The chances are very high indeed that the Rochester and Strood constituency will soon be “represented” by a UKIP MP.
Having defected to UKIP from the Conservative Party, Mark Reckless is being supported by what is effectively a national campaign to secure his election as UKIP’s second Westminster MP. No doubt backed by its millionaire donors, UKIP is pouring resources into Rochester and Strood. Rochester High Street, so dependent on the tourist trade, is now bedecked with UKIP posters, with UKIP supporters visibly present every day, creating an image that is hardly likely to make European visitors feel welcomed.
UKIP likes to pose as a “party of the people”, as an anti-establishment force that will shake up the complacent political system and make life better for millions of British people. But the truth is that Nigel Farage himself, along with many UKIP supporters, is a thoroughly establishment figure. Farage is a wealthy, privately educated, former city trader turned professional politician. His own expenses claims as a Member of the European Parliament make a hypocritical nonsense of his criticisms of other politicians, while he does very little work to represent his constituents, having one of the very worst attendance records for an MEP.
UKIP is just another party of the privileged, whatever its populist image. UKIP blames the poor and the immigrant for a crisis that has been caused by rich bankers, and supports austerity policies that are making the rich richer while the poor become poorer. There are any number of statements from prominent UKIP members calling for wholesale privatisation of the NHS (effectively abolishing it), even while they claim otherwise when challenged. UKIP will say it is opposed to bigotry and discrimination, while UKIP members have repeatedly directed abuse at and discriminated against minorities whether on the basis of their race, their sexuality or their disabilities. UKIP says and promises one thing, to win votes, but believes and threatens something very different in reality.
We believe that UKIP is a serious and significant threat. We are completely opposed to the bigotry and the politics of hate that UKIP represents. We intend to continue working and campaigning against UKIP whether or not Mark Reckless wins the November 20th by-election in Rochester and Strood. We appeal to the electorate of the Rochester and Strood constituency to make it clear, in November, that UKIP is not welcome here, and that the home of which we are proud will not be turned into a national laughing stock at best, a byword for bigotry and small-mindedness at worst.
Signed by 562 local residents and friends of the Medway Towns