Tag Archives: ukip

We can learn from UKIP!

UKIP is dead in the water. Their voters have swung to a Tory party committed to Brexit with no final consultation and the opening new grammar schools, both signature policies of UKIP: their task is done.

Meanwhile, we Lib Dems are bigger than we’ve ever been; and yet in spite of a 2% swing to us, we are not making the gains we deserve. Both Labour and the Tories have sticky voters who aren’t coming over to us: if Corbyn was as much of a dead weight as people say, I would expect a bigger swing from Labour; and Tory voters seem optimistic the consequences of Brexit can be weathered in a safe pair of government hands.

We need to learn from UKIP. To be victims of our own success would be a great pleasure. As most people see it, we are victims of our own stupidity; the one totem policy people associated with us got dropped. The ins-and-outs of policy do not matter to the man on the street. The strides we made in government, of which we are rightly proud, simply aren’t important.

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Encouraging poll news for the Liberal Democrats

The first Scottish opinion polls since the General Election was announced have been published and there’s mixed news for the Liberal Democrats.

Panelbase has us on just 5% (but that’s still up since January) and Survation has us up 1 from the 2015 election at 9%. If we go up at the rate that we have done in every election other than 2015, we could be on for a fair few gains up here. Edinburgh West and North East Fife, both gained from the SNP at Holyrood last year are the top targets but seats like Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross and Charles Kennedy’s old seat of Ross, Skye and Lochaber are definitely in play. Winning back those highland heartlands from the SNP would be a marvellous thing and it is eminently doable.

On a UK level, we’ve gone up 4 points to 12% in a YouGov poll.

And there has been another important development:

UKIP are on the way down, and they certainly don’t seem to have learned any lessons about candidate approval, if one of their Glasgow council candidates is anything to go by. It’s quite something when being in favour of the guillotine and flogging are the mildest of your bizarre views. From the Herald:

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Yeovil UKIP candidates blame NHS crisis on women doctors

If you listen to most experts, the reason for the crisis in the NHS comes from under-resourcing and an aging population. But, no, UKIP council candidates in Chard in Yeovil have come up with another explanation. It’s all the fault of women doctors and their career breaks and part-time doctors.  Buzzfeed has the story:

The leaflet was produced by local UKIP councillors in Somerset who suggest alleged positive discrimination in the GP hiring process could ultimately lead to local surgeries closing altogether.

“How many female Doctors are there in your surgery working 2 or 3 days a week?” it asks, warning the issue could result in thousands of patients being left without access to medical care when GPs retire.

They have a quote from Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Yeovil, Daisy Benson:

UKIP might wish we were living in the 1950s, but it’s 2017!

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From UKIP to Social Democrat in the LibDems

This piece is long overdue, as I joined the Liberals Democrats back in October 2016. Since then, I have been elected Secretary of Runnymede & Spelthorne Liberal Democrats. I am also deeply involved with the newly formed (or regenerated) Royal Holloway LibDem Society.

So how does one defect from UKIP to the LibDems? I shall be frank.

I started involvement with UKIP in 2010, at the age of thirteen. This was when the party was an anti-EU pressure group. It felt outrageous and fantastically rebellious to participate in an idea that could undermine the entire establishment. When I saw the three main parties, I saw spin, snobbery and fakery. I did dream that one day something big would take down the political elite, who to me had a contempt for ordinary people and democracy.  Today, I still believe this contempt exists strongly, but now we have a situation where they are forced to listen a little bit more.

My involvement in UKIP allowed me to channel my indignation. Also, being the only young person in the room, on many occasions, allowed me to develop a range of political and communication skills that may have taken much longer to attain in another party.

However, I came to realise that the party was seriously limited: organisationally and intellectually.  There is no plan, for anything. It’s all improvisation. And if there is  someone with a plan, he/she will probably leave or get kicked out, because the party’s vested interested in keeping the party like a pressure group is too strong. It felt like what Party HQ really needed was a textbook explanation of the roles and functions of a political party on every wall, before anything serious could begin.

