AS I SEE IT: Don’t be fooled by UKIP

Would you vote for a party that expresses repugnantly homophobic and extreme nationalist views?

Not knowingly or voluntarily if you had the choice, I bet.

That is why the residents of Clitheroe consider very carefully when they examine the offerings of UKIP.

UKIP is a party which portrays itself as Libertarian, but you do not have to scratch very far below the surface to find rabid intolerance and an unwillingness to permit liberal dissenting voices within its membership to hardline policies on issues such as gay rights.

Only a couple of weeks ago, Olly Neville, the democratically elected chairman of UKIP’s youth organisation, was summarily dismissed for expressing support on national television for same-sex marriage. The bulk of the national executive committee of UKIP’s youth organisation resigned in sympathy, along with a swathe of activists, as did Richard Lowe UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the City of Chester.

The result has been a damaging fall-out, with bitter exchanges of views and vitriolic debate between UKIP’s national leadership and those who have left in disgust.

UKIP is, in my opinion, quickly developing a reputation as the nasty party of British politics. Such nastiness is epitomised in the appalling and unpleasant views expressed by Ron Loebel, who has been for so long a prominent voice of UKIP in the Ribble Valley, in his recent letter to the editor of this newspaper, which earned such a stinging rebuke from Canon Peter Shepherd in his well argued and heartfelt response.

It is not the views on gay marriage that are important, as there are many from all parties who do not agree with this policy, it is the apparent dogmatic intolerance of other people’s views which is concerning to all reasonable democratic people.

David Cameron announced he wanted to hold an in/out referendum following a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union, and as such UKIP has lost its entire purpose.

David Cameron’s proposal is based on returning the European Union to its original purpose, namely completing a single market between co-operating nation states within a common free trade area which will operate to the benefit of British jobs and business.

This means getting rid of unnecessary and costly EU directives which penalise our entrepreneurial culture and harms our economic viability.

Such a credible policy stance has been forcefully and consistently advocated by our own MP, Nigel Evans, for a number of years. However, leaving the EU now, as advocated by UKIP, during a period of economic rebuilding would have a hugely damaging impact on British business with the potential loss of thousands of jobs in East Lancashire, particularly in the aerospace industry.

I believe it is incumbent on the “apparent” leadership of UKIP in the Ribble Valley – Steve Rush and Simon Kerrins – to publicly refute the appalling intolerant policies of their party.

If they do not do so, then I am sure any public pressure groups which they purport to represent will wish to consider whether they wish to be fronted by people who belong to a political party which seems to seek to quash democratic dissent.

Ged Mirfin (Conservative councillor)