Steven Woolfe is still UKIP in sheep’s clothing

Wannabe UKIP leader Steven Woolfe is the latest Right-wing populist to discover the virtues of progressive language in his bid for working class votes.

Steven-Woolfe

On the BBC Today programme this morning, the MEP repeated his ‘social mobility’ pitch, saying he hopes to target Labour seats in future elections.

Woolfe, who made headlines today after missing the deadline for submitting his leadership nomination, has talked a Leftish talk before. In an interview with IBTimes on Thursday, he said:

‘My biggest concern is that we want to have an economy that treats everybody as fairly and equally as possible to make sure that no one is left behind and that someone is listening to them.

We’re not out there to protect the big corporates ripping us off.

We believe in a fair taxation system, we believe in capitalism not corporatism, but more than anything else we believe in people.’

How does this shape up against Woolfe’s actual record, and that of the party he claims to speak for?

Woolfe – a former lawyer for hedge fund managers, who now provides ‘legal regulatory consultancy’ to financial institutions – ran in last year’s general election as a UKIP candidate for Stockport.

As a prospective MP, he can’t easily walk away from his party’s manifesto – which was a nightmare for working people. Here are some lowlights:

1. Tax cuts for the better off. UKIP’s manifesto called for raising the threshold for the 40 per cent tax rate to £55,000, the personal allowance to £13,000, and the abolition of inheritance tax.

It said the party’s ‘longer term aspiration’ was for cutting the top rate of tax to 40 per cent, and for ‘restoring the personal allowance to those earning over £100,000’.

So much for ‘fair taxation’!

2. Ditching workers’ rights. The manifesto said UKIP would repeal ‘Labour’s Human Rights legislation’, probably the Human Rights Act, and ‘amend’ the EU working time directive, ‘because it actively restricts the British work ethos and therefore our economy’.

Take that, ‘big corporates’!

3. Charges to use the NHS for thousands of people. While UKIP has been at pains to say it doesn’t want to privitise the NHS, the 2015 manifesto would restrict use of ‘non-urgent’ NHS services for ‘migrants’ who have lived in Britain for less than five years – and paid income tax for the full five.

This was repeated in the ‘immigration’ section of the manifesto, headed by a smiling Steven Woolfe. So much for ‘treating everybody fairly and equally’!

4. Welfare crackdown. The manifesto for UKIP’s ‘common sense approach to benefits’ said the party supports a lower benefit cap – i.e. less money for those in need.

UKIP would not pay child benefit to parents with more than two children (for ‘new claimants’, as if that matters), and stop child benefit for parents who work and pay taxes in Britain, but whose children live abroad.

UKIP also backed a five-year ban on benefits for all ‘migrants’, and would let tenants ‘request’ that their housing benefit be paid directly to landlords – in other words, a state subsidy for private landlords, taking power out of the hands of low-income tenants.

So much for ‘making sure no-one is left behind’!

5. More food banks. The manifesto called the growth of foodbanks ‘deeply regrettable’ – before promising 800 ‘advisers’ to help 800 foodbanks become ‘community advice centres’. How about abolishing the need for them in the first place?

One could add Woolfe’s own calls for new Grammar Schools, which as James Bloodworth (late of this parish) has noted, do almost nothing for social mobility, unless you come from a well-off family.

Steven Woolfe might ‘believe in people’, but people should not believe in his phoney compassion.

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