Posted in Op-eds | 53 Comments

Why we need UKIP in the fight for Electoral Reform

 

Pursuit of electoral reform was once a defining policy of the Lib Dems, and it remains one of the key reasons why I am a member of the party. But the disastrous AV referendum in 2011 seems to have kicked the issue into the long grass. I have the same hangups about that referendum as many other Lib Dems do. Labour’s support was non-existent; the Murdoch press spread lies; and the vote was used as a way of punishing Nick Clegg. In short – the establishment pulled rank.

One popular observation about electoral reform is that no party in Government would ever support changing a voting system which had just given them power. I don’t think that this argument is as tautological as many claim it is, but it’s certainly a major concern.

However, none of this hides the fact that voting reform has never gained much support from the general public, unlike other anti-establishment causes. Electoral Reformers are in the uncomfortable position of being hated by the establishment but treated with disinterest by the wider electorate too. It is so often seen as peripheral issue, which only middle-class policy wonks from the liberal elite can be bothered to care about (a problem which the Lib Dems are oh so familiar with).

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No wiggle room for UKIP-backed Zac Goldsmith

We don’t often run UKIP press releases on here, but in this case it is justified to prove a point. Apparently Zac Goldsmith doesn’t much like being described as UKIP-backed.

Just a reminder of the UKIP statement just after Goldsmith resigned.

UKIP Chairman Paul Oakden said “On Tuesday 25th October Zac Goldsmith MP announced that he was resigning

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Tim Farron reacts to UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith

Following UKIP’s endorsement of Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park by-election, Tim Farron commented:

Zac Goldsmith claimed Brexit has nothing to do with this by-election. The very public endorsement he has picked up from the party of Nigel Farage nails that lie.

Zac Goldsmith was already the Conservative Party candidate. Now he is also the UKIP candidate. His campaign is the Nigel and Zac show.

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Sending best wishes to Steven Woolfe MEP and his family

steven-wolfe-photo-by-european-parliament
We send best wishes to UKIP MEP Steve Woolfe and his family, following his hospitalization after an incident at the European Parliament. We wish him a speedy and full recovery.

Photo by European Parliament

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Whoops – there goes another UKIP leader

It’s a little known political trivia answer that Suzanne Evans was leader of UKIP for a few days in May 2015. Nigel Farage stood down after losing Thanet South in the General Election and Ms Evans stood in for three days. Then the party’s national executive commitee rejected Farage’s resignation.

Incredibly, now another UKIP leader has stood down after a few days. Diane James has resigned 18 days after being annointed by an awkward Farage non-kiss as leader.

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Post-Farage UKIP and Trump’s Republicans: Populists can derail themselves, too

 

The first seven months of 2016 have seen big, consensus-upsetting scores by populist parties across Europe.

The election in Italy of two women from Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star Movement” to become mayors of Rome and Turin (the present capital and the residence of Italy’s founding Savoy dynasty, respectively) in June; the success of Dutch populists (Wilders’ PVV and the weblog “GeenStijl”) and British populists (UKIP) at two big EU-related national referenda in April and June, and the breakthrough of Germany’s racist “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) in three German regional elections (biggest score: 24,3% in Saxony-Anhalt) in March, all were seen as portents of big electoral upsets, threatening established party-political balances of power.

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Leaving Europe so we can adopt Aussie-style immigration rules won’t solve a thing

 

Nigel Farage told the media last year, “I am saying that if we have an Australian-style points system, immigration would not be a problem.” He made the point again earlier this month, speaking to Sky News.

The fact that inside the European Union we can’t adopt a more restrictive Australian-style points immigration system is for many the single biggest reason there is to leave the EU. Rid ourselves of the shackles of Brussels, crack down, and, as Farage himself said, “immigration would not be a problem.”

It’s a point summed up by their migration spokesman, Stephen Woolfe MEP: “To restore Britain’s borders, we need to leave the EU & implement a fair & ethical Australian style points based system.”

