Saturday, 29 November 2014

UKIP Are Knocking

Yes, that title sounds like an old song...

I don't write about UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) very much, partly because I don't like to give them the oxygen of publicity, but also because I am fairly relaxed about them. I know that their time will pass, as it generally does for cult-of-personality parties (those revolving around, and dominated by, their leader and that leader's personality) such as Robert Kilroy-Silk and his defunct Veritas party, and George Galloway and his vestigial Respect party.

Eventually people wake up to the fact that they have been duped by a clever 'sales pitch' – as has been happening (exactly as I predicted all along) with the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, and is happening with UKIP converts, such as James Delinpole. He was one of those I expected to wake up to the truth before too long: I gave him two years, but it actually took him less than a year to turn against his new political home, at least for a while.

Here, in Rochester and Strood, it has taken much less time than that for the rot to set in. Just days after being re-elected as MP, this time as a UKIP candidate, Mark Reckless started to learn one of the many truths about UKIP that some of us have known for years. The following was in regard to immigration...

Mark Reckless (Tuesday 18 November 2014)...

"In the near term we'd have to have a transitional period, and I think we should probably allow people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period."

Nigel Farage (Wednesday 19 November 2014)...

"We believe that anyone who has come to Britain legally has the right to remain."

Mark Reckless (Saturday 22 November 2014)...

"Until Nigel changed it on Wednesday, the policy of the party was everyone can stay for the transitional period, no doubt about that, that there would then be a permanent arrangement which would be part of the EU negotiation. The policy changed on Wednesday and I'm a bit sore about how I came out of that."

Interesting: Nigel Farage's on-the-hoof statements are immediately accepted as the party's policy. Not that this is anything new: Farage is on TV station video stating that the party's previous general election manifesto was "complete drivel", once again demonstrating who serves whom in UKIP because of that one person's dominance. This is the way dictators come into being, as history illustrates all too often.

Inevitably, UKIP turns out, at its core, to be a largely left-wing party. (and was created by a left-winger, Alan Sked) though this is camouflaged to some extent by having oft-changing policies that – if they were at any moment to be plotted on the two-dimensional Political Compass diagram – would produce a 'scattergun' effect all over the chart.

The only party UKIP continually attack is the Conservative Party – only token (and rare) attacks are made on any other parties specifically. They are also especially nasty, particularly their 'agents' (supposedly ordinary party members, though I do wonder sometimes) on social media and comment threads at newspapers and the like. It is all very reminiscent of the paid 'trolls' that Labour employed to do the same thing – and probably still do, though I haven't seen the classic ones such as David Dee and Hazel Tree for a while now.

I have previously discussed how UKIP is essentially a party of 'posturers and deceivers' as I usually put it, giving it all the yakkety-yak but not interested in doing the work. One UKIP MEP has what I suspect is the lowest attendance record in the European Parliament of just nine percent, while even Nigel Farage – who uses it primarily as a personal platform – has just a 37% record. They are, however, very good at just one thing – and that is taking money from the public purse.

Fortunately, attendance and voting records (and UKIPpers, when they do bother to vote – which isn't all that often – tend to vote against Britain's interests) and their allowances/expenses claims are all on the public record, so can be easily checked.

So, why have UKIP been on the rise during the past two or three years? Are people really that gullible?

As history will show, it was the appointment of Ed[ward] Miliband as Labour party leader that indirectly produced UKIP's rise, because when the more influential anti-Conservative sources realised that it meant that Labour now had only a very small hope of winning the next General Election, they came at it from the opposite direction.

They tried to find someone who – with a lot of active promotion and generalised 'bigging up' – could deprive a number of Conservatives of their seats. I could name names here, those I have observed doing just that, completely disproportionately, trying almost desperately hard to create a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding UKIP. Well, they succeeded – for now. It cannot and will not last...

The basis/background of all of what I have written here has been known to me for years. Ever since UKIP came head-hunting me, and I thus had the opportunity to find out more about them than they have ever realised, I knew the truth. Being me, I naturally modelled all future paths I could imagine were feasible, depending upon the likely fortunes of UKIP in the mix, and found that they will converge at a point a number of years in the future.

UKIP's time will pass, and their long-term impact on the British political scene will turn out to have been of no real consequence.

Thus the reality is that old scenario of the two ways to learn a lesson: the easy (and usual much quicker) way, or the hard way. The UKIP by-election win in Rochester & Strood shows that, yet again, the voters have chosen the hard way – but the benefit of this is that, when they finally do wake up to reality, they will learn that lesson good and hard, and won't forget it in a hurry!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Press Matters

Here and there over the past couple of years I have been encountering complaints by opposition councillors on Medway Council regarding the bi-monthly magazine that goes out to our households in the borough: Medway Matters. They have even referred it to the Secretary of State (SofS), claiming it is in breach of what is called the Publicity Code for Local Authorities.

