Posts Tagged 'UKIP'

UKIP: Where is that surge?

After the European Elections we saw some pollsters, notably Survation, claim that their predicted share of the vote would have been correct if only people hadn’t mistakenly voted for Mike Nattrass grouping, ‘An Independence from Europe’.

A number of UKIP’s outriders on various forums and newspaper comment threads suggested that UKIP would have done even better in the election but for the media’s smear campaign against Nigel Farage and the party – this despite saying for weeks that the smear campaign would only serve to increase UKIP’s support and vote.

We also heard that polling was showing anything between 60-75% of UKIP voters would stick with the party at the General Election ensuring the party a record vote – fuelling claims from the Faragistas that UKIP could hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015 on the back of this ‘surge’.

So, what to make of two separate polls this week that show a uniform pattern?

This week’s general election poll for Lord Ashcroft shows UKIP down another two points, which is a repeat of last week, meaning UKIP has dropped four points in a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the regular poll for ComRes, showing the favourability rating of the party leaders, shows Nigel Farage has dropped six points on the index overall since April.

This isn’t a gloat.  This is merely confirmation of what we have been saying for some time.  There is no surge.

The European Elections were the outlet, for those who could be bothered to vote, to either stick by their party or register a protest safe in the knowledge the result is utterly meaningless.  This country could have sent 73 Monster Raving Loony MEPs to Brussels and it would not have changed a thing.

For too many people UKIP has become a religion.  Too many are setting aside reality and pushing arguments based on emotion and faith, they seem to have a need to demonstrate belief.  The problem is their faith is in a party which has missed open goals time and again and a man who has demonstrated his pledges are no more ‘cast iron’ than those of David Cameron.  The party is ignoring its core proposition and jumping on any issue where it thinks it can get votes.

The subject of leaving the EU is less important to the party’s supporters than stopping immigration – something UKIP cannot deliver because it has no plan and plainly does not understand the governance of immigration in the modern world.  Farage dived onto immigration simply to hoover up the votes of those who are vehemently against it.  As such the focus on leaving the EU is diluting month on month.

The current polling suggests that UKIP will be holding a bad hand in May 2015. It will not have a chip in the big game or be able to influence what happens in Westminster.  The only impact the party will have is to deprive some Conservatives from winning seats.  While that might make UKIP followers pleased as punch, it will do nothing to advance the cause of leaving the EU and will be followed by a slow decline as people peel away from the party, realising that supporting it is not making any difference.

These are not good times for the anti-EU side.

Newark by-election: what it tells us

The result of the Newark by-election is in and the media’s talking heads and the analysts in the parties are scurrying around trying to draw conclusions and pointers from it.

While there is much talk of halved majorities and the UKIP ‘surge’, it would actually appear, going deeper than the superficial glance  some normalcy is returning to Newark and the overall result is noteworthy for slightly different reasons.

All the analysis and reporting focuses on comparions between this by-election and the 2010 General Election.  But this ignores the exceptional circumstances of 2010 – where the least popular government in modern history hemorrhaged votes and seats, everyone in the bubble seemed to agree with Nick which boosted the Lib Dem share of the vote and despite the Tories being hot favourites to win, they had already conspired to underperform due to late policy reversals by Cast Iron Dave.

It would seem far more realistic, with the Tory-led coalition being unpopular and Labour doing OK in the polls, to look back at previous elections in the constituency to give a more ‘business as usual’ look.  Combining the elections in 2001 and 2005 gives us an average vote for the parties (main parties only) when the polls looked much as they do now.  In Newark the averages look like this…

While the media rightly points out UKIP’s performance as noteworthy in Newark having increased their vote there by 413% from 2010, are they really right to suggest the UKIP effect halved the Tory majority?  UKIP have apparently already fallen back a little from the European Elections performance in the constituency. But surely the bigger news is what the result tells us about the performances of Labour and the Lib Dems…

We can see that with this being a by-election the votes cast for main parties and the turnout are down as expected from 2010.  But look at the votes and vote shares compared to the 2001 & 2005 combined average.  Labour has gone from 36% vote share to 19% and the Lib Dems from 14% to 2%.

Labour might content itself issuing its current line that Newark is not its kind of territory.  But their share of the vote, for an opposition party seeking to form the next government, with their track record in the constituency in 2001 and 2005, is staggering.

In contrast, the unpopular Tories, whose MP had lost the whip in disgrace before resigning from Parliament, expected to get some punishment from voters but in fact despite this being a by-election ripe for a protest vote and a kicking at the hands of fed up voters, their share of the vote was actually higher than in 2001 and 2005.

No doubt many Labour voters stayed at home or voted tactically with UKIP. UKIP maximised its vote in its effort to score a major upset.  The Lib Dem collapse contiued to exhibit itself in amazing fashion. Some Tories stayed away to make their point or even flirted with UKIP. But even so, the election stats are remarkable for different reasons than the media would have you think.

A poll finding that should concern all who want to leave the EU

Ask voters which party they most associate with wanting the UK to leave the EU and they will reply UKIP.  This is despite the declining importance of the EU question that has become evident among UKIP supporters.

So You Gov’s poll findings that voters feel a lot more negative and less positive about UKIP  than they did five years ago, as covered on Political Betting, should be a concern to all people on the anti-EU side.

To howls of derision, copious amounts of abuse, occasional smears and some more measured and polite dismissals by UKIP supporters, this blog has tried over many months to explain that the approach of UKIP’s leadership (in particular Nigel Farage, as he sets the direction in autocratic fashion) was actually setting the party up to fail at a time when everyone has been pointing at higher polling, membership and votes in elections.

This You Gov poll puts meat on the bones of my many blog posts on the subject.  UKIP is hitting a glass ceiling where its support is at its maximum.

While it might have formed a hard core of committed, fervent, extremely vocal, almost evangelical supporters – many of whom use social media and newspaper comment threads as echo chambers to increase mention of the party, encourage each other, and aggressively gang up on anyone with a criticism – they are gradually alienating an increasing number of middle of the road voters they need to attract if they are to make a political breakthrough of any substance.

Ordinary voters who share many of UKIP’s concerns, particularly rejection of the UK remaining in the EU, are increasingly choosing not to support the party because of the unrefined and hollow rhetoric on immigration, the behaviour of supporters on the internet, and the vacuous, policy-lite hotch potch of ‘aspirations’.  But as they turn away from UKIP, many will also turn away from the anti-EU side of the EU membership argument just as it looks possible a referendum could finally be held.

This blog has long considered itself a critical friend to UKIP, despite the attacks by those who consider themselves virtuous defenders of the cause.  But if UKIP looks set to hamstring the prospects of the anti-EU side by acting as a repellant rather than a recruiter, then the friendship has to end and UKIP has to be taken on and defeated.

I wish there was an alternative to this.  But there’s far more at stake in a referendum than there is in preserving the ambitions of Nigel Farage.  UKIP’s failings must not be allowed to drag down the chances of the anti-EU side of winning a referendum.

I am often asked just what my agenda is as people cannot believe I want to leave the EU, but remain critical of UKIP.  It is very simple. We need UKIP to sort itself out and shape up, or we need to get it out of the way so we can take on and defeat the Europhiles.

Tory attempt to steal the general election exposed

Following the local election results and the media’s coverage of UKIP’s resounding victory this week, it has emerged the Tories have made a formal application to the Electoral Commission to exclude all 2015 general election results from central London when determining the seat tally and which party will be invited to form the next government.

Conservative Party spokesman, Crispian Keswick-Grantham explained the move:

We have learned the lessons of this election. UKIP’s stunning win, congratulations to them, has taught us that London really has no part to play in elections.

We are a one nation party and we are listening to the people of this nation. It has become clear that educated, cultural and media savvy voters are not really part of this nation and have no understanding of what is important to the country outside the M25. Therefore their votes should not be included in May 2015.  We are at one with UKIP and the media on this, including London votes makes no sense.

Keswick-Grantham rejected claims this was just a cyncial ploy driven by Labour’s substantial support in the capital and the Tories’ lack of popularity, and an effort to prevent Labour MPs being returned to Parliament – thereby ensuring the media declares the Conservatives the election winners regardless of their actual vote and seat tally.