Well, I’m on holiday in Australia this week, and I’ve been reading the papers. And one thing I can definitely say is that an Australian-style points system is no silver bullet when it comes to immigration.

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Putting in a good word for Turkey and the Turks

I couldn’t believe the UKIP Party Political Broadcast (PPB) earlier this week. It really is a new low for a PPB to comprehensively denigrate an entire country and its people.

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Sal Brinton on Question Time tonight – will she confront Farage over UKIP’s awful broadcast?

So much for my early night tonight. I have to get up before the Cool Kids have gone to bed to get a flight to Cardiff to go to Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference. I can’t miss Sal Brinton on Question Time (BBC1, 10:45pm), though. Especially as there may be a bit of an awkward moment for Nigel Farage. He’s on the programme yet again on the day that Tim Farron and Meral Ece have complained to the BBC and Ofcom about UKIPs Party Political Broadcast last night. They say that it incited religious and racial hatred.

I don’t normally go out of my way to watch UKIP broadcasts. Life is just too short. However, I steeled myself to look at this one and, sure enough, my skin was soon crawling. It was basically a brash and ugly attempt to create division and distrust and gives a very false impression of Turkey and its people. It made me feel very uncomfortable. The premise was that Turkey was just about to join the European Union and this was a bad thing. It’s not as if that’s likely to happen any time soon, but they made it sound like it was going to take place next week.

UKIP are using exactly the same tactics as they did in 2013 over Romanians and Bulgarians. It’s truly horrible. I remember people in Eastleigh telling me on the phone that 40 million Romanians and Bulgarians were going to come to Britain – a massive proportion of the populations of those two countries – because UKIP leaflets were full of it. In fact, this time last year, there were 172,000. Those figures estimated that there were 1.9 people here from other European countries. There are 2 million British people elsewhere in the EU. Freedom of movement works both ways.

Tim explained why they had reported the ad to OFCOM:

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A refreshing note of dissent in UKIP on Farage’s HIV comments

One of the most awful moments of the 2015 election campaign was when Nigel Farage mentioned “foreigners” and HIV treatment in one of the TV debates.

UKIP’s only MP is Douglas Carswell. His father, Wilson Carswell, was one of the first doctors to identify HIV/Aids in Uganda in the 1980s.

So, one expected Douglas Carswell to have some views on Farage’s revolting HIV comments.

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Opinion: On voting reform, the Lib Dems must seek an ally in UKIP

Voting reform has been a key Lib Dem issue for many years now. It’s not necessarily primary concern of the average voter, but the way in which we choose who governs us is one of the most important aspects of democracy and cannot be dismissed.

The latest election has provided us with a stark display of why a more proportional system is vital for Britain’s future. Those determined to protect that status quo will point to the referendum in 2011 and claim that the British public has already rejected reform, but this is nonsense. AV may be fairer than FPTP, but it was ultimately a fudge, and no more proportional than the current system. We’ve never been allowed a vote on whether we want PR.

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Nick Clegg, coalitions and the SNP: too much egg in the pudding?

Nick Clegg has been talking about how the Liberal Democrats will not be part of a coalition which has to rely on the support of the SNP or UKIP.

He outlined his position in an email to members this afternoon:

You’ll see in the news today some comments I made about us not entering into a post-election coalition that relies on life support from the SNP or UKIP.

Over the next 12 days the media are going to become more and more obsessed with who is prepared to do a deal with who. This only goes to underline what we all know – nobody is going to win this election – which makes the number of seats we win even more important.

As we have always said, the party with the most votes and the most seats in this election has the first right to seek to form a Government. The British people would rightly question the legitimacy of a coalition that didn’t allow the party with the largest number of seats and votes the opportunity to attempt to form a Government first.

I’m proud that the Liberal Democrats have proved we can form a strong and stable coalition government, able to bring prosperity to Britain.

Just like we would not put UKIP in charge of Europe, we are not going to put the SNP in charge of Britain – a country they want to rip apart.

We’re a democratic party. In the end, the decision to form a coalition rests not with the leader but with the party.

