UKIP activists in Thurrock are in an unusual position – we are currently polling in first place in the constituency. The recent Lord Ashcroft poll had us at 36 percent, with Labour and the Tories trailing by some margin.
That has led to attacks from the two legacy parties. Being from Thurrock myself, I don’t mind a bit of rough and tumble. But Labour’s candidate Polly Billington, a close aide to Ed Miliband, has taken things too far today on LabourList.
As UKIP’s Head of Policy Unit, it infuriated me when Labour and its Trade Union cronies spent much time and money lying about UKIP’s policies throughout the European Election campaign. Heading into the General Election, Polly Billington and others seem set on the same tactic.
Labour’s candidate for Thurrock last week repeated the charge that UKIP will be standing on a platform of a flat tax, charging people to see their GPs and that we would abolish maternity leave. All blatant, disgraceful lies. None of this is true. In fact we know that it is two Labour Lords, Winston and Warner, who actually support GP surgery charges.
Of course it is easy to see why Labour and the Unions have adopted this outrageous strategy of outright fibs – they are facing a real battle for their blue-collar core of voters who have traditionally always voted Labour and would never vote Tory. UKIP is now providing an alternative. In Thurrock as elsewhere, we are making tremendous in-roads.
And why? Well I find it astonishing that Polly Billington’s article today did not make one mention of the issue that has surpassed even the economy as the most important issue for voters recently in a YouGov issues index. An issue that locals in Thurrock continually mention to me: Immigration.
Given the mess that Labour made on this when they opened our doors to unlimited numbers of EU migrants, saturating the jobs market and harming the prospects of British workers, I’m not surprised they don’t want to talk about the issue. Ed Miliband has apologised for Labour’s mess. But where’s the action?
I for one will not allow Labour’s lies on UKIP to go unchallenged. We are providing a radical alternative for those whose prospects and life chances have been harmed by successive Labour and the Tory-led administrations.
We are fighting to win in Thurrock as elsewhere and the people increasingly know that it us, not Labour, who are plugged into the needs and concerns of workers. Labour seem more concerned in spinning lies than addressing the issues and it won’t wash with the people of Thurrock.
Tim Aker MEP is UKIP’s Head of Policy