If you’d voted UKIP in Redbridge

Today UKIP made contact through the letterbox. Nobody is expecting a major swing to them in Redbridge so I don’t really need to write this. Maybe somebody living in a south-east coastal town or up north will read it. Pledge by pledge, this is their leaflet.

Early reference to ‘tired old parties’.

Political parties don’t get tired because they’ve been around a long time. And anyway, UKIP is famously old, backed by old and supported by old. And anyway, what’s so wrong with old? In fact, what is ‘old’?

Deduct half a point for making cheap statements and half a point for negativity.

UKIP Councillors would have the right to vote in the best interests of the people that they represent, rather than following a predetermined party line.

The strapline of the entire leaflet, which blatantly contradicts the statement above, is ‘Vote UKIP Get UKIP’. Both statements can’t be true.

The thing about party lines is that aren’t all about bossy people at the top pushing their agenda on the little guy. Party lines are chosen by candidates, not the other way round – otherwise the candidate would presumably be standing as an independent. The major party themes are also developed by consensus, rather than on one person’s whim.

Another important point about party lines is that they broadly let voters know what they’re getting when they vote for a candidate – if UKIP Councillors don’t have a party line on anything, then a vote for UKIP is like voting for an independent candidate. The reason few independent candidates succeed is that, without the benefit of a selection process within their party, most of them give the impression of being superficial, inexperienced, ill-disciplined people of uncertain principles, pursuing vanity projects or narrow single issues. Those who don’t mainly fail to convince voters that they will be able to sufficiently inform themselves to properly think through every decision – this constant need for reliable intelligence is where a political party comes in very handy. If you want an independent candidate, then don’t vote UKIP – vote for the kindest, most generous, most hard-working, most intelligent candidate.

Deduct 2 points for incoherence.

UKIP Councillors would work to provide much-needed permanent leisure facilities around the borough.

I thought this could only mean a permanent swimming pool – a Labour pledge after the Conservatives were criticised for proposing to waste a lot of money on a temporary pool. But UKIP don’t mention a pool, which indicates that they are reluctant to pledge a pool. So they aren’t pledging a pool. What exactly are they pledging?

Deduct 1 point for vagueness and coyness.

UKIP Councillors would work to keep control of council tax, ensuring a fairer Redbridge for all residents.

What do they mean, ‘keep control of’? Where does council tax threaten to wander off to? Is somebody trying to snatch  it? To the best of my knowledge, this statement is meaningless.

Deduct 5 points for misleading scaremongering. Add 2 points for striving to seem less racist by mentioning ‘all residents’.

UKIP Councillors would work to ensure that housing policy will reflect the needs of all residents.

This is not distinctive – every single candidate will pledge to do this in their own way – because it is absolutely core to a councillor’s job. The question is, according to what principles would they balance the needs of all residents? And what about those who seek to become residents? Again, there is no UKIP line to which we can refer here.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text and 3 points for taking voters for fools (making confident pledges without declaring any principles).

UKIP Councillors would work to improve street cleansing across the whole of the borough.

Again, this is not distinctive – all candidates pledge this.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text.

UKIP Councillors would work to improve law and order in the borough.

See above.

Deduct 1 point for wasting text.

UKIP Councillors would work to improve facilities for the elderly and vulnerable.

Again, this is something that all councillors have to do, irrespective of their political persuasion. It isn’t optional at all. But by going out of their way to mention older people while omitting younger people who have had their services cut and thin job prospects, UKIP again demonstrate a failure to understand intergenerational tensions and inequality.

See above – deduct 1 point for wasting text, and 2 points for poor selectivity.

UKIP Councillors would work to provide priority in adult social care for local residents.

I don’t understand what this means – are there non-local residents who are demanding adult social care? I don’t think you can apply for social care unless you are a local resident. Given UKIP’s reputation for stoking fears of foreigners, I detect some nasty insinuations in this pledge.

Deduct 5 points for groundlessly planting suspicion that social care is being poached by non-residents.

I’m missing anything on local jobs, healthcare or schools. Deduct 5 points for each of these important omissions.

Help us to make a difference in Redbridge on May 22nd 2014

Change for the worse, I’m certain.

Turning over, we get the smiling face of James Kellman – I think this is a lightly customised national leaflet, since our UKIP Action Team seems to be just one gent.

