Bexley UKIP looking to make impact at next general election
PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 March 2013
UKIP is gaining in popularity in many pockets of the country, not least Eastleigh where they swelled to 28 per cent – their best ever result in a by-election.
But could the party ever succeed here in Bexley, a staunch Conservative stronghold? Here, we interview UKIP Bexley chairman David Coburn, who hopes to stand for the second time in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency in the next general election, and acting chairman Rob Comley, who hopes to go against David Evennett for the Bexleyheath and Crayford seat.
Can UKIP be successful in Bexley, traditionally a Conservative heartland?
DC: Absolutely. In fact, the Old Bexley and Sidcup seat, which I hope to stand for, is one which the party will look to target in the 2015 election.
UKIP was founded in 1993 by Alan Sked with the primary objective of withdrawing from the European Union. The current leader is Nigel Farage.
The party has never had a British MP, although they had representation in the House of Commons briefly in 2008. Bob Point, MP for Castle Point in Essex, switched his allegiance from the Conservatives but left seven months later as he found himself at odds with many of UKIP’s policies.
Membership stands at 22,000. It has 11 Members of the European Parliament.
I’ve had lots of people come up to me in the street saying they’re worried about Labour getting in but they’re drifting away from the Tories because they’re not happy with the direction the party is heading.
Current immigration policies make it impossible to get rid of the people that are not benefiting the economy – as the crime and security minister, James Brokenshire should know this as well as anyone.
RC: Some of the money that is being spent, like on the new council buildings – is ludicrous, and things like street parking permits for residents, like we have in my road in Welling, are real issues we would look to address.
Explain how UKIP’s policies are going to benefit the people of Bexley?
DC: Our policies are not aimed at being inflammatory, but we want to get the country back on its feet.
We favour a points-based immigration system – we’re getting a huge influx of people from Bulgaria and Romania especially and the economy can’t sustain them.
I’m sure a lot of foreign people who come to the UK work hard and contribute to the economy, but that’s not really the point.
All this open door policy does is over-populate the jobs market at a desperately difficult time and drain services like the NHS.
It’s called the National Health Service not the International Health Service.
Controlling this is the only way to save hospitals like Queen Mary’s in Sidcup. It’s not fair for British people to be waiting behind queues of foreigners. We oppose the Gallions Reach bridge and increasing the tolls at the Dartford Crossing – both would be disastrous for Bexley.
What do you say to people who claim UKIP is just a protest party?
DC: We’re not a Tory tribute band and we have our own policies.
I believe we’d still be successful even if the country was in a better state because we’re on the same wavelength as the general public. Most politicians are career politicians but most UKIP candidates have what I would call ‘proper jobs’. I own an import and export company, most Conservatives have never done a proper day’s work.
RC: The Tories have alienated a lot of their support and we’re looking to capitalise on this.
But we don’t just have one policy. The EU will always be the main thing that interests people but our main aim is improving the current situation for taxpayers, which is not good.
Q: Some people say your policies are discriminatory, what do you think?
DC: With immigration it’s not a question of skin colour or ethnic origin and it’s the same with same-sex marriage.
We’re not anti-gay, I’m gay myself, but we don’t agree with churches being dictated to when it comes to who they can and can’t marry. Civil partnerships are enough.
We have no interest in the privacy of boudoirs, we’re only interested in how we can help out the taxpayer.
RC: As David said, we’re not anti-gay. We’re libertarian and don’t think government should be telling churches what to do in their religious buildings.
n What do you think? Tweet @bexleytimes or email firstname.lastname@example.org