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.

Daily View 2×2: 28th May 2009

2 big stories

LDV’s daily glimpse into the world of media and views.  Our biggest story today has already made the news here at LDV, but it’s too good for us not to trail again: Nick Clegg has launched a campaign for 100 days of proper discussion about real reform.

It’s the front of the Guardian: the main story; the article by Clegg himself, and the version of the story where Clegg mocks Cameron’s pathetic attempts at real reform.

There’s been a wide variety of responses to the article here and in the comments over at the Guardian – ranging from praise to  ”aim lower – you might get something done” – but my favourite response so far has been the approving words from Felix Cohen – he of the (very strongly worded) openlettertothelibdems.net.

While we’re on the subject of reform, don’t miss my second pick – Matthew Norman in the Independent calling for a written constitution.  He’s not exactly complimentary about the Lib Dems but he reserves his truly scathing commentary for the other two main parties. So that’s alright, then.

2 must-read blog posts

There were some good instapundit reactions to the Clegg news including:

But for my two picks, I’m choosing Mark “Star of Radio 4’s More or Less” Thompson’s latest revisiting of the correlation between safety of seat an MP’s seat and the likelihood of him or her abusing expenses. After all, the first outing of this just ten days ago is arguably what has boosted electoral and constitutional reform so high up the agenda.

And my second pick, an unhappy Jo Christie-Smith is narked at unkempt Boris’s unkept promises – South-East Londoners still can’t use their Oyster cards on trains.

Coming up later today

On Lib Dem Voice today – we’lll have news of UKIP’s tenuous grip on reality – and I’ll be donning my Bursar’s hat and  publishing LDV’s accounts for members of our forum to investigate.

Lib Dems tackle UKIP head on

On Monday, the Lib Dem’s chair of Communications Edward Davey wrote to the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage MEP to challenge him on failing to publish his own expenses, on the disgraceful voting record of his European Parliamentary Party, and on the shameful track record of his fellow parliamentarians.

“UKIP MEPs have attacked others over their expenses while living the high life in Brussels, charging the taxpayer, and hiding the true cost from voters.

“One in six UKIP MEPs elected in 2004 has since faced criminal charges over their creative accounting. Meanwhile, UKIP turned up in the European Parliament to vote against a cap on MEPs’ earnings, against reforms to make travel more transparent, and in favour of laws aimed at keeping their expenses secret.

The chair of the Liberal Democrats’ Campaigns and Candidates Committee, went on to say, “It’s one thing to complain about MPs’ expenses. But it is quite another to point the finger while hiding the truth about yourself.

“UKIP’s absent accounting, elusive expenses, and secretive attitude add up to bare-faced cheek. Nigel Farage must explain to the public where the money has gone and why they have voted against change.

Edward concluded “UKIP must end the hypocrisy and show us the money now.

Find out more about what the Lib Dems are saying about the European Elections.