That is a baseless and laughable accusation, but one we considered might be made by Labour sympathisers.  To demonstrate there is no such attempt on our part and that we are taking an even handed approach to this idea, we have extended the scope of the exclusion in our application to cover Scotland too.

We attempted to ask Nigel Farage for his reaction to this breaking story, but were informed by a UKIP spokesman that it was already past opening time and he would have to get back to us.

UKIP’s new secret electoral weapon – their own fantasy third way

Suddenly it all starts to become clear.

When The Boiling Frog wrote earlier this week about how UKIP threatens to lose any in-out referendum for the anti-EU side, he reminded readers that UKIP still does not have any plan for leaving the EU.

On the Sunday Politics, UKIP Councillor Suzanne Evans, even said to Andrew Neil in response to his question about whether the party had a roadmap to leave the EU in the event of an ‘out’ vote, ‘wouldn’t that be great?’.

But an article today in the Financial News (£) might just explain why there is no exit plan for leaving the EU… UKIP is apparently developing a carefully crafted secret weapon that would see the UK stay inside the Customs Union!  Not inside the internal market, but inside the Customs Union and negotiating its own trade agreements:

So what has changed? Why are the money-men and women being lured to the “bloke in the pub” with his Brexit rants and no policies? They are heavyweights too: Crispin Odey, who has in the past hedged his bets by giving money to Ukip and the Tories; Andrew Perloff of Panther Securities and Christopher Mills’ Harwood Capital are also donors; while Andy Brough of Schroders has signed up.

This is why – they are being persuaded that “the man in the pub” is developing a carefully crafted secret weapon to the crude In or Out stance. It is for the UK to stay within the EU’s Customs Union by negotiating its own trade agreements. Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, any country wanting to exit has two years in which to negotiate new arrangements with the Customs Union. To date, Farage has only hinted at joining a customs union. But Anglo-Sino’s [Stephen] Hill, who privately funds Tim Aker, Ukip policymaker and an MEP candidate, reckons Farage could win this election outright – and many seats at the next election – if he were to reveal that more elegant solutions are under review other than the emotive In-Out one.

If ever there was a moment that confirmed the people around Farage in the upper echelons of UKIP have absolutely no bloody idea what they are talking about, this is it. In spades. Writ large. Ignorance and incompetence on a galactic scale.

For what has been explained above by Margreta Pagano is even more of a fantasy than David Cameron’s renegotiation of powers from Brussels.  It is political and economic Neverland, demonstrating UKIP’s ‘thought leaders’ don’t even understand what a Customs Union is.  This is underlined by the rationale that is given:

Such a move, says Hill, would counter much of the nonsensical scaremongering from LibDems and Labour that pulling out would lead to the loss of millions of jobs. He has a point: if the UK were to exit but negotiate to stay in the Customs Union, UK plc would be allowed to vote on all trade matters but on an intra-governmental basis, not supranational one.

The beauty of this approach is that by staying in the Customs Union – rather than joining Efta for example – manufacturers can trade duty-free within the Customs Union area: Turkey and Monaco have Customs Union agreements. And the UK has a strong hand to play: the EU exports twice as much in finished goods to the UK as we do to the EU – mainly Germany’s car giants, BMW and Mercedes.

This is utter dreamland.  This is a fantasy third way, supposedly not in, supposedly out, but still completely under EU control as today.  If the UK exits the EU, it leaves the Customs Union.  If it negotiates to stay in the Customs Union then it is by default in the EU. Anything votes on trade matters on an ‘intra-governmental’ basis means internal… to the EU.  This Tim Aker plan is cream cheese moon stuff.  It is the world of barking cats.

A Customs Union is by definition a supranational entity because decion making is centralised and the ability of member states to strike independent trade deals is removed.  One only needs to look at Turkey – out of the EU but in the Customs Union, where the decisions on trade agreements and tariffs are made in Brussels and handed down to Ankara to implement.  That is not independence.  In the Customs Union the trade deals and common tariffs are negotiated and struck by the EU on behalf of all member states and all member states have to apply them.  That is where we already are today.

Vote UKIP for a brighter new yesterday is a phrase that becomes more accurate by the day.

There is no way a member state can go off and sign its own deals because all other member states in the Customs Union have to agree with it and adopt it.  Anything else would mean there is no Customs Union at all – in effect the EU would be bringing itself to an end.  Like that’s going to happen.  Any legal matters in the Customs Union get resolved at the European level in Luxembourg, and under this staggeringly idiotic plan that would have to remain the same, which means the UK courts would not become supreme.

Following this plan, UKIP would be contradicting its own long stated aim for the UK to be outward looking and able to strike its own trade deals with other countries around the world on our own terms. It would be tearing up the notion of UK courts being the sole arbeiter of UK related matters.  Its promises on immigration, to stop the free movement of people, could never be delivered.  It would consign the UK to maintaining the status quo of trade agreements and tariffs being set for us rather than by us.

In short, if UKIP were to adopt this as policy then forget Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, UKIP would be the party of in.  Their fantasy third way is delusional rubbish.  And to think, UKIPpers look up to these idiots, laud them and declare I should be supporting and assisting them.

Nigel Farage told John Humphrys on Radio 4′s Today programme that he would do a deal with the devil to get an EU referendum. Why bother when UKIP is considering a plan that keeps the UK in the EU while only pretending to be independent?  This isn’t a case of good ol’ Nige not doing some detail, this is a case of failing to understand the basics.

A policy of ‘out’ that really means ‘in’ should defy belief.  But this is UKIP and no amount of crass stupidity should surprise anyone any longer.  If you plan to vote UKIP because you want to leave the EU, you may want to think again.

One political earthquake looks likely to be replaced by another

National polling over the last few days has caused some ripples among political anoraks.

As Political Betting has highlighted, Labour and Conservatives are now level pegging on 34% according to You Gov.  The last time that Labour was that low with the firm was in June 2010 only weeks after the party’s GE2010 defeat.   With four pollsters in two days showing the same broad picture the trend is becoming clearer Labour is down.

Miliband effect kicking in?

It seems no one has quite ‘got’ why this has happened yet. Most people are not political anoraks and therefore take little or no interest in politics until the week before they are going to vote.  Now there is a nationwide election due and we are less than a year from the General Election, so more people are inevitably taking a look at politics, whether they will vote and if so who they will vote for.

This is forcing people to look at Ed Miliband for the first time in a while and consider whether they seem him as this country’s next Prime Minister.  It seems they are concluding that he is not Prime Minster material and slowly turning away from Labour.

Where’s the UKIP bounce?

What is interesting is that there does not seem to be any rise in UKIP support, as the national polling for 2015 still shows the party rooted firmly in the 15% range.  UKIP has made much of its belief that more of its voters in the forthcoming European Elections will stick with the party in May 2015, and that a political earthquake will result.

What this assessment seems to ignore is that only around 30% of the electorate will bother to vote in the Euros, with UKIP mobilising just about all its support.  Most Labour and Tory voters and a good many Lib Dems will stay at home.  In May next year around 65-70% of the electorate will turn out for the personality politics vanity contest.  UKIP’s current vote will be significantly diluted.

Make no mistake, UKIP has the capacity to hurt the Tories next year.  But if  Labour support continues to fall back and the UKIP polling share doesn’t advance then the Tories may mitigate a lot of the damage.  UKIP’s political earthquake would then only have power comparable to a fart on a waterbed as the classic two party squeeze returns.

A lot can change between now and next May.  But as things stand it’s hard to see people’s perception of Miliband changing, particularly as the economy continues to improve.  Similarly it’s hard to see where UKIP will make any new breakthroughs, particularly as its immigration strategy is permanently alienating many more potential supporters than it is attracting.

One earthquake fails to materialise, but another might loom

Cameron could well be on course for a second term in Downing Street.  It’s not a prospect that fills me with joy, but as a result of that the UK would be on course for an in/out EU referendum in 2017.

This could be the best opportunity for the ‘out’ side to secure a Brexit from the EU. That would be an earthquake right at the top end of the political richter scale.

2017 is a date well before a point by which Cameron could ever hope to deliver on his renegotiation pledges.  There is no prospect of treaty change, which Cameron acknowledges some of his pledges require if they are to be delivered.  Four years after promising reforms he would have achieved nothing and would fight a referendum on a platform of promises that he can deliver, eventually.

