In a strident interview with specialist industry magazine Asian Trader, UKIP leader Nigel Farage cited Adam Smith and praised the free market, as he blasted plain cigarette packaging and the Westminster elite for failing to understand the needs of small businesses and independent retailers.
In the article, which is due to be published tomorrow Farage crossed into party political territory as well as discussing matters pertinent to Asian business owners. When asked whether he had a message for Conservatives who found themselves disillusioned with the direction of the party, he couldn’t resist the temptation to court potential Labour defectors, saying: “I think you will find there are a lot of Labour MPs feeling the same way.
“I would not underestimate some quite strong voices on the Labour benches saying ‘where the hell are we going, are we the party that supports the ordinary working man and woman?’ Labour in some ways are becoming more corporate than the Conservative Party”.
Nigel’s opposition to plain packaging for cigarettes and tobacco clearly put him at a real advantage with the interviewer, who made it clear that many of the magazine’s shop-owning readers would be voting with that in mind at the general election next year. Farage, a famously keen smoker, made clear his opposition was born of a classical liberal devotion to the free market, and predicted the packets would encourage illegality and damage the legitimate business of Britain’s small shops.
Addressing the point, he said: “Talk about the famous Adam Smith, an amazing figure who said in the 18th century that if you over tax people or over tax goods then you will get smuggling… [People buy cigarettes at the] Fish and Chip shop under the counter, it is happening on a huge scale and it is absolutely nuts. Tobacco taxes are far too high, especially on loose tobacco”.
Casting himself as the only potential friend in government to the small businessman, Farage criticised David Cameron for doing a ‘Blair’ by promising “everything to everybody”. Remarking that many members of UKIP had run businesses themselves, Farage said: “About 60 per cent of all private sector jobs are in firms that employ 10 or less people… I’m saying I am on your side, I understand”.
Although UKIP won’t face a significant Asian population as it seeks to get former Tory Douglas Carswell elected in the 97 percent white Clacton-on-Sea, courting Britain’s significant ethnic minority community is an important part of his electoral strategy for 2015.