Opinion: Time for UK wide Unionism

Elections are coming and two recent polls have Sinn Fein inline to win 3 European seats in the Republic and 1 in Northern Ireland.  I highly doubt the recent debacle & arrest of Gerry Adams over the abduction, torture and murder of Jean McConville will seriously affect Sinn Fein`s electoral prospects.  Where then does this leave Unionists?  We can count on Sinn Fein press releases talking about being the only party with MEP`s across the whole of Ireland, the only party advancing an all Ireland agenda. Sitting Sinn Fein MEP and convicted IRA terrorist Martina Anderson has already said: “By electing a strong team across Ireland we can take a strong voice to Europe … our team will, if elected, provide a united and positive voice for all the citizens of Ireland”.  Whilst Mid Ulster Sinn Fein councillor Gabhán McFalone stated at the Gerry Adams rally release rally that “Irish Unity, Peace, Jobs and Progress will be our political focus – a bright future for all the people of Ireland free from British interference.” Sinn Fein also capitalise on their membrship of the communist grouping in the EU. The DUP may have a sole MEP that is not a member of any grouping in the European Parliament whilst the UUP may have an MEP that takes the Tory whip.  Both are isolated and parochial, lone voices in a huge Parliament.  UKIP on the other hand are standing candidates across the UK – a truly UK wide Unionist party with members and candidates in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales & England.  A UKIP MEP for Northern Ireland would be one of dozens of MEP`s representing the UK and dwarfing Sinn Fein`s possible 4 MEP`s. Current polling has UKIP topping the polls and beating both Labour and the Conservatives in the European elections.

The EU is distant, bureaucratic and run largely by unelected quangos.  Who can name the head of the European Parliament or the head of the European Commission?  The UK currently pays the EU £55 million per day (£17 billion per year) and we get back around half of that in grants and the UK rebate.  That leaves the EU costing the UK taxpayer £23.6 million per day. £23.6m which could be used to safeguard the single farm payment if we left the EU.  Our EU membership also ties us open borders with the rest of the EU which has seen mass uncontrolled immigration into the UK from poorer parts of the EU.  UKIP think immigration is good for the UK so long as it is managed and controlled via a points based system along the lines of Australia.  The EU prevents this type of system being introduced by the UK government.  It is entirely possible to trade freely with Europe without being in the EU.  Norway being just one example.  This would allow the UK to form its own trade deals with the rest of the world, especially in the rapidly growing markets of the Commonwealth, China and Brazil.

The EU/UK green taxes on carbon production and the subsidising of green energy such as ugly wind farms have seen electricity prices soar at a time of extreme fuel poverty.  Families are struggling to pay their bills, heat their homes and put petrol in their cars due to government taxes.  UKIP aim to tackle fuel poverty at the root causes.  Not only that but UKIP believe that anyone earning the minimum wage should not have to pay income tax.

There is a worrying trend of low wages across Northern Ireland and in Cookstown in particular, when compared with the rest of the UK.
According to The Poverty Site website:
– Strabane and Cookstown have by far the highest proportion of workers (35%) earning less than £7 per hour. For most districts, the proportion is less than 30%;
– 15% of full-time employees in Northern Ireland are paid less than £7 / hour. This proportion is higher than in any of the regions of Great Britain, with the next highest proportion being 12%.

It is no wonder that families are struggling to put petrol in their cars to get to work and buy heating oil to keep their homes warm, when wages are low but the price of goods is increasing by large margins. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that household incomes, poverty rates and the labour market have all deteriorated further in Northern Ireland over the last five years, than in the rest of the UK.

UKIP proposes to remove anyone earning the minimum wage from the tax system to try and alleviate poverty and tackle social disadvantage. The party’s commitment to end taxpayer funded renewable energy scams and prioritise energy efficiency projects will also benefit thousands of fuel poor families throughout Northern Ireland. This however must be complemented by the creation of quality jobs throughout the Province.

The current parties have let us down – at Stormont and at Westminster.  The Northern Ireland Assembly is dysfunctional and in desperate need of reform.  The previous DUP manifesto and the current DUP website all reference reform of Stormont including a smaller Assembly and an official opposition as well as weighted majority voting.  This would entail the removal of the mutual veto / petition of concern and the designation of parties as Unionist & Nationalist.  I fully support these DUP proposals yet we have had years of inertia on these issues.  Victims have been marginalised.

DUP website May 2014
DUP website May 2014

First Minister Peter Robinson states in the DUP Party Election Broadcast that `This election is not about a referendum on the EU`.  This I fear is the DUP drifting towards the Tory line of renegotiation first and also an effort to stop voters opting for UKIP.  There have been statements from the DUP and the First Minister about vote splitting in the election , yet a recent DUP press release states “The theory that votes cannot be split within an STV election is sound”.  This is entirely true. So long as you transfer you vote you cannot split or waste your vote in an single transferable vote election such as the local, Assembly and European elections.

Broken promises and a track record of failure..the political establishment has let you down. They are so busy looking after their own interests, they`ve forgotten about yours.

Send the political elite a message they won`t forget by voting UKIP – and put yourself, your family, your community and your country first. It is time for UK Unionism not Ulster Unionism.

Alan Day (aka Kilsally) is standing for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the Cookstown DEA of the new Mid Ulster Council.