People would see the reality that repatriation of meaningful powers to nation states just will not be allowed to happen.  Just like that crushing moment when a child discovers Father Christmas is not real, many pro-reformers will finally see their fantasy for what it is and admit at last the only options are in or out.

At least that is what will happen, if UKIP don’t secure enough votes in 2015 to deprive the Conservatives of some seats they currently hold in Parliament.  UKIP supporters face a paradox:

  • fight the Tories and do enough damage to prevent them winning the 2015 election, handing Downing Street to Miliband and thus losing any hope of bringing about a winnable in/out referendum.  Or,
  • don’t fight the Tories in the hope that they win the election and present EUsceptics with the golden opportunity they have craved for decades, to have and fight a winnable referendum and take Britain out of the EU

Welcome to the often soul destroying world of realpolitik.  After more than 20 years of campaigning to get the UK out of the EU, UKIP may find itself in a position where putting party first actually deprives voters of the chance to escape from the control of Brussels.

If UKIP was really serious about the EU…

This is another of those compare and contrast moments that so annoy UKIP supporters who read this blog, but which are covered here because UKIP ignoring such major issues annoys me so much.

The Times (£) is reporting that a proposed levy on financial transactions by the EU, which could wipe more than £3.6bn from the value of UK shares and bonds and is being challenged by the UK, looks set to be approved by the courts. This has huge implications for already low yielding pensions and investments for ordinary people.

You would think UKIP would be all over this, hammering away in the media, getting faces in front of cameras, churning out press releases, using their colourful website to demonstrate how the UK’s mythical ‘influence’ in the EU is just that, a myth, and lambasting this raid on finances that will disproportionately damage UK financial markets.

But in the media, nothing. On UKIP’s website, not a word.  Another golden opportunity to make a powerful case for turning our backs on the EU has been missed.

Just weeks from its biggest election test ever in the European Elections, the UKIP website’s very latest news is two days old and concerns UKIP’s party election broadcast – and UKIP being the only party to campaign for St George’s Day to be a public holiday.  There’s a priority for you.  Has everyone from the London ‘freak show‘ nicked off early and gone to the pub again?

Four days ago the party declared that the European parliamentary elections battle was now getting underway in earnest.  Yet presented with a huge EU related story, they are silent and the media instead hoovers up unchallenged comment from the pro-EU muppets and fiction retailers at Open Europe.

So what is UKIP doing?

Instead of fighting to get this country out of the EU, UKIP is down in the gutter fighting yet another wholly avoidable reputational battle because one of its candidates, a Zimbabwean no less, who starred in their election broadcast, was (yet again) not vetted properly and has been shown to hold some rather unpleasant views.

While it’s all very well for Farage to be angry and say this man ‘slipped through the net‘ there is something about the party he has moulded that sees it continually attracting oddballs and those with racist or intolerant views – and it is putting decent people off the party and the anti-EU cause.

The party is also fighting against mockery of its takeoff of British jobs for British workers in that poster campaign, as it transpires the actor posing as an unemployed British builder is actually an immigrant from Ireland.

These cock ups follow Lizzy the ordinary voter from Devon who will support UKIP, actually being Lizzy from London who is the party’s events manager and is now trying to stop explicit photos of herself engaged in sex acts being put into the public domain.

The only conclusion we can draw is that UKIP isn’t serious about getting us out of the EU.  It is only bothered about winning a different game, but even that is something it doesn’t prepare for and ends up losing.

Of course, the moans and aggressive retorts will flood the inbox and the odd comment will be left here in an attempt to criticise me for ‘undermining’ the ‘only game in town’.  But these are people who are ignoring the reality of how badly led and run the party is and how much damage it is doing to the anti-EU side.  UKIP speaks for barely one third of voters who say they want to leave the EU.  But it is seen as the anti-EU vehicle and these avoidable injuries are completely self inflicted.

UKIP’s long suffering decent supporters – there are many of them in the party trying to make it a viable, anti-EU entity – and those who want to see the UK freed from the EU, deserve better.

Referendum, then what? Why UKIP FC might win the odd game, but won’t be challenging at the end of the season

While Nigel Farage was the focus on media attention yesterday, he said that:

If Ukip win these elections, a referendum, an opportunity for us to get back control of our country will be one massive, massive step closer.

The problem here is that an in/out referendum is seen as the be all and end all by Farage.  There are two major holes in his objective.

  1. How, in the first instance, will the anti-EU side win such a referendum in the face of FUD, misrepresentation and plain falsehoods when the people being asked to vote is many times greater than the combined audience of the recent debates? What is the plan to turn a current majority in favour of remaining in the EU to a majority in favour of leaving, particularly as UKIP is ever more focused on Westminster politics and issues such as gay marriage and HS2?
  2. Assuming a referendum is won, then what? What is the UKIP plan for events after the UK announces it is leaving the EU as set out in Article 50? What if any understanding does UKIP have of the global trading and regulatory environment into which the UK will boldly step, and what plan does it have to offer for making the transition and new arrangements a success?

The problem in British politics at the moment is tribalism, but tribalism with little or no philosophical base.  One look across comment threads on newspaper and blog websites lays this problem bare and shows that this is now more true of UKIP than any other party – which should be a huge concern to the anti-EU side. The political process now resembles more than ever something akin to football and UKIP is the club that wants to reach the Premier League but remains stuck firmly in the Conference…

All that seems to matter to the management and the vocal, cult-like supporters is the excitement of scoring goals and winning at the final whistle to get one over the opposition.  It is all superficial.  There is no detailed consideration or discussion about what makes a team successful behind the scenes, such as a set vision, effective management, leadership techniques, having the right coaches, physios on the backroom team, match strategies, repeated reviews of the previous games, the science of nutrition and fitness, training regimes, qualified scouting networks, and looking at the future opposition time and again to prepare the right tactics for the forthcoming matches.

When it comes to UKIP the management team is with the fans in the pub chewing over things like how many more fans they brought to the game, how crap the opposition fans’ support was, how their team deserved to win but were unlucky or cheated by the officials, how their players aren’t getting the recognition they think they should get, bemoaning poor write ups in the press match reports as biased rubbish, and only looking at the next match through the prism of which pub to get the best drink in, what songs to sing and how to make their presence felt, and looking at their mid-table position claiming they are making a push for promotion and that they will soon stun everyone.

Stepping away from the football analogy, what is the point of pushing for a referendum without any plan for winning it, or any idea of how to deal with what awaits the UK after leaving the EU?  The work that UKIP should be doing using the many resources at the party’s disposal – including financial – to develop, publish and campaign on a comprehensive workable plan for leaving the EU, is instead being done by a blogger.

Without the detail and the complexity having been worked out, there can be no catchy slogans, easy to understand one liners or bitesize soundbites to present to the public.  That is why the argument that the public don’t do detail doesn’t wash.

Without assurance that there is a detailed plan in place the public will not take the leap of voting to leave the EU.   Therefore details have to be carefully worked out and a compelling case made that the UK has positive reasons to leave the EU, and will have opportunities and benefits as a result.  The soundbites alone, with no plan behind them, will quickly be exposed as politicians just blowing more hot air and referendum will be lost.  But if we leave it to the fans in the pub, the armchair pundits, UKIP will not develop what is needed.  They are only bothered about the buzz of the match and don’t have a clue about what it takes to turn their team into winners.

UKIP – the best and the worst for the anti-EU side

UKIP’s billboard poster campaign is a curious mix of badly judged rubbish tempered by something more incisive that the party doesn’t do enough of.

The poster campaign tells us a great deal about the party’s approach to the forthcoming European Parliament elections and shows the party at both its best and worst, with implications for the wider anti-EU part of the electorate.  Starting with the worst…

The EU policy at work poster is plays on the anxieties of low and semi skilled workers, portraying a man in a hard hat who made to appear as though he has been adversely affected  by cheap labour coming to this country from other EU countries.  The problem with this is that only certain sectors have been affected and the impact has not been across the board.

Indeed many farmers have been grateful for cheap labour on their land, particularly at harvest when produce needs to be picked or dug up within a small time frame. Whereas they frequently struggled to hire enough labour for the task, labour from other EU states has ensured a reduction in produce spoil and maximised output.

The open goal missed here is that as an independent country we could decide what our needs are and welcome those with the skills we need, or who will perform tasks there there is a labour shortage.  But that isn’t what the poster says, as such it characterises the party in an unfavourable manner.

