycott its elections. When the Danes said No to Maastricht, they were contemptuously told to vote again or get out. The European Union represents government by decree, and the bureaucratic waste over which it presides feeds immeasurable graft and corruption. Its symbol is the gravy train. It constitutes institutionalised fraud. None of its policiesagriculture, fisheries, foreign or economic -- actually works. The result is that the British people are forced to pay billions of pounds each year to bureaucrats whose only job appears to be to think up new schemes to bankrupt them.
The latest cost benefit analyses of membership show that this preposterous set of institutions has cost hundreds of billions of pounds since 1973. What a waste! Just think of how that money might have been spent at home! Yet the major parties want to press ahead with a single currency and political union -- this despite the record bankruptcies, unemployment, home-repossessions, deficits and tax increases caused by only two years' membership of the ERM in 1990-92. That is why the UK Independence Party is needed. It alone can defend our national sovereignty. Amazingly, it alone wants to.
Tory Euro-sceptics claim to have the same objective, but, sadly, put their party allegiance first. Besides, they want to remain in the European Union. Whatever their claims or intentions, the function they serve is to retain votes for the Conservative Party which, under John Major, has consistently betrayed the United Kingdom. Their government even boasts that it has "no selfish, strategic, or economic interest" in Northern Ireland, a proposition which has been endorsed by the other major parties. The truth is that none of them any longer has any "selfish, strategic or economic interest" in any part of the United Kingdom. Fortunately, we do.
This time then, it will be different. Voters will have a democratic, non-racist, non-sectarian party to support which will PUT BRITAIN FIRST. I ask you, therefore, to read our manifesto and join us. Your country needs you NOW. With your help we can, once again, become a normal, self-governing democracy.
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Awareness of the UK's relationship with the European Union and of its dangers is growing daily, as is the conviction that something must be done about it. This latter development is relatively new. A year ago, whilst wishing we had not been misled into the EU, most people would shrug their shoulders saying we were already too involved to think of trying to draw back, and surely it was not all that bad. Now as the general election approaches there is a greater understanding of the extent of the grand federal plan of European Union, encompassing not just a mass of directives which destroy jobs, but a Court of Justice which makes new laws, interference in our economic management even if we do not join the single currency, and centralised defence, all without any effective democratic representation. The idea of the UK leaving the EU is no longer outrageous, as more people now realise that this European experiment is far more dangerous and unpredictable than re-establishing our independence.
The established political parties would rather divert attention away from European issues because they know the minimal extent of their own influence. But in an attempt to keep their voters on side, their response has been to acknowledge troubled feelings by talking in soothing terms of the European Union they would like to see, of cooperating sovereign nation states with no further transfer of power. And the Conservatives have been talking tough again about how they will stand up to the EU and look after the UK's best interests. But none of this wishful rhetoric or bravado will do any good. The UK's negotiating record makes it abundantly clear that remaining at the "heart" of Europe in order to shape Europe as we might like it, or even to find a comfortable place in some half-baked "two-speed" Europe, is an agenda with zero chance of success. The UK has signed treaties which give away the government of this country to the European Union, and the forces which are determined to see the process through are well entrenched.
This failure of all attempts to hold back the EU programme shows that there is no middle road, of staying in the EU whilst avoiding those aspects of centralisation that we do not like. The UK Independence Party's policy of withdrawal is the only viable option. THE ONLY WAY IS OUT.
Withdrawal from the EU is only a part of the UKIP's programme of rebuilding a United Kingdom in which citizens feel they belong and have a useful role to play, and in which initiative, responsibility and mutual respect are virtues that are no longer considered out of date. Imitating European methods, successive UK governments have condoned the transfer of power into the hands of bureaucratic structures not only in the EU but also in almost every domestic policy area. Bureaucracies everywhere kill initiative, distort incentives and destroy enterprise and efficiency. The UKIP rejects this kind of governance whether it is at a European or a domestic level, and insists that power be returned to representative, accountable government at all levels.
This manifesto provides an outline of UKIP policies in the major policy areas, with the economy and education identified as those needing the most attention. Unlike the main parties, the UKIP does not indulge in eye-catching gimmicks or wishful thinking. On the contrary, its policies including that of withdrawal from the EU are designed to confront squarely and honestly the challenges which face the UK at present and will face us in the future.
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From the beginning, the European programme has been to merge the countries of Western Europe under a centralised government. But when we joined, freedom of trade with Europe was the reason why the UK electorate gave its support, while the federal agenda was deliberately obscured from view. The main reason now why some UK citizens are hesitant about withdrawal is the fear that the apparent advantage from our trading arrangements with Europe would be jeopardised. At present roughly half of our visible trade is with countries of the European Union -- how would we survive if we left the Union? The UKIP's answer is to see withdrawal not as something to fear, but as an opportunity. The fact that only a quarter of the UK's foreign investment goes to the EU is clear evidence that business sees stronger economic prospects elsewhere.
Our release from the EU's external trade barriers will allow stronger trading links with countries outside Europe, in South East Asia for instance, and with our natural trading partners of the Commonwealth who were sorely snubbed when we joined the EU. Given our language and business methods, it is with these dynamic and developing countries that our trading advantages lie. Our interests do not lie in further cosy trading relations with the countries of the EU, which are intent on binding their economies with their centralised bureaucratic structures, and whose economic stagnation is currently being aggravated by the struggle to meet the fiscal requirements for joining the single currency.
Withdrawal from the EU will anyway not imply that trade with Europe will cease. Given that we buy more from our European neighbours than we sell to them, it would not be in their interests to curtail their trading links with us. Those who fear that the EU would attempt some form of trade sanctions out of a perverse desire for retribution and in violation of the rules of the World Trade Organisation, need only note the severe suffering which this would cause for those EU members, notably Ireland and Denmark, which rely so heavily on exports to the UK. And those who are persuaded that Britain is "too small to survive alone" should remember that we are the fifth largest world economy, and that Norway and Switzerland are thriving while continuing to conduct most of their trade with EU countries. Finally, those who fear that some of our Japanese and other inward investors will leave, should bear in mind that access via Britain to European markets is not the only reason why the Japanese are here. Other strong reasons are our language, our business culture, and our comparatively low unit labour costs. And even if some Japanese firms did reduce their UK operations, the investment opportunities resulting from a more prosperous world-trading UK will attract others, and will also induce UK investors to invest more in their own country. This fear of Japanese withdrawal has become obsessive, and it disregards the fact that Japanese and other foreign investment in the UK represents only a small fraction of the UK's capital stock.
