Politics

Kipperwatch! South Essex UKIP in bid to redefine “omnishambles”


kipperwatch

Talk about piss ups and breweries…

When, in October, I suggested that Kerry Smith may have been sacked as UKIP candidate for South Basildon & East Thurrock to make way for Neil Hamilton, I was bloody joking.

But apparently UKIP are so much of a joke that they took it seriously, and came perilously close to selecting the disgraced former Tory MP for Tatton. In the end though, they seem to have gone for some bloke by the name of Kerry Smith.

Yep. The self-same candidate they deselected not two months ago.

Read on…

If UKIP’s leader won’t vote for Floyd Waterworth, why should anyone?


floyd waterworth shrug

When Cllr Floyd Waterworth (Blenheim Park) was selected as UKIP parliamentary candidate for Rochford & Southend East, it was to widespread surprise.

Partly because he was an invisible presence locally, unknown to even the local political anoraks, elected in his ward primarily due to low turnout, high UKIP presence in the media, and the European Parliament elections being an issue catalyst for his voters.

It was also because the candidate-presumptive had been Cllr James Moyies (West Shoebury), UKIP group leader and the person who probably deserves the most credit — after Nigel Farage, of course — for UKIP’s breakthrough.

I have no real idea why Moyies lost out to Waterworth (though I have my suspicions), but it does seem that there is some bad blood between the two. Conservative councillor James Courtenay (Blenheim Park) has today blogged that, James Moyies told him, “I won’t be voting for him [Floyd Waterworth] in the general election.”

Read on…

A little perspective, please


ed miliband

Ed Miliband is in trouble.

This much is undeniable. Two of his MPs have defected to an insurgent party who are taking vast swathes of his party’s voters and activists. He has been forced into an embarrassing volte face on almost every policy position he initially espoused. More than 30 of his MPs have called for him to go, and now his party’s polling has dropped to 27%, within touching distance of UKIP.

Oh, hang on. That’s not Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, is it? That’s David Cameron and the Conservative Party.

Read on…

And about time, too – replacing the House of Lords with a Senate


house of lords chamber

I’ve been looking over Ed Miliband’s proposals to replace the House of Lords with a Senate, and I have to say: I’m pretty impressed.

Lords reform is one of the great pieces of unfinished business left behind by the last Labour government. We’ve been stuck with the halfway-house solution of 92 hereditary peers and an ever-growing number of life peers since 1999, and it doesn’t really fit. Successive Prime Ministers have added to its bloated membership (none more quickly than David Cameron), and it is high time that someone dealt with this undemocratic blight on our constitution.

So yes, I do rather welcome a firm commitment from Ed that a Labour government would take such action.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! U-splits in Essex UKIPwest


kipperwatch

It’s a universal truth that all political parties are coalitions. The Labour Party, for example, is a coalition of old Labour traditional socialists to modernist “Blairite” factions and everything in between. The Conservatives have (a declining faction of) one-nation-type Tories, ideological Thatcherites, and further right almost-nationalist types.

The Liberal Democrats are still broadly divisible into the Liberals and the SDP, with a mix of those who joined when they were a left-of-Labour party, and have since pretty much melted away. And the Greens are an alliance between the middle-class, tree-hugging liberals of old, and old socialist elements floating around since Kinnock declared war on Militant Tendency.

But UKIP — UKIP have perfect the mongrel art of the political party. Farage is a sometime-Thatcherite, with a taste for the little Englander world-view, whilst UKIP’s first, and at time of print sole, MP is more of a classic liberal. And in elections in the north of England, they have been manoeuvring to be an Old Labour replacement.

So with such a varied composition, it can be no surprise that there are ideological fault-lines all over UKIP’s topography. And they seem to be coming to a particular head in South Essex.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! Has UKIP already reached its peak in Thurrock?


kipperwatch

Thurrock is just down the road from Southend. About fifteen miles or so from my door, as the crow flies. And to go there, to listen to UKIP it’s already theirs. They did indeed do well in the local elections in May, but then they did well in Southend without much of an idea of what they were standing for.

Tim Aker, the UKIP MEP for the East of England and candidate for Thurrock, is even going on Newsnight and describing Thurrock as “his seat”. Which is presumptious, given that it’s a three way marginal which he hasn’t won yet.

