Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Coalfield Challenge

There is a myth that some areas are out of bounds to Conservative campaigners. A council estate is assumed to be a Labour stronghold and a leafy suburb assumed to be Conservative. While this is the stereotype it doesn't have to be true.  In ConservativeHome today Mark Wallace hit a nail so squarely on the head it hammered home in a single blow. Go back to the Coalfields. I live in Leigh which was home to two large collieries until 1992 and there were more, lots more, in the outlying areas. I've campaigned in Leigh for the Conservative Party for years (more about that later) and one thing that gets repeated time and time again on the doorstep is how Thatcher closed all the mines. The truth is that there were two mines at the beginning of Margaret Thatcher's tenure and there were still two at the end of it. The picture is of me at Astley Colliery near Leigh. Even here while out canvassing an angry resident yelled at full volume about the 1000's of miners who worked there until Thatcher closed it. The truth, the mine closed in 1970 on the orders of Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. This is an uncomfortable truth for many in Leigh where, to some, voting Labour is part of the DNA but this is no reason to concede defeat. At its lowest point the local vote in the heart of Leigh barely got into double figures. After just a few years of targeted campaigning this has risen to almost 35%. In neighbouring wards the success of hard campaigning is clearer where Conservatives have been successfully elected. The lesson is, it can be done. Mark Wallace's analysis is correct but I've found it takes a special kind of Get Out The Vote in the coalfields. In communities like Leigh it isn't enough to have a campaign of voter ID, GOTV and knock up. There is an added dimension of overcoming the WSIBTAW (Why Should I Bother They Always Win).  There are more Conservatives in these areas than you might imagine but you really have to earn their vote. This cohort has a tipping point which, if past, brings the votes in. This is evident in areas just outside Leigh where the tipping point has been tipped but Leigh's core still has someway to go, but it can be reached.

Monday, 11 May 2015

All UKIP Roads Lead to Nigel

Following the recent resignation and subsequent unresignation of Nigel Farage, UKIP can no longer claim it is not a one person party. It is all about Nigel Farage.
 
Before the General Election Nigel Farage announced he would stand down as leader of UKIP if he lost South Thanet.  To his partial credit this is what he did very publicly soon after the election result. Even then he left some wriggle room by announcing he may put himself forward as a candidate. This alone was not an honourable course of action no matter how much he tried to exaggerate that part of his speech where he confirmed he was a man of his word. What followed was nothing more than a fudge to reinstall Nigel Farage as leader come what may. The practical reasons for this are clear. Since his announcement that he'll resign as leader the party membership must have been seriously concerned that this would spell the end of their party and Nigel, too, must have realised this very quickly. The news breaking today that the UKIP NEC "did not accept his resignation" shows very clearly that this has been a well rehearsed route to keep Nigel Farage as leader. The claim by the UKIP NEC that there was "overwhelming evidence that members did not want Nigel to go" maybe true but that does not make them relevant. The UKIP constitution (Link to The UKIP Constitution)  has no power to refuse a resignation. Farage has the right to resign and and only he has the right to rescind. Indeed it gives very clear steps on how to hold a leadership contest after a leader resigns. An extract of the relevant piece reads;

7.7          A Party Leader shall communicate his decision to resign in writing to the Party Chairman, who must then summon an emergency meeting of the NEC within 28 days.

7.8          If there is only one valid nomination for the post of Party Leader the candidate so nominated shall be declared elected as Party Leader without the need for a ballot. Any contested election for the leadership shall be decided by a simple majority of the votes cast. Those eligible to vote shall be members “in good standing” of the Party on the date when the election is called, subject always to the restrictions on voting set out in the final paragraph of Article 4.1.2 above.

7.9          When a vacancy in the leadership occurs due to the Party Leader's death, incapacity, resignation or removal following a vote of no confidence, the procedure for a leadership election shall be initiated by the Party Secretary. 

 To repeat, the UKIP constitution gives no power to the UKIP National Executive Committee to refuse a resignation. The decision to carry on as leader is Farage's and his alone. As if in ancient times all UKIP roads lead to Nigel.


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Work Hard at School, Then Bail Out the EU



I brought my children up to work hard at school and make something of their life. They did, I'm a very proud Dad. I passed on the same mantra my Edwardian Grandmother passed on to me "If you don't do well at school you'll amount to nothing". Except as time marched on this mantra has become diluted. These days to say such a thing is just a pack of lies. If you did well at school you could go on to get gainful employment and get on in life. If you clowned around, bullied others, were downright disruptive and left school with no qualifications there are a plethora of tax payer funded agencies, benefits and organisations to give you the chance in life you threw away while you were at school. In other words the tax payer pays twice. Being able to get way more than the average wage in benefits makes a tax payer funded life on welfare a lifestyle choice. The tax payer keeps on paying. In this scenario "The tax payer" could be the one who tried hard at school and went straight on to further education and get gainful employment. Slowly this is changing, it ought to be austere on benefits. There needs to be a revived truth in what our forebears drummed into us. As Will Smith once said you need "to be scared of being broke". With the benefits cap, housing benefit reforms and universal credit making work pay this neglected truth is making a comeback, i.e. those who make the decision to buckle down and work hard at school will be far better off than those who choose not to bother and expect bail outs as adults. There are extraordinary parallels with the furore over the EU surcharge. During the economic meltdown, made all the worse in the UK by Labour's Great Recession, the UK buckled down, made the decision to work hard to get ourselves out of the slump. Workers took reduced shifts, shorter hours and exercised pay restraint so the jobs were still there when the recession ended. The Government took tough decisions on public spending, made unpopular choices, even had to go into coalition with the Lib Dems, things were that bad. You can go further back and recall how we opted out of the Euro and opposed fiscal and monetary union opting instead to run our own financial affairs. The result; we are Europe's fastest growing economy, we're not in recession, employment at record levels, unemployment, even youth unemployment, is way down. Our European counterparts failed to take these tough decisions, shunned austerity, shackled together by the Euro. The reward for their fiscal cowardice is to be given a rebate on their EU contributions. The UK has made great sacrifices to get the economy back on track and our reward is to be slapped with a bill for the thick end of 2billion quid. The figure needs to be revised, and revised down to a bill of £0.00. After all, the EU already benefits from the buoyant UK economy. Being in growth we import EU many more goods, the EU can trade with record numbers of new businesses in the UK. Pan-European companies based in the EU rely on their UK branches to prop up their balance sheets, global companies operating in Europe rely on the buoyant UK economy to remain in Europe at all. The short sighted EU commissioners look no further than a cash handout and fail to understand that the UK's mere presence is worth more than the £1.7bn they are convinced they deserve. Will we pay this £1.7bn, as the great lady once said NO, NO, NO.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

After 2 years, Douglas Gives Me The Answer

On 8th October 2012 I asked Douglas Carswell with his almost defamatory views, when will you be joining UKIP? Seems the answer is 28th August 2014. I could be smug but anyone into politics would have seen this coming from a mile away.

I'm very pleased to say that I have always opposed and challenged his brand of disloyalty and offbeat form of back bench barracking. When he was being particularly pointed and asked him why he was being so cruel his answer was "I'm holding the Government to account" (it's somewhere on twitter if you want to search for it). He's lost the plot, that's obvious and when I'm down in Clacton with RoadTrip2015 I expect to see him washing his dirty linen in the town centre. The very sad thing about all this is the disloyalty. I had the great honour of being asked to speak Margaret Thatchers Birthday Commemoration in Grantham, a year after her passing. The speech was to a room full of Conservatives but also a number of UKIPers, many of which were former Tories, just like Douglas. None of them had the right to claim Margaret Thatcher as their own. She was loyal to the end,the very end. UKIP was formed in 1993, Mrs Thatcher died in 2013. She had 20 years to join UKIP and never did, even after being brought down by her own she was a true Conservative. She knew the meaning of loyalty, the party being bigger than any member and nailing your colours to the mast. To Douglas and his ilk, loyalty means nothing and he'll just wither in Margaret's long shadow.