Nobody can predict the precise patterns of foreign trade and investment which will follow our withdrawal from the EU, but neither can our future trading patterns be predicted if we do not withdraw. All that can be said is that withdrawal will open opportunities rather than closing them, and rather than being too small to survive alone, the UK will be in a strong bargaining position to make full use of these opportunities. The wealth of the UK has always been built on free trade worldwide, and the UKIP would look forward to giving UK businesses free rein to pursue world trade in generating our future wealth .
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The UK economy is now well out of the last recession and growing at an acceptable rate. But unemployment, at around 2,000,000 or 7% of the working population, is too high. It is well down from its peak during the last recession and lower than in other EU countries, but this is nothing to boast about. Youth unemployment in the UK stands at an intolerable 17%. Moreover there has been a large drop in the proportion of men aged between 50 and 65 in the labour force, many of whom are able but discouraged workers who have accepted early retirement. The real state of the labour market may be better revealed by the `non-employment' rate, defined as the proportion of the working age population who are not in work. This measure stands at 28% and it is only marginally less than in 1992. Unemployment in the UK is a problem which must be addressed.
Another feature of the UK economy which concerns the UKIP is the state of public finances. At present some 10% of government expenditure is being financed by borrowing. Whilst acknowledging Treasury forecasts that this percentage will fall if the economic recovery continues, it is still too high, if future demands on expenditure are not to be ignored. If we are to maintain standards in the health service as the population ages, for instance, we should now be saving rather than borrowing.
On leaving the European Union, a UKIP government will be in a uniquely favourable position to tackle both these problems. Unemployment will fall as the mass of employment-crushing EU-directed legislation is repealed. And the UK's public finances will automatically be eased when we cease giving the EU our £8 billion annual budget contribution, and when food prices fall as a result of our release from the Common Agricultural Policy. With the extra cash which these changes will generate, the UKIP's fiscal policy will be specifically geared towards further employment gains whilst also allowing the budget deficit to be reduced.
While the other political parties squabble over each other's plans for finding a few billion for votecatching expenditure, the UKIP will be able to afford to take a longer view of our economic future, both in reducing unemployment and in setting our public finances on a sounder footing.
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The main thrust of the UKIP's policies is to bring government back within the reach and influence of those who are governed. Nowhere has this principle been so obviously violated than in the area of regulation. Nowhere has the destructive effect on business and employment been so obviously ignored. Each week the various Brussels directorates together with their 700 committees send this country some 400 finely printed pages of directives and regulations, and many more pages of other material. Officials in the UK then have the job of encoding all these instructions into UK laws as appropriate and passing them to those who must obey. These officials are all doing their job. Interpreting the treaties and conveying orders is what they are paid for, so the more the better. A great many of the rules are concerned with agriculture. The remainder are supposed to improve health and safety, the environment, the workplace and the single market. In practice the coverage is so wide that every conceivable commercial activity and many private activities are affected. Restrictions and procedures are prescribed down to the finest detail, leaving nothing to the experience and discretion of individuals.
Besides this affront to personal and corporate responsibility, this law making machine is determined to ignore differences in attitudes and practices in different countries, let alone within countries, and is intent on "harmonising" rules throughout the EU. For this purpose, the procedures for formulating directives superficially involve wide consultation. Every directive issued pays due homage to the opinion of the European Parliament and is ratified by the Council of Ministers, and the Commission invites and receives recommendations from national representatives. But in practice, the breadth and complexity of the consultation process means that no one opinion can have much weight. And the sheer volume of material produced means that the various public and private bodies which have an interest in the legislation can never pay proper attention to more than a fraction of it. There is no democracy in this process. Our own parliament is impotent, merely acting as a rubber stamp for all the directives. This lack of real accountability has caused the Commission to become powerful, selfrighteous, remote from those it is supposed to serve, and a prey to lobbyists. As a result, a great many of its wide-ranging rules fail adequately to deal with the perceived objective, whilst imposing unnecessary burdens and costs. But the Commission's "experts" are sufficiently insulated from the victims of their rules that they can ignore these side-effects.
This attitude to law-making is alien to the UK. Traditional UK practice has been to use legislation more sparingly, often just to specify general principles of acceptable behaviour, whilst leaving it to individuals to choose the best way of upholding those principles. The function of the courts is then to refine the principles as appropriate and to judge when they are violated. And the function of the various inspectorates used to be to work constructively with firms, helping them to understand the rules and to find the best ways of satisfying them.
It has become clear, however, that our own civil servants responsible for transposing and enforcing EU rules have become infected with attitudes learnt from Europe. There is abundant casual evidence that inspectors from our various ministries are less reasonable than they used to be, insisting on compliance with the detail not only of new laws but also of laws which are supposedly imminent but do not yet apply. Whatever the costs and difficulties, businesses have to comply, and there are no procedures for appeal. With these attitudes it is no wonder that the government's much heralded deregulation initiative never got off the ground. Other EU countries, particularly in Southern Europe, are far less fastidious about enforcing the rules than the UK.
The destructive effect that this has on employment is obvious. On leaving the EU this flood of legislation will cease, and the first task of a UKIP government will be to remove all the damaging legislation which is already in force. But scrutinising each piece of EU-inspired law to see how it should be amended will be an impossible task; moreover no progress in this task will be made if it is entrusted to the officials who have been involved in creating the law. The only workable attitude, which the UKIP intends to adopt, is to presume that each part of each statutory instrument which has arisen in connection with the EU must be dropped unless strong reasons can be advanced for its retention. Having thus disposed of a great many senseless and offensive rules, it will then be possible to start afresh and design, properly using the UK's established democratic structures, any new ones which are in the interests of the UK and the UK alone.
The UKIP believes that removing regulations will lead to a marked increase in UK employment. Noting that small businesses have been responsible for nearly all the net new jobs in the UK over the past decade, it intends to focus its deregulation effort particularly on this sector.
