In the third conference of the season, UKIP announce commitments on immigration and tax.
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) held their annual conference at Doncaster Racecourse, with the largest turnout the party has ever seen. The location was specifically chosen as a consequence of the fact that it was close to Ed Miliband’s safe seat in Doncaster North. Previous to the conference, deputy leader Paul Nuttall stated, ‘This event will represent our firing of the starting pistol for the long general election campaign and will give the lie to any idea that we are only a threat to the Tories’. Discussed policies centred around two main platforms: immigration and taxation
‘The number 1 issue’, according the leader Nigel Farage, is immigration. UKIP outlined plans to leave the European Union, restricting the right of free movement of people travelling between EU countries without visas. In addition, UKIP aims to install an ‘Australian-Styled’ points based immigration system, which would ensure that only the ‘brightest’ come into the country. All foreign workers would provide proof of their medical insurance as a prerequisite to working. UKIP aims to restrict immigration into the UK to around 50,000 per year, resulting in an 80% loss in current immigration numbers. It was also stated that employers would have the right to discriminate against foreign workers in favour of British ones.
UKIP provided an economic plan, would includes an increase in the tax threshold from £10,000 to £13,500, consequentially meaning that no person on the minimum wage would pay tax. A 20% tax would be levied on those earning between £13,500- £44,000, a 35% tax on those earning £44,000- £55,000 and 40% tax on anybody earning above £55,000. The current rate of tax (45% on anything above £150,000) would be scrapped completely. The party insists it could pay for the £12bn shortfall in tax through leaving the European Union, scrapping the HS2 link between London and Birmingham and cutting foreign aid.
During the conference, there were suggestions of raising VAT to 25%. As a result of this, everyday items would become increasingly expensive and this could have a significant effect on students and those on lower incomes. UKIP additionally stated that they were working with UNITE to prevent the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from occurring between the European Union and the US. This would, as they outlined, result in free trade between the two continents consequently becoming the biggest free trade area in the word.
The conference gave little information about policies affecting students or education. The Young Independence Facebook page states that the party ‘offers a straight talking alternative to the Westminster consensus and provides a voice for young UKIP members inside the Party’.
The conference was the biggest UKIP has ever had, with the highest figures in popularity following the European Elections. On the last day of the conference, Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless, announced his decision to leave the Conservative Party (deemed as ‘counter-productive and rather senseless by David Cameron) and to join UKIP. His seat will now face a by-election, in which Mr Reckless will stand as the UKIP candidate. Reckless is the second MP to defect to the anti-EU party.