Breaking UKIP's single-issue image

The English Parliament policy may help to demonstrate that UKIP does indeed have a relevant domestic focus in addition to its anti-EU and anti-immigration stances. Thrown in with a policy of binding local referenda, UKIP could become a Party of true devolution and people power.

UKIP is often associated with its anti-EU and immigration stances
Michael Heaver
On 5 September 2011 14:00

It's that time of year again: Conference season is approaching. I'll be in Eastbourne with UKIP at what could be a extremely eventful few days.

It never fails to amaze me how many right-wing activists essentially agree with UKIP's libertarian-leaning ethos yet refuse to vote for, let alone actively support, the Party in favour of the Conservatives.

Having spoken to many people of this persuasion (some of whom, I suspect, will be reading this!), my conclusion is that this is due largely to the fact that while UKIP is seen as relevant and sound on the subject of the European Union, it is yet to be viewed by some as a fully-fledged political party with a full raft of relevant policies.

This, to a degree, represents an internal split as well. Many who joined UKIP joined back in the early Nineties when the singular focus was EU membership. A Party that was founded around one real focus is sure to experience growing pains as increasing numbers of younger members join and focus on the broader spectrum of UKIP's broadly libertarian philosophy.

And that is exactly what's happening. Whether you talk about flat tax, proper border controls, grammar schools or prison expansion, most right-wingers would have trouble arguing with much of what UKIP espouses on the domestic front. The problem of course lies in projecting such policies.

The media are not particularly interested in giving coverage to the Party's intentions on tax or jobs, but instead view UKIP as being exclusively relevant on the subject of the EU and sometimes immigration.

The trick, therefore, is to break through with a headline-grabbing domestic policy that forces sympathisers and media editors alike to question their own perception of UKIP as a single-issue party. This kind of happened with the ban the burka policy which caused considerable discontent amongst some activists in the Party but was actually very popular on the ground with voters I spoke to.

What is more, this can be achieved if, for example, UKIP came out for drug legalisation or for the restoration of the death penalty. But the rumours are that the Party may adopt an English Parliament policy which would tick all the boxes and I suspect be very popular. Though again, there has already been some resistance to this idea within UKIP.

The fact is that nobody has come up with a fair minded deal for English taxpayers, who via the Barnett Formula get screwed royally while prescription charges and University tuition fees in Scotland are subsidised to incredible levels compared with England. Devolution has left everyone in the UK -- save of course the English -- with more representation. Moreover, the likes of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are not going anywhere, like it or not.

I hope then that this policy will cut through and demonstrate that UKIP does have a relevant domestic focus; an alternative mode of governance. Thrown in with a policy of binding local referenda, UKIP could become a Party of true devolution and people power that seeks to emulate the Swiss beyond their independence of the EU. 

Michael Heaver is a UKIP activist and blogger.  He tweets at @Michael_Heaver

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