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Six Policies In Ukip's Manifesto That Are Actually Pretty Good (And One That Was Mysteriously Dropped)

30/05/2017 16:26 BST | Updated 30/05/2017 16:26 BST
Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

If you can get past the headlines and random mentions of Vitamin D deficiency in a policy about cultural integration, Ukip's manifesto contains a few gems which even the most ardent left-winger would struggle to argue with.

With just days to go until the General Election, I thought I would take a look at some of the sensible - and actually quite innovative - ideas which it contains.

1. A housing policy that will actually build houses

With every party claiming in one way or another that a huge programme of housebuilding is needed, the natural question to ask is who will actually deliver and build the homes. That's always been the problem in the past, where development companies would rather concrete over our green belt than build on available brownfield sites. Plenty of promises, few affordable new homes.

But what if, instead, the government were to set up a new housing development corporation with a mandate to buy brownfield sites cheaply and quickly? Using new, green, modular construction and with fewer planning controls, the first homes could be ready in just months.

Then by selling them at cost price - yes, zero profit - to young people struggling to get on the housing ladder - a new generation could buy brand-new homes for five-figure sums.

But as social housing starter homes, they're designed to help people out. So they'd have a guaranteed sale back to the government for the price paid plus property price increase since purchase, so there's still profit in it for a first-time buyer. But crucially, that's the only way they could be sold: they're not to be rented out for profit, or for selling to private investors: they're designed to help people. And the same house can then be sold again to someone in need of a leg up to that property ladder, helping even more people.

2. The hospital ship to deliver humanitarian aid

With 90% of the world's population living within 200 miles of a coast, and the vast majority of the world's biggest cities being coastal, imagine a 500-bed fully-equipped hospital ship with landing space for helicopters.

When there's a humanitarian crisis, we can move the ship to where the biggest need is - providing a great quality hospital right where it's needed.

And the country would have a new capability: if we were ever sadly brought into another war (though Ukip opposed ill-thought-out interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time), the ship could be redeployed for the benefit of our soldiers.

3. No tax on the first £13,500 of your income each year

Pretty self-explanatory, even though it's not quite a high enough threshold to truly be a 'no tax on minimum wage' policy.

There's not many better ways to help working people than to stop taxing them. A benefit to everyone who's earning a full-time wage, of course, but one which will disproportionately help the poorest in society."

4. Training more doctors and nurses

There's a shortage of trained medical professionals, and - contrary to certain spin about the effects of Brexit - Ukip actually plans to give those working in our NHS the right to stay in Britain.

But what about the next generation? Cutting tuition fees for STEM, nursing and medical students and giving grants to the poorest students will only go so far - specifically, as far as the places available on university courses.

When thousands of straight-A students are turned away from medical degrees every year, it's time to create new places at university. And in a few years' time, we'll start to find a new generation of home-grown doctors.

5. Recognising the importance of mental health

Waiting four months for an initial appointment when a mental health issue arises isn't only not good enough, it's a false economy. In that time problems can spiral out of control and become a real crisis - which will end up costing the NHS far more to treat overall.

Even a 28-day maximum wait would be far too long, and would need bringing down in the longer term, but it'd be a massive step in the right direction. At least there's a party talking about the issues.

Backing the pledge up with extra cash to fund it is also a must.

6. Scrapping the TV Licence

Brought in decades ago, the TV licence is just another regressive tax which hits the poorest in society harder than anyone else.

The BBC does some great jobs (local radio stations, reporting on Parliament and the World Service) which have a social benefit, even if there's room for improvement in some areas. They're not particularly expensive and could be funded from general taxation.

But as for the commercial programmes? Well, why not simply make them commercial? Some of the BBC's programmes have a huge commercial value (think: Doctor Who). There'd be no shortage of companies willing to pay for advertising to fund it.

So for the minor inconvenience of having to fast-forward through a few advert breaks, you'd be saving yourself near pretty much £150 per year. And no need for wasting huge amounts of valuable court time on the prosecution of non-payers. Again, it's the poorest who'll benefit most from that.

Then there's the one that mysteriously vanished:

7. A new Intermediate tax rate

Middle-income earners are more than ever finding themselves straying into the 40% Higher tax band. When the government takes 40% of your wage, plus 11% or so in National Insurance, plus your Council Tax and then 20% VAT on almost everything you buy, you're going to find yourself pretty stretched.

Okay perhaps for those earning say £70,000 per year - but not at all okay for a teacher or a nurse who's got a few promotions.

The 30% Intermediate tax rate was a huge sell to those people who work hard and earn a decent wage but aren't in any way rich. Catching those people in a 30% tax band rather than 40%? Priceless.

Ukip's NEC approved the policy when signing off the Manifesto, yet when the Manifesto was published there was no sign of it whatsoever. Strange and unexplained. I've been unable to get to the bottom of what happened to it.

But will people be voting on these policies when it comes to 8 June? That is a wholly different question.