Now, I am no expert on that code, but – although I have long-standing concerns with the publication – I doubt that it is actually in breach, and even if so, only marginally, which could be easily remedied with specific guidance from the SofS's office.

I do believe it to be, in parts, a little too close to being a Cabinet-dominated vehicle for that select band of councillors (just ten of the 55 elected members), as an inspection of a couple of recent years' worth of issues will reveal. For anyone with the time to spare and sufficient interest, I'd suggest going through all of the back issues for, say, the last five years for a more complete assessment.

However I do see that one charge thatis being made, if not strongly, is that because it takes in-house (i.e. the council's own) advertising – which helps fund it by the way – this is connected with the plight of our local press. This is specious, as the reason both local and national printed media are losing circulation is because more and more people are reading their news, sport and the rest of what appears in such publications not in print form, but on-line. This applies all around the country, not just here in Medway, where it has to be said all three such local news print outlets run busy websites themselves.

Although the graph at this page is a good year and a half out of date, the trend for all national UK newspapers is clear and has continued since, as Guido and others have periodically reported.

For example, the Kent on Sunday is still going strong, but it long ago dropped most of its YourMedway type publications, which were editorially identical to the Sunday product anyway, apart from pages 1 and 2 which were the only pages covering the specified area. I soon bored on reading mainly about what had happened in Maidstone or Ashford or Dover. The only other newspaper that was then still available was Your Tunbridge Wells(!)

The point here, though, is that almost all other areas in the county were similarly affected, thereby taking the Medway Matters element completely out of the equation: it is a red herring. Different, but not dissimilar in this core point, stories apply to the Messenger and News, the latter now publishing on-line only, and in a joint 'Medway and Maidstone' form.

If one looks at the amount the council 'spends' on its advertising in Medway Matters in a recent year, it's around £20,000 – which represents a drop in the ocean relative to even a local newspaper's annual advertising revenue. In fact, the council still advertises some things in the local press anyway (because it is more appropriate, for legal reasons, or something else that requires it), probably much more than the above amount, so the effect of 'Matters' is even less pronounced than might be assumed at first glance.

No: the real reason the opposition councillors don't like the council's magazine is because they don't have any editorial control over it. As we know from all left-wing régimes, and even many Labour-run councils, they are always dependent on propaganda in order to get any votes from outside their core activist and support base.

This is why, when the boot is on the other foot in such councils, there can be a much more serious issue with council publications and related matters (of which there are a fair number, by the way: it's not just magazines) and I have learned of quite a few of these. I might be quiet on this 'blog nowadays – though that might change soon, as we have local as well as national elections coming – but I am never idle, and my sources feed me all manner of solid evidence about what (usually) Labour-run councils are up to, in many ways.

Thus the months to come could again be very interesting on these pages – but I haven't yet decided how to play this January-to-May 2015 period of activity here, or even if I shall participate at all. By the end of the year I should have a clearer idea on that; but in the meantime this post is a reminder of my traditional myth-and-spin debunking style that many will well remember...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Reckless Abandon

I have deliberately been reserved (though not completely silent) on the matter of Mark Reckless's defection from the Conservatives to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). With what has happened since, and pressure from a few to put something on the record 'lest I be perceived as fudging it', here is the complete scenario in several parts. It will be quite long, but I hope will make for worthwhile reading. Let's start at the beginning...

Was it a surprise when Mark Reckless jumped ship?

Not really. Once his good buddy of many years, Douglas Carswell, made the jump, I immediately surmised that Mark would follow after Douglas had checked out 'the lie of the land', so to speak. Indeed, I suspect they had been planning all of this for some time.

Thus, when I was out that day to pay a courtesy visit to an event in the Lower Lines Park in Gillingham, and local Labour councillor Adam Price came up to me and announced that Mark's jump was just then being rumoured, I simply said to him 'So there goes another one!" as casually as you like. It was no great surprise to me.

Was he ever a true Conservative?

Probably not. The Spectator realised this back in 2005, when they supported all but one of the then Conservative candidates – the exception being Mark Reckless. They even wrote an open letter to the the Labour incumbent Bob Marsahall-Andrews, saying that he was 'more of a Conservative than Mark Reckless.'

I was never taken in either. Although I didn't know of that letter at the time (in fact, not until a few weeks ago!) when I was involved in the final three rounds of the candidate selection process for the 2010 General Election, I never once voted for him. Too shifty and calculating, his body language and voice spoke volumes to me...

Why was it timed thus?

The crucial factor was calling the by-election; and within six months of a General Election (either anticipated, or now – with fixed Parliamentary terms – a near-certain date) it is not required to hold a by-election, so it had to be at least a little over that time.

Fortunately for him, this fitted in well with the UKIP conference dates, so he was able to sneak off to Doncaster and make his announcement there, while still just over six months before the scheduled General Election date.

