Monday 3 November 2014

Ukip has no policies - and no clue either

Whenever you rattle the cage of a Ukipist by saying they have no policies they will tweet this link at you. "What a UKIP Government will do". Various people have spotted the obvious inconsistencies, but let's be clear, these are not policies. They are not informed by anything. They are reactionary, knee-jerk, whimsical aspirations with no detail and no reasoning. This post offers a deconstruction. I'm not going to rubbish every single item on the menu because some of them are desirable outcomes. The point being this is a very sketchy outline of what Ukip believes, leaving us little to go on, with so many critical gaps and details that make you wonder if they've really thought it through or even posess the capability to do so.

I have consistently made the point that Ukip's output is amateurish to which their reply that people have had enough of professional politicians and that's why Ukip is different, but this is missing the point. Even a party of non-professional politicians really ought to be consulting experts and professionals as to how to accomplish their agenda, and whether or not such things work - and whether they are even realistic. We are told that Ukip is an upstart party with few resources. This is untrue. The party is twenty years old and has plenty of resources and has had access to expertise since day one. There are no excuses at this point, and this is the best they have to offer...

Protecting jobs and increasing prosperity

- We would review all legislation and regulations from the EU (3,600 new laws since 2010) and remove those which hamper British prosperity and competitiveness.
– We would negotiate a bespoke trade agreement with the EU to enable our businesses to continue trading to mutual advantage. 
– UKIP would not seek to remain in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) or European Economic Area (EEA) while those treaties maintain a principle of free movement of labour, which prevents the UK managing its own borders.
– We would reoccupy the UK’s vacant seat at the World Trade Organisation, ensuring that we continue to enjoy ‘most favoured nation’ status in trade with the EU, as is required under WTO rules.

We've had decades of regulatory integration with the EU. Untangling ourselves from such a mess will take decades too. Only a fantasist believes that in a couple of years we can take a scalpel to diverse regulations ranging from the slaughter of animals to the gradient of public swimming pools to the safety equipment aboard lifeboats. A lot of these standards are international standards and even outside the EU, it would be a good idea to have them anyway. Moreover, if we wish to continue trading with the EU, with will still have to make sure our produce complies with their import rules, which means... compliance with regulation.

It makes no economic sense to have two production lines to comply with two different regulatory regimes and in many cases, standardisation is a good thing and an inevitable consequence of a globalised world. The typical Ukipist believes that we can leave the EU tomorrow, scrap swathes of regulation, and pretty much do as we please. Not going to happen.

The arguments surrounding EEA and EFTA are better explored here, but the critical point is that leaving the EU is a process not an event - and the how is every bit as important as the why. It will need to be done carefully and slowly with minimal disruption to trade. To suddenly announce a withdrawal from the single market as well as the EU places a massive burden on business as they must assimilate whatever new regime will be placed upon them, while also having to address what they must do to comply with domestic regulatory regimes as well as those of the EU if they export produce.

We're talking about heaping a whole host of costs and uncertainty on business and if Ukip wishes to be taken seriously, it must provide detail to prove that such disruptions can be mitigated and that there is an economic advantage. Without a comprehensive strategy on how this is done, Ukip cannot possibly hope to convince British business to back Brexit. Vague aspirations are insufficient. When it comes to the crunch, Ukip is going to need details. That it hasn't produced a comprehensive policy is pretty lame for a party that was set up to take us out of the EU.

Repairing the UK Economy

– UKIP will increase personal allowance to the level of full-time minimum wage earnings (approx £13,500 by next election).
– Inheritance tax will be abolished.
– We will introduce a 35p income tax rate between £42,285 and £55,000, whereupon the 40p rate becomes payable.
– UKIP will set up a Treasury Commission to design a turnover tax to ensure big businesses pay a minimum floor rate of tax as a proportion of their UK turnover.

This is hardly comprehensive. Tax needs to be simpler, more equitable and the long standing ambiguity of how National Insurance works needs to be addressed. Should it remain a contributions system while we restore the link between payments and benefits? Or does it merge to become general taxation as it more or less is presently? What we see above is exactly the kind of tinkering one way or the other that we already get from the main parties. As a reform agenda, this is pretty lightweight and timid stuff which is totally lacking ambition.

