UKIP on the rise in Wales – how can we fight back?

Nigel Farage's party may win up to 10 seats in the Welsh Assembly

 

HOPE not hate launched its Welsh Assembly campaign against UKIP last week.

We began with a hard-hitting ad van that toured the South Wales valleys and by the end of the week 125 volunteers had hit the nation’s streets, organising leafleting actions, flash mobs and voter registration drives across the country.

Polls suggest UKIP will win up to 10 seats in in the Welsh Assembly next month, taking advantage of the regional vote system.

Candidates angling for seats include the disgraced former ‘cash-for-questions’ Tory politician Neil Hamilton (who suggested he might buy a mobile home in Wales if he wins); ex-Right-wing Tory Mark Reckless (standing in a region where Thatcherism is despised); and Gareth Bennett, who remains top of the UKIP list for South Wales Central, despite a bizarre attack on Cardiff’s ethnic minorities in March, blaming them for rubbish on the streets.

Ad van Cardiff smaller 1The General Election last year saw UKIP billboards begin to spring up for the first time in Wales.

The party’s tactics were divisive. The Swansea candidate published a leaflet with the words: ‘Islamic terror, abuse of our children, the consequences of multiculturalism…UKIP candidate condemns diversity.’

Their candidate in Merthyr Tydfil was caught on camera telling Welsh shoppers that the Polish shop down the road would not serve them. Both have been re-selected as candidates this year.

Voters get two votes in the Welsh Assembly: the first is for a constituency candidate; the second is for a party, held under proportional representation (PR).

It is the second vote that will benefit UKIP, and it is the candidates above who are hoping to take advantage of PR. Because of PR, we know we can’t prevent UKIP getting people elected to the Welsh Assembly.

What we can do, though, is to make it as hard as possible for them to do so: by educating and mobilising communities to understand the divisive truth behind UKIP’s message.

Over the next four weeks we will be out campaigning in every corner of the fantastic Welsh nation, distributing over 500,000 leaflets and postcards. Many more people will be engaged through social media.

We will do what we can to limit the success of UKIP in Wales, and we will continue after this campaign to challenge the party’s divisive message.

Tom Godwin is Welsh organiser for HOPE not hate @HNHWales

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