Belfast Telegraph

By next week, the political landscape of this country will have changed forever

By Henry Reilly

For millions, this week started like any other with the morning commute, the school run and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But by next week, the political landscape of this country will have changed forever.

As this year’s election campaign draws to a close, it has been a pleasure to meet with thousands of decent folk across Northern Ireland, who took the time to tell me of their hopes and share their concerns. Like me, they see a ‘do nothing’ political class addicted to the perks of office. They see too, a self-serving political elite sitting in Europe, at Westminster, inside the regional parliaments and assemblies, and in local councils… many of whom have never done a hard day’s graft in their lives.

When they see the proposed John Lewis development at Sprucefield, they believe it incredulous how the Northern Ireland Executive can turn its back on 1,500 high quality jobs. They look around and see big business, big campaign groups and big landowners benefiting from big wind turbines… as energy users are hammered with big energy bills to pay for it all. They’re sick, sore and tired that their hard work is funding the celebrity lifestyle of bungling Brussels bureaucrats. And they are understandably angry, when there are resources to fund translation services for non-nationals and health tourists, but insufficient staff to resource our emergency departments.

Such concerns are very real and very valid – they are shared by many. They transcend the age-old barriers of class, religion and community background. Other parties sometimes talk about delivering classless politics, free of sectarianism. But as a non-sectarian, pro-Union, national party with almost 40,000 members, UKIP is the only party capable of delivering.

Right now, we’re doing rather well across Northern Ireland. We’re on a roll. We’re setting the political agenda on issues as diverse as immigration and how best to alleviate fuel poverty. During the next week, UKIP will stun the political establishment not just in Brussels and in Westminster, but at Stormont and in local councils across Northern Ireland too.

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