Then there is the casual ignorance of highly skilled roles that could not be filled, such as dentists, which now have been thanks to labour from EU member states, to the benefit of large numbers of patients.  Indeed my own excellent dentist is from Lithuania and prior to dentists from other EU countries coming to my town, getting NHS dentistry was all but impossible.  Are UKIP suggesting this is a bad thing? It is but one example, but there are others where this country’s less well off most certainly benefit.

Dentists from elsewhere in the EU were among those looking for work, but did not displace UK workers when providing a much needed service.  It shows this issue, and the one above regarding benefits of unskilled labour, is not as black and white as UKIP like to suggest; and without the application of some specifics and detail UKIP will only reinforce the electoral glass ceiling it has created for itself by alienating people who see there have been positives as well as negatives and may feel UKIP’s sweeping generalisations are irresponsible or plain inaccurate.

Then there is the bus/limo poster.  At first glance it’s clever, but there is an element of rank hypocrisy here because our daily grind is also funding the very comfortable lifestyles of UKIP’s MEPs.  UKIP separating themselves from the gravy train when they have first class seats on it is basically dishonest.

We have already found that Nigel Farage has been taking full advantage of any allowance going, but has also tapped into an opportunity to boost his European Parliament pension fund at taxpayers’ expense so that he stands to get a £71,000-a-year pension from the EU when he leaves retires.  Criticising other Eurocrats for something UKIP MEPs will also benefit from leaves the party open to attack, such as with the image below, which Richard showed on EU Referendum today.

Finally, however – the figures used in the wording notwithstanding – we find an intelligent piece of campaign material, below, that gets to the heart of the matter of who really runs this country.

This is the kind of thing that makes people think and cannot be countered – the EU runs the UK.  It is an honest reflection of reality and could be adjusted to address the concerns over control of immigration, the use of British taxpayers’ money, trade, international affairs and various other negatives this country experiences as a result of not being independent and self determining.  This is what UKIP can achieve when it applies some brain power.

This is what the whole anti-EU side needs, but sadly there is too little of it.  There are still many good people in UKIP, but as we have said before they are being let down by the slapdash ignorance of the leadership.  UKIP still deserves better.

What cannot be ignored about that Survation poll for UKIP in Eastleigh

What is clear from the Survation poll of the Eastleigh constituency, commissioned by UKIP’s Alan Bown, is that local factors are at play in Eastleigh that are seeing UKIP maintain strong support compared to nationwide polling.

Several outlets report on the poll, including the UKIP website, declaring that UKIP is on course to win the seat at the General Election because Survation has them attracting an incredible 32% support.

However, here we are seeing the same problem with the figures that are being reported as we saw in Survation polls for UKIP at the end of last year in Great Grimsby and Thanet South, where selective use of the polling data is giving a distorted view of the electoral calculus in the constituency.

What is being reported on and played up by the media is Table 5 in the Survation poll.

The data presented concerns this:

Q3 Voting Intention Tables – Normal Weighted Table and Likelihood Weighting
Q3. If that general election were to be held tomorrow, which party do you think you would be most likely to vote for in your Eastleigh constituency?

The results given, and being used as a sensational story, are:

UKIP – 31.7%
Conservative – 28.8%
Lib Dem – 25.7%
Labour – 12.0%
Green – 1.1%
Party not listed – 0.7%

But the figures do not give the true picture because they only show the preference of 316 people and crucially ignore the responses of a significant proportion of those polled:

Base : Respondents likely to vote in May 2015 election and Excluding Undecided/Refused

It is the exclusion of undecided voters and those who refused to say which party they would support which makes these headline figures basically worthless.

For the meaningful figures one must look at Table 4, for that is where we find the polling data for respondents who are likely to vote in the May 2015 election, including those who are yet to decide who to vote for, or who refused to tell the pollsters who they will support.  The numbers based on a sample of 472 people in the constituency are:

Undecided – 25.7%
UKIP – 21.2%
Conservative – 19.2%
Lib Dem – 17.1%
Labour – 8%
Refused – 7.6%
Green – 0.7%
Party not listed – 0.5%

No less than 33.3% – or exactly one in three people polled – are yet to make up their mind how to vote or have refused to say how they will vote.  If that is representative of the electorate across Eastleigh then of the possible 53,760 votes that might be polled (the 69% turnout in 2010) up to 17,900  votes are still up for grabs and are currently going to an unknown destination.  That is a huge number – larger than the winner of the 2013 by-election received – and ultimately it is those votes that will decide which party’s candidate wins the election.

This is not to do UKIP down.  Of course, it could be good news for UKIP if most of those people choose to vote for the party.  They would win a Parliamentary election for the first time.  But it could still be bad news for UKIP because those undecideds could break for the Conservatives or Lib Dems, putting either of those candidates into Westminster. There is an ‘embarrassment factor’ in polling that first emerged clearly in 1992, which particularly affects the Conservatives, where voters who are leaning towards voting Tory decline to say so because of the party’s unpopularity in the media.  That is one of many factors which underlines why there is a need for realism and perspective when looking at these polling figures.

In Eastleigh there is still everything to play for.  It remains a three-way marginal and UKIP is polling over 21% – which is way above their nationwide average.  But things are not necessarily as rosy for UKIP as the sensationalist headline suggests and events between now and May could change things in Eastleigh dramatically for or against UKIP.

Dartmouth: Skewed priorities and poor judgement

Long time, no blog. Apologies for the break, it’s been very busy at Mind Towers.

We are not letting up in our efforts to get to the bottom of the actual ownership of land on which a co-operative hopes to build wind turbines.

The land was formerly the possession of William Dartmouth MEP. However in February 2011 the land was gifted, given away, free of charge and the Land Registry recorded the new owner as Rosscroft Limited.  Trying to unpick who actually owns and benefits from Rosscroft Limited sends us deep into a rabbit warren of overseas directors, ownership by other companies, shareholders who are actually companies where the directors are the former directors of Rosscroft and include Dartmouth’s own solicitor, Tim Haggie, etc.

In short, Rosscroft Limited has been structured in a such a way as to prevent the actual beneficial owner at the end of the trail being identified. It is a determined effort at concealment, the opposite of transparency.

But as we saw in our most recent post on the subject, William Dartmouth has since admitted in a statement that the land is actually ‘owned by a relative’.  When the term ‘family’ was used in a write up of the statement elsewhere, Dartmouth sought a correction to the story asserting that relatives and family are very different.

Following on from that we have received lots of emails from people providing information that variously claim Dartmouth’s illegitimate nine year old son (and therefore barred from inheriting the title), Gerald, as the actual owner for whom Rosscroft is acting, and other claims that a substation for the tubines is planned to be built on Reaps Farm, which is said to be Dartmouth owned (tenant Mr S Lunn), and that the cables to feed to the grid will cross Dartmouth owned land.  If accurate, these essential elements of the wind farm could only be installed with Dartmouth’s permission. More questions clearly need to be answered.

Efforts by some opponents of the wind farm to get Dartmouth to come out against the wind farm plan received this response:

Clearly Dartmouth was far too busy to deal with such minor issues as the concerns of neighbours who have been given the run around over the ownership of land on the Dartmouth estate.  But his substantial workload and excessive travel didn’t stop him from jumping in with both feet to make a foolish comment regarding the winner of the IEA’s now discredited Brexit Prize:

Clearly it’s just a question of what he sees as a priority.  Opposing a wind farm that will blight an area of natural beauty and harm wildlife in the area is not as important as his appalling judgement in spouting off about the non-existant ‘silencing’ of a diplomat who won the IEA prize for, amazingly, producing a completely new solution to leaving the EU that only five other people (the other finalists) and one of the judging panel removed for conflict of interest, have ever brought into the public realm.

Interestingly, although in his statement Lord Dartmouth explained that it was an adjacent piece of land, which is owned by him, that was erroneously included in the application, as of 12.30pm this Good Friday, the planning application Certificate B remains unchanged, listing him as owning land forming part of the application.

Nigel Farage has been copied on the correspondance and we have written to him separately detailing the unanswered questions that Dartmouth needs to address.  But so far there has been no response from him or his office, suggesting that UKIP is either turning a blind eye to one of its MEPs laying the ground for a wind farm development of the type the party opposes, or is busy trying to fight off questions about the use of money by Farage’s European constituency.

