Tendring Topics……..on line
I was not surprised (though I was disappointed) that Douglas Carswell now a Ukipper, retained his seat in parliament with a comfortable majority at
Clacton’s recent by-election. Douglas Carswell had undoubtedly been a
popular MP and in the few weeks before the election we had been deluged with
literature telling us what a wonderful chap he was. There was door-step canvassing, cold-calling
on the phone and a couple of well-attended public meetings addressed by Nigel
Farage, Ukip’s leader, as well as by the successful candidate.
Despite all this it seems that some Clactonians were a bit confused even up to and beyond polling day. One resident is reported as having said ‘Yes, I voted for Ukip this time – our Conservative MP has done nothing for years!’
Did you see BBC’s Panorama feature on Nigel Farage and Ukip last week? One thing that did surprise me was to learn how many people had held senior positions within Ukip and had apparently been close friends of its leader, until there had been a falling-out and they had parted with some acrimony. I wonder if the apparent close friendship between him and Douglas Carswell is similarly fated. I was also astonished to learn how many thousands of pounds Farage had claimed from the EU in expenses – and how rarely he had bothered to attend the EU parliament.
I wasn’t particularly surprised at a revelation of his lack of common courtesy. I had noted the rudeness of all Ukippers in the European Parliament in standing up and deliberately turning their backs on the playing of the European Anthem but I hadn’t realized how very rude, boorish and (he’d probably laugh at the word) ungentlemanly Nigel Farage himself can be on occasion. It was really embarrassing to watch him on tv, deliberately and without provocation insulting the European President, an older man than Farage and more distinguished than he will ever be.
I had hoped that our MP, Douglas Carswell, former Conservative now Ukipper, might prove to be quite different in that respect. I certainly hadn’t associated him with lack of courtesy – though he didn’t apparently have any qualms about displacing the recently democratically elected UKIP parliamentary candidate for the Clacton Constituency, when he decided to defect from the Conservatives and contest the seat as a Ukipper. The elected candidate, Mr Lord, a UKIP county councillor and a local farmer, didn’t take kindly to the usurpation. He resigned in anger from the Party and from the county council.
Sir Bob Russell,
Colchester’s Lib.Dem. MP was mildly
surprised when the Chief Whip, Michael Gove, phoned him on Saturday 11th
October to say that Mr Carswell had invited him to be one of his sponsors when
he made his debut in the House of Commons as a Ukipper. Sir Bob told a Gazette reporter, ‘He held me in high regard as an Essex MP although I have expressed critical words about
him and Ukip’. However, when Sir Bob
arrived at the House of Commons on Monday 13th October he learned
that there had been a change of plan. Former colleagues Sir Peter Tapsell and
Zac Goldsmith were to accompany Mr Carswell into the chamber. Sir Bob withdrew, though not
before commenting that it showed, ‘astonishing
An unfortunate muddle caused by mistaken underlings? Perhaps, or is our born-again-as-a-ukipper MP a quick learner who realized what his new loyalty demanded of him?
What of the future?
A friend of mine is convinced that the current popularity of Ukip and of Nigel Farage is fleeting; that by the time of the general election next May electors will have realized where their true loyalties lie. Ukip’s glory, and that of Nigel Farage will fade away and it’ll be a straight fight between Conservative and Labour. I very much hope that that is so, because I believe that Ukip and its leader are dangerous.
Meanwhile Nigel Farage is convinced that the tidal wave of public opinion in support of Ukip is unstoppable. He is already making plans for action when Ukip holds the balance between what we think of as ‘the main parties’. In the meantime he’s delighted that there is a proposal that he will be asked to take part in at least one (he’d prefer two!) of the pre-election political leaders’ debates. It may well be that that could prove to be his downfall because although Farage performs brilliantly before a friendly audience I’m not at all sure that he’s capable of answering convincingly, hostile or even neutral questioning on either the details, or the broad sweep, of Ukip’s policies and the direction in which they would take the UK.
I find it extraordinary that the debates will be between the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties with the leader of Ukip taking part in at least one of them. Why hasn’t Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party been invited? The Greens are offering a real alternative to the tired old policies of the Tories and Labour. Ukip doesn’t offer an alternative – their programme simply fulfils the secret wishes of the extreme right-wing of the Conservatives as Labour defectors are likely to find out if ever Ukip gains real power.
The Green Party stands for a more equal Britain, with a National Health Service in public hands for the benefit of the many – not a source of profit for the few; for free education and affordable homes for all. They oppose welfare cuts and believe that public services should be in public hands. Come to think of it, that’s what we returning servicemen and women thought we were getting when we elected Clem Attlee’s government in 1945. In those days, of course, we didn’t realize the importance of replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, another Green priority.
And the Greens are growing. Like Ukip, they have just one member in the House of Commons but in the European parliament they are a force to be reckoned with. Did you know that 1.2 million people in the UK voted Green in May this year – 150,000 more than voted for the Liberal Democrats. In our own
Clacton by-election the
Green Party Candidate – with minimal expenditure on his campaign, pushed the
Liberal Democrat candidate into ignominy in fifth place! Yet Nick Clegg is
offered a place in those pre-election debates and Natalie Bennett isn’t. I voted Conservative in that by-election
because I thought that the Conservative candidate stood the best chance of
denying victory to Ukip. And I think he
might have had the local Conservatives campaigned with the same energy and
enthusiasm as the Ukippers.
Should I still be around for next year’s election I shall vote Green. The Green candidate is unlikely to be elected in Clacton-on-Sea but every vote cast for him will add to the total number of Green votes nationally. If you’re disillusioned with the traditional political parties and are seeking an alternative – don’t vote Ukip. You’ll regret it if they ever do rule
Britain. Vote Green!
Dear Blog readers…..
I took early retirement from the local government service in 1980, a few days before my 59th birthday. I then embarked on a new career as a freelance writer. Among many other things I contributed ‘Tendring Topics’ to a local newspaper every week for 23 years. It was a weekly comment mostly on local and regional affairs though occasionally I wrote about the wider scene.
In 2003 a new editor wrote to me saying that Tendring Topics was no longer required. I was summarily dismissed. I was very hurt at the time, as I had acquired a large and appreciative readership. However, like so many apparent disasters in my life, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Very shortly after that my wife, whose health had been deteriorating, fell and broke her hip. She never regained her ability to walk and during the next two years she became more and more disabled. During those two years I didn’t write a word, read a newspaper or listen to the news on tv or radio. I was her full-time sole carer and really had neither time nor inclination to do anything else.
On 12th July 2006 my wife’s life came to an end. She was 82, I was 85. Three months earlier we had celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary and had received a congratulatory card from the Queen. Her death left a gaping, and aching, hole in my life that I attempted to fill with activity. My grandsons helped. Christopher, the elder, arranged for me to have a Flickr site on which I have posted hundreds of photographs (www.flickr.com/photos/ernestbythesea) Nick, my younger grandson, is a computer expert and now runs his own successful international Digital Travel Publicity Consultancy (www.se1media.com) He organised at first my blogspot (www.ernesthall.blogspot.com ) and later my website (www.ernesthall.net) on both of which I have published week by week Tendring Topics …on line for the past seven years.
I am now 93 and am feeling my age. I fear that my writing has become stale and repetitive and I often find myself consulting Google for information that, even a few months ago, had been stored in my head. I don’t propose to stop writing the blog altogether but I won’t be publishing it regularly every week. Nor will I feel that I have to write quite such a long blog as has been my custom. I will continue to support the causes that I think are important: nuclear disarmament; a United Europe; narrowing that yawning gap between the rich and the poor; proportional representation in parliament; a comprehensive reorganisation of the taxation system so that all of us – rich and poor alike – pay an equal percentage of our gross income as income tax or, as I prefer to think of it, our annual subscription to British citizenship - and I shall continue to promote my Christian/Quaker Faith! I thank all blog readers for your interest in my ideas.