Say Ukip and you will probably think of two things – the EU and immigration. If you vote for Ukip, then the likelihood is you want to leave the EU and want to see an end to so called open door immigration into the UK. Yesterday’s voting would suggest that those two issues are important for a lot of people in England.
It might then surprise a lot of Ukip voters to learn the immigration policy of the party. Yesterday during an interview with the BBC, Ukip’s spokesman confirmed what it says on the party’s website, namely, that their immigration policy is under review. He also added that their target of a 50,000 yearly limit on immigration would be too low with businesses within Britain urging them to double that figure. In short, even Ukip recognise that workers coming in from both within the EU and outside of it are vital for the UK economy.
So what did Ukip voters vote for yesterday? What do Ukip really stand for? Their immigration policy looks no different to David Cameron’s, who promised to get immigration numbers down to tens of thousands while remaining within the EU. So it’s hard to see what leaving the EU would even achieve for Farage and his party, given Cameron sounds equally as tough on immigration yet supports continued EU UK membership. Ed Miliband has said Labour made mistakes on immigration and the Lib Dems appear to be coming out against the levels of immigration we have seen in recent years.
As a result, one of Ukip’s main policies looks now to be very unclear. The party which prides itself on offering something different to the traditional big three looks increasingly similar. And if the majority of the UK aren’t anti-EU but anti-EU immigration, their argument for pulling out of the European Union seems pointless.
And that leaves a big hole for Ukip. Their policies elsewhere on a flat rate of tax, for example, will struggle to convince people. They are yet to discuss in detail what they will do with the NHS and education. If Ukip can’t win those arguments then they will struggle in the next general election. And if they can’t even convince people that they are the party who can control immigration, it will leave people asking just who Ukip are.