WELL, here we go then – the Prime Minister has been to see the Queen and the election starting gun has been fired.
It has been a long time coming and believe it or not I have tried to keep a relatively low profile in the pre-campaign skirmishes because I am saving all my best lines for the campaign proper.
Now I know you are a freethinking bunch and will make your own minds up about who to vote for as all the key arguments are put and policies are unveiled.
But I can tell you this – Ukip will make sure that many of the causes this great newspaper and its readers have pursued with such vigour are presented as choices on the ballot paper for the first time in many years.
Perhaps the biggest election issue of all is controlling immigration. All the other parties will keep an open door to the entire EU ensuring that immigration will continue to run at 250,000 to 300,000 a year net at least.
We will be offering the British people a radical new deal: an Australian-style points system that treats every applicant fairly but drastically cuts the scale of the influx and ensures that we get the highly skilled migrants who share our values and help our society but keep out the unskilled ones who do not.
Want to cut the foreign aid giveaways? Well you can’t look to Labour, the Lib Dems or the Conservatives for that. Each has signed up to raising spending on aid from £12billion now to about £14billion by the end of the next parliament.
David Cameron says spending more on aid is one of his proudest achievements. Ukip is the only party that would reduce aid spending – by a massive £9billion. U KIP would use some of that money to properly fund our brilliant Armed Forces.
We will be the only party in this election pledging to meet the Nato minimum requirement of two per cent of GDP to be spent on defence – that will involve spending £3billion a year more. We will also do more – far more – to support military veterans.
If you want to see more grammar schools so that bright children from non-privileged backgrounds can fulfil their academic potential then only Ukip will be offering that choice.
If you want to scrap the green levies that flow from the Climate Change Act 2008 and push up your gas and electricity bills then don’t expect the Tories, Labour or the Lib Dems to offer you that choice. But we will.
If you want to cut Britain free from the European human rights regime which has been turning progressively into a criminals’ charter and instead allow our own Supreme Court finally to live up to its name – then only Ukip will be offering that choice.
We will also scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights that makes clear that whenever the rights of lawabiding citizens clash with the rights of criminals it will be the former that prevails.
That will mean, for instance, that the process to chuck out foreign hate preachers can be completed in weeks rather than taking years. It will also mean that when the European Court of Human Rights tells us that we have to give prisoners the vote we can tell it to go and take a running jump. If you want to abolish the iniquitous inheritance tax then we will do that for you as well.
The Tories may pledge to raise the threshold significantly but that’s what they said at the last election and they simply have not done it. Ukip wants to scrap inheritance tax so that you never have to worry about it again. If you agree that there should be no income tax on the minimum wage, Ukip will be offering that choice as well.
The Tories and Lib Dems say they would raise the personal allowance to £12,500, which would certainly be a step forward. But we would raise it to at least £13,000 and higher still if financial circumstances permit.
On the EU, Ukip has already forced the Conservatives into a U-turn and now they promise they would hold a referendum by 2017. But David Cameron plans to lead the campaign to keep Britain tethered to the Brussels leash.
Only Ukip wants to leave this failing, bureaucratic and hideously expensive empire. And doing so would save us another £8–10billion a year, money that could be used to cut the deficit and increase spending on key services like the NHS.
Remember that old slogan “British jobs for British workers”? Well Ukip intends to turn it into a reality not only by slashing the volume of foreign job-seekers but also by permitting employers to discriminate in favour of British applicants without fear of being sued.
The other parties all pay homage to the HS2 vanity project which is planned to rip through the English countryside and destroy so many rural communities but we would save billions by scrapping it.
We are the only party that is also guaranteeing English votes for English laws and pledging to scrap the Barnett Formula which sees billions of pounds being poured into Scotland for no good reason at all.
I am proud that we are offering such an array of commonsense policies. You will decide where to put your cross on the ballot paper but my undertaking to you is this: at the 2015 General Election you will not be able to complain that “they are all the same”. We will be offering the radical changes that Britain desperately needs.