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Thursday 28th February 2013 | 00:01
By Samuel Thomson
Nigel Farage commented on the success of the UKIP by-election campaign in Eastleigh.
“We’ve got nothing to hide. Were in politics, we enjoy it, we care about it, we enjoy it and I think that is working.”
Mr Farage then said he was confident of winning, despite coming third place by a considerable margin in the recent Ashcroft-commissioned Populus poll.
“Yes, we can win here. Of that I have no doubt; I think the polls, the Ashcroft polls and everything else frankly are nonsense. For two reasons, firstly, they are not prompting UKIP. It’s laughable, it’s laughable; they are not prompting us and they are reallocating undecideds back to the parties based on the 2010 percentages. Strip that out and you see that we are actually are on 27 and a half per cent. Which is neck and neck with the Tories and a few pips behind the Lib Dems and that on data taken four or five days, or fieldwork conducted four or five days ago, given that we have momentum I think we’re there."
He was highly complimentary of Diane James, the UKIP candidate.
“I think she carries herself extremely well No 1. No.2 she has proper life experience, she has done things, successful things, which matters. Thirdly, did herself a massive favour on the BBC live debate last Sunday by rising above the fray. Always a very good tactic and she did extremely well. So that was good, you know.
“In this by election what struck me was the number of people who were not going to vote for anybody who are engaged with the UKIP campaign, and that is terrific so I am really pleased about that. That is one thing Populus did show in their stats, but they are prompted stats. I’m calling it a closed shop, I’m saying end the closed shop. English politics is a closed shop, three social democrat parties backed up by the media and the polling companies who are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo. Which is absolutely ludicrous.”
He said the Eastleigh election should be a comment on the Coalition Government.
“The important thing to point out for the local issues; housing, jobs do matter but superimposed on top of that huge national issues which directly affect them. If you wanted to vote purely on the local issue you should vote on the 2nd may, when the whole Hampshire County Council is up. This is democracy and a comment on the coalition government, what we would like to do is use this for a very specific purpose. We are saying to people that Labour can’t win and they acknowledge that so we are the only party that can challenge the two Coalition parties and we believe there is a unique opportunity to send a message here that impacts on jobs and housing and open border immigration. And we think the accepting of Romania and Bulgaria is a wholly irresponsible thing to do given the experience this part of England had in particular since 2004.”
He described his astonishment at the recent crime figures released by the Metropolitan police concerning Romanian immigrants.
"Allied to that, reading the crime figures yesterday I thought to begin with it was a misprint. Out of 68,000 Romanians there must be 2,700 arrests, no there was 27,000 in the last five years and that is in the Met alone. I just thought this can’t be right, clearly lots of repeats so it’s not even half of them but it is still an astonishing figures and my message to people is here is your chance to comment on that and to demand that we don’t just open the doors up. Whilst we do want migrants from all over the world who have got skills and can do things we don’t want the criminal gangs. There are some still saying to me oh well we are not supposed to say that sort of thing. Well, we are saying this sort of thing because it is too important not to.”
He insisted that the party was not xenophobic as they are the only British party to exclude former BNP members.
“I’ve just given my argument, it is up to you to make your mind about that. I don’t believe we are xenophobic in what we stand for at all, we are the only party in British politics that actually prohibits former BNP members from even joining it as a member in the constitution. I do everything I can to keep those sort of extremes out of this and I do everything I can to stop the debate about dislike of other people. It isn’t about that, it is about putting the interests of our own people, and our own communities, first. Everyone else is trying to brush us under the carpet.”
He disapproved of Nick Clegg’s handling of the Rennard scandal and described the deputy Prime Minister’s behaviour as “very inexperienced”.
“The problem is not the Rennard scandal, the problem is the way Nick [Clegg] dealt with it. It just looks very, very inexperienced, you know, every time he opens his mouth the storyline changes, the timeline changes. He is not used to this pressure, he’s had a gilded existence. Straight from Oxbridge, into the European Commission, into the European Parliament – he’s not had the knocks that most of us have had. It’s true, I’ve spent 20 years in business, I had some disastrous times - although I’ve had some good times - I’ve had some real crises. You know, I’ve been through some very rough times. I’ve been through all that stuff which most people on this street have.”
He promised he would not consider running as a candidate himself in another by-election before the 2014 European elections.
“Not before 2014, absolutely not. I have spent years building this party up to get us ready and I’ve always wanted us to do something seismic on the national scale. I still believe the European elections next year present that opportunity. I will lead the party into that. I can’t do that from the backbenches of Westminster. And that at the end is the key determinant of whether I will stand or not. If something came up after the European elections I might consider it very carefully. That is not to say I wasn’t tempted. I was tempted, there was a certain romance. My whole career in politics started in this town. This is my first ever campaign that I fought here in this town so there was a slight romantic attachment about doing it again. But I think the way it’s worked out couldn’t have been better, we’ve had a very strong woman to do it. I think it is very interesting; it follows on from Rotherham, a good strong woman, Corby, a good strong woman. Very, very interesting. Female candidates seem to do very well for Ukip and we’ve been very pleased with Diane.”
He dismissed UKIP’s only female MEP Martha Andreasen’s accusations of him being ‘anti-women’ after she defected from the party.
“If only she was right, my whole life would have been much simpler. If you are going to fire a vicious shot at someone in the party when you leave you have to make sure you don’t miss. That is just laughable. I’m a reasonably gregarious open person so it was rather silly.”