But it illustrates a point: they think they’ve got this sewn up. So in a by-election in a Labour council seat, a week after coming within six hundred and twenty votes of winning a safe Labour parliamentary seat, they’d look to storm it and win in a landslide.

Funny that they lost, and by a considerable margin.

Read on…

Debating debatable debates


leaders debates

I’ll lay my cards out straight off here; I’m not much of a fan of party leaders debates in the run up to general elections. We have a parliamentary, not a presidential, system in which we do not elect our heads of government. We elect our representatives to parliament.

What would, in my opinion, be more helpful would be 650 individual debates, one in each constituency in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. That way people can see the candidates that they can actually vote for going head to head, and make the best choice for their local area.

Time was, these were called hustings.

That, however, isn’t going to happen. Unless David Cameron feels he can somehow chicken out of the debates completely, some variation upon the head-to-head party leaders’ debates of 2010 will be happening.

So what would be the best arrangement?

Read on…

The deafening messages from Clacton and Heywood & Middleton


carswell and farage

What a mess.

The results of the two by-elections this week were pretty decisive. And, in my opinion, very bad news for British politics.

We are riding a crest of UKIP popularity at the moment, and the two results are indicative of this in profoundly different ways. It is troubling for the mainstream parties, but I don’t see that it is a particular indication of overwhelming confidence in anything more than the idea of UKIP.

The reason I say this is not out of some tribally political exercise of burying my head in the sand, but that I don’t think that this is as simple as  an insurgent party. Farage has taken advantage of a mood, but his is an opportunistic approach. It is that mood which represents the biggest problem for the political system.

Read on…

Kipperwatch! UKIP select for Southend East — and it ain’t Moyies


kipperwatch local

Late last night, some strange rumours found their way to me in the pub. A little unlikely, to my mind, but this morning apparently confirmed by the Echo. UKIP have selected their candidate for Rochford & Southend East in the general election next year.

They have selected one of Southend’s ‘invisible kippers': Floyd Waterworth, the recently elected councillor for Blenheim Park ward.

If I’m honest, this is pretty surprising. Not just because UKIP have selected an unknown in a seat where they have previously indicated that they fancy their chances. It is more because I, and most of the local political scene, had expected that this particular nomination would go to UKIP’s group leader on Southend Borough Council, James Moyies.

Read on…

A letter to Southend MP James Duddridge, regarding his expenses


The below letter was sent to Mr Duddridge on Monday 22nd September 2014, via Royal Mail first class postage. For the background to the sending of this letter, see the original article in the Southend Echo here, and my response to the issues raised here.

Dear Mr Duddridge,

I am writing to you, as your constituent, to express my concern over the recent local news reports around your claims for parliamentary expenses. In particular, I refer to the front-page report carried by the Southend Echo on Monday 15th September 2014, entitled “MP IN ROW OVER HOTEL EXPENSES”.

In the intervening week since this report was published, I have attempted to contact you on Twitter in order to ask your response to the allegations made, that:

  • You claimed in excess of £11,000 of expenses for accommodation in London for the 2013/2014 year.

  • You did this despite:

    • Owning two properties in London, and;

    • Living less than an hour’s train journey from London.

I am concerned that, if this is indeed true, it demonstrates that you have learnt none of the pertinent lessons of the 2009 expenses scandal.

We are fortunate to live in a town in which a commute to London is not only possible but convenient, and like many others living in Southend it is a commute which I make daily to work in central London. I frequently work late, but have not yet encountered a situation where I have needed to stay overnight in a hotel in place of the return journey.

Your claims may be within the letter of the rules, but I cannot see that they are within the spirit. The last train from Fenchurch Street departs at 11.50 p.m., and with the legislative agenda being particularly light at this stage of the present Parliament it would surely be a rarity that even the last train would be required.

I am, as I have been throughout the past week, eager to hear your response to this. As you are no doubt aware, there is a growing sense of apathy and of disconnect between voters and politics, and it is stories like these which are the cause. I am particularly concerned that despite approach by myself and others – including a letter printed on the letters page of the Echo – you have not yet seen fit to make a response or answer questions.

I hope that this letter will evoke exactly such a response. In the interest of transparency and openness, I will be displaying this letter on my website, and will do likewise with any response you choose to send.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew S. Dent