By Mick Hall
I expected better from Ukip members in Thurrock than this, it reeks of the type of sleight of hand Blair and Cameron went in for. Yes the recently posted video about the new Ukip leader Paul Nuttall calling for the privatisation of the NHS was first made in 2011, but he wasn’t some spotty teenager then but a mature adult and an MEP. Are Ukip now saying he’s had a Damascus road conversion since then and rejects those comments and now supports a publicly funded NHS free of multinational corporations? If so great.
But when a man reaches maturity most have made up their minds about the important things in life. They don’t flip flop all over the pace. Tory councillor one week, Ukip champion of the working class the next, believing a publicly funded NHS is a throwback to the past and it needs privatising.
The sorry excuses put up by Thurrock Ukip supporters as to why Nuttall supports privatising the NHS were little short of surreal. They claimed Nuttall only wishes to privatise the NHS to gain cheaper drugs. This just doesn’t hold water because it’s the private pharmaceutical companies who are fleecing the NHS by overcharging for their drugs, the last thing it needs is more of these shysters getting their greedy snouts into the NHS money trough. As to their attempt to whitewash Nuttall’s homophobia, what next, I cannot be a racist because I have black friends, I thought such nonsense went south with the BNP.
Luke Spillman a leading light in Thurrock UKIP and in truth an amiable fellow, attempted to divert attention from his own party leader by playing fast and loose with Jeremy Corbyn’s reputation. Which was bound to hit a brick wall as like or loath Corbyn he is open and honest about what he stands for and has been since he first came into public office in the early 1980s. Unlike Nuttall who started out as a Tory councillor, hardly a champion of the working classes. Corbyn’s views have always been solid, he doesn’t say one thing and five years later deny what he meant in an attempt to crawl out from underneath a proverbial rock.
When Jeremy says he will protect workers wages he sets out how, by introducing a living wage of £10 per hour rising yearly and making it illegal for workers to be recruited by agencies overseas for less than this sum, plus by making it easier for people to join a trade union. As to the massive housing crisis Britain is facing, if elected PM his government will build one million new homes, 500 thousand of them will be council/housing association, and he will reduce and stabilize rents by regulating what private landlords can charge.
Does Thurrock Ukip disagree with these policies, local people have a right to know. They can cry immigrant, immigrant, all they like, but at least have the dignity to tell us how that will put bread on Thurrock tables. Even if all Ukip’s christmases came at once, and all non British workers were sent home; [along with the chaos this would cause in the Health Service and other sectors], without the changes Corbyn Labour advocates it would not protect British born workers from being exploited in low paid jobs. Yet UKIP have nothing to say about this. Indeed Paul Nuttall is arguing for more deregulation of business and the markets, including removing the legislation which currently protects workers from unscrupulous employers.
In his first interview after being elected Ukip leader Nuttall said he will concentrate on what matters to working class people, he then cited Immigration, Crime, Defense, and Foreign Aid, as the most important. Working class Tories might place these issues at the top of the list, but in my experience the most important issues which impact on working class lives are Education, A Lack of Good Jobs and Housing, High rents, Low Pay, Benefit Sanctions, NHS, Care for Elderly Parents, and Fuel Poverty, which incidentally according to the charity National Energy Action impacts detrimentally on 2.38 million British people. So much for the privatisation of the energy providers being a great Thatcherite success.
Paul Nuttall had not one word to say on any of these vitally important issues, nor does Thurrock Ukip, whenever they’re asked on social media about their actual policies they refuse to do so, preferring to divide us with jingoistic flag waving.
I have a message for Mr Nuttall, the working class of Thurrock are not an unthinking homogeneous lump of ignorance and want, we understand from our own history unity is strength and any attempt to divide us on racial or religious lines is to be abhorred. Yes many of us have concerns about the level of immigration, the more so when we have a Tory government implementing austerity cuts to healthcare, wages, benefits and social housing. But immigration is a complex issue and needs to be debated in a mature adult way, waving flags and “crying immigrants out now”is not only infantile it’s the road to disaster. If anyone doubts this I suggest they visit their local doctors surgery, or Basildon and Thurrock hospitals and asks where the health care workers come from.