So it is we continue trying to discover who the mystery ‘relative’ not family member is; and we will continue to pose the questions Farage does not seem to be asking, and enquiring if he feels the lack of transparency and drip feed of information under scrutiny and pressure by Lord Dartmouth sends the right message to UKIP members and supporters.

Is UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP using an offshore company to conceal involvement in a wind turbine development?

Following on from yesterday’s post, the curious story surrounding UKIP MEP William Dartmouth and allegations that his land is the site of a proposed wind farm development – in direct contradiction with UKIP policy – has become even more interesting.  This is a detailed post.

We have managed to obtain a letter that was sent by Lord Dartmouth’s solicitor to UKIP chairman, Steve Crowther (below).

It states that William Dartmouth does not have any interest in the land where the wind turbines will be sited, rather the land’s ‘proprietor’ is Rosscroft Limited.  However Mr Tim Haggie, solicitor at Latimer Hinks, does say that Dartmouth owns land adjacent to the site and that is perhaps why a ‘third party notice’ was served on him.   It is interesting to note the address of the local office that Rosscroft Limited uses in the area…

By coincidence it just so happens that another local firm is based at that address…

Backing up Mr Haggie’s assertion about Rosscroft is a document that shows Dartmouth transferred land on Slaithwaite Moor to Rosscroft Limited on 10th February 2011.

However, Lord Dartmouth must be a very generous fellow because he transferred the land for zero consideration.  In other words he gave it away to Rosscroft for nothing.  And we are not talking about a plot the size of a domestic garden here, the land in question is shown edged in red and the Cupwith Reservoir is surrounded by a blue box…

But the situation becomes more confused thanks to a letter from Carter Jonas, Lord Dartmouth’s land agent, in April 2013 to campaigners who were seeking to prevent plans to drain Cupwith Reservoir.   As you can see in the circled section, Carter Jonas have been instructed to explain to the recipient of the letter that his comments and remarks in a previous letter regarding the ownership of Slaithwaite Moor by Dartmouth are ‘misconceived’.

Yet in the same letter, two years after Dartmouth transferred ownership of Slaithwaite to Rosscroft Limited, Carter Jonas make this astonishing comment…

If William Dartmouth had transferred ownership of Slaithwaite Moor two years earlier, and had no direct or indirect interest in the land, why on earth are his land agents saying that Dartmouth is sensitive to the concerns of people who did not want the reservoir drained and has given considerable thought as to ‘how he could best accommodate what you are seeking to achieve’?  How can a man with no interest or ownership over the land in question accommodate anything to do with its use or ownership?

We have seen above on the TP1 form that William Dartmouth transferred ownership of Slaithwaite Moor including Cupwith Reservoir in February 2011.  The documentary evidence is clear.

As such we have to pose the following question… if Rosscroft Limited became the owner of the land in February 2011, why is it that in August 2011, a memorandum written by consultancy Mott MacDonald asserts the following?

If this is incorrect why was it not corrected either by William Dartmouth or Rosscroft Limited?

Indeed, this takes us back to yesterday’s post and that wind farm planning application.  The applicants, Valley Wind Co-operative were duty bound to inform owners of the land on which they wished to develop a wind farm that they were putting in an application.  Owners and tenants have to be listed on a form in the application known as an Article 12 Certificate.  There are four types, A, B, C and D, neatly explained here.

A Certificate B is completed and submitted when the planning applicant (in this case Valley Wind) know the names of all the owners of the land upon which a planning application is being made.  On the wind farm planning application, there is a Certificate B which clearly names Rosscroft Limited and William Dartmouth, both care of Carter Jonas in York, as an owners (or tenants) of the land concerned.

dartmouth_owner

Despite Carter Jonas evidently being made aware that Valley Wind understand William Dartmouth to be an owner of this land, the planning application has not been corrected or amended.  Given that such incorrect information is valid reason for a planning application to be rejected, it seems very curious that no correction has been made to what William Dartmouth has said is an error and what his solicitor has said is a third party notice.

We have not yet been able to check with the Huddersfield Daily Examiner if William Dartmouth had requested a correction to their December 2012 story that identifies him as the owner of Cupwith Reservoir, nearly two years after the transfer to Rosscroft Limited.  But the stories still make the assertion.

So the question is, why have Carter Jonas and William Dartmouth apparently made no efforts to correct the record which has seen the media and even their paid consultants identify Dartmouth as the land owner at Cupwith Reservoir?  It’s an odd one.

We invited UKIP to comment on our story but have not yet received a response.

We also contacted William Dartmouth and invited him to comment on the ownerships and relationships concerning the land in question. He did not want to answer any questions from an anonymous blogger hiding behind a pseudonym and was more concerned in getting a name, however in the end he did email us the following:

But – to be crystal clear  – I do not own the land .

So, we know Rosscroft Limited owns the land.  But who owns Rosscroft?  It seems the directors of the company have been all or mainly ‘paid for’ names on paper only who have directorships in a large number of companies in different fields.  But there was a sudden and dramatic change of ownership last year that fitted into an interesting timeline of events.

In February 2013, pre-application advice was sought from Kirkless Council to discuss its views on the proposed wind farm development and whether it would have a possibility of being approved.

Shortly after that process, without explanation, the long standing directors of Rosscroft Limited were suddenly replaced by a professional director based in Monaco called Ian Frederick Ledger and a company based in the Bahamas called Ambassador Directors Limited.  This change means that Rosscroft’s human owners on the other side of the Atlantic cannot be easily identified.

With Rosscroft now enjoying the benefits of offshore privacy, the formal planning application for the wind farm was submitted by Valley Wind.

It’s a happy set of coincidences that just by chance seems to have seen Rosscroft adopt a very deep interest in privacy for its beneficial owners – just before it was to become involved in plans for wind turbines on land that we are told was formerly owned by a UKIP MEP, whose party opposes them.

Rosscroft was remarkably fortunate to have been gifted land that within a couple of years would be considered ripe for lavishly rewarding wind turbines; while William Dartmouth seems to have been remarkably fortunate to no longer own land on which an application for wind turbines – against UKIP party policy – was soon to be submitted.  And of course there is also the incredible coincidence that both Rosscroft and Dartmouth share the same solicitors and agents!  It’s a small world.

Curious people will no doubt be asking questions about all this.  Here are some that need to be answered:

  • Given these series of events, do William Dartmouth or the Dartmouth family have any financial interest or share ownership in Rosscroft Limited?
  • Has William Dartmouth ever created a bare or discretionary trust where the trust property includes all or part of Rosscroft Limited, or any of the land transferred to Rosscroft Limited?
  • Why have neither Carter Jonas nor William Dartmouth immediately corrected what must be an inaccurate planning application, especially when his solicitor said as long ago as January that the Dartmouth has no interest in the land he is listed on Certificate B as owning?
  • Why did neither Carter Jonas nor William Dartmouth immediately correct the Mott MacDonald memo and report stating the Earl of Dartmouth is the owner of the land well after the transfer date?
  • Why have local media stories citing William Dartmouth as the owner of land he transferred to Rosscroft not been corrected?
  • If William Dartmouth, despite not being the owner of Cupwith Reservior and having no direct or indirect interest in it, was influential enough to bring about an offer by its owner to give away the reservoir to campaigners who did not want it drained, does he not have the same influence to prevent the wind turbines being constructed on the same land?
  • As a UKIP MEP and stated adjacent land owner, with apparent influence and concern in the local neighbourhood, will William Dartmouth be submitting a formal objection to the wind farm planning application?
  • Will William Dartmouth or his solicitor make available the ‘third party notice’ he is said to have received in respect of being an adjacent land owner to the application site?
  • Does William Dartmouth or his family have any direct or indirect interest or share ownership in Ambassador Directors Ltd?
  • Is UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP using an offshore company to conceal involvement in a wind turbine development?

The UKIP MEP, family land, a windfarm application, a party denial and EU money

UPDATED BELOW:  An interesting story has been submitted by a reader, concerning a controversial planned wind farm development in Yorkshire that could call into question the position one of UKIP’s highest profile MEPs who is also a candidate in next year’s General Election.

slaithwaite

The name of UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP appears as an owner or tenant of land on a planning application that was submitted to Kirklees Council last year, to build three 100m wind turbines on unspoilt countryside next to Cupwith Reservior (location shown above) near Huddersfield, where the scheme applicant, Valley Wind Co-operative, is receiving funding for the project from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

What makes this matter curious is that William Dartmouth’s office has denied that he is directly or indirectly linked to the application site.

