Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Politics is now in the gutter – but there is an alternative

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The Independent Online

Pundits were calling the 2010 election the first “social media election” – and while they’re doing that again this time, as the establishment parties hurl hundreds of thousands of pounds at Facebook and Twitter – the truth is that this will go down as the dirtiest general election campaign, potentially in British history.

Both Labour and the Conservative parties have drafted in expensive, American-style attack campaign strategists, and of course Mr Cameron also has the benefit of of Mr Lynton Crosby of Australia; although a fat lot of good it did them in Rochester and Strood last year.

What this means, in practical terms, is that our election campaigns, traditionally marked by playful newspaper headlines and upbeat party political broadcasts, will more likely becoming a US “tear chunks out of one another” affair. It’s a great shame, and I have personally said that I want to have no part of this. But we’ve seen it already, not just aimed at me, or Ukip, but both Labour and the Conservatives are going full pelt.

The Conservatives, in government, have quietly pushed through a rise in campaign expenditure limits – which is good news for them because their coffers have been filled by big business, pro-EU, interest groups. Labour will, as it has always done – rack up the debts for this election campaign while remaining heavily reliant on trade unions funding to get them by.

We can see the effects of it already. Expensive video campaigns, artificial social media statistics, well-staffed attack units within each of the parties’ headquarters, and more. But Ukip, as a party that doesn’t have huge resources, and one that doesn’t believe in negativity in our political sphere, will not go down this route.


OK, so you might see the odd, humourous YouTube video lampooning the Tory chairman for his latest attempt to get one over on us – such as the drastically mishandled defection last weekend. But for the most part, I think our politics deserves better than this. I don’t want to see our airwaves flooded with negative adverts about people’s personal lives, or problems they had in their distant past, or leaflets that tell blatant lies.

Instead, I feel that British politics should set a higher bar. In the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, I think we need to adopt a policy of being above nastiness or the proliferation of deceitful election material.

Personally, I’d like to see the Electoral Commission being a bit more toothy when it comes to this stuff, because even though Ukip announced a costed way of delivering £3bn more per year to the NHS, Labour were busy flooding people’s postboxes with a claim that I wanted a US-style insurance system in the UK. I have never said that. And yet they manage to get away with misinterpreting what was effectively me praising some elements of the French healthcare system. Quelle horreur!

Unsurprisingly, Labour’s own political adverts now contain Americanised spelling, and come with a fundamental misunderstanding of what the British electorate expect from their representatives; decency, truth-telling, and an end to the days of Alastair Campbell-type spin. Not a furtherance of it. That’s why at this general election, the only thing I’ll be “weaponising” – as Mr Miliband once remarked about his use of the NHS as a political football – is the truth.

It is the truth that Ukip will attempt to project at every juncture. And if you catch me intentionally doing anything other than that; well then don’t vote for us, because I cannot stand how gutter-like our politics has become, and I do not wish to play any part in it.


The ban on smoking goes too far

Dry January is coming to an end – finally! While I think it’s probably worthwhile for people to do, I have to say I haven’t been sleeping any better, nor do I feel any better! That might be due to the hectic schedule I’ve had this side of the New Year, but if I can be perfectly honest with you, I can’t wait for a pint of bitter in my local. I only hope the weather holds up so that a smoker like me doesn’t have to stand outside in the snow between drinks.

One of our 100 Reasons to Vote Ukip, which was released earlier this week to mark 100 days before the election, stated that we are anti-plain packaging for cigarettes, and would amend the smoking ban to allow restaurants, bars, and pubs to establish a well-ventilated, indoor smoking room.

I’ve received a fair amount of correspondence on the subject in the past week – some for, some against – but I think we should be very clear about this. If there is a privately owned or rented commercial property, I don’t think it is necessarily the role of the state to tell people what they can or can’t do inside, within reasonable limits. I think an outright smoking ban is unreasonable – and if proprietors want to offer their customers a choice, without getting in the way of non-smokers, then I don’t see a particular problem. We’re grown-ups after all, aren’t we?