WATCH: Nigel Farage doesn't realise how terrible his own party's policies are

Uniforms for taxi drivers? Old-fashioned colours on trains? Just some of the crap UKIP included in its manifesto for the 2010 election, as revealed to Nigel Farage on the Daily Politics.

The job of making UKIP appear less like the fringe party enjoying its day in the sun that it is, and more of a serious political contender, continues to be a tricky one for Nigel Farage. As befitting a party whose key demographic is older than any other (71 percent older than 50, only 15 percent younger than 40), its website is clunky, badly-formatted, difficult to navigate, and full of out-of-date information - or, at least, that's Farage's excuse for some of the barmier policies featured on there, which include a dress code for taxi drivers and a demand that the old-style liveries from the days of National Rail be reinstated on regional train lines.

This morning's Daily Politics, with Farage as guest, tried to pin down exactly what it was that UKIP believes in. "You don't need me to tell you that Nigel Farage is UKIP’s man," said Andrew Neil. "He wants out of the EU and he’s not particularly fond of immigration - but what does UKIP stand for?"

One of the few areas where UKIP has a clear stance is defence policy, opposing cuts to the armed forces. But, UKIP also wants to cut Trident, Neil points out. "No, I'm not sure where you've got that from," a confused Farage replies. 

"Your website," Neil responds. (The video above begins from this exchange.) "It says, 'we've committed to cancelling the Trident defence'."

"That is not the case. Not the case, no. It was the case.”

"Are you going to take it off the website then?"

“When it comes to websites I’m not the expert.”

That much was obvious when the UKIP leader was asked about the party's demand for a compulsory uniform for taxi drivers ("Do we? That's news to me"). “Under the last leadership, at the 2010 election, we managed to produce a manifesto that was 486 pages long. You can quote me all sorts of bits from it I won’t know, which is why I’ve said none of it stands today and we will launch it all after the European elections.”

The thing is, Farage isn't wrong -  UKIP's website, and the party's 2010 manifesto, is filled with bizarre stuff like this. These are also the only policy positions that voters have to go on, as Farage might not like to admit. Here's a non-exhaustive list of examples:

  • "The earnings of employed people are not a legitimate target for taxation."
  • "We are unconvinced of many of the arguments behind the man-made ‘global warming’ scare."
  • "Britain and Britishness are in trouble. They are being attacked and undermined, both externally and internally. They are threatened by the European Union (EU) and corporatist Americanised pressures from without, and betrayed by misguided politically correct ideology, extremist Islam and errant nationalism from within ... The UK Independence Party wishes to remain a close friend of the United States, and deplores the rampant anti-Americanism of Continental Europe as racism."
  • "Welsh, Scottish and Irish nationalists constantly speak of their desire to be 'independent' of England. UKIP sees this as bogus independence."
  • "Regarding the Islamicisation of Britain, UKIP would ban the covering of the face in public buildings and certain private buildings."
  • "UKIP would safeguard British weights and measures (the pint, the mile etc.), which have been undermined by the EU."
  • "UKIP would support the Monarchy by replacing the media frenzy around state support by transferring sufficient amounts of Crown Estate assets back to the Crown to provide suitable income." 
  • "UKIP will encourage British designers to create a reinvigorated "British style." 
  • "UKIP would formally strike out the unhelpful verse starting with 'rebellious Scots to crush' from the national anthem. UKIP would require the UK theme medley to be restored to BBC Radio 4."
  • "The phenomena of political correctness itself has its origins in the Frankfurt School of Marxism of the 1930s."
  • "The UK Independence Party believes that a wise investment would be a 'British Ambassadorial Ship'." 
  • "UKIP will give tax relief for real ales." 
  • "The BBC and the British Film Council will have their remits altered to back films that promote British values and British talent and locations. They will not be allowed to back films that denigrate, attack or oppose British values. For example, the Film Council would not back a pro-IRA, anti-British film in ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ by the Marxist Ken Loach or projects like ‘This is England’, which glorifies hooliganism."
  • "The low point for the BBC came when a former Director-General admitted the BBC was “hideously white” - a remark that is simply racist."
  • "We would welcome a return to traditional British headdress and uniforms for the police and armed forces. UKIP would also welcome the replacement of US-style baseball caps from all public services, particularly the police and armed forces, with traditional British headdress. UKIP will encourage a return to proper dress for major hotels, restaurants and theatres."
  • "British passports will return to their proper larger size and design."
  • "UKIP notes that in the 2007/8 football season, two British teams reached the European Champions League final, yet not a single British Home Nation qualified for the European Championships that same summer ... UKIP blames the EU for this ... UKIP would place a maximum of three foreign players in the starting line up."
  • "UKIP will encourage higher standards of behaviour in society, including greater politeness, courtesy, manners, not swearing in public."
  • "The patchy and biased teaching of history in schools, often very anti-British, is a major problem for a cohesive society. The issue of slavery in particular would also reflect the greater levels of trade by Arab slave traders (including the seizing of English citizens for slaves from the South West), the role of African tribes in the trade and Wilberforce‘s world leading abolition campaign. The Slavery issue has been deliberately used to undermine Britishness."

...and those are all from just the first page.

And finally, Buzzfeed today posted a quiz challenging people to guess which policies are UKIP's and which are the Monster Raving Loony Party's. It's (unsurprisingly) tricky.

I'm a mole, innit.

Getty
Show Hide image

The 11 things we know after the Brexit plan debate

Labour may just have fallen into a trap. 

