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Poll: Should corporal punishment be brought back?

UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge wants to bring back corporal punishment in schools, limit higher education to the best 20 per cent of students and reduce the availability of IVF and non urgent surgery on the NHS, according to a book he has written.

Bill Etheridge campaigning for UKIP in March this year

Black Country Revolutionary: A Political Scrapbook, sets out his ideas for Britain.

The book, which is believed to have sold around 2,000 copies, is out of print but Labour has seized upon the ideas and condemned them, saying they would result in wealthy, privately educated young people getting taxpayer funded degrees and would stop thousands of patients receiving treatment on the NHS.

Mr Etheridge is standing in the General Election in Dudley North against Labour's Ian Austin and opinion polls have suggested he may either win or come second.

The 124-page book was published in 2012 after Mr Etheridge had left the Conservatives and joined UKIP following a row triggered by him posing with a gollywog doll to make a point about political correctness. Two years later he was elected a councillor in Sedgley and a West Midlands MEP as UKIP made a major breakthrough.

The book includes a 10-point 'vision for how our nation can be revitalised', top of which is withdrawal from the European Union.

On education and corporal punishment he writes: "The state education system needs a serious rethink. Discipline of the highest standard is crucial and should be the number one priority; this should include the reintroduction of a limited degree of corporal punishment."

He adds: "Universities should only be available to the top 20 per cent of academic achievers. These elite, high achievers should have their education totally financed, including a grant."

On health he writes: "The NHS is in need of serious reform. Non-essential surgery, cosmetic work and fertility treatment should not be readily available. High standards of care should be demanded and people working within the health service should be made

more aware that the patient is their customer and the customer is always king."

Labour claimed today that Mr Etheridge's plan to restrict university admissions to the top 20 per cent would mean 115,000 fewer students would reach university each year and many universities would be forced to close.

And it said the suggestion to to restrict the availability of NHS operations could radically reduce the number of treatments carried out including cataract surgery, hip replacements, in vitro fertilisation and re-constructive surgery.

Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley alone carried out 1,600 cataract operations, 1,100 hip and knee replacements and 170 varicose vein operations last year. Hospitals across the West Midlands carried out 31,000 cataract operations, 20,000 hip and knee replacements and 870 cycles of IVF.

Mr Etheridge said today: "Nowhere do I refer to specific treatments. All I'm suggesting is the NHS needs reform. On universities, Labour is doing its typical scaremongering. I'm just suggesting we give grants to academically gifted students and ensure there is vocational training and alternatives to universities for everyone else. If Labour thinks that means only the wealthy would go to university that says more about them than me.

"And on corporal punishment, I'm just suggesting something like allowing teachers to give a rap on the knuckles with a ruler without getting sued."

Black Country Revolutionary: A Political Scrapbook, by Bill Etheridge

But Warley Labour MP John Spellar said: "Parents will be stunned to hear that Mr Etheridge wants to stop their children going to university and getting on in life. His plan would mean thousands of local youngsters would be unable to go to universities and local universities like Wolverhampton or Birmingham City would find it very difficult to survive, putting thousands of jobs at risk.

"He wants to stop local youngsters going to university but would pay fees and living costs for the top 20 per cent who would be from Britain's private schools and elite state schools.

"And despite all his and UKIP's claims that the NHS is safe in his hands, his plan for health cutbacks shows treatments like cataract surgery, hip replacement and IVF would be harder to get."

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