May 27, 2014

Bill Esterson

Many people told me that they were voting for UKIP, while I was knocking on doors during the local and European elections. Often this was as a protest against the main parties and sometimes it was because they felt that Nigel Farage spoke for them.

It was clear that few actually understood what UKIP’s policies were though. 

The fact that UKIP has advocated charges for visiting your GP was not well known. UKIP also say they would increase taxes for most ordinary people to pay for a tax cut for the wealthiest, the so called ‘flat tax’, which is a actually a big tax rise for most. 

And very few people are aware that UKIP believes that the Tories and Lib Dems cuts don’t go far enough. UKIP want massive cuts in public services like health, fire, police and local councils but they neglected to make sure most people understood that. 

What we did hear was the intolerant comments of many of their candidates and councillors. And Farage made clear he objected to having Romanians living next door to him. It reminded me of the days when people put up signs saying, “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.

UKIP of course didn’t win any council seats in Sefton, thankfully. But it is important that people understand that their policies are a more right wing, extremist version of the Tories' policies and that many of their representatives hold very unpleasant views indeed.

Meanwhile, those of us in the mainstream parties need to make sure that we have the answers to the fall in living standards faced by most people. 

The economic recovery is benefiting only the wealthiest. The majority of ordinary people continue to see prices go up and wages stagnate or fall. That needs to change. 

We need action to tackle soaring energy prices and the behaviour of the energy companies. We need to help the millions who are on low pay, including the 15,000 people in my constituency who are paid less than a living wage. And we need to make sure there is a guaranteed job for young people who have been out of work for more than a year. 

Labour will deliver all of these policies if we win the election next year. We will also set up a regional bank system that supports local small businesses with funding and advice and that gets to know their customers and the local economy. In other words a proper banking system for the business customer. 

All of which will help improve the prospects of small business owners and their staff and help create the high quality jobs which will see the improvement in living standards which we all want. 

There are positive, real, workable solutions to the problems we face. UKIP, along with the Tories and Lib Dems can only offer fear of the unfamiliar, greater austerity and falling living standards. 

But there is hope and if we create decent, well paid jobs as a result of the right policies, Britain really can do better than this.


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