The Little Englander v The Europhile
Whilst cocky Nigel Farage is looking increasingly like a pink Kermit the Frog, EU-enthusiast Nick Clegg retains the boyish charm and earnestness which won him so many plaudits after the 2010 “I agree with Nick” pre-election debates with Cameron and Brown.
Nowadays, Farage’s studied arrogance and increasing belief in his own publicity is beginning to water-down both his image and the argument. I say THE argument because he is also coming across as a one-trick pony and thus in danger of being perceived as the head of a right-wing pressure group rather than the Leader of a bona fide Political Party. I am not saying that he’s not a good bloke but had he debated Britain’s Defence system or the changes in Education, he would have gained more credibility. Instead, we had yet more déjà vu!
He is probably regretting the fact than post-January 1st 2014 we are NOT being overrun by screaming hairy hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians heading over the hill from Newhaven to the nearest Benefits Office. David Cameron has been very quick to respond to Nigel’s xenophobic hysterics and has an ongoing charm-offensive in place, aimed at the “at-risk” Nutty Right Wing of the Conservative Party. DC and Nigel both know that come the General Election, the many who have dallied with UKIP will retake their rightful place and step back into the Conservative thin blue line.
Nigel’s task of criticising the EU gravy train whilst simultaneously immersing himself in the gravy makes some of his arguments appear both hypocritical and increasingly valueless. He was obviously VERY uncomfortable when being asked about paying his wife a salary and lapsed into his usual defence of turning an attractive shade of fuschia accompanied by bluster and large numbers.
Nick Clegg, on the other hand, was a tad patronising and appeared to lack conviction – although he is doubtless a committed Son of Brussels. He too made the usual points and counterpoints and one could argue that he cheapened himself by even appearing on the same platform as the UKIP Commandant.
The upcoming MEP elections will demonstrate quite clearly that as far as Europe is concerned, the British public fits neatly into the “don’t care” camp….
As to who “won” the debate…If you measured it on well-known points and statistics repeated yet again…it was a draw.
I have a request of all #UKIP supporters and members. When someone accuses your Party of not having any views or policies beyond Europe, do NOT simply direct them to the website without having read it yourself. You too should take the time to study the policies on Education, Pensions, Energy, Transport etc. This of course does NOT apply to bald members with tattoos and “the attitude”, who follow any faint aroma of racism or xenophobia. We don’t expect you to confuse yourself….but if you can find someone who can read the website out loud to you………………you may be surprised.
Wars of the Rosettes: UKIP
It used to be said that one of the biggest corporate lies was “I like a man who speaks his mind!” Nobody likes someone who tells it straight – especially if there’s an element of implied criticism.
When a company director says to an underling “Tell me what you really think about our latest initiative” what should the response be? You honestly believe that it is a crock of shit but you also know that it was the directors “baby”. If you’re wise and familiar with office politics, you tell the director exactly what you know that he wants to hear. On the other hand, if you’re a highly principled idiot, you are likely to tell the truth (your truth). That sort of response can come under the heading of “a novel way to resign”!! It is not worth the risk.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage is a straight-talking man and tells us what we want to hear – but he is obviously no idiot. He tells it straight and his disciples continue to multiply. He has two things which give him a great advantage over other party leaders. Firstly, he has what Boris Johnson has – Charisma….a carefully-cultivated roguish old-school, charm……. and he smiles a lot. Yes…it’s THAT simple!
Of course, he has the added advantage of an Establishment-led Coalition government which gives the perception of being utterly incompetent. The Labour Opposition has no discernible “bite” and is led by yet another charmless product of Planet Politics. The other bit of the Coalition (the small bit) is already in terminal decline – a full two years before the next general election. For our mate Nige, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
Nigel Farage can do or say whatever he damn-well pleases and there’s no-one around with the balls to censure him. He is the enemy of all the other political parties, and coincidentally they are also the voters’ enemy. But more importantly, he is the sworn enemy of the self-serving bureaucratic edifice that is the European Parliament.
