UKIP are ‘no different from BNP’, claims Oldham Council leader

The leader of Oldham Council has dismissed the surge in support for UKIP in last week’s local and European elections describing the party’s threat as ‘no different from the BNP’.

Councillor Jim McMahon saw his colleagues from the Labour party stave off competition from UKIP to extend their number of seats in Oldham to 45.

However there was no hiding from the fact that UKIP enjoyed a successful campaign gaining two seats in Oldham and topping the European election vote.

Nigel Farage’s party also ran Labour close for a number of other Oldham wards but Councillor McMahon was quick to play down their threat.

“UKIP have portrayed themselves as being a standard Joe, man down the pub and they have stood on the anti-politics platform,” McMahon told MM.

“They are really standing on an image of being anti-politics, anti-establishment and that always appeals.  

“To me the threat of UKIP is no different from the threat of the BNP, it is no different than the threat of the far right and it is no different than any other party who stands on a platform of being different.

“What they stand for is in fact quite different than what they portray.”

McMahon admitted that he felt a flaw in Labour’s campaign was failing to scrutinise UKIP’s policies intensely enough.

He also stated UKIP’s groundswell of support was the product of the general public’s disenchantment with Westminster.

“National politicians need to start looking like the communities they say they are there to serve,” he said.

“They are all very well-educated, they are all university graduates, they’ve all been researchers and they stand in Westminster, argue among themselves and then wonder why people on the street don’t get it.

“Until Westminster starts looking a bit more like the community says it is there to serve, you can’t blame people for saying ‘I’m going to vote for someone who does look and talk like me and who does talk about the issues that are important to me’.”

One of the issues UKIP are most vocal about is immigration and Councillor McMahon blamed the failings of government for the problems Britain currently faces.

He cited insufficient levels and standards of housing, education, public services and low wages as reasons why Britain has struggled to support an increased population.

“What you end up with is a situation where people look to blame somebody else because they don’t feel they are doing well,” he said.

“So there’s a real challenge there and Westminster have got to hold a mirror to themselves whether they are Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem.

“At local level we are trying to do that, but it is very difficult to get the message out sometimes when you turn the TV on and you go home and it’s national press all the time.”

Councillor McMahon also believes the local and European election results will have little bearing on the general election in a year’s time.

“You cannot take this as a forward look on what 2015 might look like in the General Election,” he added.

“We had the European elections on the same day, Europe was high on the agenda and UKIP, a one issue party, have stood up there and they’ve got their vote out.

“Congratulations to them, but that is not a reflection of what will happen in 2015.

“If you look at the transfer of votes people have transferred their opinion on Europe down to the local ballot paper as well.”

Picture courtesy of Catham House via Flickr, with thanks

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