UKIP's Nigel Farage promises political 'earthquake'

 

The BBC's Nick Robinson found out whether people in Sheffield would welcome a UKIP "earthquake"

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has said there will be "an earthquake" in politics if he triumphs in next month's European elections.

Launching UKIP's campaign, he argued his policies on immigration and the EU were "straightforward" and "simple".

He called posters claiming millions of European workers are after UK jobs "a hard-hitting reflection of reality".

Mr Farage said he employed his German wife as a secretary as "nobody else" could do the job, with its long hours.

The European Parliament elections take place on Thursday, 22 May, with UKIP widely predicted to improve on its performance in 2009.

The party is calling for the UK to leave the EU and for a tightening up of immigration rules, with ultimate powers over this area of policy to be transferred from Brussels to Westminster.

'Get back control'

Launching his party's manifesto in Sheffield, Mr Farage said: "We want to have, post-EU, a sensible, open immigration policy that says we welcome people, but we have got to control the quantity and the quality of who comes to Britain.

"And at the moment we have turned our backs on talent from India and New Zealand because of an open door to Romania and Bulgaria. And that doesn't make any sense."

He told the BBC he wanted a policy allowing "30,000 to 50,000 people a year" in to the UK instead, so that those with the most useful skills could benefit the economy.

UKIP poster Nigel Farage said the posters would "ruffle a few feathers among the chattering classes"
UKIP poster The posters have been released as Nigel Farage prepares to launch UKIP's election campaign

He said: "So we are going to fight this campaign with a straightforward, simple manifesto, but a message to the British people which is this: These are the most important European elections that have ever been fought in this country.

"We have got a chance, four-and-a-half weeks from now, of causing such a shock in the British political system that it will be nothing short of an earthquake. If UKIP win these elections, a referendum and an opportunity for us to get back control of our country will be one massive, massive step closer."

Start Quote

Mr Farage's decision to employ his German wife as his secretary at public expense highlights two important questions he and his party now face - about what their immigration policy means in practice and their attitude to public money.”

End Quote

The party's posters include one showing a labourer begging for money, accompanied by the text "EU policy at work - British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour".

UK taxpayers fund the "celebrity lifestyle" of Eurocrats, warns one poster, while another asks: "26 million people in Europe are looking for work. And whose job are they after?"

Mr Farage said the posters were "a hard-hitting reflection of reality as it is experienced by millions of British people struggling to earn a living outside the Westminster bubble".

"Are we going to ruffle a few feathers among the chattering classes? Yes," he said. "Are we bothered about that? Not in the slightest."

Mr Farage was asked by BBC political editor Nick Robinson why he employed his wife Kirsten, who is German, as his secretary, rather than employing a British person. He replied: "I don't think anybody else would want to be in my house at midnight, going through emails and getting me briefed for the next day."

Pressed on whether his wife was an example of a European person taking a British person's job, he replied: "Nobody else could do that job - not unless I married them."

Nick Robinson asks Mr Farage about his German wife's job

Mr Farage said his wife earned a "modest salary for working extremely unsociable hours for me and being available up to seven days a week. It's a very different situation to a mass of hundreds of thousands of people coming in and flooding the lower ends of the labour market in Britain."

A number of critics expressed their dismay with UKIP's campaign on social media, with Conservative peer Lord Deben tweeting: "UKIP stands for the worst in human beings: our prejudice, selfishness, and fear."

Labour's Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said UKIP had "lowered the tone of the European debate" and its stance was "hypocritical" because it had criticised Home Office vans carrying posters urging illegal immigrants to "Go home".

David Cameron said the coalition had helped create jobs for UK workers

Prime Minister David Cameron said parties had to "defend their own advertising campaigns", adding that only the Conservatives - who are promising an "in-out" referendum on the UK's EU membership - could deliver change.

He added that was "what our manifesto is about and, if we put out posters, that is what our posters will be about too".

Former Tory donor Paul Sykes, who is funding UKIP's £1.5m anti-EU campaign, told the Daily Telegraph it was "an essential public awareness campaign" on the effects of Brussels.

Mr Sykes is paying for the adverts directly instead of handing the cash to UKIP, allowing him to retain some editorial and financial control.

