What on earth did Nick Clegg think he was doing when he challenged Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, to two live TV debates?

Some commentators think he did it because he wanted to demolish Farage’s anti-EU politics by proposing rational arguments. He failed, not because he was wrong but because he didn’t have a clue about how to argue his case.

Other less generous commentators think he did it because the Lib Dems in general and Clegg in particular are so unpopular with the electorate that any publicity, even bad publicity, is better than none. He might be proven correct, however, judging by the polls carried out immediately after the second debate, Clegg goofed again.

UKIP 1a

On a hiding to nothing

Clegg should have known better than to try a rational argument against Farage’s anti-EU mate-in-the-pub bluster and obfuscation. He should have known better than to give UKIP the oxygen of publicity.

The irony is that the EU and immigration are not high priority issues for most voters. Of course they need addressing, especially since the coalition government has made such a Horlicks of them both.

If Nick Clegg had any common sense he would have known that the best way to deal with Farage is to force him to comment on the important issues with which most ordinary people are concerned and about which his party has little to say.

For example, Clegg should have challenged him about UKIP’s housing policy which, as far as we can tell, amounts to prioritising social housing for people whose parents and grandparents were born locally. Clegg might then have gone on to point out that UKIP’S housing spokesman is allegedly making a fortune off migrant tenants on benefits – despite Nigel Farage calling for a ban on foreigners claiming welfare.

This is how the Daily Mirror reports it:

“Multi-millionaire landlord Andrew Charalambous has pocketed £745,351 in housing benefit from occupants, who he admits include immigrants.

“It will heap embarrassment on party leader Mr Farage and comes after Mr Charalambous described immigrants as a ‘massive factor in the overcrowding of social housing ‘.

“He also demanded ‘priority be given to British families and those who contributed to the system’.

When Mr Charalambous was asked whether he was a hypocrite over his massive haul, he said: ‘Not at all. We don’t want to get into any business of questioning where people come from. That would be totally unfair. We operate in an area that is largely a migrant population. From a commercial point of view and a human point of view, we are not concerned about what the ethnic origin of the tenants is.’

In short, the Daily Mirror was charging the UKIP’s housing spokesman with putting his commercial interest above his ‘political responsibility’. (More information here.

Key questions on the door step

It is easy to show the shallowness and, according to the Daily Mirror, the hypocrisy of UKIP but we need to go further and ask some simple but crucial questions that affect the way most of us live our lives. Next time you meet someone who is thinking of voting UKIP we suggest you ask the following questions and, if necessary, supply these answers, courtesy of Unions Together.

Question 1: What should happen to the NHS?

UKIP would hand the whole of our NHS to private companies. From ambulances to hospital wards, services would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. For UKIP, rather like the Tories, the NHS would be nothing more than a logo.

UKIP 2b

Question 2: What should happen to taxes?

UKIP would introduce a flat rate of tax, raising taxes for the poorest tax-payers, while the rich would pay much less.

UKIP 2c

Question 3: What is UKIP’s policy regarding job security?

UKIP think job security is a luxury that you should pay for with lower wages. They’d also make it easier for employers to fire their staff at will.

UKIP 1b

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Question 4: What is UKIP’s policy regarding maternity pay?

UKIP would cut the minimum maternity pay by more than half, to just £64 a week. That’s equivalent to fewer than ten hours’ work at the minimum wage.

UKIP 2a

p>Question 5: What will happen to paid holidays and sick pay?

UKIP would scrap your legal right to four weeks paid holidays. They’d also scrap other rights, like fixed working hours, pay when you’re ill, or redundancy pay.

UKIP 3a

So what’s next?

In March, 2014, Nigel Farage told the BBC that he would resign if UKIP failed to win any seats in the general election and Labour won an outright majority. For many that ought to be incentive enough to vote Labour.

UKIP 3b

In contrast to Farage’s divisive politics, Labour offers an opportunity for Britain to be a united society once again.

Ed Miliband argues that:

Labour will not just design a programme for government: we need to do far more than that to build a One Nation Britain. Government can lead the effort, but all of us – business, trade unions, councils, civil society, communities, families and individuals – must work together to imagine and build the country we want.

He knows and we know too that Britain can be a better place than Cameron and Clegg have made it and better by far than that envisaged by the bellicose, little Englander that Farage has shown himself to be.

UKIP 3c

Britain Will Be Better Under Labour

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