June 5th is polling day in Newark. This is my fifth election since 1999. My second in a fortnight. And my first Westminster election. I’m the UKIP candidate.
Opinion polls are still putting the Conservatives in the lead. I just can’t relate those numbers to our experience. We’ve done a huge amount of canvassing, and on that basis we’re at least level pegging! Maybe better. In fifteen years I’ve never seen the kind of enthusiasm we’re getting here — on the doorstep, in the street, in the shops and the pubs. It’s heartwarming.
Yesterday a colleague was walking in from the station (we’ve had hundreds of activists in town). He was confronted with an Agence France video reporter. “Can you help me?” said the journo. “I need to interview someone who’s not voting UKIP, but I can’t find anyone”. “Sorry” said my colleague, “but I’m afraid I’m UKIP’s Party Chairman”.
Of course the voters of Newark are worried by local issues. The A&E Department at Newark hospital (or lack of it). Flooding in Southwell. Problems with local schools and local transport infrastructure.
Of course some plan to vote UKIP because they’re fed up with the legacy parties. But many simply agree with UKIP policies. On managed immigration (not “Pulling up the drawbridge”, as Nick Clegg puts it). On energy prices and wind turbines. On grammar schools. On foreign aid. On not being governed by foreign institutions in Brussels — and paying £55 million a day for the privilege.
And they’re not taken in by Labour’s lies. We’re not going to privatise Newark hospital. Or charge £200 (or anything at all) for GP visits. Or scrap paid holidays or maternity leave. The voters are smart enough to see through this malicious propaganda — and they’ve got the measure of the relentless press onslaught against our party in recent weeks.
I can’t tell you we’re going to win on Thursday. That’s up to the voters. But I’d say the odds are fifty-fifty. Maybe better. We’re coming up fast on the rails.