We learn he is a long-term local man. He is happily married. Turkish wife. Why would he mention the nationality of his wife? Because UKIP is characterised for the attraction it exerts on racists and xenophobes. He worked for Transport for London for 20 years and is now self-employed with more time. Former Conservative, disenchanted with the main parties on the EU.

He has one specific desire: transparency in Council matters. He doesn’t say what this means, or where they fall short now (the meetings are already public and well-documented, for example).

“You will no doubt have several candidates from different parties doorstepping you – it is felt better to leave you in peace”.

UKIP have not attracted enough volunteers to knock on our doors and talk with us about our local concerns, so this is really making a virtue of necessity. On the ‘leaving in peace’ part, what James hopes to distract us from is that canvassing is an important part of democracy. Working street by street, sitting councillors, candidates and party volunteers gain a deep familiarity with their constituency and those who campaign throughout the year can grasp changes for the worse or better. They report fly-tipping and anything else that needs fixing as they encounter it, and they have a chance to start illuminating conversations with residents who would otherwise be unlikely to make a first approach to a politician. This is another benefit of being in an organised, disciplined party rather than a loose collection of Europhobes with barely anything to unite them.

I think it comes to minus 33.

I’d score the other parties in the minus, but that would be the lowest out of Greens, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem. And although I am extremely appalled with politics, I believe that in a democracy we get the political leaders that the middle classes deserve. I am middle class, and so I have shared responsibility to strive for a better politics. A protest vote for the shambles that is UKIP has no part in that.

What UKIP supporters say

Searching the web for the phrase “UKIP supporters say” reveals how poorly UKIP serves the interests of its supporters, and the difference between what they want and what UKIP offers.

80% of UKIP supporters say that tackling the gap between rich and poor should be a government priority, according to the High Pay Centre. In contrast UKIP’s commitment to flat taxes and abolishing inheritance tax would benefit only rich families. One critical response from the left-leaning Tax Research Centre points out that, since the top 10% of earners currently pay 59% of all income tax, collapsing National Insurance and Income Tax into a single fixed rate for all would only serve to reduce the overall tax-take available to spend on public services while also preventing the rich from making a proportionate contribution. Moreover, the vast majority of UKIP supporters who responded to 3 months of YouGov polls in 2014 said that parents were right to “call in favours” to advance their children’s job prospects. That’s commonly known as nepotism, and it’s generally considered bad for morale, trust and equal opportunities. All of which is the opposite of tackling the gap between rich and poor.

UKIP positions itself as a party for working class people. See above for why this is doubtful. Tangentially, some according to a Populus survey for the Financial Times earlier this year reported in the Daily Mail, 4 in 10 UKIP supporters voted Conservative in the 2010 general election, the next largest proportion did not vote or chose a smaller party, while 15% chose the Liberal Democrats and only 7% voted Labour.

UKIP supporters are less likely than other EU opponents to appreciate the quality of the UK’s public services, according to Prospect. But UKIP is well-known for taxation policies which, while incoherent, lean strongly towards reducing public spending on these services.

61% of UKIP supporters say they will definitely vote in the European Elections, The Mirror reports, based on the . This is more than any other party’s supporters. And yet on working for their constituents, UKIP MEPs have a very poor track record

91% of UKIP supporters want to cut the 1.5% of government spending which is allocated to overseas aid, reports The Mirror. But pollution and climate change do not respect borders.

57% of UKIP supporters say they would like to live in mainland Europe, according to Prospect Magazine. However, if UKIP succeeding in withdrawing the UK from the European Union they would be far less free to do so, particularly if the UK’s influence continues to become more proportionate with its place in the world (i.e. less of an empire-wielding bully).