Reducing debts we leave to our grandchildren

– UKIP will leave the EU and save at least £8bn pa in net contributions.  
– UKIP will cut the foreign aid budget by £9bn pa, prioritising disaster relief and schemes which provide water and inoculation against preventable diseases.
– UKIP will scrap the HS2 project which is uneconomical and unjustified.

This says nothing whatsoever of the massive deficit. Nor does it propose any measure to restrict government borrowing and spending. There are only so many times you can spend the money saved in EU budget contributions and Ukip has already spent that many times over on their barnpot suggestions plucked out of a hat. There is a need for radical reform of how government works so than never again do we expose ourselves to this much debt and unsustainable spending. Ukip doesn't say what it would do, or what other radical cuts should be made to just to close the deficit, and that's before we even get to the national debt.

– UKIP will abolish the Department of Energy and Climate Change and scrap green subsidies. 

And replace DECC with what? And which green subsidies will be scrapped? All of them? Including the sensible ones relating to insulation and demand reduction?

– UKIP will abolish the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

And do what instead? The DCMS is a nice juicy target until you get to grips with what it actually does. Television mergers, arts funding, the lottery, the Olympics, sports regulation... it needs something in place. What does Ukip envisage?

– UKIP will reduce Barnett Formula spending and give devolved parliaments and assemblies further tax powers to compensate.

This is likely happening anyway. Which tax powers?

Prioritising Education and Skills

– UKIP will introduce an option for students to take an Apprenticeship Qualification  instead of four non-core GCSEs which can be  continued at A-Level. Students can take up apprenticeships in jobs with certified professionals qualified to grade the progress of the student. 
– Subject to academic performance UKIP will remove tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in science, medicine, technology, engineering, maths on the condition that they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degrees.  
– UKIP will scrap the target of 50% of school leavers going to university.
– Students from the EU will pay the same student fee rates as International students.
– UKIP supports the principle of Free Schools that are open to the whole community and uphold British values.
– Existing schools will be allowed to apply to become grammar schools and select according to ability and aptitude. Selection ages will be flexible and determined by the school in consultation with the local authority.  
– Schools will be investigated by OFSTED on the presentation of a petition to the Department for Education signed by 25% of parents or governors.

As far as education policies go, this isn't any more or less dreadful than anything you might expect from another party. Conservative Home highlights some of the inconsistencies.  (they would say that wouldn't they), but what concerns me lack of vision and ambition in this "policy". In recent years industry chiefs have lamented the lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills in school leavers. What in any of the above speaks to that? It seems that they are presenting a few adjustments to the status quo. What's the big idea here?

It's one thing to say professional degrees will be free, but by that same token, you also have to state and detail what your wider industrial policy is. 

Honouring the Military Covenant

– We will resource fully our military assets and personnel.

Easier said than done. No party actively wants to denude our forces of equipment and people without purpose. Defining the size and shape of our services is a whole discipline in itself, and as much as we might like to start from scratch with a brand new shopping list, the nation is already committed to previous spending and we will have to make do for some time. Ukip offers no real recognition of this, and no insight as to what shape our forces would take and instead leaps straight into care for veterans:

– UKIP will guarantee those who have served in the Armed Forces for a minimum of 12 years a job in the police force, prison service or border force
– UKIP will change the points system for social housing to give priority to ex-service men and women and those returning from active service.
– A Veterans Department will bring together all veterans services to ensure servicemen and women get the after-service care they deserve.
 – Veterans are to receive a Veterans’ Service Card to ensure they are fast tracked for mental health care and services, if needed.

I'm not going pick fault with this. This seems eminently sensible stuff to finally bridge a gap that has existed for all of time. Given that it comes from Ukip, I expect it will fall apart on the details, but these are matters worth discussing.

– All entitlements will be extended to servicemen recruited from overseas.

This is frankly stupid. The whole point of separate arrangements is to encourage serving officers to return to their nation of origin, with a service pension as a means of international development. There are clear developmental advantages to remittances, but a retired officer class is an export of an administrative class that can help build good governance - and is a means of exporting our values. This is precisely what the Gurkhas were for, and extending entitlements to all means we now have to allow them residence along their families as well. Not very sensible for a party that wants to control immigration.

– UKIP supports a National Service Medal for all those who have served in the armed forces.

So we're handing out medals to air traffic controllers, mechanics and logistics officers now? For what purpose?

The National Health Service

– UKIP will ensure the NHS is free at the point of delivery and time of need for all UK residents.