All of the the information about the proposed windfarm development was sent to Nigel Farage, and a member of Farage’s staff eventually responded stating that Dartmouth’s office had replied claiming he wasn’t linked directly or indirectly.  This is curious given this screenshot of the land ownership section of the planning application:

dartmouth_owner
What also appears to put a question mark against Dartmouth’s denial, while giving the accuracy of the information above further weight, is a story from 2012 that demonstrates land ownership and three-way linkage between Dartmouth, Carter Jonas and Rosscroft Ltd (whose name appears at the top of the screenshot). The story concerned a planning application to drain Cupwith Reservior.  The applicant was Rosscroft Ltd, the agent was Carter Jonas LLP, and the owner of the reservoir is the Dartmouth Estate of one Earl of Dartmouth (aka William Dartmouth) – an assertion reported  by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner when reporting that Dartmouth’s appeal against the rejection of the application had also been lost.  There is no evidence the media have been asked to correct their assertion.

As if further evidence is required that where there is Rosscroft / Carter Jonas there seems to be Dartmouth, there is an entirely unrelated planning matter, where William Dartmouth was the named applicant for planning permission, with his chosen agent was Carter Jonas LLP.  The links are clear.

dartmouth_jonas

Given all this information, it seems that UKIP has accepted Dartmouth’s denial without checking the facts for themselves, calling into question yet again the party’s internal processes for dealing with complaints or reports of conflict of interest among its elected officials.

UPDATE:  We have been sent a copy of a letter that was sent to Nigel Farage personally, just after one of the recent debates with Nick Clegg, from an opponent of the wind farm.  It includes the following paragraph which suggests that William Legge (Legge being the family name of the Earl of Dartmouth) stands to gain in the region of £60,000 per annum if three wind turbines are erected on his land…

So I was delighted on your stance against wind turbines but have to point out the total hypocrisy of your MEP William Legge who is touting his land out for a wind farm as one of the above applications. This land is protected moorland and 300 meters away from a National Trust Bird sanctuary. It is estimated he will receive £20k ground rent per 100m turbine (there are 3 currently planned) – i.e. £60k per year. This is in total opposition to UKIP’s manifesto.  I cannot see how he can be a UKIP MEP and at the same time pursue this course of action in his private life.

It is worth noting that David Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield is often referred to as an example of a land owning rent seeker, trousering an reported £350,000 a year for turbines on his land.  Is the only difference between the Sheffields and the Dartmouths a mere matter of scale?

In addition to wanting the UK to leave the EU, UKIP has a policy against onshore wind turbines.  So, having one of its senior MEPs set to benefit financially from money given in grants by the EU, for the installation on his land of three giant turbines – that the party’s policy formally opposes – would be a serious conflict of interest and a likely resigning matter.  Further, that UKIP does not seem to have diligently investigated the reports sent to them by concerned residents in the area of the planned windfarm that one of their senior MEPs had this conflict of interest, seems to be another failure of internal process. UKIP has questions to answer about that.

But for now, William Dartmouth has questions to answer.

Why is it that he appears to have been untruthful about his interest in the land where the turbines are planned?

As a clearly stated  owner or tenant of the land, as shown on the official planning applications, what does he stand to gain if the application is approved and Valley Wind Co-operative build the turbines?

I think we should be told.

UKIP have been contacted and asked if they wish to respond to this story.

Party politics: Compare and contrast

Coverage of the Conservatives

Tories neck and neck with Labour – Sunday Times (£)

Post-budget poll boost for Tories – The Observer

Coverage of UKIP

The rage of Farage: Over balloons of brandy, UKIP leader fumes at ‘drunk womaniser’ claim, and delivers icy riposte to transsexual MEP who savaged him – Mail on Sunday

UKIP leader Nigel Farage under fire for staying at a swanky penthouse suite at taxpayers’ expense whenever he’s in Brussels – Mail on Sunday

—————-

For a long time this blog has warned that UKIP need and deserve better than Farage.  By making himself and the party indivisible from each other, the current negative coverage of Farage looks to be having negative polling consequences for UKIP, with likely electoral implications down the line.  Already, Survation – UKIP’s favoured pollster – now has the party back in third place in European election polling.  And yet the cult-like idiots who idolise Farage want a referendum now?

All the while Farage is sitting with journalists talking about whether or not he was screwing Annabelle Fuller (and his denials do not match up with first hand accounts of their behaviour in Brussels) and Liga from Latvia, all the while he is posing with a drink in his hand, comparing himself to Alfred the Great and Dennis Thatcher, and all the while he is trying to discredit Nikki Sinclaire as being on police bail (and has been for two years because no wrongdoing has been uncovered and the investigation has crashed to a halt), he is not presenting UKIP’s message.

Perhaps that is because under Farage, UKIP has no message apart from they are not the other parties, and whatever disgruntles you UKIP will speak up for you – even if that ‘all things to all men’ approach results in blatant contradictions.  Under Farage, what could be a respectable, meaningful and supportable party is now a political punchline.  It is a joke.  Farage is a JAP, just another politician.  He is using UKIP for his own ends and the decent people who want to see a genuine alternative party grow and develop are having their aspirations trampled into the ground because of one man’s vanity and selfishness.

You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your political credibility if you do not mention…

ukipWhile in the previous post the UKIP website is worthy of mention for what it carries today regarding the ‘gays can marry’ / ‘no they can’t’ farce, for much of the time it is notable for what it doesn’t cover.

Look through the home page of the party website and there is not a single headline concerning international relations or heavyweight domestic issues – this from a party that has MEPs and aspires to win seats in the Westminster parliament.  For example, since the policy reversal on allowing Syrian refugees to live in Britain, there has been barely any mention of foreign affairs matters.

Given UKIP’s silence on the matter, Ukraine may as well be a self drive plant hire company.  It’s as if UKIP does the political equivalent of pleading the American 5th Amendment.

There has been little if any coverage or comment on the site about Ed Miliband changing the terms of a referendum on an EU treaty to making it a question of membership, thus ensuring a bias towards remaining in the EU.  Despite today being the day the Chancellor delivers the Budget, UKIP have nothing to say about it or what their offering is in respect of economic matters.  Similarly the silence has been deafening in respect of David Cameron’s nonsensical EU renegotiation position, with no rebuttal or counter position.  There’s more examples besides.

The website of a political party is its ambassador.  It is a place where people can go to get the unvarnised view of the party, and where media will lift quotes to use in news stories.  Loathe the BNP as I do, their website was responsible for raising issues into talking points and making the other parties address issues they had long tried to hide away from more than anything Nick Griffin said into a microphone.

But UKIP waste their web presence and one can only assume it’s because they have nothing of substance to say on the big issues.  They complain they don’t get a hearing in the media, but do nothing to use their available channels to reach beyond the media and speak directly to the electorate.  It all contributes to their electoral glass ceiling (11% in the latest You Gov poll), because potential supporters look at what the party has to say and find it amounts to very little.

Small wonder then that with the approach we see from UKIP, on the subject of leaving the EU or staying in, the current polling shows 39% want to leave and 41% want to stay.  The party isn’t doing the anti-EU side any favours.

Kirsten Farage describes the party’s headquarters operation as a ‘freakshow’. Maybe the party’s silence on key issues like those above is an attempt to keep her husband’s shallow soundbite-laden observations away from the public sphere, lest it incriminate the party as incompetent and ruin its credibility once and for all.

May the farce be with you

Otherwise known as policy on the hoof.  The media covered a policy reversal by UKIP yesterday in which Nigel Farage was quoted in a press release stating that the party would no longer oppose gay marriage.

Tuesday, 5:08pm

While some of the UKIP faithful claimed in comment threads this was a sign of ditching the party’s ‘drivel’, many hit out in anger at a u-turn in policy they vehemently disagreed with.  A number of the Faragista even said the party could not claim to be different from the rest when it followed the same line as the others.

Just over an hour ago, more than 17 hours after the widespread coverage of the reversal were published, UKIP released a retraction on its website.

