Kinder, gentler politics?

Shortly after the Stoke byelection I received the following email from Momentum, Labour’s left wing grassroots movementA year and a half ago I was a teacher. My life was rowdy kids and bundles of paperwork. I got involved in Jeremy’s campaign because I believe in a creating a fairer society. 

Since then I’ve come to realise that if we’re going to win, we all have a part to play. We need to build a grassroots movement of millions that are willing to fight for the world we all believe in.

Winning won’t be easy. We saw that in Copeland last week.

But during these last few weeks in Stoke, I have seen everything we need to win across the country.

That’s why I’m asking you to join Momentum today

If we’re going to win the country back, we’ll need to repeat the energy, passion and tactics that worked in Stoke, hundreds of times across the country. 

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Energy, passion and tactics that worked?

Let’s look at some of them –

Bullying and intimidation – where UKIP have a chance of upsetting the Labour applecart, you will find their cohorts from the ironically named ‘Hope Not Hate’. Mobilised en masse, they attacked a number of female members of Young Independence, tearing their rosettes off and screaming abuse.

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Desperate Labour playing the ‘English’ card in Stoke

Last weekend saw a massive mobilization of UKIP supporters for the Stoke Central by-election, with over 200 members turning up on Saturday and another 70 on Sunday to support our party leader and candidate, Paul Nuttall.

I spent two days on the doorsteps with Freddy, Jim and Patricia as a four man canvassing team, talking with local residents and receiving a tremendous reception – I was even greeted with a big sloppy kiss on one occasion, albeit from a very friendly fox terrier!

The Labour campaign team had been around one street before us and what I found left me absolutely incredulous.

Playing the ‘English Card’

Left in the road was a Labour leaflet carrying the image of their candidate, Gareth Snell.

To my immense surprise, the Cross of St George was prominent at the top of the leaflet – did anybody run this past Lady Nugee, Emily Thornberry MP, who openly sneered at the sight of an English flag during a previous election campaign in Essex?

Indeed, I find the whole idea of Labour putting the flag of our country on their leaflets quite ridiculous in view of their disdain for our national identity as shown in their policy.

Let me explain……

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Why the Labour lies show UKIP can win in Stoke

Following the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt in Stoke-on-Trent, UKIP announced yesterday (21st January) that new party leader, Paul Nuttall MEP, will be our candidate in the subsequent byelection.

paul-nuttall-stoke

The seat is historically a Labour stronghold but their majority was down to 5000 at the 2015 General Election and, significantly, it registered one of the highest Leave votes at last year’s referendum.

The poor turnout at the General Election (Just 49%) shows how disillusioned local voters are with the party that has represented them in the past.

If Labour lose this seat (Plus the other byelection in Copeland, another former stronghold with an even slimmer majority) then Labour could be consigned to a spot in a museum similar to the one that Mr Hunt has left his constituency to take up a post with.

With this in mind, it was no surprise to see Labour Shadow Chancellor and my old sparring partner, John McDonnell, go on the offensive during this morning’s Marr Show on the BBC. However, both his body language and his line of attack show why the Labour High Command are terrified of the UKIP challenge in the seat and must be contemplating the possibility of an embarrassing defeat.

Spin, smear and downright lies

Once again, McDonnell trotted out the standard lie about UKIP wanting to privatise the NHS – this has never been a part of any UKIP manifesto.

Paul Nuttall spoke a number of years ago about making the procurement arm of the NHS more competitive – common sense when we see some trusts paying £25 for a lightbulb and issuing costly prescriptions for painkillers that you can buy for as little as 30p at the pharmacy. Yet in Labour’s eyes, this is ‘privatisation’.

So, let us look at the reality.

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The winds of change?

Thursday 29th November 2012 may go down as the start of a sea change in British politics.

North Croydon by election office

That evening saw three by-elections across England, two in the north and one in a working class London suburb in the south. Two were triggered by the deaths of well-respected local MP’s, whilst the Rotherham ballot was triggered by the resignation of Dennis McShane following a scandal surrounding fiddled expenses and false accounting – Unsurprisingly, this was the election that the media concentrated on due to the high profile nature of Mr McShane.

