• UKIP MEP Nigel Farage is interviewed by Russia Today's Laura Emmett at UKIP's Spring Conference, March 19.
Asked about UKIP's election theme,'Straight Talking', Nigel Farage said "there are lots of big issues that really affect Britain today - that really affect people's lives - and what they are doing is they're sweeping them under the carpet: 'Oh, let's keep this out of sight, this is much too awkward and difficult to discuss in front of the children.' What we're saying is that we are a straight talking party: we want to talk about these issues."
On the immigration issue, Mr Farage said "we have had, over the course of the last ten years, an increase in the population of our relatively small country of three million people. We're heading, inextricably, to a population of 70 million by 2020, but nobody wants to talk about it, it's all too awkward. But... it's already a pretty overcrowded island, and they're the kind of things that UKIP is not frightened to talk about."
"Traditionally, talking about immigration was seen to be a right-wing issue," Mr Farage added. "I think you'll find that the biggest concern about immigration in this country will come from Labour voters, because it's Labour voters, working class people, that have seen, since 2004, since we opened the door to the whole of Eastern Europe, we've seen a massive oversupply in the unskilled labour market. Gordon Brown talks about British jobs and British workers, but he can't actually deliver because of the open-door policy."
Pressed on whether these are extreme views, Mr Farage said: "I don't see the question of the EU, and whether we govern ourselves; I don't see the question of whether we should head to a population of over 70 million; I don't see these things in conventional left- or right-wing terms... What we're doing, as a party, is we're taking this argument away from the extremists and getting it back into the centre-ground of public opinion."
"We're not interested in sparking distrubances," Mr Farage continued. "We don't want a more divided society. We want a more united society and that is why what we have been saying for some years is that to pursue multiculturalism has been a massive mistake, because what it has done is it actually encouraged groups to live in British cities in enclaves by themsleves; they haven't even been encouraged to learn the language; and we're saying, look, we're all in this together, regardless of where we come from, we have got to have a common culture or the future for our children is that we'll finish up like many American cities: completely ghettoised, where different groups don't mix. And that's not what we want."
Speaking on a flat-rate tax system as proposed in UKIP's manifesto, Mr Farage said that "the tax system, particularly under Gordon Brown has become so massively complicated that virtually nobody understands it. And I'm not just talking about employees, I'm talking about employers as well."
"What we're saying is, raise the tax threshold to £11,500, stop people who are earning a minimum wage from paying tax, incentivise those on benefit to go to work. Let's have a massively simplified tax system and a tax system that gives people incentives to go out and work hard and earn more money."
On the recent 3000-euro fine for not apologizing to Herman van Rompuy, Mr Farage said, "I am not going to be told by the President of the European Parliament - as the leader of the group of MEPs, where we came second across the entire UK on June the 4th last year - I am not going to be told that I can't provide a voice of opposition because it upsets his sensibilities. And they can fine me all they like... that doesn't mean I will gratuitously stand up and throw insults around, but if I think there are things that need to be said I'm going to jolly well go on and say them."
On the Greek bailout, Mr Farage said that "German taxpayers have been the biggest contributors to the European Union for some years, but the benefits they've had is that they've had a massive trade surplas with the rest of the European Union. The idea now that German taxpayers, having spent 20 years transferring money from the west to the east, should now be asked to start bailing out countries like Greece, and possibly not just bailing them out once, but doing it again and again, and perhaps that would extend to countries like Portugal, or Ireland, or Spain; I don't think this is politically sustainable in Germany, and I'm looking forward to seeing some proper Eurosceptic voices in Geman politics start to get elected in big numbers and I think that will happen."
Asked about Britain's high budget deficit relative to the Eurozone, Mr Farage pointed out that "had we been in the Eurozone we would have had interest rates - for seven of the first ten years - that would have been lower than they should have been. We were told by the Europhiles, 'Oh, it will give us cheap mortgages!' Well, what it would have led to is an even worse property rise and bust than we're actually experiencing."
"We're in a much better position than Greece is. Greece doesn't just have all its fiscal problems, Greece also is stuck inside a currency that is totally unsuited to it."
Speaking about the possibilities and benefits of a break-up of the undemocratic European Union, Mr Farage said: “There is something about democracy. If you look back through history, it has been the most wonderful safety valve, the most wonderful mechanism for stopping people tending to head towards violence. If you take the democracy away, then all you are left with is direct action and possibly violence,” Mr Farage said.
“I think that Europe as a continent would be much happier if the French were French, the Germans were Germans, the British were British, they had their own democracies, they ran their own economies, and we traded and cooperated together and tried to act as good next-door neighbors. That to me is a much better vision of Europe than this idea of centralised institutions and people like Herman van Rompuy and Baroness Cathy Ashton running our lives.”