Wednesday, 10:23am

It is inconceivable that had this been a mistake of the type Farage claims a national party, with Daily Express veteran Patrick O’Flynn running its media operation, would have waited so long to correct the story.  If it was an unplanned release Farage would have been tracked down to a lady’s boudoir somewhere and asked about it.  His press team would have seen it and challenged it as not being on the message calendar.  Phones would have been ringing to journalists to correct it, and the party’s website would have carried a correction very swiftly indeed to ensure there was no confusion for supporters.

But that could not have happened because many hours passed with no change to the new narrative and the Daily Mail piece is still live even now.  There are checks and sign offs to go through before any piece gets close to being released.  It is unimagineable that Farage would have not been asked to clear the quotes being attributed to him – at which point he would have killed the piece stone dead if it was not true.

The only conclusion that anyone in the communications profession would draw from this is that the reaction of party supporters to the announcement has forced Farage to back down and claim this was all a big cock up.

Back room boys and girls don’t go writing policy reversal announcements without express instruction to do so, and then only following discussions within the party leadership about such a serious change.  But what passes for leadership in UKIP is generally a word from Nigel.  The lack of democracy within the party becomes more evident by the day.  UKIP is Farage and Farage is UKIP. It is personality politics writ large.

UKIP: Media revenge porn

ukipOver many months this blog has come in for some often aggressive responses to posts that have been critical of UKIP.

One of the accusations levelled at me (and certainly at Richard North) is that we have been waging a vendetta against Nigel Farage because of an historical ‘grudge’.  Where we have pointed out deficiencies in UKIP policy, media handling, message and approach – frequently naming Farage because he is the face of the party and has complete control over the approach taken – we have been told our criticisms are invalid because we are simply pursuing a campaign against him.

They reject our separate responses that we are actually critical friends of the party, want it to succeed for the sake of the anti-EU campaign, and are highlighting failings in the hope they are addressed by the party and not repeated.

However, the coverage of UKIP over the last couple of weeks in the Telegraph, Guardian and Times, puts things into context.  If aggrieved UKIP supporters thought the criticism of their party here and on EU Referendum was unacceptable and driven by a grudge, a look at what is happening in the media shows what a real grudge looks like – with allegations of extra marital affairs, party organisation incompetence, donors refusing to channel cash directly to the party and deliberate misuse of taxpayers’ money all dragged out in front of the public, with the sole aim of taking Nigel Farage down.

Some of the noisy hardcore have gone on to comment threads and said UKIP is being singled out by the media and the other parties are being given a free pass, indicating media bias.  Some of them claim that this is the establishment running scared of UKIP and trying to discredit it.  But it is something altogether different.  This is ‘score settling’.

For a long time the media has ignored UKIP.  There wasn’t enough interest to warrant publishing the stories it had, even though there have been personal spats behind the scenes where Farage and some of those close to him have seriously put the media’s nose out of joint.  We always said though that the media would turn its attention to UKIP at the point when it is considered one of the main parties, and that the scrutiny would be damaging.  That moment seems to have arrived and the media is now getting pay back for what has gone on before.  This is the political equivalent of revenge porn.

Worryingly for UKIP there is yet more material, much of which is not in the public domain, that the media is sitting on, waiting to toss into the public domain when it chooses to. Already the polls are showing the mythical ‘surge’, which has seen UKIP in third place in the polls but stubbonly rooted around 13%, seems to be retreating.  On Tuesday ICM put the Lib Dems in third place above UKIP. On Thursday an Ipsos-MORI poll saw the Lib Dems keep their third place ahead of UKIP and this morning YouGov has the Lib Dems overtaking UKIP, pushing them back into fourth.  This may have little impact in the European elections in May, which always sees protest votes rise dramatically, but for next year’s General Election this has Farage writing his resignation letter after failing to win any Westminster seats.

While the ultra hardcore party faithful, who behave more like a cult, will forgive anything and justify or excuse the behaviour reported in the allegations – incredibly accepting apparent defrauding of the taxpayer – many of the people that UKIP needs to change their vote to support the party will be put of by the claims.  They will take the view that for all his words, Farage is JAP – just another politician.

That will only compound the problem UKIP has of being the least popular and most unpopular of the parties, as shown in an ICM poll reported on Political Betting this week.

The concern for this blog is that the drip feed of negative stories about the party’s behaviour, and that of Farage in particular, will turn people off the anti-EU movement.  The latest polling disturbingly showing that now only a minority of voters currently want to leave the EU – 39%.  While UKIP is only polling around 13% nationwide, showing they actually don’t represent most anti-EU voters, there is still a perception that UKIP is the anti-EU movement, and if UKIP turns people off some might back away from anti-EU sentiment.

It is a sad fact that the reason the good ship UKIP is now taking water over the side is that its actions and those of Farage have generated so many negative stories for the media to feast upon.  The party has brought this on itself and scrutiny was always going to result in this.  There is no fire without fuel.  The lack of discipline, the questionable attitude of the leadership, the failure to develop and articulate a clear position on matters and the refusal to link the issues that have caused public anger to their EU origins, are seeing a double whammy of media feeding frenzy and flatlining poll numbers respectively.

What we have seen over the last few weeks is why this blog has long said UKIP deserves and needs better.  The stories currently in flight have far more impact because the main characters in them are still in place.  Perhaps in the light of these stories being trotted out in the media, our reasoning now makes a bit more sense.  Sadly for the anti-EU movement we can be certain things will get worse for UKIP before they have any hope of getting better.  It means we all lose.

Open goals, media handling, EU and the RSPB / WWF axis

The news cycle has moved on. The media roadshow has all but left town.  But for many people of the Somerset levels, the distress and upset caused by the flooding continues.  While the impact of the stagnant floodwater lapping around their communities and homes is all too real, for most people outside the area it is now almost a distant memory.

It’s with that in mind that Nigel Farage dropped into Burrowbridge on Thursday – for a pint naturally – and even made a reference to EU directives.  But the event, shoe-horned in to fit around various appointments and travel plans ahead of the UKIP spring conference, passed by virtually unnoticed and unremarked, and with it went Farage’s promise on Twitter of a press conference addressing the EU dimension to the flooding.

On the comment threads of this blog, my urgent calls for UKIP to get into this issue immediately and underline the EU role in it all, was dismissed by some for whom any criticism of the party or the leader is an outrage that requires immediate condemnation.  There was apparently a party ‘strategy’ in place to deal with this that we knew nothing about and which, surprise surprise, is yet to reveal itself weeks later.  Also despite Lisa Duffy’s train wreck comments on BBC Any Questions recently, there has been no correction from UKIP of her factual error about EU responsibility for the extent of the floods. Forget not being in the game, they haven’t even turned up at the venue!

Then on the failure to make the most of the media and PR opportunities available, I was told I knew nothing about these things, despite working in the profession for the last 14 years and having worked on political campaigns.  Now I don’t know everything but I do know that so far the use of the media, to make the point that EU membership and governance has played a major part in the ruination of the lives of people on the levels, has been non existant.  ‘Nige knows best’ was the subtext, but the outcome has been lamentable.  UKIP’s approach on matters of susbtance is always reactive, if it comes at all, and all too frequently the message misses the point.  The ‘Trust in Nige’ narrative used by the more tunnel visioned party members consistently puts us into a holding patten awaiting pronouncements from the great sage that then fail to materialise, then then adopt the ‘nothing to see here’ approach and move on to something else completely leaving the issue unresolved.

It is not just one open goal missed (again) but several.

The open goal of evident and explicit EU directives central to the actions of the Environment Agency regarding the flooding, some of which we referenced here, has been missed.  But also the open goal concerning the EU’s co-funding of projects with the RSPB and WWF to demonstrate techniques to evaluate and plan floodplain ‘restoration’ (aka, how to flood areas such as the levels).

Then in the last day another open goal has been presented that we can see clearly will be similarly ignored, that of the squandering of tens of millions of Euros of taxpayers’ money by the EU, to fund the activities of the very environmental groups who want to flood more areas in similar fashion, here and overseas. Everywhere we delve into reports and documents on this matter we see not just the all-too-active dead hand of the EU, but unelected and unaccountable long beak of the RSPB alongside the grubby panda’s pawprints of the WWF, which are liberally plastered over everything.

These supposed charities are in fact lavishly funded extensions of government in the EU.  They play a hugely significant and anti-democratic role in the formulation and delivery of policy and implementation of laws.  This EU governance structure should concern and anger people forced to live with the consequences of RSPB and WWF environmental desires being put into effect.

Many people who want something to justify leaving the EU would draw the line at being part of a union that not only permits this but actively encourages it and uses our money to ensure it happens.  But from UKIP we hear not one word about this.  What is it going to take to make them up their game and get these messages across?  Clearly the blogs will have to continue researching where the dots connect and publishing the details in the hope at least some peopleget the message.

If these facts, combined with a financial hit in the shape of grants totalling over €77 million given by the EU to just the WWF alone – one of the groups who pushed for the flooding of the levels – isn’t a subject for an EUsceptic party to bring to wider public attention, then what is?  This is not a blogger hoping UKIP will fail, this is a blogger frustrated that the party is failing and letting down everyone who wants to be free of this EU-driven eco lunacy.

I admit it. I got it wrong about UKIP

It is time to hold my hands up.  It seems I got it wrong about UKIP.

Thanks to the example of an excellent manager I had early in my career, in the work place I’ve always encouraged those who work for me or with me to readily admit when they have got something wrong, correct it, and take from the experience anything that can be learned to apply in the future.  I’m doing that right now.

Yesterday I gave credit to UKIP for embracing the reality of what Brexit from the EU will entail.  Janice Atkinson, speaking in Brighton a day earlier, made clear that extracting ourselves from the EU will take years and would have to follow Article 50 of the EU treaty being invoked to force a negotiation.

The elements of her remarks carried by the Guardian were sensible and measured.  There was no talk of the UK just up and leaving the EU without putting in place a negotiated settlement that covers access to the single market and trade agreements that have been put in place by the EU on behalf of all member states.

Yet just hours later, we see this article that was published on the UKIP website.

UKIP MEP candidate for the south east Janice Atkinson today put out a statement rebutting stories in two Labour-supporting newspapers which claimed she believed it would take years for Britain to leave the EU and that jobs could be at risk.

Mrs Atkinson said: “Of course it is possible for Britain to leave the EU very quickly by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act and effectively declaring independence.

Media outlets hostile to UKIP are clearly seeking to sow the seeds of discontent on this one.

But in the ebb and flow of a live question and answer session, I did not give as clear an explanation as I might have done.

So has she changed her mind, or has she had it changed for her?  Either way, I was wrong.  I let down my guard and I was taken in.

UKIP has not dumped the dangerous delusion of just up and leaving the EU and kidding itself that in matters of trade there will be no consequence – also known as the Gerard Batten, Tim Congdon, line.  Janice Atkinson herself makes this clear…

Trade between Britain and other EU countries is safeguarded by our membership of the EEA and by the WTO.

There is also the important fact that Britain runs a substantial trade deficit with the rest of the EU – i.e. they sell much more to us than we do to them. The idea of Germany wanting to provoke a trade war that will hamper its biggest export market is quite frankly ridiculous. So British jobs are not in danger.

Time for a reality check here.  If the UK just ups and leaves, without following the Article 50 route, which Batten has once again argued in a magazine article is a ‘trap’ and without a negotiated settlement, trade between the UK and EU will be impacted and jobs would be at risk.  We would cease to be members of the EEA and would not be protected in the way some ‘kippers keep suggesting by the WTO.

It is completely and utterly irrelevant that EU countries sell more to us than we do to them.  Without following the rules regarding exit from the EU and without having access to the single market agreed, the UK will become a ‘third country’ to the EU.  Yes, the WTO rules would apply – but those rules mean that as a third country the UK would have imposed on any exports to the EU the same tariff rates that apply to all other third countries that trade with the EU.  If any third country has tariffs imposed on them, the UK would have them imposed too by default.  Anything else would be a breach of international trade rules.

As an example, the 10% tariff on cars entering the EU for sale would then apply to cars made in the UK for the European market, affecting our export competitiveness.  Jobs could be lost.  The UK would likely retaliate and impose tariffs on EU goods coming to us.  Any tariff we impose on an item would then have to be imposed for similar goods from all other countries with which we trade, affecting the cost of imported goods to UK citizens.  UKIP’s favourite example, Germany, may not like it, but those are the rules and they would not be changed, certainly not in anything like a short time frame.

The WTO does not safeguard free trade for former members of a customs union with the remaining members, it just permits discrimination within a customs union that makes tariff-free trade between its members possible.  As such the WTO does nothing to help the UK if we exit the EU without Article 50 and an agreement on trade. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.  That is how it works.  UKIP’s claim otherwise is just wrong.

Therefore the ‘immediate exit’ approach is nothing less than a scorched earth policy.  This fact alone, when explained to voters, would be sufficient to bury UKIP at the polls, given the British people have expressed their desire to retain free trade with the other EU member states and businesses would likely lose market share with costs driven up.  Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

Why do we have this ludicrous state of affairs?  The reason is UKIP has a serious, perhaps existential problem.  The party is comprised of factions.  To keep the peace Nigel Farage has not grasped control of the policy and the message.  Yes, he has an iron grip on the mechanics of his party, but in trying to be all things to all men, keeping everyone under the same umbrella and preventing a party split, the factions have been allowed to establish and push their own messages and de facto policies for a long time.  Now Farage is trying to put together a message, the factions are not for turning.

That is why we have the Batten line in Freedom Today completely contradicting Farage’s recently adopted line from the UKIP party conference on Article 50.  That is why we have Janice Atkinson walking back her comments from Brighton and pushing the delusional scorched earth approach, just so as not to piss off a minority yet in party terms heavyweight faction that Farage won’t take on.  Party intrigues affecting principled policy.  This is the core reason why party politics is not the route to successfully leaving the EU.

So there you have it.  UKIP has no defined policy, its senior members are at odds on what approach needs to be taken to achieve Brexit, the leader is hamstrung into inaction in case he creates an argument that splits the party, and the media is handed a large cudgel with which to bash the party repeatedly for its incoherence, contradictions and incompetence.

Yesterday I gave UKIP a bit of credit.  I wanted to encourage what appeared to be some realism and common sense.  But after that they showed loud and clearly why my doing so was folly.  I was wrong.  Mea culpa.

Giving UKIP a little bit of credit

Catching the eye yesterday was a Guardian piece telling readers that UKIP accepts that an EU exit could take several years.

Ukip will have to negotiate a withdrawal from the European Union over many years and the party still has to work out the details of how it would secure such an exit, a leading Ukip MEP candidate in May’s European elections has conceded.

Janice Atkinson, who is number two on the party’s candidate list in the South East England constituency, admitted it would be impossible just to walk away from the EU.

Naturally the Guardian takes advantage of the absence of hard policy to give UKIP something of a whack, but also underlines its EUphile stupidity by referring to ‘Article 51′ when reporting Atkinson’s explanation that our way out of the union is by invoking Article 50 of the EU treaty. It does not seem to be an error on Atkinson’s part as there is no (sic) included in the text to indicate the error was on the part of the person whose words were being reported.

It is something of a relief to see a high profile UKIP figure making such a comment.  Of course it doesn’t tell the whole story, because this does not fully borrow from some painstaking research to explain how Brexit could be achieved within the two year period following Article 50 being invoked and what needs to happen in the years that follow.

Nevertheless the direction of travel here is welcome to see.  It is certainly a substantial departure from the dangerous approach pushed by a hard core minority in the party that the UK can simply up and leave on a whim, after which everything will somehow right itself as the fallout settles, because the Germans will still want to sell us cars. That kind of politicial illiteracy destroys any credibility the EUsceptic side builds up.

While welcoming this small step, it is worth noting UKIP is still a long way behind the curve in bringing these issues to the fore on the platform it has.  The party has never replaced the depth of knowledge or expertise in understanding the processes of Brexit and the risks of exiting in the wrong way, that it had with Richard North on the team.

Lifting and using external work might seem like a simple way to address the party’s deficiency in dedicated and exclusive research and understanding it used to have, but there is far more to it all than that being copied off the web.   The often complex reasoning behind the approaches advanced is lost without party spokesmen being educated to speak with authority on the subject – thus being able to rebut accurately and defeat the FUD thrown by the EUphile side.

So while this is a step forward, it is only a very small one.


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