Saturday 28 February 2015
Ukip's funding ideas are childish fantasies
I've lost count how many times over Ukip has spent the foreign aid budget, or how many times the annual budget contributions has been spent on more nurses. They haven't thought it through, that much is clear.
Kipppers would rightly dispute fullfact.org's sincerity and accuracy, as indeed I would if I could really be fussed with digging into it. But where they do have it right is that even outside the EU we would still have to finance agricultural subsidies. Ukip does advocate a Single Farm Payment approach. There are also plenty of other things that would need replacement domestic funding.
Leaving the EU does close a lot of the corrupt administration loops that cost money and serve little value, but there's one other urgent consideration. Immigration. Ukip does like to bang on about immigration as though that we were the only country it affects. Not so. If Cameron ever does go to Europe to renegotiate on immigration issues, as EUreferendum puts it, he'd be "kicking at an open door". It's all of Europe's problem - and a big one too, with Islamist eruptions breaking out all over, and civil wars all over the shop.
We are going to have to take our share of refugees and immigrants in any case if we want to keep good relations with the EU, in or out of it. More than this, as much as there are many things we can do to dampen the pull factors we can also do a lot more to stop the push factors. But this is going to take a lot of inter-agency co-operation with Europe and it's going to cost a lot of money.
That may mean buying favours from Turkey and Algeria. It may also mean development aid. We don't yet know what the costs will be, but we can bet it won't be cheap and you can guarantee Ukip hasn't thought of anything like that. Has anyone even seen a foreign policy from Ukip? They don't even seem to understand what foreign aid is for or what can be achieved with it. I don't want to see it go to India any more than they do but I do want to see it put to good use in the natonal interest.
We would do a great deal of damage to tourism and the economy if we closed our borders and started piling red tape on businesses to become proxy border agencies. That's the only way a quota system could really function. (Yet Ukip wants to reduce red tape burden on business). But that does not mean we don't have tools at our disposal to stem immigration flows.
We can either spend the money on closing the borders as Ukip suggests or we can spend it on reducing the need to come here in the first place. That's what it will take. That's the forward, global minded thinking I would wish to see. It will require a rethink of our foreign policy, our defence and defence procurement and our approach to aid. And it certainly won't happen without the co-operation of our friends in the EU.
Ironically, that is the vision Alan Sked had for Britain when he started Ukip. But now, the Ukip approach to everything is informed by a narrow-minded Fortress Britain mentality. It is parochial, myopic, stupid and infantile. But then this is Ukip we're talking about.