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than 50, only 15 percent younger than 40), its website is clunky, badly-formatted, difficult to navigate, and full of out-of-date information - or, at least, that's Farage's excuse for some of the barmier policies featured on there, which include a dress code for taxi drivers and a demand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.

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Erdogan’s purge was too big and too organised to be a mere reaction to the failed coup

There is a specific word for the melancholy of Istanbul. The city is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. 

Even at the worst of times Istanbul is a beautiful city, and the Bosphorus is a remarkable stretch of sea. Turks get very irritated if you call it a river. They are right. The Bosphorus has a life and energy that a river could never equal. Spend five minutes watching the Bosphorus and you can understand why Orhan Pamuk, Turkey’s Nobel laureate for literature, became fixated by it as he grew up, tracking the movements of the ocean-going vessels, the warships and the freighters as they steamed between Asia and Europe.

I went to an Ottoman palace on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, waiting to interview the former prime minister Ahmet Davu­toglu. He was pushed out of office two months ago by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he appeared to be too wedded to the clauses in the Turkish constitution which say that the prime minister is the head of government and the president is a ceremonial head of state. Erdogan was happy with that when he was prime minister. But now he’s president, he wants to change the constitution. If Erdogan can win the vote in parliament he will, in effect, be rubber-stamping the reality he has created since he became president. In the days since the attempted coup, no one has had any doubt about who is the power in the land.

 

City of melancholy

The view from the Ottoman palace was magnificent. Beneath a luscious, pine-shaded garden an oil tanker plied its way towards the Black Sea. Small ferries dodged across the sea lanes. It was not, I hasten to add, Davutoglu’s private residence. It had just been borrowed, for the backdrop. But it reminded a Turkish friend of something she had heard once from the AKP, Erdogan’s ruling party: that they would not rest until they were living in the apartments with balconies and gardens overlooking the Bosphorus that had always been the preserve of the secular elite they wanted to replace.

Pamuk also writes about hüzün, the melancholy that afflicts the citizens of Istanbul. It comes, he says, from the city’s history and its decline, the foghorns on the Bosphorus, from tumbledown walls that have been ruins since the fall of the Byzantine empire, unemployed men in tea houses, covered women waiting for buses that never come, pelting rain and dark evenings: the city’s whole fabric and all the lives within it. “My starting point,” Pamuk wrote, “was the emotion that a child might feel while looking through a steamy window.”

Istanbul is suffering a mighty bout of something like hüzün at the moment. In Pamuk’s work the citizens of Istanbul take a perverse pride in hüzün. No one in Istanbul, or elsewhere in Turkey, can draw comfort from what is happening now. Erdogan’s opponents wonder what kind of future they can have in his Turkey. I think I sensed it, too, in the triumphalist crowds of Erdogan supporters that have been gathering day after day since the coup was defeated.

 

Down with the generals

Erdogan’s opponents are not downcast because the coup failed; a big reason why it did was that it had no public support. Turks know way too much about the authoritarian ways of military rule to want it back. The melancholy is because Erdogan is using the coup to entrench himself even more deeply in power. The purge looks too far-reaching, too organised and too big to have been a quick reaction to the attempt on his power. Instead it seems to be a plan that was waiting to be used.

Turkey is a deeply unhappy country. It is hard to imagine now, but when the Arab uprisings happened in 2011 it seemed to be a model for the Middle East. It had elections and an economy that worked and grew. When I asked Davutoglu around that time whether there would be a new Ottoman sphere of influence for the 21st century, he smiled modestly, denied any such ambition and went on to explain that the 2011 uprisings were the true succession to the Ottoman empire. A century of European, and then American, domination was ending. It had been a false start in Middle Eastern history. Now it was back on track. The people of the region were deciding their futures, and perhaps Turkey would have a role, almost like a big brother.

Turkey’s position – straddling east and west, facing Europe and Asia – is the key to its history and its future. It could be, should be, a rock of stability in a desperately un­stable part of the world. But it isn’t, and that is a problem for all of us.

 

Contagion of war

The coup did not come out of a clear sky. Turkey was in deep crisis before the attempt was made. Part of the problem has come from Erdogan’s divisive policies. He has led the AKP to successive election victories since it first won in 2002. But the policies of his governments have not been inclusive. As long as his supporters are happy, the president seems unconcerned about the resentment and opposition he is generating on the other side of politics.

Perhaps that was inevitable. His mission, as a political Islamist, was to change the country, to end the power of secular elites, including the army, which had been dominant since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk created modern Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman empire. And there is also the influence of chaos and war in the Middle East. Turkey has borders with Iraq and Syria, and is deeply involved in their wars. The borders do not stop the contagion of violence. Hundreds of people have died in the past year in bomb attacks in Turkish cities, some carried out by the jihadists of so-called Islamic State, and some sent by Kurdish separatists working under the PKK.

It is a horrible mix. Erdogan might be able to deal with it better if he had used the attempted coup to try to unite Turkey. All the parliamentary parties condemned it. But instead, he has turned the power of the state against his opponents. More rough times lie ahead.

Jeremy Bowen is the BBC’s Middle East editor. He tweets @bowenbbc

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue