Many thanks are due to Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP for Clacton, for giving we political anoraks our Christmas present early in the form of his (Eminently sensible -Ed) statement that UKIP could do with a change of leader from Mr Farage if it is ever to, well, achieve anything of note.
The Faragists are, naturally, a little hysterical over this statement of heretical treason/base fact (Delete as appropriate -Ed). But where do Southend UKIP stand on the matter?
Well, as they have recently split into Southend West UKIP and Rochford & Southend East UKIP, to follow the constituency boundaries, I can only really speculate on the views of the western faction, who have retweeted the above tweet in an apparent endorsement of Mr Carswell. Now, it’s possible to retweet something accidentally, and as many a Twitter bio (But not @ukipsouthend -Ed) says, retweets are not endorsements. Nonetheless, it does seem to suggest that the local purple brigade are less than onside with the dear leader.
Yesterday, Nigel Farage launched UKIP’s parliamentary campaign in Essex. Canvey, to be precise. It’s telling, perhaps, that he stayed away from the Kent seat he himself is trying to win (South Thanet).
But how did the people of Essex react to the purple-and-yellow messiah’s appearance on their own turf?
Well, in Harlow they reacted by electing a new Labour district councillor in a by-election to replace a UKIP councillor.
Nigel Farage visits Essex, and hours later he has lost a council seat to Labour. That looks to me like a very good omen.
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.
If you are a failed Rochford district councillor, making a chicken-run to stand in a local council ward in Southend, you’d think you might be grateful enough to the neighbouring branch of your party to cause them as few problems as possible, right?
Not in the case of Conservative candidate for St Luke’s ward, James Cottis, who put the above “selfie” taken with Nigel Farage on his Facebook page. Normally, in such a situation, I would ask if said Conservative politician was intending to defect to UKIP, but I just don’t think that’s likely in this case.
Rather, I suspect, Mr Cottis has just not thought through how damaging it looks to his party, the above mentioned rumours it will inevitably breed, and UKIP’s woefully backwards views on gay rights.
As Capt. Mainwaring might well say: “Stupid boy!”
(Unforgivably, I forgot to mention that this picture, and the story, was Julian Ware-Lane’s initially, and all credit is due to him)
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.
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.
“New and improved” is one of those hateful phrases which gets under my skin. It’s a contradiction in terms. If something is “new” then there wasn’t anything there to be improved upon. If it is “improved”, then it existed previously and cannot by definition be new.
It is this phrase which comes to mind with the Tory MPs who have defected from the Conservatives to UKIP. For both Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, the two defectors (At time of press – Ed), both seem to have taken up the mantle of political outsiders, a breath of fresh air to shake apart the Westminster establishment.
Which kind of ignores that, up until very recently, they were part of the very same establishment.
Imagine I had a job (which I do), and that job required me to work five days a week (which it does). Imagine, then, that I only attended two days a week of that work. Or two. Or even one day. Imagine I did not show up for the majority or working days without a single good reason. You would expect me to be fired, surely?
I don’t, of course. I am, rain or shine, at my desk 45 hours a week, Monday through Friday. I also earn below the average wage, and pay my own train fares.
I am pointing this out not as some sort of “poor me” sob story — I enjoy my job, and consider myself very lucky to do so. No, I am saying this because I want to make a contrast with another job. This job is paid three times the average wage, alongside a plethora of expenses to cover travel and living costs.
This job is, of course, Member of the European Parliament, of whom, UKIP have nine. It is therefore striking that UKIP MEP’s record of turning up for work is so — frankly — abysmal.