Two things are certain: by the end of September UKIP will have a new leader and Britain will be on the verge of a ‘Winter of Discontent’ unmatched since 1978-1979. A golden opportunity to set the stall for how UKIP might run the economy! An opportunity to set new ambitions for Britain!
Disregarding right now the rights and wrongs of the sheer scale of the public sector – which expanded by nearly two million under Labour! – there are about 5.4 million people who have seen their spending power drop by ca 15% since 2010. The average police officer, for example, has lost £6000 of spending power during that time.
The arithmetic means that for every 1% extra these workers are paid, approximately £1.5 bn has to be found or borrowed. An inflation busting pay rise will cost c £9bn as a one-off, with rolling additional expenditure of – at current inflation rates – £5.5 bn a year.
The government has already granted a paltry pay rise of approximately 2% to the police and prison officers but all other groups are still currently capped. The effects of this are easy to see. Nurses are leaving the NHS in droves. New nurses, now that the government has stopped training bursaries, are very hard to come by, providing just the excuse for never-ending migration. The local economy is blighted as millions of people struggle to make do, let alone spend a few pounds in pubs or cafes enjoying themselves.
However, at the top of the pile, senior managers in councils, the NHS and in colleges and universities continue to earn massive salaries, sometimes hundreds of times higher than the lowest paid in their sectors. It is manifestly unfair. Everyone, apart from a minority, is thoroughly fed up with it all.
Over the following few weeks and months, this witches’ brew is exactly what Corbyn will exploit – quite rightly – along with strong union support: Britain is about to go on strike. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
So, what should UKIP’s response be?
Quite simply, UKIP needs a distinct economic policy of its own, but right now UKIP must back the workers. If, come November, the rubbish is not being collected and UNITE, the country’s largest union, strikes, we will see a chain-reaction of wage demands across the public and private sector and this government will inevitably fall, projecting Corbyn/Momentum and its anti-Brexit government into power.
It will be the end of the Brexit debate. We will be going back into Europe. Permanently.
UKIP must develop its economic policies as a matter of urgency. It must prepare for a snap election as an alternative to Labour. I believe that government spending is not too high, but badly distributed. Slashing the pay of public sector workers to pay for foreign aid, HS2, Trident and aircraft carriers with no aircraft not only makes no sense but also alienates a quarter of the workforce, whose productivity declines as resentment over wages overrides pride in their jobs.
This is why the police can’t be bothered to turn up for a simple break-in, why you can’t get hold of the local council after two o’clock on Fridays and why you wait ten hours in a casualty department. Poverty wages do no one any good. They create misery and a stagnant and inefficient economy.
Britain needs picking up! UKIP must be the party of the Public Sector, of blue-collar workers, of white van man and industry. For far too long the prevailing attitudes of the Right has been to support the non-productive financial and service sectors. The Left monotonously supports the unproductive and feckless.
UKIP can stand apart: Yes, we do support the public sector, and will pay a decent wage immediately to those in it. Yes, we do support the infrastructure spending that creates jobs for blue-collar workers and tradespeople – but: No, we don’t support crazy non-jobs in local authorities, vanity projects like HS2 and nor will we ever support a system that pays people to breed and not work!
UKIP must halve the foreign aid budget to provide the immediate cash injection (£7bn) and immediately scrap HS2 and new Trident development. In the medium term it must gradually cut public sector employment as investment in housing, local railways, roads and energy creates alternative, better paid jobs. Productive jobs.
We must cut migration and pay living-wage bursaries to British doctors, nurses, engineers and tradespeople as they train for their permanent careers. We must inject cash into rebuilding the shipyards and steel works, inject cash into an unprecedented house building plan that creates hundreds of thousands of jobs within five years. As the standard of living rises, we’ll see crime rates fall as they always do when economies boom. Sufficient money to pay for community police support and a large increase in police numbers will keep a lid on it, permanently. It must be done.
You may ask, will this be inflationary? Will it require borrowing? Yes, and yes. Will we need union support? Absolutely – it works in Germany! But don’t let it worry you too much. Modernise. I urge you not to shut your eyes to economic alternatives and alliances you may not have countenanced in 2010.
Keynes said, ‘in the long term we are all dead’. If we look back in time we can see that the motor for economic booms of the past has always been war. Take the United States, four times richer after WWII than at the time of Pearl Harbor. The reason: huge government spending on the infrastructure for war production. Germany 1945-1960: completely regenerated by investment in modern industry after destruction. Japan, South Korea… I can go on. However, we don’t need the catalyst of destruction to act and act now.
The country needs to be picked up and shaken out of its doldrums with imaginative and workable policies that put Britain back on its feet. But we can only do it if we are elected.
So, I say, support the public-sector workers right now and develop policies for industrial and economic growth. In five years, the country can be transformed.
If you want that, we need enough MP’s to sway the government. That means getting elected when the next time comes. It will be very soon. So, policies now. Ready to go. Electable policies. And let’s get those 5.4m public sector votes for a start!