I have had a look, there is much I agree with and regular readers will find no surprise in me writing this. But there is also quite a bit I disagree with. I certainly would not look forward to a 31% flat tax though I certainly think the tax system could be simplified and reformed. There is a whole lot of policy and proposal here, and certainly UKIP cannot be accused of fighting this election on a single issue. I still have not decided how to vote, but UKIP will factor in my thinking.
I also reproduce the text of Lord Pearson's* speech to the UKIP Spring Conference, potential UKIP voters will like it, and a few wavering Tories will too. You may have noticed by the way that Labour didn't have a spring conference, it's because that with Gordon Brown in charge of their finances they could not afford to hold one, I am told this is a source of great embarrassment to Labour MP's in case you should encounter any of them and fancy mentioning it.
The full text of Lord Pearson’s speech is below:
I have a quote for you.
“The Government believes that our membership of the European Union has brought real benefits to the United Kingdom through jobs, peace and security. Through our membership, we belong to the world’s largest trading bloc. Over half of the United Kingdom’s trade is with the EU, with an estimated 3.5 million British jobs linked to it. Our membership allows us to live, work and travel across Europe”.
Those words, Ladies and Gentlemen, are the best the Government can do to defend our membership of the European Union, and were spoken against me in the Lords six weeks ago. They are words which will have been honed by dozens of clever bureaucrats over a long period of time, and which were repeated often during the passage of the Lisbon Treaty the summer before last. They have an optional extra sentence, and it goes like this: “Our EU membership gives us a seat at the top table of world affairs. We increase our influence by giving up our sovereignty”. By that, they mean your sovereignty of course.
Now Ladies and Gentlemen, you and I can see through all this. We can see it for what it is; the self-serving dishonesty of the political class. In fact there isn’t a word of simple truth in any of it, and I don’t need to tell you why. But the trouble is that our political class do believe it; they really do. I suppose they have to, because our EU membership gives so many of them their comfortable way of life, at our expense. But they have a problem. The British people are not fools, and they are beginning to understand that over the last 40 years they have been steadily deceived and betrayed into what is now almost total subservience to Brussels. “The slow-motion coup d’état”, as Christopher Booker has so aptly described it.
The British people have other reasons to be angry. If you don’t mind I will quote what I said in the Lords over two years ago, when I was trying to warn of the growing gulf between the political class and real people:
“Over the past 50 years, we have brought this country pretty low: 40% of our children leave primary school, and 15% leave school, unable to read and write properly; our whole health service is in crisis; our police are overwhelmed; our prisons are bursting with the mentally ill and the illiterate; our transport system is inadequate; our Armed Forces are underfunded, overstretched and undervalued, and even their morale is beginning to crack; our border controls have been deliberately abandoned, so that our inner cities are increasingly uncomfortable and explosive places; and, most worryingly of all, Islamist terrorists are on the march, many of whom are home grown”.
That was before the credit crunch and the Parliamentary expense scandal, which have turned the people’s feelings from disdain to anger, and now, amongst many, to hatred. Indeed, the focus groups we have recently commissioned show that there is one deep common attitude, shared by nearly everyone we consulted, and that is anger and distrust of the political class. To these feelings we must add frustration; frustration because the British people feel that there is nothing they can do to make any difference; that whatever they do, they can’t change the system. And, of course, they are right about that too, which may be why some 40% of them no longer bother to vote in General Elections. Modern Governments are elected by 40% of the 60% who do bother to vote, or 24% of the electorate, and those Governments now make only some 20% of our national law. The rest is made is Brussels, where the Government has some 9% of the votes, in a secretive system which renders the House of Commons – for which the people are allowed to vote- wholly irrelevant.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I trust you will agree that that is a fair description of where we stand today, that I haven’t exaggerated anything, or made it sound more gloomy than it really is. If anything, the disastrous state of our public finances should make us even more fearful of the future.
I think we can take it that the two most important subjects in the forthcoming General Election will be the economy and immigration. We are told that the voters aren’t really interested in Europe, that UKIP is a single-issue party, and that a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote, and that a hung Parliament would be a disaster. What are the answers to these suggestions? Well, we’re no longer a single-issue party and the plain fact is that the easiest way, perhaps the only way, to solve the problems of our economy and immigration is to leave the EU. Yet all the three main parties are determined not even to talk about doing so, so the field is clear for us.
What about the “wasted vote”? The answer to that is that if you want more of the same, more of the Lib.Lab.Con., if you want to make absolutely sure that nothing changes, then you must vote for one of them. If, on the other hand, you want to start the forces of change, then the only sensible thing to do is to vote UKIP.
What about the voters not being interested in Europe? Well, they will be, if we can get them to see that getting out of it is really the only way to control our own borders and save our economy.
What about the disaster of a hung Parliament? The answer is that it would be infinitely preferable to another five years of any of the rest of them. I can’t believe the people will return to a Labour Government, which would of course be very bad news, but hardly much worse than a Conservative Government with a big enough majority to last five years. I say this because David Cameron has ruled out any sort of referendum on our relationship with Brussels for five years; five more years of ever-deeper integration. After that it may be very difficult to escape; we will no longer be enmeshed on every side in the tentacles of the corrupt octopus, as we are today; we will be in its belly. So whatever the doubts about a hung Parliament, a Conservative victory would be an absolutely certain disaster, just as bad as Labour. It would be the final extinction of what millions of our forebears have died for over hundreds of years. We must not let it happen.