So let’s not get too distracted – I’m going to spend the next 12 days supporting our candidates and making sure we win as many seats as possible. I know you will as well.

If you’re not already helping a target seat, why not sign up to make some phone calls from home this week and help get out our vote? Every call you make will help one of our fantastic candidates.

Thank you for everything you’ve already done, and everything you’re going to do in the next 12 days.

Nick

The fact that he’s done such an email to members shows that he realises that this will be a controversial stance. Aren’t we, after all, the party that believes in coalition and if we’re doing politics differently, should we not reject the binary “one big party/one little party approach. Should we not be championing a more inclusive, pluralist approach, after all?

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UKIP’s support is based on irrational fear of the unknown, leading to unBritish and unChristian behaviour

Channel 4 News Factcheck is a place I often go to when I need a bit of sanity. On immigration, they have an excellent post.

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William Wallace writes…Challenging Ukip’s assumptions

With Eurosceptic Tories and Ukip candidates alongside us in this campaign, we need to challenge their assumptions in every all-party panel and debate. Here are a few I’ve found useful so far:

1. To those who say we want a referendum now, or as soon as possible, without waiting for negotiations on EU reform or for the next change in the Treaties: why don’t they say straight out that they want to leave the EU, and not hide behind the call for a referendum?

2. Where do they think Britain will go to when we leave the EU? The Norwegians and the Swiss have warned us about the disadvantages of not having a say in the rules of the Single Market.  Would we find closer friends to work with in Saudi Arabia, or Russia, or China?

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Tim Farron’s UKIP opponent resigns, citing claims of “open racism” and “sanctimonious bullying” within the party

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UKIP’s official health spokesperson: “I have no experience in health whatsoever”

Louise Bours MEP, UKIP’s health spokesperson, made a startling admission to the Independent in an interview published today. She said:

One thing that irritates me more than anything, and you see so much of it the higher up the political hierarchy you go, that’s it’s full of a load off… people who aren’t particularly honest, let’s put it that way,” says Louise Bours, Ukip MEP for the North-west and the party’s official health spokesperson.

I like people to be straight with me, I don’t like all this…shenanigans in the background, I’d rather people be honest and up-front and I always try to answer things very honestly.

So, honestly, I have no experience in health whatsoever, she says.>

On one of the key battlegrounds of the election, UKIP’s designated spokesperson is basically saying she’s sorry, she doesn’t have a clue.

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Opinion: Britain’s Greenest Party, the Green Party and Environmentalism

Green Lib DemsThe Green Party, which I was a member of briefly in the late 80s, has hard left socialist roots and is widely considered both anti-capitalist and paradoxically authoritarian and localist. It has a wide range of policies, all of which take note of environmental concerns (which do not begin and end with climate change, any more than ours do) but only reference those concerns where necessary. Lately it has been adopting a less hard line approach and on many matters, such as human rights, is decidedly liberal.

However in many cases their authoritarian command economy habit overrides any nascent liberal instinct, and their antipathy to technological and/or market solutions means that they throw away over half the toolbox before they even start. Dogma comes before evidence, and articles of faith remain unchallenged and therefore unproven.

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Time to lambast the economic stupidity of Tory posturing on immigration

 

The main headline in today’s Sunday Times (£) is something of a milestone. (Helpfully, the Murdoch empire make most of the story available on Sky News without a paywall).

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 26 Comments

Opinion: Is the centre ground disappearing from British politics?

Ballot boxIs it just me, or has something recently changed in British politics? In fact, this apparent move towards what some might see as extremism may also be a characteristic of the political scene in Europe and further afield, too. It is almost akin to the frenzy that seems to hit societies at the end of each century, but manifesting itself a decade and a half late.

What the opinion polls appear to show is that the centre ground, represented primarily by the Liberal Democrats, has lost ground in favour of a …

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Desperately seeking Nigel

Nigel Farage seems to be everywhere these days (except for turning up to propose his own motion). But, curiously, there is one fairly crucial place he isn’t.

