I have been going through the manifestoes of the UK-wide parties this week and am designing an info booklet to help people understand what each party stands for in the forthcoming election. In doing so, I looked through UKIP’s and let’s just say it was awful! Firstly, it was highly repetitive about ‘scrapping the EU’. One of their first policy proposals is to review all EU legislation that has been enacted in the UK, but they give several examples of specific pieces of legislation they wish to get rid of (many of which are very good!). They also, comically, want to bring in the idea of the Citizens’ Initiative to UK politics. If you’re wondering where they may have got this idea from, why not check HERE?
Anyway, along with all that, some of what they are calling for is just misinformed. My favourite one is concerning our standing in the World Trade Organisation:
“We would reoccupy the UK’s vacant seat at the World Trade Organisation, ensuring that we continue to enjoy ‘most favoured nation’ status in trade with the EU, as is required under WTO rules.”
This claim is in here because in addition to every EU member state having a seat in the WTO, so too does the EU itself. This manifesto pledge suggests that a.) we never use our WTO seat, b.) The implicit suggestion of this being that we’re slaves to Brussels, and c.) That it would be a victory for the UK to ‘reoccupy’ this seat.
A WTO article here from last year is testament to the continued British involvement with the WTO. Unless something drastic has changed in the last 12 months, we still have some sway over there. That being said, our influence with other countries is in relative decline while giants such as India and China grow in economic terms. This is a good thing, their people are gradually being lifted from poverty and we should applaud that. The difficulty for the UK though is seeing its influence decline, and on some things, we think we still know best. The EU has over 500 million people, the UK has slightly over 60 million. The EU accounts for what is between 20 and 25% of world GDP and is the world’s number one economy, above even the United States. The UK, on the other hand, manages a respectable but marginal 3-4% of world GDP. The UK has found that when we club together with those countries whom we already agree with, our voice is able to ring through the world community far louder than on our own.
In short, milking the European Union seat for all it is worth is a good thing and one we should not turn back from. And though we may use this seat to amplify our voice, we continue to actively engage with the WTO such that its Director General feels the need to expressly thank us and give glowing renditions of our modern history.
If you want some criticism of UKIP’s manifesto on a pledge-by-pledge basis, while waiting for my opinions on the parties to develop more fully, you can read this blog post on ‘Angry Criticisms’ which may provide some light entertainment!