THE BLOG

Was Ukip's Manifesto Worked Out On The Back of a Cigarette Packet?

21/04/2015 11:12 BST | Updated 20/06/2015 10:59 BST

Anyone watching Nigel Farage reveal UKIP's manifesto last week could have been forgiven for thinking that the policies were worked out down the pub on the back of a cigarette packet.

The purple party's 100 policies set out for the election are the classic list of every saloon bar bore's political thinking. It's no surprise that bringing back smoking in pubs is on the list (number 41), and opposing plain packs and health warnings on cigarettes packs.

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Many of the other policies are equally as harmful to the British economy as the cigarettes are to the nation's health.

Clearly UKIP is a one issue party. Reduce immigration by getting out of the EU.

But at what cost? And putting aside the EU referendum, just for one minute - let's look at some other policies.

Number 35. Full prison sentences should be served, parole on a case by case basis. So UKIP is clearly one for punishing wrongdoers - but this is also going to punish the tax-payer. This would lead to at least a 20% increase in the UK prison population, currently at 87,000 - to around 104,000.

Price of new prisons £3bn, extra annual running costs of £642m.

Surprisingly there's no call for a return of the death penalty maybe we can look forward to that in the next manifesto.

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50. Abolishing inheritance tax - looks like Cameron has stolen UKIP's thunder a bit with this one, when he pledged to cut this tax on estates less than £1m, and at least he managed to explain how he would pay for this tax cut.

51. Introducing a 35p income tax rate between £42K and £55K - this will cost £1/2bn a-year. A clever move to woo the "squeezed middle" but where exactly will this money come from.

Clearly some will come from slashing the foreign aid budget down to around £2bn, around 0.12% of Gross National Income - which would put us well below any other industrialised nation.

Taking away subsidies for Johnny Foreigner is always going to be a popular vote winner for Forage but is likely to result in greater poverty in the world's most deprived areas which will in turn bring greater turmoil and extremism in the future.

Number 58. Guaranteeing a job in the police, prison or border forces for anyone who has served 12 years in the Armed Forces. This is a nice idea but there are an estimated 5m veterans in the UK and a further 20,000 personnel leave each year - around 20% of those served 12 years - if only 1 in 5 take up the offer this will cost the UK a whopping £6bn a year.

But of course if they don't grant parole to prisoners there will be a lots of vacancies in the prison services that will need filling.

Clearly something needs to be done to support our veterans after they have served the country but these 100 commandments from Saint Nigel simply don't add up. With his Veterans Charter he's making promises that he will never be able to afford.

Now on to the Elephant in the room. Policy Number 1. Get Britain out of the European Union. So that Policy Number 2. Get control of immigration - can be achieved.

The EU costs the UK £12bn but don't forget around £9bn of that comes back - at least £3bn of which goes to British farmers.

But the loss of investment to the UK will be far worse. Billions of pounds of investment from US and China would be withdrawn. They are interested in having a foot-hold in the EU's 600 million population, not because of the UK's 60 million.

European banks are likely to retreat back home and London's status as a financial capital would be eroded and Frankfurt would be likely to overtake within five years.

Clearly something needs to be done to stem immigration numbers but UKIP isn't the solution, and besides the Tories have offered a EU referendum in 2017 so let the nation decide then.

And my personal favourite is UKIP policy Number 100 - Rebalancing Britain's economy. Presumably after the huge amount of damage from the previous 99 ideas.