On Wednesday, both Labour and Tory MPs filed out of the Commons together to back a motion calling on the Prime Minister to commit to publish the government’s Brexit plan before Article 50 is triggered in March 2017. 

The motion was proposed by Labour, but the government agreed to back it after inserting its own amendment calling on MPs to “respect the wishes of the United Kingdom” and adhere to the original timetable. 

With questions on everything from the customs union to the Northern Irish border, it is clear that the Brexit minister David Davis will have a busy Christmas. Meanwhile, his declared intention to stay schtum about the meat of Brexit negotiations for now means the nation has been hanging off every titbit of news, including a snapped memo reading “have cake and eat it”. 

So, with confusion abounding, here is what we know from the Brexit plan debate: 

1. The government will set out a Brexit plan before triggering Article 50

The Brexit minister David Davis said that Parliament will get to hear the government’s “strategic plans” ahead of triggering Article 50, but that this will not include anything that will “jeopardise our negotiating position”. 

While this is something of a victory for the Remain MPs and the Opposition, the devil is in the detail. For example, this could still mean anything from a white paper to a brief description released days before the March deadline.

2. Parliament will get a say on converting EU law into UK law

Davis repeated that the Great Repeal Bill, which scraps the European Communities Act 1972, will be presented to the Commons during the two-year period following Article 50.

He said: “After that there will be a series of consequential legislative measures, some primary, some secondary, and on every measure the House will have a vote and say.”

In other words, MPs will get to debate how existing EU law is converted to UK law. But, crucially, that isn’t the same as getting to debate the trade negotiations. And the crucial trade-off between access to the single market versus freedom of movement is likely to be decided there. 

3. Parliament is almost sure to get a final vote on the Brexit deal

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the final Brexit deal, which means the government accepts it also needs parliamentary approval. Davis said: “It is inconceivable to me that if the European Parliament has a vote, this House does not.”

Davis also pledged to keep MPs as well-informed as MEPs will be.

However, as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer pointed out to The New Statesman, this could still leave MPs facing the choice of passing a Brexit deal they disagree with or plunging into a post-EU abyss. 

4. The government still plans to trigger Article 50 in March

With German and French elections planned for 2017, Labour MP Geraint Davies asked if there was any point triggering Article 50 before the autumn. 

But Davis said there were 15 elections scheduled during the negotiation process, so such kind of delay was “simply not possible”. 

5. Themed debates are a clue to Brexit priorities

One way to get a measure of the government’s priorities is the themed debates it is holding on various areas covered by EU law, including two already held on workers’ rights and transport.  

Davis mentioned themed debates as a key way his department would be held to account. 

It's not exactly disclosure, but it is one step better than relying on a camera man papping advisers as they walk into No.10 with their notes on show. 

6. The immigration policy is likely to focus on unskilled migrants

At the Tory party conference, Theresa May hinted at a draconian immigration policy that had little time for “citizens of the world”, while Davis said the “clear message” from the Brexit vote was “control immigration”.

He struck a softer tone in the debate, saying: “Free movement of people cannot continue as it is now, but this will not mean pulling up the drawbridge.”

The government would try to win “the global battle for talent”, he added. If the government intends to stick to its migration target and, as this suggests, will keep the criteria for skilled immigrants flexible, the main target for a clampdown is clearly unskilled labour.  

7. The government is still trying to stay in the customs union

Pressed about the customs union by Anna Soubry, the outspoken Tory backbencher, Davis said the government is looking at “several options”. This includes Norway, which is in the single market but not the customs union, and Switzerland, which is in neither but has a customs agreement. 

(For what it's worth, the EU describes this as "a series of bilateral agreements where Switzerland has agreed to take on certain aspects of EU legislation in exchange for accessing the EU's single market". It also notes that Swiss exports to the EU are focused on a few sectors, like chemicals, machinery and, yes, watches.)

8. The government wants the status quo on security

Davis said that on security and law enforcement “our aim is to preserve the current relationship as best we can”. 

He said there is a “clear mutual interest in continued co-operation” and signalled a willingness for the UK to pitch in to ensure Europe is secure across borders. 

One of the big tests for this commitment will be if the government opts into Europol legislation which comes into force next year.

9. The Chancellor is wooing industries

Robin Walker, the under-secretary for Brexit, said Philip Hammond and Brexit ministers were meeting organisations in the City, and had also met representatives from the aerospace, energy, farming, chemicals, car manufacturing and tourism industries. 

However, Labour has already attacked the government for playing favourites with its secretive Nissan deal. Brexit ministers have a fine line to walk between diplomacy and what looks like a bribe. 

10. Devolved administrations are causing trouble

A meeting with leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ended badly, with the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon publicly declaring it “deeply frustrating”. The Scottish government has since ramped up its attempts to block Brexit in the courts. 

Walker took a more conciliatory tone, saying that the PM was “committed to full engagement with the devolved administrations” and said he undertook the task of “listening to the concerns” of their representatives. 

11. Remain MPs may have just voted for a trap

Those MPs backing Remain were divided on whether to back the debate with the government’s amendment, with the Green co-leader Caroline Lucas calling it “the Tories’ trap”.

She argued that it meant signing up to invoking Article 50 by March, and imposing a “tight timetable” and “arbitrary deadline”, all for a vaguely-worded Brexit plan. In the end, Lucas was one of the Remainers who voted against the motion, along with the SNP. 

George agrees – you can read his analysis of the Brexit trap here

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.