 

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    10:21: Louis vs Ed: the real power struggle?
    Louis Tomlinson

    Who is the most powerful person in Doncaster? According to the Doncaster Free Press, it's not Labour leader Ed Miliband. The paper has published its "Power List" and concludes the local mayor, a council official and Louis Tomlinson from One Direction are more powerful in the South Yorkshire town than the man who could have the keys to 10 Downing Street come May. The Telegraph has more.

     
  76.  
    @SkyNewsBen Ben Sutcliffe, Sky News, news editor

    tweets: The PM about to learn bricklaying

    David Cameron visiting a building site in Essex
     
  77.  
    @the_tpa TaxPayers' Alliance

    tweets: No need to worry, guys, we've fixed it for you.

    tweet of altered government posted
     
  78.  
    10:10: 'No legal aid reversal'
    Sadiq Khan

    Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice minister, has been speaking about his party's plans for legal reform if they win the election. He says Labour intends to repeal restrictions on judicial review and make it easer to challenge government decisions. But he admits the party cannot reverse cuts to legal aid. More here.

     
  79.  
    @michaelsavage Michael Savage, Times chief political correspondent

    tweets: Where are properties that would be hit by the #mansiontax? Estate agents @knightfrank have done some work:

    Chart showing where properties would be hit with a mansion tax
     
  80.  
    09:59: 'Save Dave'

    Could David Cameron stay as Tory leader if the Conservatives fail to win a majority at the election? According to the Daily Mail, Conservatives are drawing up plans to protect Mr Cameron's position as long as Labour do not secure a decisive victory. George Osborne and Michael Gove are the figures the newspaper says will look to form a "protective ring" around Mr Cameron. Read the report here.

     
  81.  
    @faisalislam Faisal Islam, @SkyNews Political Editor

    tweets: So... Housing policy. A graveyard for both main parties in recent years, despite all manner of policy wheezes...

     
  82.  
    09:53: Housing reforms BBC News Channel
    Henry Gregg

    Henry Gregg, from the National Housing Federation, has been speaking about plans to build new starter homes. He said his body welcomes that the Conservatives are recognising "the scale of the housing crisis", but he was concerned money could be taken away from affordable rent budgets. He added: "What we need is more money for homes than are being built for renters, but also homes that are being built for first-time buyers."

     
  83.  
    @jameswhartonmp James Wharton, MP for Stockton South

    tweets: Quite a clever way to get MPs' attention pre budget from @droptheduty to send a whisky miniature in the post!

    Bottle of whisky promoting a cut in duty
     
  84.  
    09:36: 'Looking for a new saviour' The Daily Mail

    Today presenter John Humphrys has written for the Daily Mail on the influence smaller parties and voters in seaside towns are likely to have on the election. He writes: "From Clapton to Cleethorpes, the seaside towns of the east coast appear to be looking for a new saviour. And that saviour may well be clad in UKIP colours." More here.

     
  85.  
    @AndrewSparrow Andrew Sparrow, writer of the Guardian's Politics Live blog

    tweets: A seat projection round-up - All suggest Lab + others cd block Tory Queen's Speech, but not vice versa

     
  86.  
    09:27: Blunkett: 'I wish I'd been more diplomatic' The Daily Telegraph

    The Telegraph is interviewing a number of MPs who are standing down at the election. Today, former home secretary David Blunkett reveals how much of an impact his blindness had on his career, saying it had an effect on the way he interacted with colleagues . And he tells the website he wishes he had been more "diplomatic" - "I wasn't good with colleagues in cabinet," he says. More here.

     
  87.  
    09:19: 'Where is the master plan?'

    Is David Cameron's plan to build 200,000 starter homes in England before 2020 too modest? In its leader today, the Daily Mail asks if more needs to be done. The paper writes: "Where is the master plan to incentivise developers to build on the thousands of acres of derelict industrial land lying idle?" More here.

     
  88.  
    09:15: 100 constituencies in 100 days BBC Radio 4 Today

    BBC Radio 4's Today programme is visiting 100 constituencies in the run-up to 7 May. Today, reporter Sanchia Berg looks at the lack of grammar schools in Sevenoaks. You can listen to her package here.

     
  89.  
    09:08: Human rights reform

    What has happened to Chris Grayling's plans to reform human rights laws? Writing for Law Gazette, Joshua Rozenberg suggests the lack of movement on the promised Bill of Rights could spell the end of Mr Grayling's tenure as justice secretary. More here.

