Slagging Off Voters and Ignoring Their Genuine Concerns Will Only Bring More Votes Ukip's Way

11/06/2015 17:50 BST | Updated 11/06/2016 10:59 BST

"Never trust a man with a beard" goes the ridiculous and unfair stereotype. Still, it is one Jeremy Corbyn MP will be familiar with, so you might think he would have more sense than to resort to desperate attempts to pigeonhole people himself.

Apparently not. In an interview with Newsnight earlier this week, he suggested the 3.8million who voted Ukip at the General Election were "motivated by racism". It was as accurate an observation as his beard is duplicitous.

Still, even the best of us can slip into denial when our dreams are shattered and, being a hard-line left-winger of the CND flag-waving, "tax the rich to oblivion" and renationalise the railways type, finding himself ruled by a Tory majority must have been quite a blow for Corbyn. To see his party lose the election because Ukip split the Labour vote in some areas must have bewildered him.

Instead of entering into a sensible debate as to why Labour haemorrhaged votes to Ukip, Corbyn made the same mistake as David Cameron when he called Ukip voters "fruitcakes, loons and closet racists", and as Gordon Brown did when faced with Gillian Duffy's questions about immigration. Corbyn took the easy option and blamed the electorate for his party's failures. He trotted out his smear, moved on without any introspection, and got murmurs of approval from his equally blinkered Westminster luvvies, in this case interviewer Evan Davies, who failed to pick up on Corbyn's sweeping slur on a significant portion of the electorate.

If Corbyn really cared about the working class people Labour claims to represent, he would be flagging up the many problems caused by the fact our population is rising by over 300,000 every year because of immigration alone. He would be highlighting, as Ukip does, how this drives down wages; makes low-skilled jobs harder to find; forces capable workers to fall back on benefits; creates housing shortages which push up prices; lengthens GP and hospital waiting lists; and prevents children getting places at the school nearest to their home. It is blinkered, insulting and insane to say Ukip voters are racist because they care about these issues.

It is not racist to want to leave the anti-democratic, officious and financially incompetent European Union. It is not racist to want Britain to be a country that governs itself. It is not racist to want to control our borders as some 200 other countries do. It is not racist to want to take everyone on minimum wage out of tax; invest more money into the NHS; scrap levies on fuel bills; free small businesses from excess regulation, and so on. There is nothing racist at all about supporting a political party whose manifesto contains not a single racist policy.

What could be labelled "racist" is an immigration policy that discriminates against black and Asian people from India and Africa, by making them jump through hoops to get a passport to Britain, while offering an open door to mostly white Christians with blonde hair and blue eyes from the European Union. Yet this, as I understand it, is Labour's current immigration policy. Where is the outrage?

"Oh but look at your candidates!" our detractors will say. "They say the most terrible racist things!" It is true, a few have and I have been as dismayed and appalled as the next person and have welcomed their being thrown out of the party, because Ukip takes genuine racism seriously.

It is completely unacceptable, for instance, for councillors to call for action on anti-social behaviour by referring to Polish "piss artists" who go on 24-hour alcoholic binges around bonfires; refer to German-born politicians as 'mistresses of Hitler', or asylum seekers as 'scroungers'. It is wrong to allow party members who have previously been members of the BNP or those who have been convicted of racist abuse to stand for election, or to tell people they cannot stand because they are 'too white' or 'too Jewish,' for instance.

Yet none of the above are Ukip wrongdoings. They are all failings by Labour candidates or party officials. Do these incidents prove the Labour party is racist or that Labour voters are "motivated by racism"? Of course not. Frankly, I would believe Jeremy Corbyn is not to be trusted purely on account of his beard before I would believe that.

Still, he would make a good Labour leader, from Ukip's perspective. His slagging off the voters and ignoring their genuine concerns will only bring more votes our way. Best of luck to you Jeremy!

Suzanne Evans is the deputy chairman of Ukip, and authored the party's 2015 election manifesto