Why have a by-election at all?
It costs a six-figure sum and causes disruption and inconvenience.

There has been no real answer provided to this. There has certainly been no compelling reason offered to show why this suddenly became 'necessary' or even desirable. The correct way to have handled it would have been for Mark Reckless to resign the Conservative whip and sat as an Independent MP for the remaining six months, stating his intention to re-stand next May but for UKIP.

That would have been the honourable thing to do.

Failing that, he could have taken the same route as he has, but letting everyone who needed to know in advance. Instead, as several sources have reported (and it is easy to deduce from events) he lied to people's faces, and simply walked away from his constituency business, leaving those with enquiries and other matters with his office completely in the dark as to what was going to happen.

I had a few of those on to me, asking if I could intervene (a lot of people around here don't know that I am no longer active in the party or on the Council) in order that their business could be handled – but Tracey Crouch picked up the pieces and has taken over all that casework. With some advance warning, Tracey might have had a chance to recruit additional staff to help manage this doubled workload for the duration, but that obviously never came into the Reckless consciousness. He had simply abandoned them...

As far as the by-election per se is concerned, Mark could hardly avoid it once he had decided not to just resign the Whip, as Douglas had already gone the resignation/by-election route and it would have been really awkward for Mark not to do the same. The precedent had been set.

Why did he do it?

We might never know the true, full answer to that; but from what has happened, how it was done and his behaviour both before and after, we can deduce far and away the most likely reason. This also fits in with what Douglas Carswell did, and that was probably for exactly the same reason.

When you're out here in the constituency, you are the 'big fish in the pond'.
 When you get to the House of Commons and are surrounded by hundreds of others in your own party, you feel much smaller. Now, many of those are getting promotions while you are being left behind.

As well-reputed 'rebels' Messrs Carswell and Reckless will obviously have realised that they were consigned to careers spent entirely on the backbenches while they remain in a party where they are considered to be 'malcontents' or similar, and where there is plenty of choice to fill vacancies on promotion.

As the same-size fish in a tiny pond, they will now have much greater prominence (assuming Mark gets re-elected, which might well happen, at least for this six-month spell) and will be their new party's official spokesmen on this, that and everything else. Even if there should be an influx of UKIP MPs next May (unlikely, but not impossible) they will be entrenched and established. They will keep their positions.

Thus we can see why they took this particular route. If they had not been specifically 'UKIP MPs' until next May, they'd be vying with any other new UKIP electees for position. Thus the bottom line is, and always was, personal ambition. Principles probably never really came into it, apparent from perhaps incidentally, despite the hype. I'd say this scenario is a near-certainty, and the way they handled it shows this very clearly, once one takes a few moments to analyse it all.

Will he get back in?

Possibly. The local electorate still haven't yet fully woken up to the error they made with the Police and Crime Commissioner – though, as I have mentioned before (and confided to several people for more a good two years) that is happening. I suspect they'll make exactly the same mistake again, falling for the easy and oh-so-convenient sales pitch and the (pseudo!) 'non-establishment' line in particular. Of course it's all nonsense, but the public-at-large don't get it – not yet...

So, why are UKIP doing so well in polls and various elections?

This one is easy, but it needs some recent historical knowledge within the punditry to fully understand.

Once Ed[ward] Miliband became the Labour party leader, everyone and his dog immediately realised that Labour were not going to be able to win the next General Election on their own mettle. It was therefore around that time, realising that the Liberal Democrats were now a spent force and seeing their ratings plummet, that those with a specifically anti-Conservative agenda started looking for an alternative approach.

Shortly after, some influential sources started pushing UKIP very, very hard – and some of us noticed this at the time and since. I could name names here, but will merely drop a hint to one such: 'PB'. It is obvious that these pundits and similar were building-up UKIP a long way beyond their actual standing at the time or their unaided future prospects.

The reasoning was simple: they were purportedly right-wing and anti-EU (yet they had, and have, plenty of MEPs blissfully taking all the allowances and expenses they can get their hands on, while putting in little if any effort – one of their MEPs has a 9% attendance record, and even Nigel Farage's figure is just 37%) though much of this is deception. As if to point that up, they are also almost exclusively anti-Conservative: they very rarely have a go at any other specific party.

Thus they were an ideal choice for those with a suitably meshing agenda, especially those sources purporting to be 'non-party supporting', and the rest has become history. It is all very easy to see in retrospect, of course, when one analyses what has been going on under our noses.

And there we have it: there is more (a lot more, in fact) but this is long enough, I think. No doubt I shall get 'Kipper trolls doing what they always do – but they are transparent. I have operated on facts that are in the news and on the record. They are going to have a hard time with this, as they will know that what I have written is either essentially or entirely correct. I shall not be passing any comments that are either diversionary or seek to demean the messenger (i..e. me) as they are the two most common methods of the dishonest. No-one honest ever uses either approach!