His election campaign started not a few weeks ago but leapt into life months ago in Brussels as Farage demanded of Van Rompuy: “Who [the f***] are you…..?” That was the moment when many of us , whether we agreed with his politics or not, fell in love with Uncle Nigel. [The parentheses above and their content are mine!]
There was none of the political correctness which constrains David Cameron. If pushed, you can imagine Nigel saying “Barroso! you’re a twat!”- not that he would….but he has imprinted his personality on the national psyche so powerfully….that we now believe that he WOULD say what many of us are thinking.
Farage’s other great plus-point is that although he is the son of a stockbroker and attended Dulwich College, he went to work(!) (as a City commodities broker) at the age of 18. He has exactly the sort of background that the Conservatives would dearly love their leader to have.
So, as Nigel and his disciples march out of the wilderness into the political sunlight and as UKIP party contributions and sponsorships accelerate, what’s the future for the other parties?
Make no mistake, the Tory Starchamber’s Illuminati are looking very closely at their own Party leadership, as are the Trade Union leaders who set the drumbeat for the Labour party.
In the first instance, we can expect a clumsy lurch to the Right from David Cameron in a desperate attempt to woo back former Conservative supporters and hopefully, the other Miliband bought a return ticket.
Whatever the mid-term future holds, we are in for a very interesting two years.
May 2015 will be upon us very quickly!
The Eurocrisis isn’t just Financial.
The Eurozone crisis has managed to morph from a plain old currency crisis to a debt crisis, an economic crisis and now, a full-blown political crisis – although no-one seems to have noticed…….. and it’s not just the Eurozone:
In the United Kingdom, people are making increasingly indiscreet noises about the Prime Minister’s leadership capabilities and the Chancellor’s questionable competence, as the cold hand of political instability makes a (so far) half-hearted grab for No 10. Currently it looks as if there is already a swing to the right. Nigel Farage and UKIP no longer look like a bunch of extremist Right-wing loonies and as they gain respectability and seats, they will pose a genuine threat to the status quo.
Here’s a quick Grand Tour:
Greece’s political problems are well-documented and this is where the recent polarisation of national politics began with the success and increasing support of the right-wing Golden Dawn Party. Greece is on its knees.
In France there’s the scandal of a Minister and his secret Swiss Bank account with the consequent investigation of all Ministers – shades of the UK’s MP expenses outrage. President Hollande is keeping a very low profile because , let’s face it….he came to the table without any ideas. His mere presence has allowed Marine le Pen and her Right-wingers to re-emerge blinking into the sunlight, ready to build on her father’s legacy.
Germany’s Bundeskanzlerin Merkel is no longer odds-on to win her autumn election and so, in order to placate her detractors, countries such as Cyprus are being put through the debt-wringer and effectively having to bail themselves out! All in the cause of extra Brownie points for the Merkelator.
Many are anticipating more resignations from within the Cypriot government. Michalis Sarris, the Cypriot finance minister who negotiated Cyprus’s bailout agreement with international creditors has already gone.
Portugal’s Constitutional Court has kicked into touch some of the austerity measures imposed on the country by the Eurozone moneylenders. Now the politicians are wondering about how to plug the fiscal gap and Prime Minister Coelho may resign.
Belgium took 535 days to form a government after its last election and now has a 6-party Cabinet.
Italy is struggling to form a government and will most likely hold another election after President Napolitano comes to the end of his tenure as Head of State on May 15th. Goodness only knows what the reaction of not only the Eurozone but of the Markets would be should Silvio Berlusconi (again) rise from the dead! Italy’s political scene has become so surreal that ONE QUARTER of the vote in the recent election went to a protest movement headed-up by Beppe Grillo – a comedian!