When the true extent of our national financial disaster is finally revealed after the election, a hung Parliament is unlikely to last very long, perhaps not even a year. Then there will be another election and UKIP must be able to show the main parties, perhaps particularly the Conservatives, that they cannot form a Government unless they promise a referendum on whether we want to stay in the EU or leave it. We have to do well enough in this election to make that clear and unavoidable.
The pointlessness of voting for the main parties is easily exposed. They say they want to start doing something very timid about immigration, yet they all agree they want to let 70 million Turks into the EU, and so into this country.
They are talking about cutting £7 or £8 billion in public expenditure, but what is the figure we send in cash to Brussels every year? £16 billion. If we look beyond straight cash, the Tax Payers’ Alliance estimates that our EU membership may be costing around 120 billion a year, the equivalent of £2000 per person per annum.
When you look at it like this, our membership of the EU is really a no-brainer.
So this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the political mould which we are now setting out to break. We must do so by trying to tell the truth about many controversial issues. Straight talking. For instance, we must question the whole theory of man-made climate change. We are about to spend £18 billion a year for the next 40 years on renewable energy, on 10,000 pointless windmills and so on. But what if the planet has started cooling, as a great many scientists believe? What if man’s activity doesn’t contribute to climate change either way? Wouldn’t it be better to wait and see before committing such ruinous figures to the atmosphere? Of course it would, and that is why we’re calling for a Royal Commission, chaired by a High Court judge, to test the alarmists’ theories in the cool light of day.
We must also be prepared to talk openly about the advance of Sharia Law in this country, and the huge problem of Islamism world-wide. Like it or not, when we talk of “terrorism” nowadays we are nearly always talking about a problem which comes from within Islam. We are not talking about a threat which comes from the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Jews or Christians; not even Irish Catholics; we are talking about Islam. We must do what we can to encourage the vast majority of the Muslim community, who are our peace-loving friends, to end their silence and speak out against their violent co-religionists. We must ask them to join us in saying that their preachers and teachers of hate have no place in this country, and must be thrown out.
And we must be prepared to break the failed political consensus wherever we find it. Take for instance education. There is no point just going on throwing more money at it. Vouchers and grammar schools are obvious. Of course we must take power away from the failed education establishment and give it to parents. Even the Conservatives are saying that. But we must look deeper. We must look at the soil in which the roots of our education system feed, and that soil is not our primary schools; it is teacher training. I spent 10 years validating the former Polytechnics in the 80s and 90s, and there is still far too much emphasis on training future teachers how to –and I quote- “permeate the whole curriculum with issues of gender, race and class”. Does that ring a bell about the roots of political correctness?
University budget cuts are in the news nowadays. If I was cutting university spending, I would start by looking at the Humanities departments of the former Polytechnics. I say this because the Polytechnics were created by bolting new Humanities departments onto the excellent former Technical colleges, and it was in those Humanities departments that the “gender, race and class” agenda took hold. There is not much point in them if their students are unemployable. It’s unfair to students, not to mention the taxpayer.
There is one other big idea whose time has come. Direct democracy – something like the Swiss system of binding national and local referendums. Of course our political class hates it, but I see it as perhaps the only way now for power to be returned to the people. Even when we get out sovereignty back from the EU, we will still be faced with armies of Sir Humphrey’s calling their departmental tunes, to which our wretched ministers can do nothing but dance. So I think this is an idea we should strongly promote throughout the campaign. Many of the 40% of our people who have given up bothering to vote will actually do so if they can see that their vote matters, that it will make a difference. It’s time we started telling their politicians and bureaucrats what to do. They are, after all, supposed to be our servants.
Ladies and Gentlemen, to conclude on a perhaps more controversial note, I fear we have to face up to some of our own internal prejudices. We must remember the prime object of our exercise, which is to get this country out of the EU. The easiest way to do that is of course to win a binding referendum. But, in the absence of that, we must also do what we can to get people into the House of Commons who will really fight for our freedom. We must not stop them doing so by standing against them if we are unlikely to win the seat. To do so would be to defeat our own greater purpose; it would be to put our party and our local enthusiasms before our country. The Conservatives have done that, as you know, but we must not do it. I am not talking about candidates who just say they think we would be better off out of the EU. I am talking about candidates, and they are very few, perhaps 7 or 8, who I am convinced will force questions and debates in and outside the Commons, and who will if necessary defy their whips. And of course it has to be clear that if we stood against them, we really could prevent them from being elected.
I know this is not an easy concept for many of you. But it doesn’t help to say that they should simply cross the floor and join us. That would not take us any nearer to our goal. It would not advance our cause. Of course I will be talking to our candidates personally, and to their chairmen, and I hope I can persuade them to see that if they stand down and fight elsewhere, they really will be breaking the mould of British politics. They will in fact be making history, and so will we. I imagine it will be national news, and so I believe it will help to convince the electorate everywhere that we really are different, that we are not just another political party pursuing our own selfish interest.
So there it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, straight talking again, I’m afraid. There will be much more of it in the weeks ahead. We are indeed very different from the other political parties. As I said when you did me the honour of making me your leader, UKIP is not for lemmings; it is not for sheep. UKIP is for independent thinkers who share a common passion for their country, and who do their best to mould themselves into a cohesive political force to achieve its salvation.
I end by reminding you of the words of my friend Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke from the depths of his Soviet prison camp, “One word of truth outweighs the whole world”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let us now put those words to the test.