UKIP and BNP having trouble with facts

We’ve brought you plenty of news about the BNP’s electoral efforts in the past few weeks – how there’s nothing British about the BNP; how they falsely implied a Guardsman was a supporter when he most definitely is not; indeed how all of their listed supporters are actually just stock photos; and how they can’t count.

Now it’s the turn of UKIP to struggle with actual numbers.  Their deep pockets have paid for dozens of billboards across Britain’s cities, many emblazoned with Winston Churchill and the catchy little factoid that the EU costs Britain £40million a day.

Just two little problems with that.

Firstly, wasn’t it Winston who said

[…] there is a remedy which, if it were generally and spontaneously adopted by the great majority of people in many lands, would as if by a miracle transform the whole scene, and would in a few years make all Europe, or the greater part of it, as free and as happy as Switzerland is to-day. What is this sovereign remedy? It is to re-create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living. The process is simple. All that is needed is the resolve of hundreds of millions of men and women to do right instead of wrong and to gain as their reward blessing instead of cursing.

Why, yes, it was. (It’s a German website.  You might not like to follow the link if you have a problem with foreigners.)

Then there’s the £40million factoid.  Is it true?  Apparently not.  Now, here, I have to bow to other experts – people who can actually count – since I am not personally writing cheques to the foreigners.  But the considered opinion of the party’s policy specialists is that UKIP’s claim is “Nonsense.”  The statistic they provide is that the net cost of the EU is £4billion a year – and dividing that by 365.25 gives you just a little over £10million a day.  A quarter of UKIP’s figure.

That figure works out at a miserly 18p per British person per day.  Certainly to my mind,  worth paying when you just take into account how much easier it is to live, work, study and holiday in EU countries.  All of which I have happily done.  And that’s before you start taking into account the many serious benefits of there being an EU, not least greater security, fewer wars, an immense trade benefit, a healthy balance against US dominance and, ooh, some 3million British jobs.

That’s not to say the Lib Dems think that the EU is perfect. We certainly think  that it could spend its money more wisely. As all those of you who have read our manifesto for the European elections will know, we have an entire section devoted to reform of the institutions.

So, on the basis of dodgy facts, UKIP are asking voters to elect them to a parliament they don’t believe should exist, but are powerless to remove.  Add that to dodgy accounting practices, and the dismal record of UKIP parliamentarians, and I’d say you have a pretty clear reason to vote Lib Dem.

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  • Paul Griffiths 28th May '09 - 1:51pm

    IIRC, the £40m figure comes from the Taxpayers’ Alliance (or possibly Open Europe or one of the dozen other similar bodies) and they got it by adding up not just the UK’s contribution to the EU budget but anything else they could think of, such as the estimated costs of complying with EU Regulations. In itself this is not illegitimate, but these sorts of figures should come with health warnings as so much depends on the assumptions used to arrive at them.

    P.S. Also, I think they’ll be someone along in a minute to say that Churchill didn’t expect the UK to join the US of E.

  • Churchill also said that we shouldn’t be part of the United States of Europe.

    How convenient that you missed off that part.

  • Paul Griffiths 28th May '09 - 2:55pm

    Told you so.

  • Foregone Conclusion 28th May '09 - 4:06pm

    Churchill also said;

    “If Europe united is to be a living force, Britain will have to play her full part as a member of the European family”.

    Of course, you could argue that Churchill made no effort towards actual European integration, such as joining the European Coal and Steel Community. But then again, it wasn’t the Lib Dems who put him on a billboard to make a cheap political point when the historical background is so ambiguous.

  • This contrasts badly with the honourable behaviour of the Lib Dems on Europe, keeping their promise to vote in favour of a referendum on the European Constitution and all. No wait…

  • Michael Schwartz 29th May '09 - 4:59am

    Voting Lib-Dem on June 4? So that’s acceptance of the euro, the imposition of corpus juris (Napoleon’s law code designed to crush dissent but dusted down by the EU), europol (the EU’s police force immune from prosecution for any death, injury or loss howsoever caused), the Common Fisheries Policy which devastates parts of the African coastline and basically the end of an independent Britain. And all because the poor little LIb-Dems can’t win an election. I hope UKIP stuffs those treacherous two-faced political prostitutes the Lib-Dems into fourth place.

  • Michael Schwartz should blame the Eden and MacMillan governments for the civilian legal system operated by the European Court of Justice. If we had joined back then we would have had a common law legal system. And he could also usefully blame Ted Heath and Sir Alec Douglas-Hume for lying to Parliament about Costa v ENEL and Van Gend en Loos. Liberal Democrats have been consistent in calling for reform of EU institutions. If you vote for UKIP, there is the risk that up to a third of the people you elect might defect, and that one or two could spend part of their terms sewing mailbags.

  • I have already voted Lib Dem in the Euros, NOT because I’m in favour of the Euro, Europol, straight bananas/curved cucumbers, or the latest Eurodirective that we must drive on the right [must be true, it was in the Daily Mail AND the UKIP leaflet].

    I’ve voted Lib Dem because they have the best list of candidates in my region to make the European Parliament an effective body protecting the public interest.

    Now, if we were to have a referendum on EU membership [and, remind me, which party is offering that?] I would almost certainly be a No voter.

    But the election to the European Parliament is NOT a referendum on membership, any more than a County Council election is a referendum on unitary v two-tier administration.

    So there!

  • Of course the stats are nonsense, as it any attempt to tell us what Churchill would think, were he alive and not dead for over 40 years. Clearly he wouldn’t have predicted the nature of the EU as is, or many other aspects of life in 2009 and therefore his thoughts aren’t greatly relevant.

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