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.