UKIP-widening their appeal

Nigel Farage sitting as an MEP

The UK Independence Party's announcement of their new economic policy this week indicates how the party has matured.

UKIP's rise to prominence has largely been attributed to it's charismatic leader Nigel Farage, but with the general election looming, the party have set out a tax policy which is clearly aimed at a wide section of society. In their manifesto, the party will pledge to cut taxes for the majority, with Farage telling the BBC "The most important thing is raising the threshold at which people start to pay tax."

Only last month Farage announced his belief that minimum wage workers should not have to pay tax on their income and this will also be reflected in UKIP's economic policy. Anyone on or below the minimum wage will be exempted from income tax entirely. UKIP's head of policy, Tim Aker, expanded on the reasons behind this move, describing the policies as for people who "aspire to achieve absolutely anything."

The challenge for UKIP has always been to establish themselves as a serious party; as opposed to a vocal point for angry Eurosceptics, and there is every suggestion that their imminent manifesto will, whilst remaining loyal to old voters, try to show there is more to their policies than just Europe. A department for veterans would be created if-the key word here- UKIP were ever in government. The bedroom tax will also be abolished, and foreign aid cut.

What is evident so far is that out of all the three mainstream parties, it is the Labour Party's territory that UKIP seem to be muscling in on the most. Akers has unashamedly described their economic policy as a "blue collar platform" and Farage has targeted key Labour constituencies, such as Rotherham and other working class towns. In Great Yarmouth, the party are only second behind Labour in recent polls.

When compared to UKIP's 2010 manifesto, famous for the sheer amount of nonsensical policies that inflamed public opinion, these policy samples show the party has evolved into a more parliamentary group. Then, the party championed a "flat tax"; now they have realised the timeless appeal to voters of cutting taxes. However, will it be enough to persuade voters to side with an untested party that has never before held a parliamentary seat? Only time will tell, but one thing is clear; UKIP certainly has all to play for.