In today’s YourElection15 hustings event, Labour candidate Patrick Canavan heavily criticised UKIP’s “entirely negative” political approach.
The Mid Dorset and North Poole seat is the most contentious in the county. Four of the constituency’s candidates spoke at the event, Lib Dem candidate Vikki Slade, Tory candidate Michael Tomlinson, Labour candidate Patrick Canavan and UKIP candidate Richard Turner. Green candidate Mark Chivers was not able to attend today’s event.
In a discussion on the rise of UKIP and their prospective influence on Westminster, Mr Canavan threw out any suggestion of a possible UKIP victory in May’s General Election.
He said: “Despite UKIP’s rise they’re not going to be anywhere near any kind of influence in Westminster, that’s just the reality of the statistics when you look at all of the opinion polls. They’re not going to win here and they’re not going to get many seats nationally.”
Mr Canavan stressed that Labour do not fear the apparent rise of UKIP: “We’re looking them straight in the eye, we’re not turning away from them, we’re not worried about them, we are saying that these are policies which are divisive and threatening, are trying to pick off the most vulnerable in our society and trying to target people who are immigrants and say they are to blame for everything.
“It’s just a policy and an approach which is entirely negative,” he added.
UKIP candidate Richard Turner hit back at Mr Canavan’s accusations of negativity: “We certainly don’t blame any groups for any problems, we blame politicians. We don’t blame any immigrants who have come into Britain who have got the absolute right to come and work and that’s fine.
“I’m a second generation immigrant, my wife’s an immigrant, my godfather’s an immigrant; most people who come to the country come for the right reasons, we accept that. What we say is that it has to be managed.”
Mr Turner went on to describe UKIP’s direction on immigration: “I think every party, including the Labour party, have said that net migration of 298,000 is too much. We can all say it’s too much but we’ve got to do something about it. The other parties are saying, let’s make life a bit more difficult for immigrants, let’s take away some of those benefits and all the rest of it, and we’re saying, no let’s just manage the situation properly and then it’s fair.
“Is it fair for the same people from Canada, India, Australia and Brazil as it is for people from Italy, Romania and Bulgaria? We have managed migration for the rest of the world, it’s just that there are 27 countries where we have said it’s totally open board. We believe that’s wrong.”
All of today’s coverage of the YourElection15 hustings event is available on our website.