Tendring Topics…….on line
I told you so!
Well no, I didn’t really – because I didn’t imagine for a moment that he’d actually desert the Conservative Party, join UKIP and resign his seat in the House of Commons so that we Clactonians could decide in a by-election whether or not we wanted a Ukipper to be our member of parliament. I did know though that his heart was with UKIP rather than with David Cameron’s brand of Conservatism, and I respect him for following his own convictions rather than his financial and social advantage. The fact that I am quite sure that his conviction was pointing him in the wrong direction is beside the point.
I am, of course, referring to Mr Douglas Carswell who is/was (does a resignation from parliament have immediate effect?)
and District’s MP. A few months ago Mr
Carswell asked local members of the Conservative Party to describe him in two
words. I wasn’t invited to do so for
obvious reasons. However I joined in the
fun and described him in this blog as a Crypto-Ukipper. Recent events have demonstrated that that description was correct
During the time in which Douglas Carswell was deciding where his true loyalty lay, members of the local branch of UKIP were selecting their own candidate to fight for their cause in next year’s general election. Successful candidate was Mr Roger Lord, a farmer from Great Bentley and already a UKIP County Councillor. I had thought that it was the prospect of having an election battle with someone whose views were very similar to those of Douglas Carswell, then their candidate, that had prompted the local Conservatives to push two election campaign leaflets through my letter box, a week or so apart. A copy of the latest one – it came just a few days ago – is shown above. It’s quite eye-catching isn’t it?
The contemptuous way in which UKIP members rose in the European Parliament and turned their backs on the playing of the European anthem, suggests that common courtesy doesn’t rate very highly among the qualities valued by Ukippers. However, it might have been thought that someone from UKIP would have let Mr Lord know about Douglas Carswell’s impending defection and his intention to stand for the parliamentary seat for which the local Ukippers had selected Roger Lord as their candidate.
Mr Lord is quoted in the Gazette as saying, ‘I was selected and have appointed a campaign team and we have an election strategy planned. I have already recruited several members of Douglas Carswell’s team and they don’t want him back – they fell out with him big time’.
Mr Lord isn’t the only one to whom Douglas Carswell’s actions have come as a surprise. Ms. Dewlyth Miles, a former Chairman of the Clacton Conservative Association said, ‘This is a total blow to Conservative supporters in
Clacton. I had no inkling that he was going to do this
and would have done everything in my power to persuade him to stay. Had the Conservative Party known what was
going to happen they would hardly have gone to the trouble and
expense of printing those eye-catching leaflets and pushing them through our
letter boxes! Looking at that leaflet for a second time, I note that nowhere on it (not even in the small print) is there any mention of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative dominated government, though it gives the address of the Conservative Party in Clacton's Station Road, as the place to contact Mr Carswell. Could it be that local Conservatives have paid for some propaganda for their UKIP opponents?
I don’t want either Mr Carswell or Mr Lord to be our MP. I am not a supporter of UKIP. I am a Europhile and am proud of it. The EU needs reform – but so does the
UK – and I have no doubt that for
us to leave the European Union, to which we are bound by Geography, History, Culture and economic self-interest, would be disastrous.
I recall that I wrote in this blog that in the European Parliamentary Election I would vote for the Green Party because the election was by proportional representation and every vote counted. For British first-past-the-post elections my choice would be for whoever was most likely to defeat the UKIP candidate. If he or she were to be a Conservative I’d have a struggle with my conscience but – for the first time in my life – I’d vote Blue.
When I made that somewhat rash promise, the General Election was nearly two years away and I didn’t really expect still to be around when it took place. Now though – we’re to have a by-election, probably in a matter of weeks. My resolve could be sorely tested!
I have sometimes wondered if I am over-obsessed with the problem of debt. My parents spent their lives determined never to owe anything to anybody. I can recall them discussing for hours whether or not to make their first and (I’m pretty certain) only HP purchase – of a new ‘Murphy’ radio or, as we called it in those days, ‘wireless set’. Pre World War II, if you wanted something expensive, perhaps costing as much as £5.00 (in those days, two–weeks wages for a working man!), you saved up for it, a concept that seems to be almost unknown today. My wife’s parents (her dad was a skilled and experienced carpenter and never out-of-work) were just the same.
Consequently when my wife and I took out a mortgage for the purchase of our own home – the bungalow in which I am writing these words today – we did so with some trepidation. I had already started spare-time freelance writing and, year by year, my earnings from this source steadily increased. Every penny that I earned from that spare time writing was used to reduce the mortgage debt. As a result it was paid off completely, and my wife and I became ‘home owners’ and not just ‘home buyers’, ten years earlier than had been planned.
Nowadays I have both a credit and a debit card but, on the rare occasions that I use the credit card, I pay the debt off directly the demand is made by my bank, thereby incurring no interest charges.
Partly at least as a result of government policy, debt is at the very heart of today’s society. To be free from debt has become the exception rather than the rule. Interest rates are artificially low – though they become high enough for those who fail to make their regular repayments! Young people leave University or other further education with a debt that can amount to £20,000 or £30,000. It’s true that they don’t have to start repaying that money until they are earning a decent salary – but that debt has to be repaid at just the time when the debtor might otherwise be saving up for a deposit on the purchase of his or her first home. And that, of course, is another debt that has to be repaid – with interest. The government’s ‘help to buy’ schemes, by guaranteeing a large percentage of that deposit, drive up house prices and add to the regular monthly repayments made by the purchaser
It seems that the North-East Essex Coastal Area in which I live, in particular Clacton-on Sea, Frinton and Walton-on-the Naze has the highest level of debt in
Eastern England. A
report from the Children’s Society and the Step Change debt charity reveals
that within our area one third of families are mired in debt totalling more
than £5 million! The report says that
4,826 children in Clacton are affected and that families are being forced into debt
to make ends meet and to pay for the essential needs of their children. Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of Step Change
told a Clacton Gazette reporter that,
‘Families face a unique set of pressures,
but the sad reality is that for many parents credit, which is often
unsustainable, has become the only way to cover their essential household
The report in the Clacton Gazette records that our MP Mr Douglas Carswell is well aware of the local debt problem.
‘I know from my regular advice surgeries that family debt is a chronic problem and getting worse. If you look at average earnings in
Clacton, they have barely gone up
at all in five years, yet the price of basics like food and energy are going up
and up. The Government tells us that the
economy is recovering, but in our corner of Essex
the only thing going up is the prices in shops, and debt.
But, of course, Mr Carswell said all that before the Clacton Gazette or I or anyone else knew that he would be changing sides and forcing a by-election in which he hopes to stand as a Ukipper. I’m rather pleased that the last words that I shall type from him as
MP expressed thoughts with which I can whole-heartedly agree.
I don’t think that my obsession with the problem of debt is completely unjustified.