by Paul Kavanagh
In a practical demonstration of the triumph of hope over expectation, the UK Independence Party’s irrepressible leader Nigel Farrage yesterday launched his party’s manifesto for the May Holyrood elections. The main plank of the party’s manifesto is their commitment to abolish elections to the Holyrood parliament and replace MSPs with a meeting of Scottish Westminster MPs.
To read the UKIP manifesto is to enter strange uncharted territory. It’s a land where the Daily Mail is common sense, social attitudes remain locked in a 1950s time warp, and the primacy of Westminster is a holy thing which must remain forever pristine in its purity.
We should all wave Union flags, worship the Queen, criminals should be locked up for life, and boot camps introduced for young offenders. And for some reason the party thinks it’s crucial we address the issue of the over-regulation of abattoirs. Possibly UK strategists believe this measure will resonate with a Scottish electorate addicted to meat pies and bridies. These people are taken seriously in England you know. We should listen with rapt attention and unwrapped bridies.
UKIP believes in the unchallenged sovereignty of the Westminster parliament, and is as opposed to an uppity Holyrood as it is opposed to the Spawn of Be’elzebub itself, the European Union. Apparently without any sense of irony, Mr Farrage confidently claimed: “UKIP alone, among the serious political parties, says no one but we, the people of Scotland, or those we elect should make our laws or tax us.”
Mr Farrage thinks UKIP is a serious political party in Scotland. Bless.
Also displaying the UKIP irony by-pass in full, party chairman Lord Monckton said: “The self indulgence and self importance of the fourteenth rate numpties who have on the whole populated the Scottish parliament has been a grave disappointment and I therefore want to ensure that we get a better calibre of member in there, and we do that by using the Westminster MPs.”
In UKIP-land Scotland will be better served by Margaret Curran, MP for Glasgow East and refugee from Holyrood, returning to give us the benefit of her wit and wisdom one week out of every month. Still it’s better than having to listen to her all the time. We Scots should be grateful for small mercies.
The party promises to be tough on crime. Though the manifesto stops short of a promise to return to hanging and flogging, you can’t help but feeling that it’s lurking there under the surface. The party wants an American style ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule introduced for repeat offenders, giving a life sentence for the third offence. In America this saw one man receive a life sentence for stealing a pizza. I wonder what the sentence for stealing a bridie would be. Possibly flogging. Then hanging. Then having to eat a bridie.
UKIP is committed to introducing directly-elected police boards, guaranteeing that such elections will produce an ever increasing spiral of political promises to be ‘tougher’ on crime, because no one is going to win an election to a police board by promising to be more sensible in the treatment of offenders and to look at the bigger picture. There is no bigger picture in UKIP-land, just the grinning bouncy face of Nigel Farrage staring at you, like an over-enthusiastic labrador puppy who harbours secret ambitions to crap on your carpet.
The major plank of the UKIP’s health commitments is a promise to repeal the smoking ban in enclosed public places, although the party has not specified whether this should include hospital wards too. Health treatment would still be free, but only for people who can prove they’re British citizens, sorry subjects. If you’re foreign you can cough up or die, or keep coughing until you die. It’s your choice. UKIP is proudly libertarian.
The party’s commitment to a reform of energy policy was displayed in its promise to protect the environment by abolishing wind farms on the grounds that they are unsightly and kill birds, and its outright rejection that carbon emissions caused by human activity have any role at all in climate change.
On a more positive note for Scottish culture, the party stated that government communications should be published in Gaelic or English. So’s that’s youse Scots speakers telt, ya scruff. And you can forget about translating health information into Urdu too. People should not be encouraged to talk foreign. It’s unsightly, and possibly kills birds.
Yesterday’s manifesto launch underscored the party’s difficulty in making a breakthrough in Scotland. A party which is ideologically committed to the view that Scotland is region of a single nation called Britain is incapable of producing policies which are tailored to suit the needs and demands of the Scottish electorate. The language of the right wing Eurosceptics who form the bedrock of the party is alien to the Scottish political landscape. The party’s Scottish manifesto is hosted on a webpage titled “localmanifesto”. Scottish affairs are parochial and self-obsessed affairs. Who better to represent that view than a party which embodies the parochial and self-obsessed island mentality of UKIP’s little Britishers.
Although UKIP has become the main repository of protest votes in England, in Scotland it has failed to make any impact. At the Westminster election last year the party scored a meagre 0.7% of votes cast in Scotland, compared 3.5% in England where it was the fourth largest party in terms of votes cast. In the previous Holyrood election in 2007, the party scarcely registered, attaining just 0.4% of votes cast in the regional list. The ever ebullient Nigel Farrage stated in an interview with STV that he was confident that the party would exceed 2% of the vote share this time round.
Injecting a rare note of reality into the proceedings, Lord Monckton admitted at the manifesto launch that it was unlikely that the party would return a single MSP. The party is fielding 27 candidates in all eight regional list seats. Most analysts expect all 27 to lose their deposits.