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The aims of the UKIP's fiscal policy are to restructure and reduce taxation in certain areas so as to foster employment and business, to raise government spending in chosen areas, and to reduce government borrowing. Reducing government borrowing is desirable to curb the growth in the national debt which currently absorbs £25 billion per year in interest, and to establish the UKIP's reputation for responsible economic management.
The above changes will be made possible by the improvements in public finances following the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. When the UK leaves the EU, the whole of our £8 billion gross annual contribution to the EU budget will become available to the Treasury. The £5 billion which the EU returns to the UK is in the form of grants which will not continue: £3 billion consists of agricultural payments which would cease when the UK is no longer subject to the Common Agricultural Policy, and the remaining £2 billion is for development and other projects which will not generally be financed by a UKIP government. The UKIP intends to replace CAP subsidies to farmers with a system of deficiency payments at an estimated cost of £2 billion per year, leaving £6 billion per year as the net gain to the Treasury from this source.
The other contributions to government finances will be generated by lower food prices and increased employment. On release from the CAP, the UKIP will allow food prices to fall to market levels, giving consumers some £10 billion more to spend on other goods and services. This will increase indirect tax revenue, and employment will rise to meet the extra demand. Employment will also rise significantly as a result of scrapping job-destroying regulations and the UKIP policy of granting exemptions from regulations to small businesses. Finally, the UKIP intends to improve the demand for employment by progressively removing employers' National Insurance contributions, replacing this source of revenue with taxes on other business transactions. Taking account of the revenue gains and savings in benefit payments from this increased employment, the UKIP estimates that, within 5 years, these changes together will have a value of £13 billion per year. Adding the £6 billion net saving from the UK's contribution to the EU budget yields a total extra amount of £19 billion per year for the Treasury.
The UKIP proposes to split this sum three ways, between deficit reduction (£7 billion), reduction in tax (£7 billion), and higher spending in priority areas (£5 billion). Of the £7 billion allocated for tax reduction, £5 billion will be used for raising the starting threshold for income tax. This will reduce the financial disincentives to moving from benefits into employment, and it is an important element of the UKIP's employment policy. The remaining £2 billion is the duty currently paid on food imported from outside the EU and handed to the EU as part of our contribution, which will fall away on withdrawal.
The two areas which the UKIP has selected as most worthy of greater expenditure are health and defence, and it proposes to split the allocated £5 billion between them. This is equivalent to an 8% rise in the their combined budget. The UKIP is also committed to removing VAT from domestic fuel, which will be possible when the UK leaves the European Union, and it will restore the value of the married couples allowance. But these and any other changes in taxation or government spending must, taken together, be neutral in their effect on the budget.
The UKIP will also give attention to a number of other possible tax reforms. There are potential savings from merging income tax with employee's National Insurance contributions, from the simplification of VAT procedures, and from the integration of elements of the benefit system with income tax. Capital taxes also merit attention because of their clerical burden and low yield, and because they distort savings and investment behaviour. Finally, procedures will need to be developed to facilitate the UKIP's policy of returning financial responsibility to local authorities. The UKIP will not impose a one-off "windfall" tax on the privatised utility companies.
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Under a UKIP government not bound to any monetary union or exchange rate arrangement, the Bank of England's interest rate choices will be devoted to the prime objective of maintaining a low and steady rate of £-sterling inflation. While the Bank will remain accountable to our elected government, it will be insulated from pressures to relax its anti-inflationary stance for the purpose of a temporary stimulus to economic activity. Reducing interest rates for this purpose inevitably means that they have to be raised later to contain the inflation. Steadfast attention to the task of holding down inflation is the best monetary policy for the long term health of the economy.
With the Bank concentrating its efforts on the control of inflation, the external value of the £-sterling will be free to find its own level reflecting the supply and demand for foreign exchange, and reflecting the low inflation rate. The Bank of England will be discouraged from bowing to pressure from the export or import lobbies to intervene in the foreign exchange markets for the purpose of influencing the external value of the £-sterling.
The Bank's task of inflation control will be assisted by the programme of fiscal deficit reduction outlined above. If a government habitually overspends, interest rates which are consistent with low inflation have to be higher. Moreover, deficit-prone governments have a tendency to lapse into inflation as a means of writing off their debts, a fact which is currently causing the designers of the European single currency great concern.
For these reasons, we need to have disciplined control both over government overspending and interest rates. Relaxing either for the purpose of an apparent short term advantage brings longer term pain. There is no free lunch. The UKIP is confident that, in a first term of government, it will be able to establish its reputation for prudent economic management in both these areas.
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THE SINGLE CURRENCY
The UKIP is fundamentally opposed to the surrender of the £-sterling in favour of the planned single European currency or any other currency issued by an agency outside our shores. It is also opposed to any exchange rate agreement which would commit the UK to maintain the foreign value of the £sterling against other currencies.
The reasons for the UKIP's strong aversion to the single European currency (Economic and Monetary Union: EMU) and to the UK's involvement in it are as follows. First, interest rates in participating countries will be set by the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt. For the UK, this would mean that interest rates, for overdrafts and home loans for instance, would seldom be appropriate for the prevailing economic conditions in the UK. Secondly, despite the stipulation in the Maastricht treaty that the ECB will be "independent", there are reasons to believe that the Euro will not necessarily be strong against inflation. Finally, EMU implies the transfer of authority over national public finances to Europe. The no-bail-out clauses of the Maastricht treaty and the proposed fines of the recently approved "stability pact" are not credible threats against an overspending government, and the only outcome can be a much greater scale of financial assistance to weaker countries, with the accompanying centralisation of financial authority.
In summary, the trivial economic benefits which the UK would gain from EMU, of reduced transactions costs and the removal of exchange rate risk against some European countries, would be at the expense of handing over the economic management of the UK economy to the EU. The UK would also be compelled to transfer gold and foreign exchange reserves to the ECB in Frankfurt, and the fiscal "harmonisation" associated with EMU can only imply significantly larger contributions by UK taxpayers to other EU countries, particularly to support their seriously underfunded pension schemes.
Under the stability pact agreement, even those EU countries which do not participate in EMU can expect to be coerced into a new exchange rate mechanism, into accepting constraints on their financial freedom, and into pooled public finances on a much larger scale than at present. Already it has been agreed that VAT will be collected by Europe and imposed more uniformly, implying that items like food and houses which currently do not attract VAT in the UK will suffer VAT at a minimum of 15%. EMU will imply a significant extension of this centralisation of economic power in the EU, even for EU countries which do not participate.
