Wales politics

UKIP's Mark Reckless claims rival parties out of touch

Mark Reckless
Image caption Mark Reckless claims there is a 'distance' between the 'Cardiff Bay establishment' and voters

Politicians in the Welsh assembly are "out of touch" with voters, the man in charge of UKIP policy for the 2016 election campaign has claimed.

Mark Reckless said the "Cardiff Bay establishment" saw more devolution as a way to boost its power and importance.

He said he did not understand why a consensus was emerging in support of income tax powers without a referendum.

Labour said UKIP's values were "not shared by the vast majority in Wales".

UKIP got more than 200,000 votes in Wales at the general election - more than both Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats - but did not win any seats.

Grammar schools

The party is likely to pick up several assembly seats next May as the election has an element of proportional representation.

Former Tory MP Mr Reckless, now UKIP's head of policy development, said the party would campaign for directly elected health boards, the return of grammar schools, and more powers being devolved to councils.

Image caption UKIP Wales leader Nathan Gill claimed the party is the 'third party in Wales'

He claimed "most people in Wales" did not want to see more powers devolved along the lines of the Scottish model.

"There seems to be a distance from what I describe as the Cardiff Bay establishment and just people I speak to on the doorstep in Wales," said Mr Reckless.

"They're out of touch with voters. And I think part of that is the Cardiff Bay establishment sees devolution as something that's about them and about their powers and their importance."

Mr Reckless said UKIP accepted devolution and wanted to "make it work", but rejected the idea of Welsh powers over income tax without public approval in a referendum.

"We don't want to see taxes raised and I don't think there's any burning desire from people in Wales to be paying yet more tax than people in England," he said.

"I don't understand why there's such a consensus in the Cardiff Bay establishment that that's the way to go, having promised that that wouldn't happen back in 2011," he added, referring to the last devolution referendum in Wales.

'Fed up'

Political commentator Daran Hill said UKIP's description of a "Cardiff Bay establishment" could be effective.

"I think UKIP can capitalise with people who don't want the assembly at all," he said.

"They can also capitalise with people who are disillusioned with the assembly.

"I think there might be a market where people might just be fed up of hearing about talk of more powers, tax-raising powers, law-making powers."

Image caption Control over income tax rates could be given to the Welsh assembly

A spokesman for Welsh Labour said: "UKIP's values are not ones shared by the vast majority in Wales.

"That they have sent a right-wing former Tory MP from Kent to Wales to tell people what they should think shows how poorly they understand Wales."

The spokesman added that First Minister Carwyn Jones had never ruled out a referendum on income tax, but noted other parts of the UK were getting more powers without such a poll.

The Welsh Conservatives said UKIP were "out of touch" on devolution, and said they wanted people to "have a say" on income tax powers through a referendum.

Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats both said they believed income tax powers should be devolved without a referendum.

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