Spain’s politicians, including its Prime Minister are mired in corruption scandals – and now there are anti-Royalist demonstrations as a direct result of the king’s daughter being implicated in a government financial rip-off. Mind you, affluent Spaniards have already pulled about $100 billion out of their Spanish bank accounts. They started running early. It’s only a matter of time before the Basques and Catalans start to make their separatist noises.
The difficulty is that one would normally expect the emergence of the Right to be counterbalanced by a strong showing from the political Left. But what Europe has are weak governments , compounded by even weaker oppositions. No European political party in government has over 50% of the vote……. and the less said about the European Union’s politicians, the better! They seem to have elevated ineptitude into an art form.
Currently, Britain’s Left is being driven by Ed Miliband and the New-Old-New-Who-Knows-Who-Cares Labour Party. They earn their salaries through the medium of being critical. They have shown themselves to be totally bereft of a coherent, cohesive strategy and will be directly responsible for the future success of UKIP.
Leadership (or a lack of it) within Germany’s Social Democratic Party will be the main factor which could give Merkel another few years of power. If that happens, the rest of the Eurozone should begin to consider itself as no more than a motley collection of Vassal States……there to do Germany’s bidding. Unless of course, Germany accepts George Soros’ advice and leaves the Euro.
France does not enjoy having a Socialist President and it is right to be sceptical. President Hollande is now totally ignored by Merkel and is doing what he does best – he keeps out of the way as Germany tightens its stranglehold.
Hollande could have been the Eurozone’s great hope but unfortunately is way out of his depth. France now has a negative bond rating by all three rating services and has lost much of its international respect. It’s precarious banking system is just waiting (like many others) to go “pop!”
The Main Event this year will be Merkel’s re-election so the Eurozone states must not expect any major policy changes until then – and when she wins? More of the same – but without the compassion!
What of Europe’s medium to long-term future? Without some sort of political quantum leap, it will inevitably descend into a collection of Third World states but with running water, TV and a banking system totally independent of its economy and probably with its own flag.
Eastleigh: a UKIP lesson
Last year, I predicted as follows: “David Cameron will realise that UKIP is a clear and present danger and will begin the fight-back by the only way possible. He will adopt their policies and reinforce that by continuing to spray copious volumes of testosterone in Brussels.” ( #17 HERE )
In spite of the Conservatives’ best efforts to smear the Liberal Democrats with the ridiculously-timed media Lord Rennard “Gropegate” campaign, the Party has been humiliated in the fifteenth by-election of this lame government. The majority of all the other by-elections since 2010 were straightforward and predictable “Labour Hold” results – this one was different. Very different.
If the insufferably smug UKIP leader Nigel Farage struts any more zingily, he’ll injure himself! But who can blame him? The incompetence, the 19th Century policies, the 18th Century verbal jousting and lack of cogent communication by the other parties has helped UKIP to begin their final climb to Westminster.
Both main parties will dismiss this colossal electoral success by UKIP as a mere mid-term blip…and they will suffer because of their total lack of either proper analysis or strategy. To both main parties but especially the Conservatives, UKIP has been allowed to become (ironically) like the Eurozone – it has flourished into a problem without solution. UKIP is here to say.
The way any government operates is very straightforward. The first half of its term in office is given over to imposing the necessary “bad bits” – the policies which are bound to be unpopular.
The second half of its tenure (especially in the final 12 months leading to a General Election) is usually distinguished by the giveaways – the “nice bits”. (Tax decreases, new thresholds, share handouts etc).
This time – it will NOT work. It will not work because , in the final analysis – forget policies and promises….we vote for people we like and trust. The present Coalition government (especially the Tories) have no-one particularly likeable to offer and they have certainly “blown” the last vestiges of any pre-election trust that the electorate had in them.
But the REALLY big tactical error that the Conservatives made in Eastleigh was their choice of candidate, Mrs Maria “I say what I think” Hutchings. She was the nearest that the Tories could find to their own ersatz UKIP candidate.
They thought that they might just fool the electorate…………. and failed.
