Labour has 'betrayed' working-class voters, says Ukip candidate

John Bickley believes his party is gaining in the North ahead of Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election

The Labour Party has "disenfranchised and betrayed" its core working-class voters in northern England by leaving them on the sidelines of society, out of work and on benefits, Ukip's candidate in this week's Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election claims.

John Bickley, who believes he can still snatch a shock victory in the Manchester Labour heartland on Thursday, says his own party is gaining traction in the North because the government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown failed to get its traditional voters back into work. Ed Miliband, Mr Bickley says, equally has lost touch with typical voters in Wythenshawe, a working-class area of Manchester dominated by a huge housing estate.

While polling suggests that Labour will hold the seat with a reduced majority, Ukip's predicted second place in the by-election, caused by the death of former minister Paul Goggins, shows how politics has changed since the last general election. Nigel Farage's party can scoop up votes from Labour and the Lib Dems because of fears over immigration and the legacy of the last government, suggesting they can win seats outright in May 2015.

Ukip’s John Bickley canvassing locals Ukip’s John Bickley canvassing locals Mr Bickley, 60, who was born on the Wythenshawe estate, asks why, after 13 years of Labour government, the residents are not doing better. He says: "I look back to when I left at 16. Benefits as a concept didn't exist. They feel left on the sidelines by the political class. They have been made second-class citizens. I am picking up a sense of betrayal by the Labour Party. Working-class people have found that their wages are under pressure. People on benefits have even less of an incentive to get off benefits. The cost of living crisis is firmly laid at the door of Labour."

Mr Farage has predicted Ukip will come second, but when asked if he believes he can win, Mr Bickley said: "Yes I do. I am here to win it. But don't underestimate the fact that this is a very strong Labour constituency. What has changed dramatically over the last 12 to 24 months is this realisation that Labour voters are starting to feel betrayed. Labour voters up here are never going to vote for the Tories now. But they are disenfranchised and betrayed by Labour."

Considering Ukip came fifth here in 2010, behind the BNP, a second place this week will be hugely symbolic of the threat Mr Farage poses to the three mainstream political parties in 2015. Mr Bickley, a businessman, helped to develop the PlayStation game Lemmings, but the people of Wythenshawe and Sale East do not seem to be jumping blindly into supporting him. Instead, they are doing so with careful consideration.

Outside the Wythenshawe Community Initiative, mother-of-two Zoe Brown says she is interested in what Ukip has to say about immigration, but also what it claims to be its understanding of working-class people. Ms Brown, 22, says: "I think they are looking out for people like me. I quite like that. I am on benefits. I'm not proud of it, but even the money I would earn would all go on childcare so it is not worth working. Immigration I am not happy about. We are opening the doors but we don't know how many are coming in."

But there is by not overwhelming support for Ukip. Even on School Lane in Sale, the more affluent side of the constituency, there is caution about having a Eurosceptic, anti-immigration MP. Andy McPartland, 43, who runs his own cleaning business, says he has voted Labour in the past but did not back them in 2010 because he felt disillusioned. "I haven't voted Labour since. But I will not vote Ukip. People talk about racist connotations with their politics, and that's something I wouldn't go along with."

Labour's candidate Mike Kane, a local councillor who was a friend of the late MP, says it is the present government that is leaving behind the constituents of Wythenshawe and Sale East. "The issues that are being raised with me are the A&E at Wythenshawe hospital, a big issue on the doorstep, the cost of living, people's food and fuel bills going through the roof. Immigration is a very important issue. I am the son of immigrants myself, but it hasn't been the biggest issue on the doorstep."

There is a sense that the coalition parties have stepped back to allow Ukip to give Labour a scare – which is denied by both parties. Conservative candidate the Rev Dan Critchlow, a vicar, and Lib Dem Mary di Mauro, a councillor, look as if they will have to battle for third place this week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders