While everyone is focusing on whether or not Ukip is a racist party, the irrationality of just two of its major policies is being overlooked. First is Ukip’s denial of climate science which has been accepted by every research body on the planet for several decades. This short-sighted, essentially suicidal policy, will inevitably create vast humanitarian refugee and immigration problems in the future for all developed countries, including ours.
Second is its policy of amalgamating income tax and national insurance into a new flat-rate income tax pitched at around 34 per cent. Bearing in mind that most of Ukip support comes from better-off pensioners who don’t pay National Insurance and that very few of them pay higher rate tax, Ukip is therefore proposing to raise the taxation of its main supporters by 70 per cent. Can’t they do sums? In contrast, a mere 34 per cent flat tax will obviously be a bonanza for bankers like Nigel Farage.
The increasing gap in political cultures between Scotland and England is further evidenced by the latest research on voting intentions for the European Parliamentary elections and attitudes to the EU.
South of the border, Ukip is challenging Labour for first place in the European Parliament elections. In Scotland the Ukip vote is a third of that in England, and it is unlikely that the elections will deliver any MEPs for Mr Farage’s party.
Of those surveyed in Scotland, 48 per cent would vote to remain in the EU if a referendum was held, compared with 32 per cent who said they would vote to leave. In England 40 per cent would vote to leave the EU, compared with 37 per cent who would vote to stay in.
The results also indicate how national identity plays a key role in voters’ views about the European Union, with Ukip support in England strongest among those who identified themselves as being “English” rather than “‘British”. It is also clear from the research that “Scottish” identifiers back entirely different parties from “English” identifiers.
Scotland and England are two nations moving in different political directions. The independence referendum will determine whether Scotland will plough its own furrow or remain shackled to a political system whose values we no longer share.
Commentators are surprised that damaging disclosures about Ukip candidates and members don’t harm the party’s poll ratings. Surely the answer is that most of the voters threatening to vote for Ukip will actually vote for NOTA (None of the Above).
What is really surprising is that intelligent voters will vote for a party that opposes every proposal that comes before the European Parliament, no matter what the subject, and does little or no work in Brussels, yet will scorn the party that works its socks off in the interests of Britain in Europe.
Geoff S Harris
The letter from the selection of Ukip high-ups (7 May) has finally debunked their view of themselves as distinct from the “old” parties and reveals them to be exactly the same. They moan about people being mean to them, media conspiracy, their views and policies being misrepresented, and of personal attacks and abuse.
Is this not the same charge perennially posited by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats about their treatment in the media? Politics? Don’t you just love it!
Newton Abbot, Devon
The SNP hopes for Scottish independence within the EU. Ukip promises to take us out of the EU in order to control immigration. In the unlikely event that both are successful, could Mr Farage tell us what border arrangements he would put in place between Scotland and the remainder of the UK, and would unemployed Scots be on his exclusion list?
GP system needs thorough reform
Jane Merrick’s article of 8 May highlights one of the main issues which gives rise to my increasing frustration as a GP, namely the absurdity of continuing to try to make an outdated model of primary health-care provision fit into a modern society. Leaving the issue of funding aside, my experience is of a need to simplistically split primary care into two basic components.
First, there is the need to care for the frail elderly, and those with complex long-term conditions, in a community setting. GPs are an experienced but expensive resource, ideally suited to the holistic nature of this difficult task, which is time-consuming and labour intensive if it is to be done properly, and which could potentially occupy almost all of a GP’s time.
Second is the need for readily available first-point contact primary care, which in most cases does not need to be provided by a GP, but can readily be done by nurse practitioners, extended care practitioners, pharmacists, or other suitably trained health-care professionals, who are more than capable of dealing with a considerable number of problems currently presenting at GP surgeries (and indeed many GP practices are increasingly using these resources).
The continuing perception that anyone with a new health problem must see a GP is precisely what is causing the immense strains in the system.
I am pleased Ms Merrick’s problem was of a benign nature, but would it not have been much easier and caused less emotional turmoil had she been offered a same-day appointment with a nurse practitioner in the first place?
Jane Merrick’s account of her treatment under the GP system (8 May), reminded me of other such failures. Patients requiring urgent blood tests are told that they cannot be taken. Others are told that an important appointment to discuss a health concern will take two weeks. When will one of our political leaders have the integrity to say to the electorate that the health service requires more funding and it must come from earmarked taxation? I assume that our political class has had their cojones removed under private health insurance.
Workhouse for a new generation
Your correspondents regarding “generation rent” (8 May) show a remarkable lack of neoliberal vision. Surely we can be absolutely confident that there are bright young Conservative advisers at this very moment working on a return of the workhouse, although in keeping with the times they will be provided by G4S or Serco rather than the local authority. A new name will be necessary, of course. The Seeking Workhouse doesn’t quite work, but I’m sure other readers can help the government out here.
Saudi Arabia and kidnapped girls
Many countries are now clamouring for action to rescue the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls, but the only country which might be able to pressure Boko Haram into releasing them is silent. If Boko Haram is Wahabist – and as an Al-Qa’ida affiliate it probably is – then condemnation from Saudi mullahs ought to weigh with it, even if no money or training or equipment is flowing from the Kingdom (which it probably is). Does the Saudi religious establishment really believe that kidnapping virgins and selling them as slaves is, as Boko Haram claims, proper Islamic behaviour?
A load of old rubbish
Andy McSmith’s mention of Birmingham Council’s policy of not collecting garden rubbish (The Diary, 8 May), because “there was no reason why people who have not got gardens should subsidise those who have”, astonished me. Here in Wiltshire the council provides a large green garden bin for the disposal of garden waste once a fortnight. This waste is then recycled to make compost which is sold back to gardeners. This reverses the Birmingham attitude completely as all council taxpayers, gardeners or non-gardeners, benefit as a result of the cash raised.
Sexism on the hustings
Compare the description of these two Parliamentary candidates in Carlisle (News, 6 May): “Stevenson is a 50-year-old lawyer-turned-politician”; “Sherriff, 41, is a divorced mother of three”.
Please treat the sexes equally. We know nothing, from these descriptions, of Sherriff’s previous career path or Stevenson’s marital or parental status.
Capitalism raw in tooth and claw
Barclays makes a loss, pays those at the top increased bonuses, and then sacks 19,000 workers (“Barclays boss Antony Jenkins defends bonuses despite restructuring”, 8 May). Tells you all you need to know about capitalism, really.
Lewes, East Sussex