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Opinion: US analysis of how to beat “far right” UKIP – be consistent

Washington DC based think tank, The Marshall Fund, which promotes understanding between North America and Europe, has produced a new research paper: “The Unstoppable Far Right?” that looks at UKIP in Britain and similar parties in Germany (Afd) and the Netherlands (PVV).

The paper compares “euro-sceptical right-populist” parties in these countries and concludes that what mainstream political parties say and do has a big impact on whether people vote for these parties. The “rise” of these parties is by no means inevitable: the PVV went significantly backwards at the 2014 European elections.

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Nigel, was there something you forgot to do?

Nigel farage photo by norbert1As the net migration figures come out today, Nigel Farage has never been far from a tv camera. He’s been on the BBC News Channel. on the Daily Politics, spreading his ill-informed nonsense that we have an open door to half a billion people as if the entirety of Europe was going to pack up and come here to live.

It must have slipped his mind that he was supposed to be in Strasbourg this morning, voting down the European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker. He must have also forgotten to take part in the debate on the motion on Monday. The funny thing is, he’s been in Strasbourg this week, lining up to meet the Pope.  UKIP MEPs don’t often trouble the Parliament with their presence, but you would think that Farage would have bothered to turn up to support his own motion! He and others including France’s Front National leader Marine Le Pen had wasted Parliament’s time with the motion which was roundly defeated this morning.

ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt spoke against it in the debate and he didn’t mince his words:

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The Independent View: The political culture in Britain seems to have been infected by a form of madness

With each electoral gain made by Ukip, politicians and the media respond with ever more apocalyptic descriptions of the insidious effect of mass immigration on this small overcrowded island.

A vivid picture is painted daily of a nation overrun by swarms of migrants who are taking our jobs, lowering our wages, scrounging our benefits, crowding our schools, clogging up our hospital wards, destroying our culture and boiling our children before eating them for breakfast.

Well, maybe not the last bit, but some of the scaremongering rhetoric comes close to such levels of hysteria. It would be laughably surreal were it not so inflammatory and potentially damaging, particularly when it is stirred up by people in positions of power and influence who really should know better.

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: UKIP fails to win in London because it fails to understand its communities

nigel farageIn this week’s New Statesman, when confronted with the fact that most in London do not share his “uneasy” feelings towards immigrants speaking in their mother tongue, Nigel Farage launches another attack on the capital’s so-called “commentariat” who are “caught in the whirlpool of London thinking”. It’s his typical accusatory anti-liberal, anti-elitist, anti-London rhetoric, and so you’d think it would register just as a minor tremor on the UKIP-irritation seismometer. But it wasn’t. This was a good 7, at least, on the personal Richter Scale.

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Half of current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in 2010

“As Ukip is to the Tories, so can the Green party be to the Lib Dems.” That’s a sentence I wrote 7 years ago, November 2007. So I was interested to see this post by YouGov’s Peter Kellner – ‘Ukip, the Greens and the new politics of protest’ – which looks at his firm’s polling data to find out more about the current spike in support for the Greens.

In it, he aggregates three weeks’ polling data to create a sample size large enough to find out who these new Green voters are. One finding probably won’t surprise many of us: half current Green supporters voted Lib Dem in May 2010:

yougov - green vote

Here’s how Peter Kellner analyses it:

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Sal Brinton writes… Ukip’s hypocrisy on tackling serious child abuse issue is breath-taking

UKIP logoToday in the House of Lords, Baroness Joan Walmsley and the Lib Dems secured an agreement from the Government on the Serious Crime Bill, for a major consultation on introducing rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

At our recent Federal Conference in Glasgow, Liberal Democrats passed new Party policy in support of requiring those who work with children and vulnerable adults to be required by law to report to the authorities if they have any suspicion that abuse is taking place. However, despite debates on this and other amendments concerning child abuse being debates, Ukip members of the House of Lords failed again to participate in this work.

Ukip’s hypocrisy is breath-taking. They issue a photograph of a girl with the headline ‘There are 1400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again’ in Rotherham, but their record on tackling serious child abuse issue is disgraceful.

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