Having a strict immigration policy is not a sign of intolerance, according to the UKIP candidate for Harrow East.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Stanmore Politics before the general and local elections this Thursday, Abhijit Pandya emphasised that critics have no basis for calling UKIP intolerant.
“A strict immigration policy in fact can ensure social cohesion and preserve toleration,” he said.
Pandya, a tutor of international law at LSE who grew up in the Harrow area, added he supported a strict cap on immigration.
“People must have secured employment to come into the UK, or they will be a burden on social security.”
However, as the son of immigrants, he agreed there have been ‘huge benefits’ to immigration in Britain, mentioning ‘hard-working decent people seeking to assimilate and participate in Britain.”
“Immigrants contribute to all areas of national life, have contributed to the armed services and the post second world war economic recovery.”
Following on from the furore of a hustings event last week, he said there were huge differences between UKIP and the BNP.
“The fundamentals of our understanding of Britishness is not based on ethnicity but on common shared values of liberalism, toleration and democracy,” he said.
The former Conservative campaigner said UKIP could offer a clear position on Europe which was not anti-European ‘in a derogatory or prejudiced way’.
He said he wanted to make people aware ‘that we are not a one issue party’ and called for more vocational training for children and an economic revival for small and large businesses.
“I also want a Harrow that is free of property related crime, like burglary and thefts,” he said. “This is by ensuring that police are not burdened with administrative difficulties.
Pandya went on to describe a 50 per cent tax as ‘simply nationalised theft’ and called for a Royal Commission on climate change ‘to ensure Government spending in that area is used honestly’.
“We should not have the inordinate overseas aid budget that the Conservatives and Labour have signed up to in a time of economic crisis,” he said.
He said that politicians put too much emphasis on soundbites trying to please the public, rather than facing difficult arguments.
“Politics has become far too simplistic in its image, whereas the process of Government is ever more complex,” he said. “This leads to a misleading of the public’s expectations.”
Acknowledging UKIP face an uphill challenge, having polled just 757 votes in Harrow East in 2005, he said if he did lose he wanted the party to grow in Harrow ‘by listening to the real concerns of people from all areas of society.’
Still not decided who you’re going to vote for? Read the Stanmore Politics interview with incumbent Labour MP, Tony McNulty, here.