Colne Valley Correspondence….Letters to Voters and Non-Voters.

This week: UKIP

This is a series of letters to people living in the Colne Valley Constituency, covering Holmfirth and the Holme Valley, Meltham, Golcar, Slaithwaite, Marsden, Linthwaite, Milnsbridge, Crosland Moor…and lots more places in between. I’m standing as the candidate for Yorkshire First and I want to speak to a wide range of people across this varied and vibrant constituency. I’m writing to people who have different voting intentions, ranging across the spectrum. You can see the ones already done on my website, here: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk and look under ‘current news’

Today I’m turning to people who intend to vote UKIP.

April 15th 2015

Dear UKIPer

You certainly excite strong feelings! You get called lots of things, not least ‘racists’ and ‘bigots’. I have to say from my experience of UKIP members locally, that doesn’t apply and simply name-calling people does nothing other than give some sort of puffed-up sense of superiority to the name-callers. I’m interested in why people are attracted to UKIP. From conversations I’ve had it’s a mixture of concern over ‘Europe’, ‘immigration’ and a general feeling that the mainstream parties have ignored them. I find a lot of decent working class people, who in the past have been faithful Labour supporters, have gone over to supporting UKIP.

So where do I agree – and disagree? I think your concerns over Europe have some validity – though I’m a pro-European internationalist. The EU itself lacks democratic accountability with the main decisions being made by the Council of Ministers. I don’t like it that the EC is forcing a failed neo-liberal economic model onto its members, like it or not. As a railway person, I object to the EC instructing us to adopt a particular approach to running our train services, based on competitive tendering. Too much detail, too much micro-management. But I don’t think we should leave. We should stay in and fight to change it, working with people across Europe who share our concerns. There are plenty of them. We need to be building informal links, based on trade, friendship, higher education and culture – right across Europe.

Regarding immigration I think we do have to differ. At a recent hustings event a member of the audience asked the panel if they felt that “immigration in the Colne Valley was a problem?” Your candidate, Melanie, replied – correctly in my view – that it wasn’t. Yet nationally we get told by Mr Farage and his mates that immigration is responsible for everything from low wages to traffic congestion and the absence of children playing in the street. Come on, it’s ridiculous. And it’s sad to see that Labour has joined in the chorus trying to be seen to be ‘tough on immigration’, even with its stupid mug saying ‘immigration controls’. So let me be clear on my view, which you may not agree with. Immigration is a good thing for this country, it’s a good thing for Yorkshire. Yes it needs managing and we need to ensure that particular communities can handle the pressure of new residents. But overall, the benefits that immigrants bring to our society far outweigh any perceived disadvantages. That’s ‘official’ by the way, confirmed by the Government’s own Office for Budget Responsibility. We need to work much harder to bring communities together and address the root causes of the alienation of some young people in Muslim communities. Playing the ‘race card’, as some UKIP politicians do, isn’t just unhelpful, it’s very dangerous.

So what about the more general point, of UKIP offering something to working class people who feel abandoned by Labour and the other parties? I’d say look carefully at your own policies and see what really is for you and what is actually a re-hash of Thatcherite policies of the 1980s which increased inequality. But on the positive side, UKIP seems to have changed its approach to the NHS and opposes further privatisation. Your transport policy isn’t up to much, with a rag-bag of policies including scrapping HS2 (which I’m not a huge fan of) but offering nothing on how you would improve public transport. And finally, UKIP’s leaders seem blissfully unaware of the need to decentralise power within England, talking about an ‘English Parliament’ which would further marginalise the North. Add to that, there’s an underlying streak of anti-Scots sentiment in some UKIP statements.

So, overall, we have a lot of differences but some areas of agreement. But I can fully understand your desire to give the establishment a good kick up the backside. It’s just that I don’t think UKIP is the right ‘boot’ to do it with. Interestingly, a large contingent of former UKIP members in Hull decided to join Yorkshire First. And no, they weren’t racists, closet Tories or bigots. They were a group of community activists who wouldn’t have been out of place at a Labour Party meeting years back. They now feel marginalised by all the main parties but also felt manipulated by UKIP. So we were able to welcome them to Yorkshire First and two of them are standing for us in the General Election.

I would invite the many decent, tolerant and progressive UKIP supporters in Yorkshire to join us!

If you want to know more about me, go to the Yorkshire First website www.yorkshirefirst.org.uk or, for a more quirky view with my local manifesto: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2015/03/31/yorkshire-first-for-colne-valley-our-manifesto/

So thanks for your time in reading this – if you do want to know more, just get in touch! I’m contactable on email at paul@paulsalveson.com or colnevalley@yorkshirefirst.org.uk or ring me on 07795 008691