     
  90.  
    @LSEge2015 London School of Economics' 2015 general election coverage

    tweets: "That electoral registration rates have declined over the past year is disturbing" More here. #GE2015

    Graph showing decline in voter registration between 2013 and 2014
     
  91.  
    08:57: Register to vote campaign

    People aged 18 are being urged "use your age wisely" by taking part in the election on 7 May via a Facebook campaign. Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission, said: "We saw at the Scottish Independence Referendum that young people can be one of the most passionate and engaged groups in our democracy, but they need to know that they can only have a say if they're registered. Turning 18 is an important rite of passage for young people, and gaining the right to vote in a General Election year is a huge part of that." For anyone looking to register, you can do so here.

     
  92.  
    08:43: Terror deal Norman Smith BBC Assistant Political Editor

    The government's former reviewer of terror legislation, Alex Carlile, has called for a cross-party deal over extra powers for the security services. Lord Carlile said the parties should agree to work together as they did to counter terrorism in Northern Ireland. He called for a consensus to be reached over new powers to monitor people's internet and email usage with a fresh Communications Data bill.

    Lord Carlile - a Liberal Democrat - also said it had been a mistake to replace control orders which had been done for "merely political reasons." Had they not been repealed, he said, "Jihadi John" would probably have been subject to a control order.

     
  93.  
    08:37: 'Cusp of revolution' The Daily Telegraph

    Politics Live readers will know there is plenty to keep us busy in the wider political world in the run-up to 7 May. But, writing for the Telegraph today, Alex Proud argues that the same is not true in the hallowed halls of Westminster itself. He writes that, beyond "the usual partisan babble" and media coverage, "you can hear a pin drop in Parliament. Tumbleweeds blow down Whitehall." Mr Proud reckons that is out of touch with the country at large, where "we appear to be on the cusp of a genuine revolution". More here.

     
  94.  
    08:32: 'Broken, confused, unfair' The Times

    What should happen to the UK's immigration system? Today's The Times leader says the system is "broken, confused, unfair and so politically fraught that coalition ministers can scarcely talk about it, let alone reform it". You can read the paper's take here (subscription required).

     
  95.  
    08:26: 'Braced for defeat' The Mirror

    "David Cameron would be hammering on the doors of TV studios to demand election debates if he was half as good as he pretends he is and Ed Miliband was anywhere near as poor as the Conservatives smear him," says Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror. In a scathing comment piece, he confidently predicts: "Behind the hype, the Tories are braced for defeat. A Conservative leader who couldn't win outright in 2010 won't in 2015."

     
  96.  
    08:23: If I were prime minister... The Independent

    Natasha Devon is today's "If I were prime minister" columnist in the Independent. The author and TV pundit criticises mainstream political leaders for "constantly banging against the glass of public opinion, watering down their policies, pleasing no one (apart from the super-rich)". Were she in charge of the country, Ms Devon writes, she would be like Margaret Thatcher: "What I mean is, I'd stand for something." More here.

     
  97.  
    @steve_hawkes Steve Hawkes, deputy political editor of the Sun

    tweets: Times' @RSylvesterTimes says Theresa May sole supporter of PM's immigration goal in Cabinet. Remember, Boris a big fan too, outside of it

     
  98.  
    08:10: SNP on Brown plans

    On Gordon Brown's North Sea plans, SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie says: "As a chancellor who treated Scotland's oil as a cash cow, imposed the supplementary tax on the North Sea industry in the first place, then doubled it - and left office having failed to set up an oil fund to deliver any long-term benefit from our own natural resources - Gordon Brown is responsible for undermining investment in this vital industry." And he adds: "Whatever good ideas Mr Brown has now, by definition he didn't implement them in the 13 years when he was chancellor and prime minister."

     
  99.  
    @georgeeaton George Eaton, political editor at the New Statesman

    tweets: Gisela Stuart floats idea of a Labour-Tory grand coalition. Not going to happen; would be a gift to Ukip, SNP and the Greens.

     
  100.  
    08:08: Gordon Brown on oil fund
    Gordon Brown

    Former prime minister Gordon Brown will be giving one of his last speeches before stepping down as an MP later. Mr Brown, who played a key role for the "No" campaign in the final days before Scotland's independence referendum, will be talking today about the creation of a North Sea reserve fund to help the oil industry. Mr Brown thinks the fund would help maintain and upgrade infrastructure and could provide last-resort debt finance for companies who want to keep fields open. He believes the UK government could even take over fields in partnership with some firms in order to keep them open and viable in future.

     

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