LETTER: UKIP is not an intolerant political party

I WOULD like to take the opportunity to respond to Coun. Ged Mirfin’s “As I See It” article last week, entitled “Don’t be fooled by UKIP!”.

Intolerance, sensitivity and importance are, like beauty, very much in the eye of the beholder. Despite Coun. Mirfin’s assertion, views on gay marriage clearly are important as the subject has elicited such debate. Like many individuals of different political persuasions, UKIP supports equal rights for all, but opposes same-sex marriage on the grounds any law change could be incompatible with the teachings of many religions, faith groups and individual ministers.

These concerns are even acknowledged by members of UKIP’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group which, by its very existence, would appear to challenge accusations UKIP is the nasty, intolerant party of British politics.

It is not intolerant, homophobic or excessively nationalist to be opposed to same-sex marriage and concerned about excessive immigration. I am not afraid to state my opposition to gay marriage, but that does not make me a homophobe, no more than my concerns over immigration and the European Union render me a racist. Every political party has extreme wings and its fair share of mavericks; UKIP is no exception and some readers will doubtless call to mind the musings of one particular former member.

Like any intelligent person of sound mind, I am happy to publicly refute anything becoming of the correct definition of intolerance. I do so as chairman of UKIP Ribble Valley and, even more importantly, as an individual.

SIMON KERINS,

Chairman of UKIP Ribble Valley