There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days about how we should describe UKIP and whether David Cameron should be more polite to their leadership.
Cameron can do what he wants but I believe that we Liberal Democrats have to yield nothing to the bunch of xenophobic cranks that make up what is supposed to be the leadership of this Party.
Just listen to what they say:
- They believe every straight banana and square tomato story going.
- They think that more people will settle in this Country from Romania and Bulgaria than actually live in Romania and Bulgaria
- They confuse the Roma community with Romania
- One of their MEPs publicly thinks that women should stay at home to do the ironing
- They have candidates who have been openly homophobic and who believe that there is a strong connection between homosexuality and paedophilia
- Some of their candidates have been linked to religious extremism
- They are bone idle with a poor record of work in the European Parliament and even worse one in their Euro Constituencies.
So if they are that bad why did they get so many votes last week? Hasn’t that given them credibility?
Well let’s not overstate their position. There are approximately 25,000 councillors in the UK on principal councils just over 140 of them are UKIP. Last week they tried to defend 7 seats and only succeeded in 3 of them. The likelihood is that of the 140 elected last week more than 25% of them will have disappeared or fallen out with the others before those seats come up for re-election.
The people that I canvassed who said they were voting UKIP had very little idea about what UKIP stood for. They were joining in with a very wide spread feeling of antipathy to politicians. People thought that UKIPers were anti politics and there is an element of truth to that. They certainly have no policies and very little local, track record where they can be challenged. The fact that they are almost useless MEPs is irrelevant to most people as very few even know the good MEPs.
So we must fight fire with fire and not seek to appease people in the hope that they will ‘come back to us’. We need to expose the lies of UKIP by ensuring that people know the truth. We need to let people know that:
- Much of our trade is dependent on EU links and membership.
- That the EU is in the process of developing free trade agreement with the US which we would not be a party to.
- That men and women are equal.
- That people with a different sexual orientation are not perverts.
- That we do not send vast amounts of money to the EU but should make a contribution to institutions that develop our markets and shape our place in the World.
We must not falter, we must move onto their agenda but bring the debate back to ours.
My prediction is that there will be no UKIP MPs elected in 2015. My prediction is that they will get less people elected next year when a bigger set of councils is up for election on Euro election day than they did this year. Why? Because they are now up for scrutiny in a way they have never been looked at before. Most British people are not xenophobic; most British people believe instinctively in fairness; most British people do not believe in what UKIP believes in.
Scared of elections and what will happen with UKIP? Not me – bring it on!