Motherhood and apple pie. Ukip's health policy is actually an example of Ukip at its very worst. It is pandering to the very basest of populist perceptions and prejudices. The very latest "policy" from Louise Bours might well have been written by a card carrying member of the SWP and is vehemently opposed to any kind of private involvement. Herein lies the fundamental schism within Ukip in that it professes to be pro-free markets but wishes to insulate the NHS from reality, making only passing mentions of bureaucracy which they think will be reduced by simply sacking a lot of managers. If anything the NHS falls down on very poor management and very poor administration with clinical workers doing every more management work which they are not suited for any more than a project manager is equipped to remove an appendix. Their approach to the NHS is reactionary, it is not evidence based and it is purely designed to grub for old labour voters, regardless of how at odds it is with the rest of their right wing constitution.

– We will stop further use of PFI in the NHS and encourage local authorities to buy out their PFI contracts early where this is affordable.

Ok. And do what instead? That Labour screwed up PFI contracts does not mean to say there isn't a way of making them work.

– We will ensure that GPs’ surgeries are open at least one evening per week, where there is demand for it.

A great many already do. Where there is demand.

– UKIP opposes plans to charge patients for visiting their GP.

Nominal charges have been proposed for good reason. Missed appointments cost time and money. When a service is free it is often undervalued. If you do not support charges then you have to present alternative ideas to solve the problem.

–We will ensure that visitors to the UK, and migrants until they have paid NI for five years, have NHS-approved private health insurance as a condition of entry to the UK, saving the NHS £2bn pa.

So the NHS will need a whole new bureaucracy to approve all international health insurance products and a recovery department to chase international debts. This presumably means more delays and checks at ports. I don't think they've thought this through.

UKIP will commit to spending £200m of the £2bn saving to end hospital car parking charges in England.

This is stupid. Jackart explains why on his blog. Free parking ensures massive abuses largely resulting in nobody finding a parking spot. Charges exist for a very good reason and it's not simply about revenue. You can make the case that the enforcement operators are greedy and unethical but that is a world away from simply removing all charges.

– We will replace Monitor and the Care Quality Commission with elected county health boards to be more responsive scrutineers of local health services. These will be able to inspect health services and take evidence from whistle-blowers.

Can anybody honestly say that elected police commissioners have improved policing? Given the turnout at the recent PCC election in South Yorkshire, it is clear there is little public support for what are essentially overpaid press officers. Elections do not automatically equate with greater accountability or democracy.

– UKIP opposes the sale of NHS data to third parties.

So Ukip opposes the sale of data from which extrapolations can be made which could improve drugs and patient care. They neglect to say why. There is a need to safeguard privacy, but we don't want to miss out on the possible benefits of big data insights. You can complain about the shoddy way the government set about it with automatic opt-ins but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

– We will ensure foreign health service professionals coming to work in the NHS are properly qualified and can speak English to a standard acceptable to the profession.

Fair enough.

– UKIP will amend working time rules to give trainee doctors, surgeons and medics the proper environment to train and practise.

Amend to what?

– There will be a duty on all health service staff to report low standards of care.  

There already is. It doesn't work. Ukip needs to say why it doesn't work and what they would do. Y'know... write a policy. 

Controlling and managing our borders 

– UKIP recognises the benefits of limited, controlled immigration.
– UKIP will leave the EU, and take back control of our borders. Work permits will be permitted to fill skills gaps in the UK jobs market.
– We will extend to EU citizens the existing points-based system for time-limited work permits. Those coming to work in the UK must have a job to go to, must speak English, must have accommodation agreed prior to their arrival, and must have NHS-approved health insurance.
– Migrants will only be eligible for benefits (in work or out of work)  when they have been paying tax and NI for five years and will only be eligible for permanent residence after ten years.
– UKIP will reinstate the primary purpose rule for bringing foreign spouses and children to the UK.
– UKIP will not offer an amnesty for illegal immigrants or those gaining British passports through fraud.
– UKIP will return to the principles of the UN Convention of Refugees which serves to protect the most vulnerable.

Ukip's approach to immigration is worth a post of it's own another time, but it is worth pointing out that immigration and border control is not without massive costs. There are regulatory costs, enforcement costs and incalculable externalities - along with a lot of paper work and delay. Rather than recognise that immigration is an international problem requiring international cooperation (and yes, foreign aid), Ukip wants to make us a fortress island.

