Manchester politicians have hit back at UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s claims that UK parties are ‘indistinguishable’ and elections do not matter.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Farage said that there was little difference between the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats on key issues and that the country was becoming increasingly governed from Brussels.
"It no longer matters who sits in Number Ten.
"The penny is beginning to drop with the British people and British businesses that we are no longer a self-governing nation,” he said.
Liberal Democrat MP for Withington, John Leech responded to these claims by calling into question the relevance of UKIP on the country’s political scene.
He said: “It’s clear that Nigel Farage will say anything to try and keep his face in the news given UKIP are an irrelevant party.
“Most of what he is saying is nonsense.”
UKIP managed to secure a record number of votes in May’s local election.
The party, whose policies include breaking from the European Union and tougher immigration laws, came second in both Manchester boroughs of Baguley and Brooklands.
However Mr Leech did acknowledge that UKIP are receiving support from a wide variety of voters, and said: “It is true to say that people voting UKIP aren’t necessarily traditional Conservative voters.”
Mr Leech also partly agreed with Farage’s claim that the coalition government is ‘another brand of social democracy, virtually indistinguishable from Labour’.
He said: “Farage’s point about Labour is true, if Labour were in government they wouldn’t be doing anything different to the Coalition Government.
"It’s easy in opposition to say we would do things differently but I think it’s quite obvious they would be making the same tough decisions in government.”
Conservative Councillor for Worsley, City of Salford, Christopher Clarkson took a different view of Mr Farage’s comments on the similarities between Coalition government and Labour policies.
He said:“On a range of issues the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats vary widely, whether it be the issue of further integration, adoption of the Euro or the role of the European Courts in domestic law”.
Mr Farage also claimed in the BBC interview that a number of disillusioned Conservative MPs were choosing to defect to his party ‘at an increasing rate’.
Cllr Clarkson did not comment on this but said that he agreed with the UKIP view that Europe has too much control over domestic policy in the UK.
He also suggested that Mr Farage’s claims of diminishing political power in the UK should be backed with serious ideas for change in the country’s link with Europe.
“If Nigel Farage was serious about returning powers to the UK, he would present a serious plan to strenghen British sovereignty, rather than trot out tired soundbites and a series of promises he knows he will never have to deliver on,” he said.
The full interview with Nigel Farage will be broadcast on the BBC News channel on August 6.
For more information visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/default.stm