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The UKIP's major impact on employment will come from the policy of deregulation which will become possible when the UK leaves the EU, and from the UKIP's fiscal policies. The main fiscal policies which are designed to improve employment are raising the threshold level of earnings at which income tax becomes payable, and phasing out the employer's liability for national insurance contributions. The fiscal changes will encourage work by allowing a higher proportion of the value of the worker's output to reach him as pay.
In making these policies, the UKIP asserts that "job creation" is not a pursuit that the government should attempt to follow, where this refers to public sector employment. The UKIP believes that the production of goods and services is best undertaken under competitive conditions by the private sector, except in those cases (defence and public health, for instance) where this would be inappropriate or infeasible. The duty of the government is therefore to create the best conditions for private sector employment to flourish, which usually means avoiding laws which hinder it.
A job is a voluntary contract between employer and employee, from which both parties must expect to gain. The solution to unemployment is thus to make it more worthwhile for both parties. For the employer, the value added by the worker must exceed the costs of hiring, including non-wage costs. Every regulation, whether it is to give workers "rights", or to enforce health and safety, or to "protect the environment", adds cost to business and therefore has to mean lower pay or fewer jobs. Regulations destroy jobs, and the UKIP is determined to reduce the regulatory burden on industry, and on small businesses in particular.
The UKIP acknowledges the necessity of some regulation in the relevant fields. For instance, factory pollution requires regulatory controls because the employer does not directly bear its cost. But regulation in all fields should be restricted to specifying acceptable and feasible standards, with the onus on the employer to find the most suitable methods of complying. In respect of employment practices a good employer is aware that profits depend on a stable and productive workforce, and employees perform best when they are motivated and feel valued. A good employer also recognises that trade unions, in which membership is voluntary, have a constructive role to play in helping with communications and in promoting satisfactory industrial relations. If you look after your workers and show respect for them, you get a better job and more output. All this is simply good management. Hence many of the measures which are now legal requirements would anyway be provided by an employer who has an eye on profits. Conversely no amount of legislation can force an employer to behave in a socially responsible fashion, or completely eliminate all health and safety risks. In calling for a significant reduction in regulation, the UKIP is thus making the judgement that the social benefits to be had from reducing unemployment far outweigh those arising from the current level of regulation, including those regulations on workers' rights.
From the point of view of the employee, the incentive to seek work rises with the level of expected earnings net of benefits foregone. This is the reason for the UKIP's policy of removing the lowest paid workers from income tax by raising the earnings threshold above which tax becomes payable. Moving off benefits and into work should always bring worthwhile rewards.
The UKIP notes the generally low rate of success of government incentive schemes, such as national insurance relief to firms who hire long-term unemployed workers. Such schemes do not tackle the root causes of unemployment and the UKIP does not view them favourably.
The above measures serve to raise the demand for labour, and to raise the financial rewards from working for the lower paid. There is, however, another initiative which must be taken if a marked reduction in unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is to be achieved. Standards of education have to be improved, to enhance the contribution that the potential employee is able to offer in a world in which the opportunities are much more for skilled jobs rather than unskilled. When the educational shortfall is addressed, the UKIP estimates that its employment policies should succeed in reducing the trend level of unemployment by over 1 million.
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The task of school education is to equip pupils with sufficient knowledge and proficiency in traditional subjects, including the 3 Rs, that they can leave school able to become productive citizens, either directly or after training or more education. But learning the 3 Rs is not all. As all good educators know, an essential function of schooling is to pass on a set of values and to build individuals who will thrive and become good citizens in the real competitive world. An all-round education includes developing interpersonal skills, integrity, responsibility, and plain good manners.
These virtues are learned outside the classroom as much as within, through involvement in sporting and other extra-curricular activities. It is these less measurable fruits of a good education which together with academic material produce self-confident young people capable of sustaining themselves and contributing to society. In transmitting values appropriate to our society, school education has an important role to play in preserving the national cultural identity of the UK, and UK history and English language and literature must be part of any curriculum. If we ignore our culture and history, we belittle our society and ourselves. The insidious EU programme of instilling a bias into our school education by taking our teachers and school governors for "European" training must be rooted out.
It is now commonly appreciated that our state schools have been failing in a number of ways, and most notably in teaching basic literacy and numeracy. This failure can, for the most part, be attributed to the widespread use of "child-centred" or "progressive" teaching techniques. Under these methods, the pupil is spared the rigour of rote learning and is supposed to learn by its own initiative and discovery. Whole-class teaching is viewed with disfavour, goals are vague or undefined, and the system of rewards using marks and class rankings is largely avoided. These methods have drawbacks beyond poor academic results. They are associated with poor discipline: a teacher who does not ask for achievement in the classroom is not credible when he requires good behaviour. And if nothing is expected of a child, the child can never gain the self esteem which comes from fulfilling expectations.
In attempting to redress these failures and to restore standards, the Conservative government introduced the National Curriculum, setting minimum standards, prescribing in detail how the various subjects must be taught, and requiring more rigorous inspection complete with an abundance of formfilling. The UKIP believes that, since state education is a publicly funded, the state has an obligation to set and demand standards; moreover this is the right way to deal with the flawed "progressive" teaching methods. But as in so many other areas, detailed specification of the means of achieving these standards is counterproductive. A crucial ingredient of teaching is the teacher's own enthusiasm and dedication, which rapidly disappears when he is insulted by being told from on high how to do his job, and when his time is absorbed in having to prove to those on high that he is obeying instructions.
A UKIP government will therefore make the National Curriculum less rigid. It will be concerned to set appropriate standards in conjunction with the school examination boards, but beyond this it prefers to leave teachers and head teachers alone to choose how these standards are best achieved or indeed exceeded. It will not make all schools conform to some uniform blueprint for the methods of achieving the standards, although it will expect sound and tested teaching methods like times-tables and phonics to be universally readopted and it will be sufficiently prescriptive during whatever interim period is necessary to bring this about.
In the matter of extra-curricular activity, the widespread abandonment of sport at state schools is to be deplored, as is the reluctance, often on spurious safety grounds, to give pupils responsibility even for the most menial duties. The UKIP will encourage the restoration of these important facets of a good education.
