UKIP has said Labour’s “one party state” in the North has to share the blame for Rotherham’s child abuse scandal.
Party leader Nigel Farage told delegates gathered in Doncaster that the Labour party was guilty of looking the other way while young girls were abused.
He said: “What we have seen in Rotherham in particular, in the one party state of Labour, as a direct result of their national policies, is child abuse that has taken place on a scale that is difficult for decent people to even comprehend.”
The Labour party has accused Ukip of trying to politicise the abuse scandal, a claim Mr Farage defended against yesterday.
“If this is not a political issue what is,” he said.
Mr Farage said said he would finalise a Northern election strategy almost immediately after the Clacton by-election result.
The Ukip leader used a party speech in Doncaster to “signal to the world we are parking our tanks on the Labour party lawn” ahead of the 2015 General Election.
Mr Farage said Ukip was now the party of opposition in large parts of the North.
He was joined by former Conservative MP Douglas Carswell, whose defection to Ukip has prompted the October 9 by-election, a date Mr Farage said would be the start of his election planning for the North.
“Here in the North of England, many of our target seats will be those held by Labour MPs,” Mr Farage said.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, he said: “As far as our strategy in the North goes, everything hangs on the by-election result. Let us see what happens there and what we can do next. A lot is resting on that. A lot.
“There are going to be key seats, Rotherham is a key seat, Grimbsy is a key seat. These are not just key regional seats for us, they are national targets, they are two in our top ten seats.
“We are the second party already in large parts of the North, we are in Sheffield I’m pretty sure.
“The trouble is the gap is quite big, but we look for the places we can overturn.”
Mr Farage went on to rubbish Labour efforts to refocus the party on the immigration debate.
At the Labour party conference last week Barnsley MP Michael Dugher said the party had to reclaim immigration and prove to voters their concerns were understood.
“That is just too late,” Mr Farage said. “The horse has bolted, no one trusts Labour anymore on immigration.”
In a conference speech to around 2,000 delegates, Mr Farage accused the three main party leaders of making false promises during the Scottish referendum campaign, adding that they were “not made in my name”.
The “devolution genie is out of the bottle” and only English MPs must now be allowed to vote on English laws, he added.
“I know that Mr Cameron did, in the aftermath of the referendum, promise that he would deliver for England but I have heard Mr Cameron make promises on England and on Europe and on many other things before and we must hold his feet to the fire because we must fight that election next year, absolutely insisting that, whilst we believe in a United Kingdom and whilst we are the only UK political party with elected representation in all four corners of the kingdom, we believe that English MPs only must vote on English laws and that has to come to pass.”
Mr Farage joked about nearly forgetting the deficit as he said leaving the EU would save £10 billion a year.
He said: “That’s just on the membership fee let alone the opportunity costs that we will have from being able to now embrace the world, to make trade relationships with people who speak our language and who have common law, the benefits of taking back our fisheries, but most of all the benefits of removing the excessive regulation.”
The 34-minute speech, which was delivered by Mr Farage with no notes, won a rousing reception from delegates gathered at Doncaster Racecourse.