Up here on the Moray Firth the local ‘rag’ is a high quality, award winning weekly newspaper called The Northern Scot; I’ve been reading the fine organ since 1984. In 2012 The Northern Scot won the ‘UK Society of Editors’ Weekly Newspaper of the Year (circulation under 20,000)’ award and it was also voted the ‘Scottish Provincial Press Newspaper of the Year’. What I like about The Northern Scot is the way, over the years, the editors have struck the balance between news of local interest, news about national affairs, good news, bad news, sports news, advertising and a lively letters page. The Northern Scot really is a credit to local journalism.
Recently, in light of the Scottish independence debate and a visit to Scotland by Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), there has been some lively correspondence on the letters’ page of The Northern Scot. Some of the views expressed by readers were, I felt, wide of the mark when it came to their understanding of UKIP’s values and policies. Consequently, I penned the following letter to the editor which he kindly printed in today’s edition of The Northern Scot; I thought I would share my published letter with you here on Moraymint Chatter …
It’s heartening to see democracy in action these days as the debate about whither Scotland’s independence heats up, and whilst the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) proceeds to rattle the mainstream political parties, within which I include the Scottish National Party (SNP).
On the other hand, it’s disappointing to note some of the ill-informed and rancorous comments being levelled at UKIP in particular; I’m referring in particular to letters published in last week’s Northern Scot (‘No evidence to link SNP with anti-Farage protest’ and ‘Blame the banks not immigration’).
The general themes from some quarters when referring to UKIP are that the party is racist; that the party is of the “rabid right” or “far right”; that the party is “a home for hardline racists, fascists and anti-Semites” and so on.
It’s testament to the power of the mainstream political class, pressed upon us over the past 30 years or so, that in the United Kingdom today to raise the subject of immigration, for example, is to find oneself immediately labelled as a fascist, or a racist, or a Nazi or such like. We’re conditioned to believe that for our small island to accept, integrate and serve a million new citizens every 5 years is somehow normal, acceptable and sustainable in the near-term, not to mention the longer-term. To question this state of affairs today is heresy such is the extent to which we’ve been brainwashed in to believing that unfettered immigration is unquestionably a “good thing”.
The population of the UK is set to reach 70 million human beings within 15 years, 5 million of whom will come from abroad; this is equivalent to the populations of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Glasgow and Bristol added together joining our society within the blink of an eye. Meantime, the national debt climbs inexorably as we struggle to pay for the public services and other resources needed to sustain and support a population that in the inter-war years (1919 – 1939) was some 16 million people fewer than it is today.
If we set aside for a moment the emotions associated with controlling immigration and if we focus instead on the economics of supporting 70 million people on an island that already imports 40% of its food (with that proportion growing annually); that needs to draw almost 60% its energy supplies from overseas; where the government is spending £120 billion more every year than it takes in taxes, adding to an unprecedented real national debt of some £7.9 trillion (according to the Taxpayers’ Alliance), then one quickly realises that allowing 200,000 human beings to join our society on this small island each and every year is nothing short of lunacy. Yet to question immigration is to be labelled “extreme right-wing” (whatever that means), or a racist, or a fascist by the likes of Mr Blair, Mr McBain and others of that ilk.
UKIP’s attitude to immigration is, like all of its policies, shot through with that rare commodity in politics today known as common sense. UKIP argues that our housing, education, health and social services simply cannot cope with constantly rising numbers of people coming to live and work in the UK from abroad. UKIP’s view is that we must end open door immigration from the European Union and run a properly controlled system to admit manageable numbers of people who have something to offer our country. This isn’t “far right”, or racist, or fascist; it’s plain common sense.
The citizens of Moray would do well to shun the hyperbole directed at UKIP and look closely at the UKIP manifesto and its political priorities which include calling for: local referenda on major planning and service provision decisions; proper controls on immigration; prioritising services for local people; moving government closer to the people; spending our money at home; and fighting crime and anti-social behaviour.
UKIP is shaking up the established political order, which has served us all badly over the past quarter-century, and we should certainly include the SNP within the established political order. UKIP councillors are expected to follow the best interests of their constituents and not just toe the party line as other parties instruct theirs to do. Donald Gatt is Moray’s local UKIP candidate and as he pointed out in the Northern Scot on 24 May, UKIP’s membership in Scotland is growing rapidly and includes defectors from the SNP. So, let’s keep the debates about immigration and Scotland’s independence factual and objective, and please look closely at the policies and priorities of UKIP; you will almost certainly be pleasantly surprised.
It’s worth contemplating that UKIP probably offers the nearest thing to Gladstonian Liberalism that you’re likely to find today in British politics. Not many people know that, or so it seems.
‘Gladstonian Liberalism’: http://tinyurl.com/kbs5vlc