General Election 2015 - Foyle: UKIP will restore democracy at Stormont and push for low taxes

The restoration of pure majoritarian democracy at Stormont and the implementation of a suite of traditionally right-wing (low tax/small government) fiscal policies will be on the table if UKIP achieves kingmaker status in tomorrow’s election.

Kyle Thompson, who is standing for the party in Foyle, told the Sentinel the party will press for the abolition of voluntary coalition at Stormont if it holds the balance of power in London next week.

Kyle Thompson.

Kyle Thompson.

“Stormont doesn’t work in general. It’s a complete and utter farce. It’s undemocratic in its make up and it just can’t work. You can’t have parties from completely opposite ends of the political spectrum holding different Ministerial offices because there’s no joined up thinking, there’s no planning and it just turns in to a costly nightmare,” said Mr Thompson.

The accountant-turned-community worker said a return to majority rule in Belfast would be the only way of ensuring truly democratic government for the people of Northern Ireland.

“People would be against that for various reasons but in a proper open democracy in a country like ours that is what is supposed to happen,” he said.

“We believe in democracy. I know it’s an issue here. If we’re going to move society forward, we have to have a proper democracy and not a sham.”

The party is supportive of devolution, however.

“Our policy is that the devolution genie is out of the bottle, people are keen on devolution, so our policy would be to reform it, to make it democratic, there’s no binding coalition.

“We would probably also reduce the size, the amount of MLAs in Stormont, because it’s costly as well.”

With regard to the broader budgetary picture, Mr Thompson is unapologetic about the party’s right wing stance on fiscal matters.

It won’t introduce a mansion tax and will abolish inheritance tax even though inherited assets below £325,000 aren’t taxed here.

Moreover, he says the party’s proposal to raise the basic income tax threshold to £13,000 and to introduce a new 35 per cent band for those earning between £42,285 and £55,000, will help ordinary people.

“The reason behind that is to help those on low or middle incomes. We don’t think it is fair that the likes of a doctor or a teacher who is helping the community is paying the top level of tax, so that is why we have put in the 35 per cent band.

“UKIP believe in lower taxes in general across the board and less government interference, so smaller government with less taxes,” he said.

But what about inheritance tax. Not many of the electors of Londonderry are waiting expectantly on hand-me-downs of £325,000 or more.

“No, there’s not but it’s a general principle. If you work hard all your life and pay taxes all your life to save for your children’s future, why on earth should they be taxed when you die on what you’ve built up for them?

“It’s just unfair. Just as a principle. I know it might not affect many people. But just as a principle, it’s wrong.

“It’s something that doesn’t really come up [inheritance tax]. I suppose it’s not going to be a major issue in this constituency, it’s more raising the threshold before you pay tax to 13,000 that appeals to people,” said Mr Thompson.

Happy to be right wing in an economic sense, the party is also happy to be right wing in other senses. It’s in favour of strict border controls, strict controls on immigration and an EU exit. But it’s not racist.

Here’s what Mr Thompson thinks of claims that it is.

“It’s total and utter nonsense. Our party is probably the most diverse in terms of religion and race, of any party, particularly any party standing here, so it’s just an absolute nonsense.

“It’s nothing to do with race, it’s got to do with space and our policy is a policy that is fair to every race because it allows people from across the world to come to the United Kingdom and not just the European Union,” he said.

But will new European frontier posts at Bridgend and Killea - courtesy of Nigel Farage and friends - not just be a pain-in-the-neck for people living in the border area, many of them of a unionist persuasion.

“It’s not an issue that really comes up. Most people take it for granted now that they come back and forth across the border but if there were border controls I don’t think there are going to be heavy border controls that you see between other countries, it would be slightly more relaxed I’d imagine.

“One of the options would be to tax foreign vehicles for using the roads to make it more viable for UK haulage firms.”

Whilst avowedly for less government and lower taxes, UKIP makes exception for the public sector behemoth and lifeline that is the National Health Service (NHS).

So how is it going to pay for its promise of ‘total patient care’ if it’s going to reduce the tax take?

“Our manifesto is the only manifesto that has been fully costed and independently verified.

“The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) said both the Tories’ and Labour plans, they were unsure whether they added up but they didn’t have to look at ours because ours had already been assessed.

“Where we are looking to get the money back is to reclaim the money that we give Europe back - the £50m a day.

“Another area we are going to target is to reduce the foreign aid allowance from 0.7 per cent of the gross national income to 0.2 per cent, which is the same as what America pays out.

“If we do that, we’ll still be paying the same amount as Portugal and Spain together.

“We believe in allocating resources where they are needed so as well as the above there will also be a review of the Barnett formula, targeting areas where there is specific need rather than just as per head of the population.

“A lot has been made of our suggestion of redoing the Barnett formula, there will be areas that will lose out but we envisage Northern Ireland, would be an area that would benefit.”

Last year Mr Thompson was one of two UKIP candidates who stood in the Waterside District Electoral Area (DEA) in the Derry City and Strabane District Council elections.

Mr Thompson and running mate David Malcolm received 511 first preferences between them.

In that election UKIP and the PUP, tied up a huge nine per cent of first preferences - the best showing from fringe groups in the Waterside since 1997.

So where does Mr Thompson see his votes coming from?

“When you combine the two votes in the Waterside and the one in Faughan [Geoff Cruickshank] we’re up in the top 100s [696 first preferences] so we are looking to increase on that.

“I think people across the city are just fed up with the stale politics that we’ve had for years and we do offer a fresh choice.

“There are a lot of surprising places that we would have support in.”

Does he think the party can attract support from grassroots loyalist voters disaffected with the status quo?

“We would be hoping to attract anybody who shares our vision for the future of the United Kingdom no matter whether they declare themselves as

loyalist, unionist or other.

“We appealed to those who vote across the board [in 2014]. There were a few surprises, where people voted Sinn Féin, one, and us second.

“We had quite a few transfers from the DUP and the Ulster Unionists and quite a few from the SDLP, so we are getting them across the board.

“It’s difficult to put your finger on the reasons for that.”