UKIP is the opposite of the SNP. We believe in Britain, we believe our country has a future and we want it to succeed for the benefit of all. We are also poles apart from the Greens, the SNP and Labour, because we are a party of individual liberty – a party that believes in trusting the people rather than regimenting them.
The elephant in the room in this election is the deficit – the £105 billion we are adding to the national debt in the current year. Anyone who has ever had an overdraft, a credit card or a mortgage understands the significance of this. The difference is that the sums involved are millions of times bigger than personal debts. At present we are paying £46bn per annum in interest on the national debt – more than the defence budget. It cannot be right to leave a debt of a trillion and a half to our children and grandchildren without their consent. Ukip believes it is our moral duty to tackle the deficit.
We believe in trusting the people rather than regimenting them
The Tories promised and failed to eliminate the deficit in the last parliament. The Treasury has a deficit elimination programme to end it during the next three years. Ukip MPs will push the new government to hold to this programme. Despite the massive deficit, the SNP pretend that we are in austerity and plan to force a new Labour government to spend much more!
Where Ukip has costed proposals to spend more, we also have compensating reductions in expenditure elsewhere to balance them. Among other things, we propose to cancel HS2 – think of the Edinburgh trams, but 50 times larger – cut the foreign aid budget and clamp down on health tourism.
We believe that there should be no tax on the minimum wage. Of course, following the Smith Commission income tax will be devolved to Holyrood. This will give the SNP the opportunity to learn the significance of tax competition, where people and businesses move to the more favourable tax regime. Ukip also wants an end to Inheritance Tax, where already taxed private property is taxed again on death.
It is a scandal how a few multinational corporations can manipulate the system to make large profits here and export them effectively untaxed under the protection of European law. Only by leaving the EU will we be able to plug this loophole properly.
Ukip recognises that the Barnett formula is obsolete. You cannot add a measure of fiscal devolution to Holyrood and expect things to remain unchanged. Fiscal transfers within the UK between regions and nations have to reflect need rather than historical improvisation.
Britain is sleep walking into an energy crisis, because of the 2008 Climate Change Act, which on the government’s own figures will cost £18bn per year for 40 years. We will repeal this EU-derived law and also the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which has led to the closure of secure, reliable and economic power stations, and their replacement with expensive, intermittent, unreliable renewables. With safeguards Ukip will support the development of shale gas. We will also seek to ensure the survival and expansion of our indigenous coal industry.
Ukip is not just about the economy, vital as it is. Ukip is a party of individual freedom. Nothing illustrates this better than the Named Person Scheme. We recoil in horror at this scheme under which every family and every child in Scotland will be spied upon by the state. Indeed in some areas this is already happening. The scheme inevitably means a lack of focus of resources on the few cases that genuinely need support and mistakes with families being torn apart by unjustified social work interventions.
We believe in trusting parents to raise their children. The Named Person Scheme is a devolved matter, but we will keep this issue live until it is finally repealed.
In 1977, Tam Dalyell famously posed the West Lothian Question, and despite the establishment of Holyrood in 1999 this remains unsolved. Ukip will introduce English votes for English laws to solve this problem. We want far reaching political reform to make the government answerable to parliament and parliament accountable to the people. We will campaign for a new, proportional voting system to deliver a Westminster parliament that retains the constituency link, whilst reflecting the number of votes cast.
We will introduce Citizens’ Initiative under which if two million signatures are gathered in an approved petition, then the British people will be able to vote in a referendum, and the outcome will go in the Queen’s Speech allowing the public to directly influence legislation. Ukip will give voters a genuine right of recall of MPs. If 20 per cent of an MP’s constituents demand it within an eight week period, a recall ballot will be triggered.
We are proud of Britain’s record as a compassionate, caring nation that has welcomed millions of people to these shores. We do not have a problem with immigrants. However, we do have a problem with the scale of uncontrolled, politically driven immigration. This has driven down wages, led to job losses for British workers and put pressure on public services.
Ukip will take back control of our borders. We will put a five-year moratorium on immigration for unskilled workers. This will enable the unemployed already living here to find work and those working to see wage growth. Ukip will introduce an Australian-style points-based system to manage the number and skills of people coming to this country, and treating all citizens of the world on a fair and equal basis. We will also tackle the problem of sham marriages.
In foreign aid, just as in immigration, the interests of British people were put last. During the last parliament, it was made law that Britain should spend 0.7 per cent of our GNI (gross national income) on foreign aid, at a time when we were borrowing well over a £100 billion annually. We will repeal this ill-considered legislation and phase in a reduction in foreign aid to not less than £4 billion annually. Ultimately, we want to lift people out of poverty through trade not aid.
Our interventions in Iraq and Libya have made the situations there very much worse. David Cameron and the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy managed to turn Libya into a failed state from which arms flow to terrorists all around the Sahara and through which migrants pour, often to drown in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe. Had Cameron had his way, Britain would have bombed Syria, thus aiding the terrorists of the self-styled Islamic State to conquer that country. We are also meddling unnecessarily in the Ukraine, which has inevitably led to tension with Russia.
Ukip is committed to standing firmly alongside our allies but will not commit under-resourced British troops to conflict at the drop of a hat. Faced with rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, we support the renewal of Trident.
Whereever we send our servicemen and women, whatever the danger, they never let us down. We will not let them down. We will honour the military covenant. Ukip will create a dedicated Minister for Veterans and a Veterans Administration. We will provide a dedicated military hospital, take action on ex-forces’ homelessness and guarantee the offer of a job for anyone who has served 12 or more years in the armed forces.
We believe that British citizens should have an in/out referendum on our membership of the EU as soon as possible. Following a vote to leave, we believe that activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would allow for a sensible, orderly exit. Leaving the EU, or Brexit, would enable us to negotiate our own trade treaties with other countries and to legislate democratically in the best interests of the British people.
One truly great Scot, whom our opponents curiously choose to forget, is Adam Smith, the founder of economics. Smith said: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest,” the clear implication being that in economic matters we should trust the people. This insight is an easy one for us in Ukip to accept, as we believe that trusting the people is the essential basis of a free society.
Otto Inglis is chairman, Ukip Edinburgh & Lothians, and Ukip candidate for Edinburgh West