UKIP supporters are most likely of any party’s to drive every day and least likely to ride a bicycle, The Mirror reports. There is no discrepancy here between what UKIP supporters seem to want and UKIP’s policies. Nevertheless it’s worth saying that, to weigh against their obvious benefits, cars emit poisonous substances which have a negative impact on human health and ecosystems. National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory records state that road transport contributes about one fifth of air pollutants – and DEFRA’s summary of the effects of air pollution make grim reading – cardiovascular problems, lung disease including cancer, breathing difficulties and asthma. Environmental Protection UK points out that the UK is struggling to keep some areas within the limits set by the European Union. A 2012 coalition government policy reports that 55% of car journeys are less than 5 miles. According to Sustrans “a depressingly high proportion of short trips are made by car, 23% under a mile, 33% 1–2 miles, and 79% 2-5 miles (only 20% of these journeys are for work – shopping and school runs are a sizeable proportion). Motivated by health and well-being, there is a consensus on reducing short journeys by car to protect children (not least children who are car passengers), ill people, and people with respiratory problems. So, are UKIP local government candidates campaigning for better cycle routes and public transport? There is no mention of public transport in UKIP’s local manifesto! A search for UKIP “public transport” reveals that in the Forest of Dean UKIP candidates make one passing reference to public transport is overshadowed by promises of free parking and road maintenance. Telford and Wrekin UKIP insist that “Telford was designed for the car and would make the town driver friendly once again.” In Dudley a UKIP candidate attempts to fight private providers’ cuts to local public transport, but doesn’t mention a strategy. And most surprisingly, although outside London transport is the preserve of local government, UKIP’s 2014 local manifesto contains no reference to public transport and one reference to reducing parking charges.

UKIP supporters cheer on UKIP as a maverick plucky alternative to the established political parties. But like the Conservatives they are bankrolled by millionaires seeking influence to further business interests. Then there’s the growing catalogue of hypocrisies. According to a former UKIP MEP (though of doubtful standing) writing in the Daily Mail, Farage is known for muscling through policy changes through force of character rather than democratic deliberation among party members. Only days after Farage commented on his advertising campaign that “Most parties use actors. We use Ukippers“, UKIP’s poster campaign was exposed as improperly featuring Irish actor Dave O’Rourke posing as an unemployed UK voter. Farage was taken to task for employing his German wife (whom he does not pay minimum wage) and then claiming that no Briton could work as hard. UKIP has nothing to say to the millions of UK expats living abroad about integration and not taking jobs from the local citizens. So it’s unsurprising that UKIP donor Paul Sykes employs workers from mainland EU in jobs that UK workers could do just as well, and that the enormous fortune of UKIP Housing spokesperson Andrew Charalambous includes three quarters of a million from housing benefit, including that paid by migrant tenants. Hypocrisy and incoherence, all the way. And by the way I don’t think the problem is the hypocrisy – I am relieved that the UKIP millionaires are taking money from and giving money to migrants on the same terms. The hypocrisy is only a symptom which shows up the bad policies.

UKIP supporters are eager to emphasise that UKIP is not racist. But despite spectacular attempts at ‘weeding’ out the racists UKIP has attracted, they just seem to keep on coming. When Enfield candidate William Henry recently stated that Dudley-born actor, broadcaster and comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a “black country”, senior UKIP officials closed ranks. Farage has obliquely defended Henry by changing the subject, while the deputy chair Neil Hamilton tried to distract us by calling the matter a distraction. it is understandable that most people assume that UKIP favours discriminating against minorities in Britain. Its 2010 manifesto was disproportionately concerned with British Muslims (93% of supporters think it is acceptable to single out ultra-orthodox Muslim women about their attire), its 2014 manifesto overtly associates Romanians with crime as if national identity could be a cause, and its recently-launched poster campaign is generally thought reminiscent of the British National Party (BNP leader Nick Griffin also claims this).  It is inadequate simply to claim not to be racist – anti-racism is something which needs to be evidenced in policy and demonstrated through action. UKIP are not taking these measures, because to do so would interfere with their activity in the European Parliament where they are the largest party in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping of extreme right-wing MEPs. The leader of the next largest party, Italy’s Lega Nord is on record suggesting opening fire on boats of Africans who wanted to migrate to Italy, while another of its MEPs called for segregation between immigrants and native Italians. There’s far worse to worry about with the Europe of Freedom and Democracy, but I’ll stop there. (Only, is it any wonder, with gangs of MEPs like those, that the EU struggles to get things done?).

Two thirds of UKIP supporters say that they will even vote UKIP if it is likely to be a wasted vote, reports the Daily Mail. This means that Labour, pro-EU and one of the last parties most UKIP supporters want to see in power, is most likely to prevail in the 2015 general election.

And lastly here’s a curious thing. According to Prospect 4% of UKIP supporters would vote to stay in the EU. Perhaps they are the truly disaffected.

Omitted: housing, defence, countryside, and climate change, among many other things.