In keeping with the above, the UKIP will also allow schools, within reasonable bounds, to choose how discipline is to be enforced. Successful teaching is impossible without discipline, and discipline both inside and outside the classroom is vital in providing a framework of acceptable behaviour. But discipline comes more from mutual respect between pupil and teacher than from the threat of punishment. If all those involved -teachers, pupils, parents, and governors -- are striving for the same objective of good education, and have confidence in the value of that objective and in the school's ability to fulfil it, then mutual respect is the natural consequence and discipline is easier to accomplish. The UKIP believes that too much restriction of schools' autonomy can only diminish that respect, and is directly connected with poor discipline including the appalling problem of drug abuse.
Hand in hand with more freedom for head teachers in the running of their schools goes the freedom to select and stream pupils, the freedom for schools to develop in ways their governors see fit, and the freedom of parents to choose, within practical limits, which school to apply to. Along with these freedoms goes the obligation on the school to detect and develop each pupil's differing aptitudes to the full. And the school can only fulfil this obligation if it regularly assesses the pupil's abilities and achievements and makes the results of assessments known. The practice of withholding the publication of class marks to avoid the unhappiness of those who have done badly removes a vital part of the learning process, and is poor preparation for examinations and for the competitive world outside. Denying a child the useful signal that it is bottom of the class is as damaging as denying the pride earned from coming top.
The above principles also apply, by and large, to higher education. Colleges and universities are justifiably supported by state funds, hence the state should look after taxpayers' interests by taking responsibility for the value of output. However its role should not normally extend to dictating either what should be taught nor how it should be taught. The UKIP is therefore opposed to the new centralised teaching quality assessments, and the crass bureaucratic management methods which some institutions have felt obliged to adopt. Decisions about teaching methods, course structure, and course quality should be left to the institutions concerned, and delegated as far as possible to individual departments within those institutions.
A serious problem in tertiary education has, however, recently emerged, which demands an initial period of intervention. After stimulating a dramatic rise in student numbers, the government has since cut back on funding as the cost grew faster than expected, and this has made many institutions acutely conscious of cash flows. Given funding arrangements which make for a strong incentive to fill student quotas, the understandable response of some has been to reduce both entrance and exit standards whilst inventing a proliferation of new courses intended to attract students, but whose academic value must be subject to grave doubt. In the meantime the government itself has fostered a whole new range of doubtful courses known as NVQs and GNVQs. These courses command little respect amongst employers and have given rise to a whole new bureaucracy of administrators.
The cost of all these non-courses is not just measured in wasted taxpayers' money. The cost to the student is far higher, when the realisation dawns about the questionable value of the course for enhancing job prospects. This realisation also reduces motivation which in turn reduces the probability that any value will be gained at all. It makes a mockery of the essential idea that students should regard higher education, or any other state funded education, as a privilege because someone else is paying the bill.
The UKIP's solution to this will be to take a hard look at the value of the new courses with a view to a widespread withdrawal of funding, and with the cash thus released it will make sure that proper courses are properly funded. Thereafter it will be possible to return to the principle of generally allowing the various institutions to be autonomous. The funding of colleges will also be eased as a result of the UK leaving the EU, as students from other EU countries will no longer be treated as "home" students for fee purposes and will be obliged to pay at the same rate as other non-UK students. Shutting down non-courses will probably result in some universities closing or reverting to their former status as technical colleges. Those which remain will be relieved of short term financial worries, and will then be able to return to focusing on their longer term viability, which depends on upholding a reputation for undertaking research and giving degrees which both society and employers find worthwhile.
But the greatest spur to success in school, university and college will be the improvement in employment prospects brought about by the UKIP's policies designed for that purpose, in a country which itself will have regained some self respect and a sense of purpose. The greater is the prospect of finding a fulfilling well paid job, the greater will be the motivation of pupils and students to make themselves attractive to potential employers, both in exam grades and demeanour, and the greater will be the reward of the educators who guide them in these endeavours.
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THE WELFARE STATE
The UKIP accepts that welfare provision is a legitimate part of government activity in a civilised society. As is now becoming widely recognised, however, welfare expenditure in the UK is on an unsustainable track. Real expenditure on social security in the UK has risen by one third during the last 5 years to about £100 billion, or 35% of total public spending, despite some attempts by the government to contain it. But serious pruning of the welfare budget has been seen by successive governments to be electorally unwise because a large proportion of the population receives welfare transfers in one form or other, and other softer targets for expenditure cuts have been found. Resources are not limitless, however, and future UK governments will have no option but to face benefit reform squarely.
The other problem, which besets any centralised system of welfare provision, is that it inhibits private provision. Give away anything free (pensions, income support, disability benefit, health care), and the demands for it multiply as people find it no longer pays to try and provide for themselves, and they rationally adapt their behaviour so as to qualify for it. The consequence of the UK welfare state since the last war has thus been the growth of dependency and the decline of self help, help within the immediate and extended family, and the various forms of mutual help like the friendly societies and charitable health care. This decline has been aided by the growth of regulation, much of it originating in Europe, which can enlarge the costs of provision whether privately or publicly funded. The new regulations relating to old-age care are an example.
The UKIP particularly regrets the detrimental effect which expanding state provision and other government policies have had on the family as the basic stable unit of society. The family, preferably with two committed parents, is the best environment for raising secure and confident children, it is the best means of transmitting decent social values, and a supportive family background is an essential complement to school education. Whilst personal associations are not in other respects the business of government, the government has a duty to ensure that its policies encourage family living. Specifically, the UKIP will see to it that the erosion of the married persons' allowance is reversed, and it will make divorce less automatic for couples with dependent children. A useful by-product of more family living would be that average household sizes would rise. The perceived need for 4.4 million new dwellings in the next 20 years, while the population remains broadly stable, would then be reduced.
The natural reaction to the growing demand for state handouts has been to stiffen the conditions, but this always tends to shift incentives in other unwelcome directions. As an example, the jobseekers' allowance, which makes the dole conditional on work-seeking effort, wastes employers' time in having to sift through numbers of unsuitable applicants for a vacancy. More damaging is the means test, a condition for so many types of state handout, which absorbs a large fraction of the £3 billion welfare administration budget while penalising thrift and rewarding dishonesty. Income and wealth are so easy to conceal and awkward for officials to check, that inaccurate declaration of means has become a common and accepted practice, as have other ways of falsely obtaining benefits. Cases identified as benefit fraud are just the more obvious and extreme examples. The system turns us all into cheats, and it is each other that we are cheating.