We’ve already had the traditional “Yes, it’s disappointing but I’m sure that we can win the voters back at the next General Election” announcement from the Prime Minister.
Are you sure about that, Dave?
(BTW – well done Libdems………. and Nick, there’s a difference between “stunning ” and “stunned”!)
Local Election – don’t elect a Muppet.
We must make sure that we do not waste our vote in the forthcoming local election.
There was a time when party politics had nothing to do with local elections but sadly, that is no longer the case. Hopefully, one day local politics will return to choosing individuals who are best-suited to manage and control local issues and budgets.
Every party has individuals who are good at what they do. Their abilities have nothing to do with political allegiance. Within the present system – those are the people we should be voting for. The converse is also true.
At local level, we should not be voting for Liberals at because we have a good Liberal MP. We should not be ignoring any able Conservatives just because they do not appear to have the benefit of strong leadership at national level. The Labour handling of the banking crisis should not influence us if we have a Labour candidate who looks as if he or she has a contribution to make.
What should influence us is simple – which INDIVIDUAL do we believe can be entrusted with the responsibility of representing us most effectively on the Council. Blind partisan voting will only give us a random chance of voting-in the finest. At best we will elect a few good people – at worst, we will vote-in a single party, many of whom will just be “ballast”. Remember Blair’s Babes or the present crop of Cameron’s Cuties? They sit, nod or shake their heads like Muppets while those with proper views do the talking and decision-making.
There is too much political posturing at local level. Too much energy is given over to political in-fighting rather than concentrating on the needs of the rate-payers. Many of our local councillors appear to be playing at being in Westminster – consequently a local election result is now considered to be a vote either for or against the Government.
There is a rarely-printed saying in politics – “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
For those voters who do not quite understand local politics, it may well be worth describing that most council chambers, are organised along Westminster lines. There is a Council Leader (Prime Minister), a “cabinet”, disciplined Westminster-style voting (so that most councillors only have backbencher status) and various committees. Plus, the whole thing is supported by a permanent civil-service-like structured bureaucracy.
Since the gradual separation (at local level) of economic leadership from political leadership, the calibre of local councillors has doubtless fallen.
Nowadays, individuals who are economically important within a community do not necessarily have an interest in local government. Whereas years ago, a typical councillor may have been a land-owning or business-owning member of a well-established local family, nowadays, individuals who run substantial businesses are very rarely long-standing locals.
Corporate senior managers and directors are often imported from other parts of the country or even abroad and although they may have the skills to manage and govern, they do not have any particular interest in local goings-on, because often they know that their job-tenure will be short-lived. In addition, they know that it is central government policy and not local government which is crucial to their company’s profitability.
In 1967, the Maud Committee on Management in Local Government stated that many “councillors see council work as a supplement to their lives”. Some of the reasons which have been given for becoming a councillor – prestige, recognition, seeking a better social life, vanity, stepping-stone to a career in Westminster, self-improvement.
Luckily, there are still people out there who are local, feel strongly about local issues, want to serve the local community and are not on a power-trip or an imaginary (in most cases!) practice-run for Westminster.
In local politics, the “management classes” have largely given way to the “talking professions” because the ability to debate has become a more precious skill than the ability to manage a budget. The old-fashioned free-thinker has given way to the party pack-animal who will normally vote as the party tells him – the ideology of the party has displaced the common-sense of the independent individual.
In spite of all this, we do need local government . The usual voting turnout during a local election (below 40%) gives strength to the “centralist” argument which is in favour of power being taken away from local councils. That is just one of the reasons why it is important to vote – if we do not vote, then we give the impression that we do not care about or want local government. For all its faults – “use it or lose it.”
Finally, remember that not all Liberal candidates are vegetarian lecturers and Guardian-reading white-collar public-sector workers. Not all Conservatives are barristers, middle-managers and skinheads and not all Labour candidates are teachers, media people and union members.
The time has come once again, to vote for the individual and not the rosette.