Centre stage for ex-Tory Carswell

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Douglas Carswell will urge Ukip activists to break the Tory-Labour power “cartel” at the general election.

The former Conservative, who triggered and won a by-election in his Clacton-on-Sea seat, will set out his blueprint for political reform and reconnecting with voters.

Mr Carswell is the highest-profile speaker on the second day of the Ukip conference at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent.

Yesterday Nigel Farage lashed out at “vicious” smears about his health as he rallied Ukip activists for the election battle. The party leader said rumours had been spread that he was “seriously ill”, when he was really just campaigning in South Thanet.

But he insisted Ukip would make a positive pitch to the electorate rather than resorting to “repugnant” personal attacks like the Tories and Labour.

Dismissing a series of polls that have suggested the party’s support has slipped from its recent peaks, Mr Farage highlighted research by Survation that indicated he is on course to become MP for nearby South Thanet.

The survey, commissioned by Ukip donor Alan Bown, put him on 39%, well ahead of Labour rival Will Scobie on 28% when people were prompted with candidates’ names. Using a radio microphone so he could stalk the stage, and speaking apparently without notes, Mr Farage said he was “optimistic and bullish” about the result after May 7.

“We are on our way to winning this seat,” he said. “There has been lots of speculation about where I have been, why have I not been seen on the television all the time?

“Why have I not been out there like the others making an endless sea of promises which of course they never intend to keep? “It is said that I am seriously ill and that is why I haven’t been seen.

“Well, I hate to disappoint my opponents, but can I please tell everyone now, the rumours of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

Mr Farage said he had been in America to give another speech and heard more about the “pretty repugnant” negative campaigning there. He said the decisions by the Tories and Labour to hire US strategists had showed they were adopting such tactics.

Despite speakers at the conference having delivered a slew of jokes about awkward photos of Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich, Mr Farage said: “I’m no supporter of Ed Miliband in any way at all, but it seems to me the personal attacks that are being lumped on him and then in turn back on Cameron – and of course everybody attacking me, I’m used to that – it seems to me it is not the kind of politics that this country wants or needs.”

Meanwhile, Ukip’s other current MP, Mark Reckless, warned that the party would not grow unless it could shake off the taint of xenophobia and demonstrate it was the “party of the NHS”.

Mr Reckless, who won a by-election in Rochester and Strood after defecting from the Tories, said currently voters knew Ukip wanted to leave the EU and cut immigration, but the party must “talk about other things as well” and reassure people that it was not a threat to the NHS, in order to have wider appeal.

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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