UKIP leader Nigel Farage, pulling a pint at The Grouse Inn on Lees Road in Clarksfield yesterday. (picture: Stuart Coleman Photography)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has urged voters to back his party in the Saddleworth by-election, saying the three main parties “look the same, sound the same, and there are almost no policy differences” between them.
Campaigning with candidate and fellow MEP Paul Nuttall at a pub in Clarksfield yesterday, Mr Farage said he thought trust in politics was the main issue facing the electorate. He added that radial divisions in Oldham had left parts of the town as segregated as Belfast.
He said the scandal over the Phil Woolas leaflets, which prompted this by-election, was the latest in a series of problems which have eroded trust: “One of the main reasons for that is that now most of our laws aren’t even made in Westminster, not of course that anybody dares to talk about it.”
Mr Farage continued: “If we’re talking about a constituency like this, every single business has all of its employment regs, its health and safety regs, and its environment regs made in Brussels and not in this country. So if anyone’s going to talk about new politics, I think UKIP represents the new politics, and we’ve proved in European elections that we can be a very potent force in British politics.”
He went on to describe Oldham East and Saddleworth as one of the most divided constituencies in England: “We have not had immigrant groups assimilating. There are divisions in parts of Oldham that frankly are as clear as you might see in Belfast.”
Nigel Farage is interviewed by Saddleworth News editor Richard Jones.
Mr Farage added: “That’s obviously undesirable. One of the key reasons for that is that we have had effectively an open-door immigration policy over the last few years, that the majority of people feel is irresponsible and wrong, and yet everybody knows that the three old parties support the continuation of this.”
He continued: “UKIP is offering a positive alternative. That is that if you control your borders, and control immigration, you will have greatly improved race relations in this country.”
On the deficit, Mr Farage criticised the coalition government for not going far enough: “I don’t think the spending cuts – and they’re not really cuts at all of course, all they are is decreases in the annual rate of expenditure versus inflation – are anything like big enough.”
He added: “They don’t even begin to address the size of the national debt. We are heading into an environment in which interest rates are going to start going up, and I don’t think this government has been anything like as courageous as it needs to be.”
Mr Farage said that, rather than cutting frontline services, UKIP would do more to tackle what he called the “disease of bureaucracy,” adding: “This government is very good at saying we should cut back on low-paid public sector workers, but I haven’t seen many in middle management being got rid of.”
He also outlined two key political objectives for UKIP in the by-election. The first was for “the destruction of the BNP to continue,” while the other was to attract votes from people who had supported the Liberal Democrats in the past as a protest vote against the Tories and Labour, but were now disillusioned with them.
We spoke at a pub on Lees Road in Clarksfield yesterday.
You can also read and listen to an in-depth interview with Mr Nuttall here.
A total of ten candidates are standing. You can find interviews with Labour’s Debbie Abrahams here, BNP candidate Derek Adams here, Conservative Kashif Ali here, Peter Allen of the Greens here, Pirate Party UK candidate Loz Kaye here, Stephen Morris of the English Democrats here and Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins here.
The other candidates are David Bishop of the Bus Pass Elvis Party and Nick “The Flying Brick” Delves from the Monster Raving Loony Party.
Polling day is a week on Thursday. Plenty of other well-known political figures have already been campaigning in our area. An interview with the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is here, while a chat with Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable is here.
You can hear from Labour leader Ed Miliband here and here, and Shadow Education Secretary Andy Burnham here. An interview with Conservative Chairman Baroness Warsi is here.
To read full coverage of the by-election so far from Saddleworth News