UKIP launched its election campaign in the North East today (Thur) – and threw down the gauntlet to Labour.
Speaking at the event in Gateshead local MEP Jonathan Arnott said, “The Labour Party has dominated North East politics for decades. But today, standing in every constituency, we take our message of hope into the Labour heartlands that they’ve taken for granted.”
Mr Arnott spoke of the growth of the party in the North East, taking just 2.7% of the vote in 2010 to last year when they took almost 25% where UKIP stood in council elections and 29% at the European elections.
“We are a vibrant, dynamic Party looking to shape the future of politics in the North East. Today we launch a General Election campaign – and you can say what you like about it. Some people will welcome us with open arms, and others will hurl accusations and lies. But no-one can deny what happened five years ago, and ignore us. Across the country the biggest political story of the last few years has been the rise of UKIP.
“The local newspapers have surveyed thousands of people, putting together their people’s North East Manifesto – and it reads just like a UKIP Manifesto. What local people stand for, we in UKIP stand for. From raising the tax threshold so that no-one pays any Income Tax on the minimum wage, to ending the current free-for-all on immigration and introducing an Australian-style points system instead.
“From giving our NHS the funding to do the job, to dualling the A1 to give business the connections it needs. From saving the £55 million a day we send to the European Union to cutting our foreign aid bill.
“These are the policies that local people are desperately crying out for. In UKIP you might find some right-wing policies. You might find some left-wing policies. But what we stand for is actually firmly at the core of what people believe.
“We’re not here to make up the numbers. We’re not a Party that shies away from tough fights, or from saying what needs to be said. We’re a party of real people not stage management.
“And we have a tough fight here in the North East. Not against the Liberal Democrats, whose support has collapsed, or against the irrelevant Conservatives. But at this election we shape the battleground for the years to come.
“Because we believe in the power of the people. Because we believe in the future of the North East. And because we believe in Britain,” he said.
Also at the launch at the Marriott Hotel in the Metrocentre were many of UKIP’s 29 parliamentary candidates for the region including Phillip Broughton, who is standing in the hotly contested Hartlepool seat.