In the case of pensions, many individuals in the UK are members of private occupational schemes or have taken out personal pension or life assurance policies, partially in response to tax incentives. This has made our future state pension "overhang" much smaller than it is in other European countries. But as in other comparisons with our European neighbours, this should not be a source of complacency. It should rather be taken as a warning that the "harmonisation" of fiscal affairs which will inevitably accompany further European integration will land UK taxpayers with bills for foreign pensions.
It is UKIP policy that this self reliance in pensions be extended further by obliging individuals to divert part of their National Insurance contributions into private pension funds. Universal state pensions would then fall away as time passed, and eventually the state would only provide for those who have not been able to provide sufficiently for themselves. The great advantage of private pensions is that they restore the connection between contributions and eventual payout, and the rate of return to contributions reflects returns available in financial markets: it cannot be diminished by the government's appropriation of some of the funds. These features encourage saving since the reward on retirement is directly under the control of the contributor. And unlike the existing state pension system, private schemes need not bias the payout in favour of some particular retirement age. These advantages accepted, the UKIP believes that greater private provision is anyway imperative if pensions are to continue at an acceptable level for the population as a whole. Regulatory control over the pensions industry may require some amendment for this purpose, but this must not be allowed to give rise to another batch of destructive legislation in the name of "protecting the consumer", as is currently being contemplated by Europe.
As for other welfare measures, the UKIP is confident that its policy of deregulation and its fiscal policies will reduce unemployment and also encourage some of those who have left the workforce to return. This will significantly reduce the welfare drain on public funds. And whilst it is acknowledged that all welfare payments should be conditional on need and means, the UKIP will seek ways of minimising the use of means testing and minimising the extent to which rule-bound officials have to sit in judgement over who should receive. It will also seek to simplify the large and complicated diversity of available benefits, to decentralise the authority for granting welfare payments where possible, and to care for those who need support compassionately and fairly.
The main thrust of UKIP welfare policy is to reduce the numbers of those who need it, and to restore people to independence from welfare and to the dignity that comes with it.
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THE HEALTH SERVICE
There are many respects in which our health service works well, especially in comparison with systems in other countries. Yet as in all areas of state provision, it is its failings which are uppermost in peoples' minds, and which are given prominence by the media.
The recent Conservative "reforms" were aimed at reducing costs. They detected inefficiencies and found that treatments and medication were being prescribed with insufficient regard for cost. The solution adopted was to inject the service with a dose of free market principles, creating "fundholding" doctors and turning hospitals into "NHS trusts" with budgetary controls.
Among the accusations now levelled at the health service are (a) administration costs have risen in order to put the competitive reforms into practice, (b) there is insufficient capacity, particularly in some sensitive areas like intensive care, which have led to well publicised reports of urgent treatment being unavailable, (c) the conflicting objectives of administrators and those responsible for treatment has caused stress to doctors and nurses, causing many to leave the service and increasing the pressure on those remaining.
These consequences of the reforms show that the incentive structure within the NHS is still far from optimal, and a UKIP government will investigate the extent to which they should be reversed or replaced with other reforms. Another area which merits investigation is the increasing risk to doctors of being sued for malpractice or negligence, which is a major cause of rising medical costs.
A UKIP government will nonetheless remain committed to an NHS which is free at the point of treatment. In particular it believes that charging for eyesight and dental check-ups is bad public health policy: early diagnosis and prevention of conditions is better for the patient and cheaper in the long run. In order to alleviate shortages of capacity and to ease hospital budgets, a UKIP government will raise expenditure on the NHS by up to 8%, making use of some of the extra public funds arising from our departure from the European Union. But even with this raised funding, it must be realised that health supply is unlikely to meet the potential demand, particularly as the population ages, and decisions have to be made as to the allocation of treatment. The UKIP will try to reduce the extent that waiting lists are used to limit demand. The UKIP has no prejudice against private health schemes.
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Included in the list of `competencies' which EU institutions have assumed is cooperation over national defence. Responsibility for defence has been vested in the West European Union (WEU), a military alliance formed after the last war which became irrelevant as NATO developed, but which is now being resurrected and subsumed under the control of the EU. But unlike NATO, in which all members retain the right to determine their own defence policy, the programme for the WEU is one of direct centralised European control and it already has several corps at its disposal. This implies that UK forces could be ordered into action in causes not supported by our government, and that the UK would be unable to prevent conscription if this were called for. This scenario is not fantasy. The groundwork for common defence is in the Maastricht Treaty, and the Commission as guardian of the treaties has shown its determination to further this programme.
Popular acceptance of this plan for pooled defences is helped along by the misconception, encouraged by the EU, that it is the togetherness of the EU which has kept European peace since the last war. Greater togetherness including common defence is therefore seen as the way to avoid more European wars in the future. Indeed many in the UK who support the EU cite this as their reason: a belief that the EU will prevent wars, and a fear that if the UK withdrew we would invite conflict and be unable to protect ourselves. This fear has regularly been deepened by remarkable statements from Helmut Kohl to the effect that German nationalism will only be held in check if Germany is bound into a wider Europe, with Germany itself in the driving seat.
The argument that European unity has been an agency for peace is nonsense. Indeed, in forcing nations together under an undemocratic form of government, the EU is more likely to be an agency for conflict. Peace has been a result of the standoff between the two nuclear superpowers, together with the NATO alliance and the military weakness of the individual EU nations. Similarly it is naive to think that the European Union is capable of a coordinated defence strategy. Judging from the disagreement and vacillation over Yugoslavia, there is no chance that EU nations will agree over action in the face of any wider conflict. Despite signing treaties, there have been no indications that EU nations will behave any more as good neighbours than they have in the past.
Yet in the UK, the idea that Europe, or the Americans, or somebody, will protect us, has been the excuse for reducing our own defence capabilities. Defence spending has been a soft target for cuts in all recent UK budgets, with the result that all three defence arms have been run down to a low level, particularly the Royal Navy. Current commitments in Ulster, on the Rhine, and in Bosnia leave the army with few troops to spare. Our navy had to borrow liners to move troops to the Falklands as long ago as 1983.
