It was back up to a very cold and windy Wythenshawe on Saturday for a day of campaigning before the postal vote delivery in this by-election. Unlike previous by-elections in the North, the left have finally realised that Ukip are taking significant votes from the abandoned working classes. They took their time realising we weren’t just a Tory protest party.
This week I’ve seen leaflets from across the political spectrum attacking Ukip – and me in particular. From the Conservatives in the South-east trying to stop a Ukip win in the European elections by attacking us rather than proposing what Tory MEPs would achieve, to an outfit called “unionstogether” getting involved on behalf of Labour and the BNP trying to have a dig. Yes, they’re still around.
The reason for this is because we have become the second party of the North of England, as can be seen in by-election results in Barnsley, Rotherham, South Shields and Middlesbrough where we finished second only to Labour, way ahead of the Tories and notching up double the scores of the Lib Dems. Were it not for postal votes sealing the deal for incumbent parties way before the polls open, those results between Labour and Ukip would have been even closer.
Because whilst Labour and the unions have been looking the other way, Ukip have been pointing out that it’s the working classes in this country who have seen job losses, really felt the hurt of youth unemployment and seen wage compression where Labour’s minimum wage has now become the maximum wage for many jobs.
And Labour became the party of mass immigration and bureaucracy which benefited big business. The traditional Labour supporter has been the most affected by open borders, by the effects on hospital waiting times, primary school places and housing. But it was the party they traditionally supported and the unions they belonged to which told them it was racist to bring this up in conversation.
Mark Steel: Labour says the working class no longer exists, so why do 60 per cent of us claim to belong to it?
My Deputy Leader, Paul Nuttall, must have hurt them with the truth when he said at conference last year that the current crop of Labour MPs wouldn’t know what the inside of a Working Men’s Club looked like, nor a council estate if it fell out of the sky and hit them on the head. Because voters in Wythenshawe and Sale are now seeing a deluge of leaflets saying that Ukip aren’t the party for them because we want to scrap damaging EU employment legislation which harms small and medium-sized businesses and take back control of who comes to live, settle and work in this country.
In the past Ukip has been made to jump through hoops by the Electoral Commission who impose rules on us which others don’t seem to be affected by. The same, it seems, goes for this latest attack. It’s perfectly obvious that the onslaught on Ukip in the North is designed to stop a flood of voters from Labour. But with strict campaigning rules on funding and legal requirements for election literature, there seems to be some noticeable absences on the latest propaganda from the left. With unregistered organisations such as “unionstogether” and “solidarity” helping a political party out with their campaigning I hope to see ElCom jump into action pretty quickly.
Speaking of left-wing organisations, the BNP were out in force yesterday. Luckily for the country, “in force” these days is four skinheads and a geezer with a loudhailer standing around a town centre. This was a sight I was met with when we set out on the campaign trail, heading towards the council estate where our candidate John Bickley was born and brought up. A disgruntled shout from my colleague Stuart Agnew – 6ft 2in of toughened English farming stock although rarely so much as an eyelash out of place – brought my attention to some ruffians trying to pinch his leaflets. We were then joined by a couple of frightful looking women displaying a hairstyle known as a “number 2” who desired to join in photos I was having taken for the local media with their BNP placards.
Rent-a-mobs are ten a penny these days and no match for Ukip, who persuaded a local coffee shop to assist us with a sneaky departure out the back. This was unknown to the BNP ensemble out front, who were still yelling long after we had left to continue campaigning.
Despite their leaflets saying that a vote for Ukip would result in a Muslim neighbour I am confident voters will know the difference between a patriotic party and a truly nasty party, which is what the BNP is. For the last three years, we’ve been telling those who vote for them out of frustration but don’t agree with their racist agenda to vote for us. No one has done more to damage the BNP than me. I hope over the next 10 days we can pretty much finish them for good.