The problem being that we can't stop people coming here on on holiday and then disappearing into the woodwork. So that is going to mean much more illegal immigration which is harder to keep track of, harder to count and not it's not easy to deal with the social consequences.Every seemingly sensible measure has unintended consequences. Ukip's analysis never goes beyond the superficial.

Ukip talks about a points based immigration system (not mentioned here), making reference to the Australian system, which is actually not a points based, system, it is a quota based system according to best guess estimates of needs. That may suit their economy but in terms of the UK which has a wholly different economic make up and geographical location, this could well result in increased immigration. As it happens, Australia has done more to stop the boats with international co-operation and a degree of foreign aid to assist source countries in patrolling their borders and upgrading their administrative services. The necessity for international co-operation is lost on Ukip. They think the new Britain outside of the EU can enjoy a utopia without engaging in the world to tackle domestic problems.

It is nearly always the case that "common sense" policies are anything but and it it looks straight forward and simple, then it's usually based on a complete lack of understanding of the complexities and nuances - and immigration is certainly no different. Put simply, there are no easy answers, we will have to make compromises and we can't have it all our own way. Anyone who says different simply doesn't want to engage in reality. You can see why they end up in Ukip.

Foreign Aid

– UKIP will target foreign aid at healthcare initiatives, inoculations against preventable diseases and clean water programmes with a much-reduced aid budget administered by the Foreign Office.

Here is where Ukip simply doesn't have the first clue. Ukip wants to control immigration. But it fails to acknowledge there are costs in doing so. It requites effective administration but there is also a great deal of advantage in international co-operation to tackle the causes of immigration, which means international development and foreign aid. Foreign aid is a tool in the box with which to control immigration and is an arm of foreign policy. It is not simply a good causes fund. We have Ukip parading their ignorance here. They simply don't know what foreign aid is.

You will get no argument from this blog that a lot of it is wasted and that it needs reforms since DfID has lost its way and doesn't really understand foreign aid either or how to get the desired results. To do so we would have to first define what our foreign policy is. No clues from Ukip as to what theirs actually is and how to intelligently apply it.

– British  organisations will be offered the contracts to deliver the remaining aid following removal of the EU Procurement Directive.

I would hope that contracts would be awarded on the basis of value for money over any other concern.


– UKIP will repeal the Climate Change Act 2008 which costs the economy £18bn a year.

 Ok fine, but...

– UKIP supports a diverse energy market including coal, nuclear, shale gas, geo-thermal, tidal, solar, conventional gas and oil.

This is not a policy. It might as well say "Ukip supports electricity generation plant". It tells you nothing.

– We will scrap the Large Combustion Plant Directive and encourage the re-development of British power stations, as well as industrial units providing on-site power generation.

The LCPD was a premature and is a large contributing factor to our present energy crisis. But as it happens, the power stations immediately affected we already aging and we needed a policy to replace them long ago. With what and where is a debate that continues today and Ukip have offered little beyond the conventional.

– UKIP supports the development of shale gas with proper safeguards for the local environment. Community Improvement Levy money from the development of shale gas fields will be earmarked for lower council taxes or community projects within the local authority being developed.

Why? If there are proper safeguards, why should fracking companies pay extra? This just adds to the cost of gas. So what's the point exactly?

– There will be no new subsidies for wind farms and solar arrays.

This seems to be the only thing that informs Ukip's energy policy. They know they don't want renewables, which is fair enough, but they offer little else in the way of policy.

– UKIP will abolish green taxes and charges in order to reduce fuel bills.

Which ones? Even the ones that stimulate better insulation and fuel efficiency?

Agriculture and Fishing

– By leaving the EU, the UK will leave the Common Agricultural Policy.  Outside the EU UKIP will institute a British Single Farm Payment for farms.  
– UKIP will let the British parliament vote on GM foods.
– UKIP will leave the Common Fisheries Policy and reinstate British territorial waters.
– Foreign trawlers would have to apply for and purchase fishing permits to fish British waters when fish stocks have returned to sustainable levels.
– Food must be labelled to include the country of origin, method of production, method of slaughter, hormones and any genetic additives.
– UKIP will abolish the export of live animals for slaughter

Like immigration, this is one of those "whole other subject" subjects. Fisheries and agricultural integration are integral to the EU and the single market - and are subject to international standards and practices. Again, independence does not make us exempt from following certain rules. Without a recognition of this, any policy Ukip comes up with will be fantasy fiction. Since they have yet to release a detailed EU exit plan, it is unlikely that their agriculture and fishing policy will stand up to scrutiny. They themselves do not as yet know which arrangements we are likely to comply with.

What we see here is a vague aspiration to be outside of the CAP and CFP with a couple of populist hat tips to animal welfare and GM, but I remain to be convinced there is any understanding or substance behind this.

Welfare and Childcare

– UKIP opposes the bedroom tax because it operates unfairly, penalising those who are unable to find alternative accommodation and taking insufficient account of the needs of families and the disabled.

The "bedroom tax" is as much about reintegrating people from remote for industrial communities into the economy rather than warehousing them on benefits. It could use a little tweaking to make it fairer to the disabled, but it is a useful tool in the box to tack embedded and long term welfare dependency. It might be popular to say you'll scrap it, but you also have to state what you would do instead.

– Child benefit is only to be paid to children permanently resident in the UK and future child benefit to be limited to the first two children only.

Fair enough you might say, but this is again tinkering with the status quo which tells us that Ukip are still in the mindset of centralised, centrally administered welfare along the same old lines - and does not have a vision of their own to reform welfare for good.

– UKIP will ensure there is an initial presumption of 50/50 shared parenting in child custody matters and grandparents will be given visitation rights.

Difficult to see how this relates to anything and demonstrates Ukip's scattergun approach to policy making. Family law needs an overhaul - and you'd need a policy for that.

– UKIP supports a simplified, streamlined welfare system and a benefit cap.

As do we all, but as the Universal Credit has demonstrated, that's a lot easier said than done. Why does Ukip think they can succeed when so many have failed before?

– We will scrap HS2.

 And do what instead?

– UKIP opposes tolls on public roads and will let existing contracts for running toll roads expire.

Ok, so what is Ukip's proposal to reduce congestion and speed up journey times?

– UKIP will maintain pensioner bus passes.

Why? Means tested?

– UKIP will require foreign vehicles to purchase a Britdisc, before entry to the UK, in order to contribute to the upkeep of UK roads and any lost fuel duty.

This is a border tariff by another name. Ultimately this cost will be paid by British consumers. What then stops the EU from reciprocating? Free movement of goods is a good things. Why would we want to undo the one good thing about the EU?

– UKIP will ensure that speed cameras are used as a deterrent and not as a revenue raiser for local authorities.

For a long time now, the planning criteria for speed cameras requires that authorities must demonstrate four deaths at a black-spot before erecting a camera. If you see a standard GATSO camera, it's there for a good reason. They're painted bright yellow and they have big signs telling you where they are. It is something of a myth that speed cameras are there solely for revenue. Many have been turned off because the costs of administration exceed that of the penalties. They are a useful deterrent and if your average Ukipst lived in a rural village where motorists routinely raced through at 70mph, they would be the first to demand one. Nobody likes being caught out by a camera and the penalty points often result in disproportionate costs being added to insurance. This isn't fair. the system needs a review and a through policy proposal - not just a populist headline.  

Democracy and the Constitution

– UKIP will overcome the unfairness of MPs from devolved nations voting on English-only issues.
– UKIP supports the recall of MPs as was originally promised in the Coalition Agreement, whereby 20% of the electorate in a constituency must sign a recall petition within eight weeks. The approval of MPs will not be required to initiate a recall petition.
– UKIP will introduce the Citizens’ Initiative to allow the public to initiate national referendums on issues of major public interest.

It is not unreasonable for Scottish MPs to be barred from votes that deal only with English matters. MP recall however, is only a meagre aspect of democratic reform that is unlikely to be used very often and still does not address the inherent democratic deficit in representative democracy.

As to referendums, this is the closest Ukip gets to a big idea. But there needs to be safeguards against minority interest self selection and mob rule. Referendums are not necessarily always an expression of public will. We will need to see details from Ukip. Which have not been forthcoming on this, or anything else.

Law and Order

– UKIP will withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

And replace it with what?

– UKIP will reverse the government’s opt-in to EU law and justice measures, including the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation Order. We will replace the EAW with appropriate bi-lateral agreements.
– UKIP will not give prisoners the vote.

This may shock you, but I have no arguments here.
– UKIP believes that full sentences should be served and this should be taken into account when criminals are convicted and sentenced in court. Parole should be available for good behaviour on a case-by-case basis, not systematically.

Huh? There should be no possibility of parole. But there should be parole. Right. This is not a policy.

– We will repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new British Bill of Rights. The interests of law-abiding citizens & victims will always take precedence over those of criminals.  

So what's in the bill or rights? Are we meant to guess?

But again, is this the fullest extent of their ambitions for overhauling law and order? Is this genuinely where their immediate priorities lie?


– UKIP recognises and values an overarching, unifying British culture, which is open and inclusive to anyone who wishes to identify with Britain and British values, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.

Well that's nice. What British values?

– Official documents will be published in English and, where appropriate Welsh and Scots Gaelic.

They already are.

– UKIP will ensure that the law is rigorously enforced in relation  to ‘cultural’ practices which are illegal in Britain, such as forced marriages, FGM and so-called ‘honour killings’

How? What failed in the Rotherham and Rochdale cases? What is Ukip's proposal? 

– We will review the BBC Licence Fee with a view to its reduction. Prosecution of non-payments of the Licence Fee would be taken out of the criminal sphere and made a civil offence.

Great, so it becomes a civil matter which means instead of criminalising people, they will be harassed by bailiffs instead. Thanks Ukip!

– UKIP will amend the smoking ban to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms properly ventilated and separated from non-smoking areas.

This isn't a bad move.
– UKIP opposes ‘plain paper packaging’ for tobacco products and minimum pricing of alcohol.

Ok, you can have that one too. I don't know anyone who thinks it's a good idea.

Employment and Small Businesses

– Businesses should be able to discriminate in favour of young British workers.

Being allowed to discriminate does not necessarily mean that businesses will, or would even want to. If we want a level playing field for young British workers we need to start enforcing the laws we presently have n minimum wage and housing. It's a complex matter that requires more than populist sentiment.

– Repeal the Agency Workers Directive.

This is an interesting one. One must first examine why the directive exists. it is a regulatory response to a long standing problem of rolling six month contracts, largely as a product of previous labour market interventions. AWD is merely another hammerblow in a game of regulatory whack-a-mole. Ukip clearly doesn't recognise this otherwise it would have offered a more substantial policy that gets to the root of the issue.

– Conduct a skills review to better inform our education system and qualifications

Is Ukip saying the state is better equipped to perform such a  review than industry?

– Encourage councils to provide more free parking for the high street.

There is no such thing as free parking. If it worked, more councils would be doing it. It doesn't. It means people park where they like and stay as long as they like, reducing overall foot-fall for local business.   

– Simplify planning regulations and licences for empty commercial property vacant for over a year.

They are complicated for a multitude of good reasons. Ukip needs to say what they would simplify and how. Like a... policy... or something.

– Extend the right of appeal for micro businesses against HMRC action.

Where does this come from? What is this informed by? To what does this relate?


I've said it before and I'll say it again. This is a party that has no great vision. What we see above is ill thought out guesswork by Ukip, a patchwork with no unifying thread of thought, gaping holes, no applied expertise, no detail, no philosophy and not even a systematic approach to policy making. It is wholly superficial stuff, tinkering with the status quo on the basis of popular sentiment, which is no way to govern a country.

No doubt the Ukipist reaction to this post will be to say that the other party manifestos are equally amateurish and stupid. This is probably true. Were I so inclined I could have a field day driving a horse and cart through a Labor manifesto - and as for the Lib Dems, such would be beyond reasonable analysis and beyond satire. But the crucial distinction is this: Ukip professes to be something different. It isn't.

Party politics has degenerated into two bald men fighting over a comb, each chasing a marginal constituency of floating voters based on what carries over well in the media. So what if anything in the above makes Ukip distinctive apart from a vaguely defined ambition to leave the EU?

One thing that has plagued politics since 1997 is the steady stream of soundbite announcements dressed up as policy, keeping the churnalists and twitterers fed - and rather than pushing a vision, politics is all done on premise of "fly the flag and see who salutes".  Enter Ukip doing exactly the same with no real agenda for change, no real idea of what they want - and not the first idea how to get it done.

You don't have to be a policy analyst to see that no real thought has gone into Ukip's policy making. This is back of fag packet stuff. We're a matter of months from a general election and Ukip don't know what they stand for - but expect us to believe they are an alternative. We can only assume that Ukip takes us for fools too.

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