I’ve just been elected for the UK Independence Party as a member of the European Parliament. I’ve done voluntary and charitable work for a number of years, from setting up a charity working with disadvantaged young people to hospital radio broadcasting which I’ve done since I was 15.
I’ve fundraised for charities, worked on both a voluntary and paid basis delivering council holiday sports schemes for children and young people. I donate to several charities. My wife and I sponsor children in the developing world.
So when Labour’s Paul Brannen writes “Why is the sector keeping quiet on Ukip?” I’m bemused. Perhaps I’m supposed to oppose myself. Brannen claims flat tax, overseas aid and climate change as reasons for the third sector to oppose Ukip.
Ukip’s support for a flat tax (which is in any case under review) included a tax threshold helping the poorest by taking anyone working on minimum wage for a standard working week out of taxation altogether. It helps to close tax loopholes, ensuring the very rich can’t avoid their obligations.
Ukip believes overseas aid should be reserved for genuine emergencies. Money shouldn’t prop up despotic regimes. Mismanaged aid can create reliance and becomes counterproductive. The solution lies in bringing down trade barriers (remember Oxfam has repeatedly criticised the EU for its “double standards”) and providing a genuine helping hand.
Unilateral action on climate change has pushed energy prices up, could lead to power blackouts as early as next year and leaves millions (mainly pensioners) in fuel poverty, choosing between heating and eating. Meanwhile, every year China’s emissions increase by more than the entire UK output.
Paul Brannen has spent years working for Christian Aid. They do much good work but I wonder how representative it is. Their chief executive earned over £126,000 last year; rather a different world to what most third sector workers recognise. They receive tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer funding, and EU funding – from our taxes, with strings attached – including the expectation that the EU will be praised. No wonder he’s attacking Ukip.
We’ve both recently been elected as MEPs for North East England and demonstrated commitment to the third sector, him in a paid management role and me working at grassroots level. We should put political differences aside to support charity, but sadly Paul Brannen uses his position to try to turn the third sector against anyone of my affiliation.
Jonathan Arnott is the newly-elected Ukip MEP for the North East