Monday, 11 August 2014

UKIP - One Up on the Sex Pistols

There are few figures in living memory that evoke such hatred, such loathing and such emotional response as Adolf Hitler. He can be scorned, mocked and pilloried but never, NEVER, be held in any esteem for any reason at any time. This fact seems to be lost on UKIP after Bill Etheridge lauded the speaking skills and oratory of Hitler to the their youth wing. Nigel Farage himself has been uncharacteristically silent on the matter but the general consensus of the rank and file of UKIP is that Bill Etheridge is right, Hitler should be admired for his oratory. Despite uproar from all quarters UKIP are defiantly supportive of their MEP with one supporter tweeting  "I don't get this...it is an absolute well known fact that Hitler was a brilliant orator!!! Probably the best ever...". Personally I place Winston Churchill as the best orator ever and UKIP need to be made to get that. Placing Hitler in any positive light is leaped upon by the most unsavoury of our society and UKIP need to get that. Even now the sheer terror of the Nazi regime has not dimmed in the national consciousness. The Channel 4 antiques show, 4 rooms, featured a bust of Hitler (Rather lose £39,000 than see Hitler Celebrated). Dealer, Andrew Lamberty, bought the piece when all others refused with the sole intention of keeping it away from Hitler idolaters. He could've made a mint but gave it to Yad Vashem. A few years earlier, The Sex Pistols first appearance on TV almost never happened. A swastika armband was being worn by their assistant, Jordan. Sydney Berstein, the head of Granada Television issued an ultimatum, cover up the swastika or the show gets pulled. Despite pleas of 'context' and 'just a fashion statement' Sex Pistols relented and the show went on. They got it, UKIP needs to get it too but to solve a problem you first have to admit there's a problem.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Jaw Jaw, not War War

The Year is 1914, exactly 100 years ago.
A tragedy struck a part of Europe where separatist fighters had been conducting a military campaign for independence. The separatist fighters were backed by a powerful Eastern European country. When they murdered in a high profile and very public incident Western Powers looked to that Eastern European Country for a smoking gun. They found it and a chain of events started which ended in World War.

The Year is 2014, exactly 100 years on.
A tragedy struck a part of Europe where separatist fighters had been conducting a military campaign for independence. The separatist fighters were backed by a powerful Eastern European country. When they murdered in a high profile and very public incident Western Powers looked to that Eastern European Country for a smoking gun. They found it and a chain of events started which ended in ...

For the sake of peace remember Winston Churchill. Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war

Friday, 11 July 2014

Right to Strike - Yes (but we want our say)

It must be every workers fundamental right to withdraw their labour in protest without fear of sanction. An employer who flouts this right must be brought to task. This is a right we have earned as a civilised society but with every right there is a great responsibility. Just as a employers should not be allowed to interfere with the right to strike so the employees should not be allowed to hold the country to ransom merely over the threat of strike action. This is nothing new and, indeed, nothing Tory. As long ago as 1969 Barbara Castle published the White Paper "In Place of Strife" which proposed major Government intervention on Union activity and strikes. In 1979, the Labour Prime Minister considered declaring a state of Emergency to bring the Union Barons to heel. Spineless as ever the Labour Government stopped short of rattling their paymaster's cage allowing the country to go bankrupt ushering in the IMF humiliation. Even after much needed reforms the recent public sector strike was able to go ahead on the basis of a voter turnout of 1 in 4. The Union Barons compare this to General Elections, Mayoral elections, etc. where we would all love a greater turnout. Fine, if the Union bosses want parity then so be it. General, Local, PCC and Mayoral Election candidates are voted on by those who are affected by the result of the election. If the public sector want to strike then let the ballot not just be for Union members, not even just for all employees regardless of union membership but extended to all those affected by the strike. The parents of the children who won't be taught, the households whose bins won't be collected and the bereaved whose loved ones won't be buried should all have a right to have a say. With great power comes great responsibility so either have a strike called by a majority of members or let's have a universal franchise. If, as the Unions insist, the strikes enjoy public support then they should fully support this.