The UKIP believes that the UK needs a viable independent defence force, for our own purposes and also to be able to cooperate meaningfully with other nations as necessary for mutual defence. In particular, the UKIP will continue the UK's involvement in NATO and resist any moves to oust NATO from Europe, but will be wary of antagonising Russia by extending NATO membership to the East. At the same time the UKIP rejects any moves towards precommitment. Our forces cannot be treated as mercenaries for the EU or any other power. They exist to protect the UK, and its defence must always remain their first priority. The UK's defence requirements include a confident navy and airforce, improved coastal and fisheries protection, plus sufficient forces to safeguard Ulster and overseas interests. The UKIP favours the maintenance of a nuclear capability.
To begin the process, the UKIP has made provision for a rise of 8% in defence spending in its first term budget. This will also help us to show our armed forces, as we should also wish to show our police, health workers, and educators, that this country values them.
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AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES
These two areas are those in which European Union interference is most visible and most obviously damaging to UK interests. The Common Agricultural Policy still absorbs about half of the EU budget in paying for subsidies to producers, paying for the disposal of the excess production which results, and then paying the producers not to produce so much. Its effects are to raise food prices, to disrupt world trade, to beggar third world farmers and to encourage fraud. At the same time it ties up farm business and the distribution of foodstuffs in the most complex regulatory net, further distorting the pattern of production and involving all in expensive clerical procedures.
The notorious Common Fisheries Policy, which treats the fish stocks in our coastal waters as a "common European resource", has resulted in the reduction of the UK fishing fleet to one third of its former size. And the overfishing which its regulatory methods have caused, has resulted in a serious depletion of the available fish resource for all. The European Commission's solution to this dilemma is to be further reductions in national fishing quotas.
In the case of agriculture, it is UKIP policy that consumers should have the benefit of world food prices which have usually been substantially lower than the EU's support prices. It also accepts that some measure of assistance to farming is necessary for strategic and social reasons. To put this into effect when the UK is released from the European CAP, the system of deficiency payments which existed in the UK before 1973 will be reintroduced. This system guarantees farmers a minimum `target' price for their produce. The produce is sold freely in the open market, and the deficiency payment is based on the amount by which the target price exceeds the market price averaged over a week. There is a fixed maximum quantity of produce which attracts the payment, but no restrictions on the quantity sold. CAP quotas will go, and marketing arrangements will be left free of government interference. For the purpose of budgeting, the cost of the proposed deficiency payments scheme has been set at £2 billion per year, or 17% of the contribution of the farming sector to GDP.
As further policy, the UKIP will encourage organic farming, and discourage intensive and high-input techniques and inhumane methods for livestock farming, and it will investigate measures to achieve these ends, including appropriate adjustments to the deficiency rate. Existing incentives for environmental conservation including forestry will be continued but simplified. The UKIP will encourage the return of small local slaughterhouses, forced to close in favour of large regional units by misguided health legislation which will be scrapped. This will help to put an end to the long distance transport of live animals for slaughter.
The obvious solution to the UK's fishing predicament is to re-establish and enforce our property rights over our coastal waters, whilst controlling fishing sufficiently to allow stocks of depleted species gradually to grow to the optimum level, thus repairing the damage caused by overfishing.
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The current level of serious crime is understandably one of the greatest public concerns. Recorded crime has shown a marked increase since the beginning of the 1980s, whilst the police positively identify only 2% of those who commit crimes. The present government's attitude is to make sentences longer and more automatic, with the aim of raising the level of protection of the public and the deterrent effect of the punishment. The UKIP agrees that sentencing should be both tough and consistent, but believes that this solution fails to address the social causes of crime. An individual who feels let down by society is less likely to be deterred from committing a crime against that society. The UKIP also considers that reorganisation of the police has been counterproductive. A police force that is in close contact with the population which is its concern is more effective than one which is remotely and bureaucratically controlled.
The priority of a UKIP government will be to improve the record of catching criminals, and for this purpose the centralisation of police control must be reversed. The police must be more accessible and accountable to those they are protecting. We need to return to having more local bobbies who are intimately familiar with their beat particularly in inner-city areas, and to release them from paperwork. These improvements will have the additional advantage of restoring some lost respect for our police.
But the greatest impact on our crime problem will be achieved by the UKIP's priorities of reducing unemployment, restoring democracy both at national and local levels, reforming education, and encouraging the family and individual responsibility. The best way to address the cause of crime is surely to improve the prospect of meaningful economic and social involvement in the community. Given brighter economic prospects, even the drugs problem will become more manageable.
The EU's planned move towards a `Europol' police force, with further centralisation and identity cards, is a move in precisely the wrong direction.
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IMMIGRATION AND BORDER CONTROLS
The UK as a prosperous country will always attract immigrants, and must therefore limit their numbers. The EU's policy, however, is to apply immigration rules which are common to all member states and to scrap internal borders, a policy will not work satisfactorily so long as its southern member states remain easy entry points for illegal access to all EU countries. The UKIP wishes the UK to keep its own independent rules on immigration and political asylum. Its policy is therefore to retain and indeed tighten UK borders in order to prevent illegal immigration, and to clamp down on organised crime and on drug trafficking in particular.
The well publicised difficulty which the UK is currently experiencing in coping with illegal immigration and asylum seekers is a result of increased numbers and insufficient Home Office resources. The UKIP will ensure that adequate funding is available to enforce our rules in these areas humanely but firmly.
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The UKIP recognises the contribution that various immigrant groups over several centuries including ethnic minorities have made and continue to make to our culture and our economy. In this context, the UKIP cannot repeat too often that it totally rejects racist views and behaviour, and desires that all British citizens, whatever their origin, should live in harmony. Racial attacks, physical or otherwise, must attract the full force of the law. The UKIP does not accept, however, that the various forms of reverse discrimination known sometimes as `affirmative action' or `political correctness' are necessarily of any help to the minority groups at which they are aimed. Such measures have a tendency to demean those members of minority groups who do not want or need help, besides drawing attention to racial or other differences. The best policy in this area is one in which all arms of the public service are entirely even-handed and colourblind.