Labour victories in all three seats were expected – The real story would be what kind of margin of victory would be achieved and how hard would the current unpopularity of the coalition government affect their support?

UKIP were contesting all three seats following on from the Corby by-election of a fortnight ago where Margot Parker had polled a credible third place with 5108 votes and 14.32% of the vote – The Conservative vote dropped 15.63% as they lost the seat to Labour, whilst their coalition partners The Liberal Democrats polled less than 5% and lost their deposit.

Could UKIP replicate this impressive outing and continue to push their claims as the new ‘third force’ on the political landscape?

Making an impact

Paul Nuttall with Richard Elvin

It became clear by early evening that UKIP were doing exceptionally well in both Rotherham and Middlesbrough. Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall (Above, with candidate Richard Elvin) reported from Middlesbrough that even the Labour activists were saying that UKIP were going to finish second, a result that was confirmed later on in the evening.

The Buzz from Rotherham, also later confirmed, was that UKIP were pushing hard and were the main opposition to Labour retaining the seat whilst initial reports from the Croydon North constituency were that Winston McKenzie was pulling off a solid result against more fancied opponents.

With the final counts in from the polling stations, the scores were confirmed as follows –

Rotherham – Jane Collins – 2nd – 21.6% of the vote

Middlesbrough – Richard Elvin – 2nd – 11.8% of the vote.

Croydon North – Winston McKenzie – 3rd – 5.7% of the vote.

Rotherham recorded the best by-election result ever in UKIP history just a fortnight after Margot Parker had set a new benchmark in Corby. Whilst the high profile scandal of Rotherham social services taking children from a foster couple for the crime of being UKIP members obviously contributed (Where were these busybodies over the last 10 years whilst child grooming gangs operated in Rotherham one feels compelled to ask?), the down to earth nature of UKIP policy on a variety of issues obviously resonated with the electorate as party leader Nigel Farage pointed out when interviewed by the BBC immediately afterwards (Below)

In the northern by-elections, UKIP finished ahead of both of the Coalition government partners again as had happened earlier in the year in the Barnsley by-election and can now make a claim to be the main opposition to Labour in their heartland territories. In all three by-elections, the Liberal Democrats were defeated (They lost their deposits in two of the three to follow on from their lost deposit in Corby) – They have now been beaten by UKIP in five of the last six parliamentary by-elections and have consistently trailed us in the opinion polls for most of this year.

Of  the other parties, Respect were tipped to do well in both Rotherham and Croydon North but failed to repeat George Galloway’s shock victory in Bradford. Their candidate in Croydon North, the controversial Lee Jasper, lost his deposit and was soundly beaten by Winston McKenzie despite the presence of their battle bus on the final Saturday of campaigning where they made a concerted push and were expected to do well.

The BNP vote also dropped in Rotherham despite their third placed finish and seems to confirm that their decline as an electoral force is thankfully continuing, whilst the Greens also failed to make an impact.

The English Democrats were making very bullish noises in the run up to Rotherham following a second place in the recent Police Commissioner elections in the area, but despite concentrating all their resources on the one by-election they came a distant sixth with a lost deposit for their ex-Liberal Democrat candidate, David Wildgoose.

The start of a new force?

North Croydon by election with Winston

Whilst one swallow does not make a summer, UKIP results over the last eighteen months in local elections, parliamentary by-elections and the recent Police Commissioner elections have all shown an upward impetus.

UKIP regularly do well in European elections, where we have more MEP’s than all of the other parties except the Conservatives, a position that may well be reversed in 2014 on current trends.

With the Liberal Democrats in disarray as the public show them at the ballot box what they think of their broken promises, this could be the start of the break up of the cosy establishment triumvirate that have wrecked England over the last forty years. If so, our country may finally see MP’s representing them in a parliament that no longer consists of the elites from right and left but of ordinary people who are more interested in right or wrong – A parliament elected by the people of England and no longer answerable to unelected bureaucrats in a foreign country.

Maybe Thursday 29th November 2012 will be remembered in history as the first step – For our children and grandchildren’s sake, I sincerely hope that this comes to pass.