Ukip sets sights on European election wins in Yorkshire and beyond
Strong result in north-east on 22 May would suggest Ukip has really branched out from its heartland.
Strolling down the central shopping precinct in Keighley on a sunny afternoon this week, two brothers stopped to promise the UK Independence party their votes. “No one else is ever getting mine now,” said former Liberal Democrat supporter Brian Nicholson, 69, as his brother David, 70, previously a Tory, nodded in vigorous approval. “They’re the only ones who say what people on the streets are actually thinking,” said Brian. Which is? “That there are too many immigrants.”
The fact they had just pledged allegiance to a man born in Pakistan did not strike them as at all ironic. “He’s behaving the same way we are,” said David.
He glanced over at Amjad Bashir, second on Ukip’s list in Yorkshire for the European elections, as he sought support outside BHS in a light suit and striped tie. “He’s wearing the same thing we are – not those pyjamas. That sort of thing makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like the burqa either.”
If all goes according to plan for Ukip next Thursday, Bashir, 61 – known as Peter to British colleagues in the restaurant trade – will soon take up a seat in the European parliament. That is despite him finding himself embroiled in a controversy over employing illegal immigrants at one of his family’s curry houses.
Assuming Yorkshire’s Eurosceptic voters are not put off by the revelation that his sons’ Zouk restaurant in Manchester was fined last year after four “immigration offenders” with fake papers were found on the payroll, Bashir could well be one of six Ukip MEPs representing Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. The party officially has no MEPs in the region, but only because it kicked out Godfrey Bloom last year following the “bongo bongo land” race row. (Independent since his ejection, Bloom is not seeking re-election.)
A strong result in Yorkshire would suggest Ukip had really branched out from its heartland. “If they get three MEPs in Yorkshire, it probably means they will have come top of the poll across the country,” said Anthony Wells, a polling expert from YouGov. He thinks Ukip will also win two or even three seats in the north-west and one in the north-east.
“Winning big in the north will have a big significance, and I’ll tell you why,” said Bashir over a cheese and tomato toastie in Keighley. “We’ve been accused of being a fringe party of the Conservatives and of being very successful in the south as opposed to the north. We’ve had a presence in the north: one MEP in Yorkshire, one in the north-west [deputy leader Paul Nuttall], none in the north-east. But we’ve been stronger further south.”
- The Guardian,