Thursday, 17 January 2013

UKIP in Government - The First 100 days

In 1987 The Sun newspaper ran a story under the title "Nightmare under Kinnock" telling what a disaster a Labour government would be to the country. In 1997 the nightmare started on a slow burn and the Labour Government sleep walked the country into financial oblivion. Following part 1, part 2 of this series of Blogs looks at the first 100 days of a nightmare UKIP government.

Nigel Farage has been very well received in Downing Street reminiscent of Tony Blair’s “A new dawn has broken has it not” and Margaret Thatcher’s Francis of Assisi speech. The Honeymoon period, or what the tabloids had quipped “Farage the Fantastic” was well underway. After the applause and the novelty of the first new party in majority Government since 1945 it’s down to business. The first priority is for the UKIP Chancellor to introduce an emergency budget. With Labour’s minority Government being forced to continue the Coalition’s austerity policy the economy had been improving steadily with no return to recession and increasing growth year on year so the need for an emergency budget was highly questionable. Nonetheless UKIP were keen to fulfil their manifesto pledge of introducing a flat tax rate and merging income tax with national insurance. Along with other measures the Finance Bill was passed but only just. Expected support from the Conservatives was not solid. Although the coalition had introduced the universal benefit and a flat rate state pension there was still significant expenditure within the welfare system based on NI contributions. A hurried amendment to the Finance Bill scrapping all remaining contributory benefits and links to National Insurance was passed but only through large opposition abstentions from all parties.  Later that year Prime Minister, Nigel Farage, took an early opportunity at a London meeting of the Commonwealth Secretariat to raise the subject of forming a Commonwealth Free Trade Area. Although not part of the agenda the idea had long been trailed by UKIP. Their manifesto said that this would be negotiated at the earliest opportunity and Government backbenchers piled pressure on the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister himself to start talks. Of the Commonwealth member states, India proved UKIP's most ardent ally but the talks did not go as anticipated. With it's rapid economic growth, the Indian Government had developed a strong nationalist fervour and the delegation had long agreed that a CFTA would enhance this. As by far the largest country in the Commonwealth, they insisted they should lead negotiations and it must be based on the growing Indian economy. As a potentially major export market the Canadian and Australian Governments were happy to agree to India’s proposal. Out voted and out witted the Prime Minster reluctantly agreed that exploratory talks to establish a CFTA should take place in New Delhi prior to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2017. Reporting back to his cabinet, leading Government front benchers were less than impressed that the UK would not be at the forefront of any CFTA and that India was setting the tone and pace of negotiations. The Honeymoon period for Nigel Farage, now being called Farage’s Folly was starting to fade but they produced their flagship policy – a Bill to hold a referendum on membership of the EU. The Bill passed easily with the Conservatives and Socialists voting with the Government. Only the Labour opposition front bench voted against. Observing Salisbury Rules the Lords passed the Bill and the legal processes had been completed. There will be a referendum on the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Next - UKIP in Government, The Cracks Start to Show

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