With polling day in the Rochester and Strood constituency almost upon us, it might have been thought that Tory defector Mark Reckless, now aligned with Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP, could keep foot out of mouth for another 24 hours, just to make sure he gets over the win line. But that thought would have been misplaced.
Because, last night, Mr Thirsty’s latest Parliamentary recruit took part in an ITV hustings where he planted foot firmly in North and South on the subject where the Kippers should be safest – immigration. Reckless “had indicated EU migrants who had lived in the UK for a long time would be looked at sympathetically but others might only be allowed to stay for a transitional period”.
This did not get him off to a winning start: “His remarks were challenged by the Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan, who is the daughter of immigrants. ‘Where would you stop Mark? My family are migrants, are we going to say they need to go back as well?’ she said”. Even the Mail had to admit that Reckless’ “remarks were met with jeers”. And then his party leader disowned him.
Farage “insisted UKIP respected the rule of law and British justice. And he downplayed the comments as a ‘minor cause for confusion’”. Reckless then had another go: “Anyone's who's here legally, under the current EU arrangements, we would want to ensure that they remained legally by issuing a work permit to anyone who was in that category already in the country. For new people coming in we'd apply a points-based system”. Yeah, right.
Anyone from another EU member state already has a work permit – it’s called a passport. In other words, the country from which they have migrated has picked up the tab for the paperwork. In UKIP’s brave new world, we would have to pay for the bureaucracy – so we wouldn’t save money by leaving the EU.
But is it too late for anyone else to gain at the Kippers’ expense? Doubtful – all those postal votes have been submitted long ago, and many who want to cast a protest vote will do so, whatever last minute shambles Reckless creates for himself. But the impression has been given that he was talking repatriation, and both Tories and Labour will kick the Farage fringe hard for that.
Just as with the supposed move to ditch the party’s economics spokesman Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn, because he’s thinking of ways to make the sums add up, as they certainly don’t at present, it’s clear that UKIP is a one-man crusade. Whoever has Mr Thirsty’s ear – or perhaps that should be bar tab – is effectively calling the shots. Otherwise the whole thing is made up as it shambles along.
Will UKIP get to the General Election in one piece? It’s not looking good.