Paul Bullen and Steve Tierney – the Political Outlook for Cambridgeshire

foxy08:20 Thursday 29th May 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The elections may be over, but the fallout from the results is only just beginning it appears. UKIP of course grabbed most of the headlines, and their rise has been particularly strong in Cambridgeshire. In fact Fenland saw the fifth biggest percentage of people voting for UKIP in the UK, and their vote share has, well, rocketed from just 5% in 2011 to a whopping 47% in this year’s Euro elections. So could that mean the area that’s traditionally True Blue is going to turn purple? I’m joined now on the line by Paul Bullen, who’s Leader of UKIP at Cambridgeshire County Council. Hello Paul.
PAUL BULLEN: Good morning.
CHRIS MANN: Still celebrating?
PAUL BULLEN: Ah. I think the celebrations are finished now. It’s down to hard work and planning for the elections next year.
CHRIS MANN: Also with us is Steve Tierney, the Chairman of Wisbech Conservatives. How have you got through the last few days?
STEVE TIERNEY: Very well thank you. Yes. (LAUGHS)
CHRIS MANN: Not feeling down in the dumps, the way that you’ve been dumped at the ballor box by the voters of Cambridgeshire?
STEVE TIERNEY: Well, you know, the election was disappointing, and obviously we would have liked to have done better. But you look at these things and decide what to do about them and you move on.
CHRIS MANN: So Paul Bullen, what are UKIP going to change in Cambridgeshire, realistically?

PAUL BULLEN: Well everything. The main thing, the main reason in my opinion that the voters voted unanimously for UKIP on a huge percentage was that we actually listen to them and do want they want. We are the voice of the people. We are not in our ivory towers, telling the people what they have to do. There are major concerns, certainly immigration, certainly in Fenland. But there are other concerns. It would appear that the current politicians have lost completely ..
CHRIS MANN: So what are the issues in Fenland that won you the 47% then?
PAUL BULLEN: I think one of the biggest issues in Fenland is deprivation nd immigration. The local people are seeing people from Eastern Europe coming in, undercutting them on wages and taking their jobs. I had a phone call from a builder only Thursday. He turned up at a building site in Wisbech, he’s a carpenter, to be told he no longer had a job because an Eastern European would do the same job, and he has the same skills, but for less wages.
CHRIS MANN: So how can you change that now?
PAUL BULLEN: We can change that by pulling out of Europe.
CHRIS MANN: Well that’s going to make that builder go away, and give him a job is it, practically? And how do you get out of Europe?
PAUL BULLEN: Getting out of Europe, the way to do so is already there. We either have a referendum, which we would do if elected to government next year. Or we make it a manifesto promise that we pull out of Europe as part of that manifesto.
CHRIS MANN: Steve Tierney, how are you going to meet the problem that you have of UKIP? What are you going to do to counter this?
STEVE TIERNEY: I don’t think it’s so much about countering it. We don’t want to react to other parties. What we need to do is to tell voters what positive things we’re going to do, if we’re elected, rather than reacting to UKIP or to any of the other parties. The main thing to do is ..
CHRIS MANN: So you’re not going to react to them. You’re not going to change because of this huge UKIP vote. Are you sticking your head in the sand?
STEVE TIERNEY: Well we change all the time. It’s not .. you know, UKIP did very well, and I congratulate them on that. But what we .. we don’t want to be sort of reacting to other parties, because ..
CHRIS MANN: Why not?
STEVE TIERNEY: Well because …
CHRIS MANN: Aren’t you reacting to the voters? That’s what they’ve said. They’ve spoken.
STEVE TIERNEY: We absolutely do want to react to the voters. Exactly. And not to the other parties. We want to say to them that we understand that you’ve got your ..
CHRIS MANN: Sorry I’m a bit confused there Steve. 47% of people voted for UKIP and you say you’re not reacting to UKIP but you’re reacting to the voters. But that’s the same thing, isn’t it? Because almost half of them have gone UKIP.
STEVE TIERNEY: Yes. No I don’t think it was quite the same thing. Because if you’re reacting to other parties, then you’re constantly in this reactive mode. And what is much better is to listen to what people are saying to you, not what the other parties are saying to you.
CHRIS MANN: Aren’t people actually saying they’re tired of this kind of talk that you’re giving us right now? They want change and they want it now.
STEVE TIERNEY: Yes, people are absolutely saying they want us to go and have a look at what we do. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. But we want to be positive about it. We want to say, well, OK, absolutely, you’ve said to us that you want us to go and look atthings again and come back to you. And some of the issues Paul raises are correct. They are things that people are concerned about.
CHRIS MANN: So you weren’t reacting to UKIP then?
STEVE TIERNEY: We’re reacting to polices that they’re giving.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Do you think Steve Barclay local MP for North East Cambridgeshire, which covers much of Fenland, that he could lose his seat at the General Election in a year’s time?
STEVE TIERNEY: Well any politician could lose their seat. But Steve Barclay is very well respected, a really hard working MP. And even people who aren’t Conservatives look at Steve Barclay and ay that he’s a good MP. So I’d like to think that he’ll be OK, but you’ve always got to work hard and show people that you’re the right candidate, haven’t you?
CHRIS MANN: Speculation in the papers today Paul Bullen that Andrew Lansley is tipped for a top Brussels job and maybe resigning in South Cambs. Is that one that UKIP would target?
PAUL BULLEN: They certainly would. It’s another “jobs for the boys” in Brussels, isn’t it? Another waste of tax payers’ money, and the sooner we get out the better.
CHRIS MANN: Would you be able to make progress in the part of Cambridgeshire where you haven’t fought before? You shied away from doing it in the elections last week, didn’t you?
PAUL BULLEN: We didn’t have as many candidates as we would have liked. But we’re at the point now where our popularity is growing quicker than we can grow, in a certain extent. But we’re getting more members every day. We’re getting more people volunteering to be candidates. And yes we will certainly contest that seat if it comes up.
CHRIS MANN: An interesting point put to me by one of our callers this morning is you’re all about pulling out of Europe. So if we do pull out of Europe, do you disband UKIP?
PAUL BULLEN: I don’t think so. Not at all.
CHRIS MANN: It’s like the Scottish National Party after say Scotland got independence. What’s the point.
PAUL BULLEN: Well Scotland’s another point. The Scottish National Party is fighting as far as they can see it for the people of Scotland and they’re perfectly entitled to do so. UKIP initially yes, we were just about getting out of Europe. But we’ve become a very credible party now. You look at it. We came first in a national election. We’re fit for government. We’re ready for government. And we will govern.
CHRIS MANN: Ready for government! That’s a bold boast isn’t it? That’s a big step up.
PAUL BULLEN: It’s a huge step up for a party that’s only twenty years old. But what we have achieved in the last twelve, twenty four months has not been achieved by any other political party for over one hundred years.
CHRIS MANN: Just to remind you, you don’t actually have a seat at Westminster Paul ..
CHRIS MANN: .. so forming a Government slightly problematic.
PAUL BULLEN: We need those seats, and I’m sure we will have our first seat in May next year.
CHRIS MANN: OK Paul Bullen. Thank you so muh for joining us. UKIP Leader at Cambridgeshire County Council. Also with us there, Steve Tierney, Chairman of the Wisbech Conservatives.