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Should advisers start taking Ukip more seriously?


Ukip is now a major party. Well, that’s the view of broadcasting regulator Ofcom ahead of the European elections in May.

This status entitles leader Nigel Farage and his chums to equal television coverage as the three main political parties during the election campaign.

Since Ukip performed far better than expected in the May local elections last year Money Marketing has been reporting on the party more closely.

It has a significant cohort of nine MEPs and has demonstrated a major influence on the national debate over the EU and immigration.

It has also consistently polled more than the Liberal Democrats for more than a year. 

However, I still get asked whether it should be treated as a serious party on financial services matters. So, let’s look at what they have actually done.

Last year, economic spokesman and MEP Godfrey Bloom was kicked out of the party for branding a room full of women “sluts” and hitting a journalist over the head with a magazine.

Last August, a Money Marketing investigation exposed the shocking turnout record of Ukip MEPs to votes and negotiations over key financial services rules.

Ukip says its main aim is to exit the EU so it has no desire to engage with the nitty gritty of EU rules.

Then there is the domestic agenda for financial services.

Ukip says it would like to scrap the RDR despite the years of turmoil advisers have endured to be able to continue to trade today. It says it would conduct a “thorough review” before it was scrapped.

Ukip’s newly appointed economic spokesman Steven Woolfe has actually gone further and called for the abolition of all financial regulation.

Speaking at the Institute of Economic Affairs event at the Ukip conference in Birmingham in September 2012, he said: “I would abolish the Bank of England. I would abolish the FCA and ignore the Prudential Regulation Authority we have. Get rid of regulation completely in financial services.”

Today, he says this was his personal view at the time and not official Ukip policy.

Ukip is also seriously considering a call to scrap state pensions and replace it with a system of personal pensions pots.

Pensions experts have slammed the reforms as being “incoherent” and would take hundreds of years to enact.

Its record on policy and performance in the last few years has been on the fringes and not take seriously by mainstream policymakers, so why listen to them?

Ukip would say it is smashing the cosy consensus with a radical agenda on pensions and regulation. It has also appointed an IFA as a key economic adviser to address issues for small business.

The party is expected to significantly add to its nine MEPs and may even top the European Parliament elections in May. This could provide serious clout in European rule-making.

Ukip’s popularity has forced the Conservatives to push for an in/out EU referendum and a tougher line on immigration. Prime Minister David Cameron is reportedly only retaining pensioner benefits such as winter fuel allowance to prevent a further haemorrhaging of grey votes to Ukip.

And the national political landscape can change quickly. Who thought the Lib Dems would ever be in Government?

One pensions expert says: “I remember speaking to an unknown backbench MP a few years ago who was setting out radical ideas which I thought had no chance of becoming reality. A few years later and he is the pensions minister [Steve Webb].”

This tale shows advisers, and their trade bodies and lobbyists, that whatever you think of their ideas the rising status of Ukip merits closer inspection.

Samuel Dale is politics reporter at Money Marketing – you can follow him on Twitter here


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There are 9 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The comment about the unknown back bencher MP tells you everything you need to know – that MP was a Lib Dem MP, were they not the third party in our election process for many years? And look at what good they have done!

    UKIP can pontificate and bumble on about what they like and can pander to the EU skeptics as much as they like but at the end of the day they dont have a clue! All you need to do is look at the likes of Steve Webb. I know nothing of his history and have even less interest, but he has been put in charge of pensions and has proven time and time again he has no idea!

    Ask anyone in the country what they want and you will get the same answer – we want to pay less tax and have better public services. The problem is you cant have both!!!

    Politicians are a bit like IFA’s they promise the earth and on occasions deliver, but more often than not that deliverance is by default not design. The only difference between IFA’s and politicians is that IFA’s are accountable and have to compensate if they mis-sell. Politicians just move onto another department or even party and then deny all knowledge! The big difference is that IFA’s screw individuals, politicians screw counties or even countries. If you want to know what life would be like under UKIP, just look at Brighton. Brighton voted for the Green party as a protest and looked how screwed they are – imagine what UKIP could do to a whole country – the Lib Dems have had a pretty good go!

  2. A great example of Betteridge’s Law: “Any headline that ends in a question mark is answered with the word ‘no'”.

  3. 1. Polling more than a party that can fit into a phone box is no criteria.
    2. How can you take a party seriously that has an embarrassment for a leader – can you imagine him at Davos or at a G20 meeting with a fag in his mouth and a pint in his hand?
    3. Who is their Shadow Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary, Minister for Defence? Who would they chose for Lord Privy Seal? In their case it would probably be the Lord Privies Seal.

    Yes they will cause a modicum of disruption, but they are non- entities and rather down market ones at that.

    (Oh and for the avoidance of any doubt I’m not a Tory, Liberal or Socialist either).

  4. All three commentators above lack one idea: An alternative.

    So cast your vote (or not) as you always have done. Get more of the same. If you have voted Labour or Conservative over the last 70 years or so then YOU are to blame for today’s catastrophe, Nobody else was on watch in that time. You voted for them. You got them. It is your world we are living in. How does it look to you?

    Does Mr Katz really thinks it matters what Mr Farage looks like at a G20 meeting? By God, who gives a damn? The inference is that if you are at a G20 meeting then you are someone of import, someone with a clue. Refer to the above point: none of the incumbents have a clue. They and their forebears got us in this mess. Thanks to your vote (or not).

    Got a better alternative? No.

    Then vote UKIP.

  5. I agree with Harry. There are too many holes in UKIP’s entire proposition to earn my vote. That doesn’t mean that the other parties are flawless as, quite clearly, they aren’t.

    Todays political world means looking at all the different manifesto’s come election time and deciding what i think is the most important issue and siding with whoever satisfies my view best. I don’t claim to be a staunch supporter of any party because they are all much the same.

    @Nick Lincoln – I think there is a difference between a better alternative and voting for a party out of dislike for the other parties.

    Just my humble opinion as usual.

  6. @Nick Lincoln

    I can’t disagree about the other numpties, but because they are useless doesn’t mean to say I have to vote for an alternative idiot.
    When you look across to Europe (and particularly Germany) you can see that they have on average been better run than we have. Therefore vote for Europe (effectively run by Germany) for a positive change and finally get rid of the rubbish (The blessed Maggie excepted – but not her Euro-scepticism) that we have had to endure for so long.

  7. What is UKIP?

  8. Campbell Macpherson 10th March 2014 at 9:38 am

    The LibDems are well meaning but ineffectual. Labour can’t work a spreadsheet. The Tories are too superficial and too close to big business. UKIP wants us to become an insignificant, insular and irrelevant little island. We either need to close parliament and leave it to the bureaucrats or find a benign dictator to step up to the plate. Any suggestions?

  9. @ Campbell

    I can’t argue with a word of that.

    I can suggest 3

    Oliver Letwin (A true polymath)
    Jim Ratcliffe (Ineos) Built a huge company in no time at all. Tough and tells it how it is.
    Sir John Rose (Ex Rolls Royce) Great engineer and will get UK back to manufacturing.

    Failing which – vote for Europe – as I said they are hardly likely to make a worse job of it than the choices we have.

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