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The UKIP stands for the return of representative government at all levels, including local authorities. In line with the current tendency to solve all problems by more rules and more centralisation, the UK government has responded to irresponsible behaviour by a few local councils by restricting them all. As a few local councils have overspent on ill-conceived development and other projects and run up large debts, the government has seen fit to take away local responsibility for most revenue collection and to impose general restrictions on all, in particular rate capping and other financial measures. This assumption of local power by central government has removed accountability from the local authorities, allowed them to blame the government for all their shortcomings, given rise to endless arguments about the allocation of funds across the authorities, and diminished the value of having elected local councillors.
A UKIP government will return to Westminster powers now exercised in Brussels, and it will also return powers now exercised in Westminster to local authorities. As in other matters, the principle adopted will be to specify consistent standards in the various areas of local competence whilst trusting the authorities to find the best ways of achieving those standards. Central government has a duty to intervene when its standards are not met and only in order to restore them.
The UKIP acknowledges the resentment caused by the county boundary changes in 1974, and doubts that these changes led to greater efficiency. It will favour the restoration of the old county boundaries. It will not contemplate the formation of regional assemblies to replace some of the functions of county councils, as promoted by the Liberal Democrats. This would add another layer of bureaucracy and the UKIP suspects that it is motivated by desires to emulate the EU concept of "the regions" in the UK.
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PRESERVING THE UNITED KINGDOM
The UKIP believes it is the duty of every UK government to uphold the unity of the United Kingdom. It will not be pressurised into abandoning Ulster, or considering some version of a devolved elected assembly in Scotland. Any form of devolution short of complete independence will lead to increased numbers of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and taxes. The UKIP would be prepared to give total independence to any part of the United Kingdom, but if and only if that were the expressed wish of the majority of its citizens.
The UKIP sympathises with those in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK who despair over a government in Westminster that has assumed too many powers that should be in the hands of local and County Councils, while giving its own powers away to the EU. It believes that the wish to remain in the UK will be reinforced when the elected parliament in London is re-established as the government of the UK, and when appropriate responsibilities are returned to local authorities throughout the UK, including Scotland. The position of the Scottish National Party, of wanting an elected assembly in Scotland whilst submitting to rule from the EU, is self contradictory.
The present government's policy on Ulster, of negotiating with the IRA, has failed. The UKIP will respect the view of the large majority of citizens of Ulster and the rest of the UK, that terrorists should be given no leniency, nor should they be given legitimacy by inviting them to take part in talks.
The UKIP believes that the monarchy and the House of Lords are essential parts of the fabric of the United Kingdom and it will strenuously resist any attempts to abolish these institutions or to dilute their functions. It also values the role which the Commonwealth can play in the UK's international relations and trade, and it will strive to regenerate this association and to redress the damage done to it by the UK's membership of the EU.
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In the UK today we have welfare benefits, and free hospitals and schools. These good things are not really free of course. We pay for them with our taxes, and this has helped them to become regarded as a right, a notion that is sometimes explicitly recognised, by means of the patients' charter, for instance. And we have rules. Rules to protect us against health and safety risks, against environmental damage, and against ourselves. Many of these rules originated in Brussels, though our government does not go out of its way to tell us so, and many more are the product of our own UK ministries.
This apparently well-intentioned concoction of state help and protection has financial and efficiency costs. It is also poisonous to such old fashioned virtues as initiative, judgement, responsibility, and respect. If caring is the state's job, why bother to care for yourself or your children or your old parents or your neighbour? If nothing is left to individual judgement, the ability to judge becomes lost. If no trust is shown, there is no point in being trustworthy. And as any caring parent knows, if you restrict the freedom to behave responsibly, responsibility is never learned.
The UKIP does not want to take away the state provisions, although it will strive to make them work better as set out in this manifesto. It is, however, determined to attack the rules, not only for economic reasons but also because of this social damage which they cause, and it does not believe that this will result in a country which is less safe or healthy.
But it is not just the rules which need to be attacked, it is also the whole regulatory culture which gives rise to them. With the government at national or local level having assumed responsibility for so much, it is the government which is blamed when anything goes wrong, as shown by the growing incidence of lawsuits against authorities. But rather than just allowing the specific case of error, neglect, or crime which caused the problem to be dealt with appropriately, the government's response, far too often, is to add even more rules. Rules are contrived which attempt to prevent any individual from ever being in a position to cause the same problem again. There are many examples of such ill-judged, wide-ranging, often hysteria-driven, new rules, like the responses to health scares and the recent firearms ban. This blunt method of solution must ultimately be in vain. It is impossible to protect against all life's risks and misfortunes.
When the UK withdraws from the EU, rules from this source will cease. But unless the regulatory culture which has taken hold in the UK is also driven out, it will not be enough simply to scrap existing rules because more will be generated. Withdrawal from the EU will thus only be a part, but a necessary part of the reconstruction of the sort of United Kingdom that a UKIP government will aim for. The other major part will be dismantling the centralised bureaucratic rule-making machinery and allowing democracy to work again.
In the meanwhile the scapegoat for all ills in our over-regulated society is the UK government. It can only be a matter of time, though, before the government begins to admit openly that Europe deserves some of the blame, because Europe makes so many of the rules. It cannot be too long before the government becomes no longer able or willing to act as a front for the European Union while concealing its nature and intentions. When the blame is turned on Europe it will become much clearer what the EU is about. Even those who still insist on seeing Europe as a saviour, whether in upholding workers' rights or in preventing conflict, will then begin to find fault. The pressure for the UK to withdraw from the EU will become overwhelming.
At the moment, withdrawal is a feasible option. It can be put into effect by repealing The European Communities Act of 1972 and its subsequent amendments, and notwithstanding any legal arguments about reneging on treaties, the EU would gain nothing by trying to stand in our way. But while we remain in the EU, it is to be hoped that the decision to withdraw will not be delayed too long. It is to be hoped that the transfer of power to the EU, in which our adoption of the single currency would be an important part, has not become so complete that extricating the UK at some later stage will prove troublesome and costly. It will also be better for the UK if we are not a member of the EU when it collapses.
When the UK is rid of the EU and all the senseless restrictions, the prospects for international trade and UK industry will be bright as enterprise is freed from red tape. Individuals, and particularly young people, who now feel they have no part to play, will regain a sense of self worth and belonging as they begin to see a worthwhile future. And when individual responsibility and proper democracy is restored, mutual respect, and respect for authority and even for politicians, will follow.
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