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FAMILIES in Rochester and Strood are more spooked by the prospect of an NHS sell-off than Nigel Farage’s immigration prophecies, a Halloween poll for Unite revealed yesterday.
A survey of more than 1,000 voters before the town’s November 20 by-election shows a majority rate quality health services as the most important.
Thirty-seven per cent said it was the most pressing issue compared with 25 per cent who are most concerned about immigration.
Ukip deputy leader Paul Nuttall has previously called for the NHS to be dismantled to allow for more competition.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “The future of our NHS is what really matters to voters and their families in Rochester and Strood and it’s going to be what really matters to voters at the next general election.”
The poll results were a challenge to assumptions about concerns in the constituency that Tory defector Mark Reckless is expected to capture for Ukip.
Under pressure from the Ukip insurgent, Tory Minister Michael Fallon this week warned some towns face being “swamped” with migrant workers from the EU without border reforms.
But Unite’s poll shows voters are more concerned with PM David Cameron standing up to the EU over the NHS — not immigration.
Three-quarters of voters want the NHS to be excluded from the EU-US trade deal that could allow companies to sue the government if they are prevented from snatching public-sector contracts.
And the same number say they want Mr Cameron to veto the whole trade deal if the NHS cannot be saved from privatisation.
Mr McCluskey said: “It’s the party that fights most for the NHS not the party that fights most against immigration that will win the next general election.”
Labour challenged Mr Cameron to hold Rochester yesterday after defeating Ukip in the South Yorkshire police and crime commissioner elections.
Speaking after claiming 50 per cent of the vote, a Labour source said: “Nigel Farage said he was putting his tanks on our lawn. We took Ukip on and won.
“Let’s see if Cameron can do the same in Rochester and Strood.”
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