What is most notable about UKIP’s 2013 local ‘manifesto’ is not its brevity, but its banality. We know about the dog-whistle scapegoating of ‘immigrants’ and ‘travellers’. What else is there?
UKIP believes council tax should go down, tax generally should be ‘as low as possible’ (zero, 10%, 20%, what?), and that ‘real decision-making should be given to local communities’. Money should be spent on local services, the greenbelt must be protected, and there must always be honey still for tea.
I made that last one up, but the document does stray close to caricature: Britain needs ‘commonsense policies’, it roars at frequent intervals. Who knew? The echo of Jim Hacker - ‘sensible policies for a better Britain’ - is unmistakable.
I don’t apologise for sniping, nor do I consider it inappropriate in a professional journal. If a party wins a quarter of the vote it deserves to be scrutinised. Thus my visit to UKIP’s website.
So what is the party’s policy on justice and the rule of law? I’d love to tell you but it doesn’t seem to have one. UKIP wants to ‘crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour’ which, fair enough, the ConDems and Labour routinely go out of their way to encourage. But how? The party wants more ‘police on the streets’, and those left behind at the station to be liberated from ‘form-filling’. Which forms, exactly? Has anyone told Nigel Farage that crime is falling rapidly and the perceived deterrence value of ‘bobbies on the beat’ is a hoary urban myth?
And that’s about it. Planning lawyers might be enlightened by the party’s pledge to ensure ‘local people’s opinions should be respected and not overruled’, but I doubt it. One core pledge surpasses all the others by not being exactly threadbare, but actually having no thread at all. UKIP wants to ‘build partnerships to reduce costs’. Who with? Andalusian tin-miners?
If you haven’t seen Being There, the 1979 film in which the genius Peter Sellers plays an idiot savant whose simple brand of wisdom resonates with a jaded public, I urge you to do so. How prophetic it was.
‘As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden,’ says Chauncey Gardener. Quite so. I predict that the attack dogs of the national press will go to town on Mr Farage and his crew between now and 2015. As well they might.
Paul Rogerson is Gazette editor-in-chief
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