Importance of History

I attended an exhibition day on Wednesday at my old school, Ratcliffe College, and I was able to publicly thank the outgoing headmaster Gareth Lloyd for the spectacular turnaround in the School’s fortunes over the 7 years he has held the post. I will post some of my talk at a later date but the key point in all the speeches throughout the day made by the Headmaster, Fr President, the Chairman of the Governors and coincidentally by me too, was the importance of kindness. That is something that has been conspicuously absent in the referendum debate and the subsequent and chaotic fallout as politicians have scrambled over one another to sabotage the future.

ratcliffe cloisters

The occasion at Ratcliffe was, of course, dominated by talk of Brexit and quite alot of discussion about UKIP and my role in the UKIP story. (I think some people had rather cleverly checked me out on the internet) I was fairly honest in my response: while there are many good people attracted to UKIP and while its leader remains one of the few great orators in the country, it is, nevertheless, controlled by a balding militant thuggery snatched from the BNP and NF. This may have been a party ruled by bullies and twits, but it also attracted spectacular and honourable people like Douglas Carswell and Councillor Sean Connors. I count Sean as a good friend and a very honourable man. I also have time for Mark Reckless, now a member of the Welsh assembly. Credit where credit is due.farage ukipper flat

I joined UKIP with the intention of playing a leading role in the way it developed, or identifying and exposing the racism that everyone told me was there. In fact, I was offered both opportunities at about the same time. I chose to expose the racism.

The rise in racist and extremist abuse since the Referendum means that there are many who believe the racism in UKIP is endorsed by the “Leave” result. It is not, and there are many people in UKIP, who would be appalled by the suggestion that they have anything to do with, or would ever condone racism. More than that, there is extremism on both sides: my point is that it feels it has been sanctioned, and that is a message that needs to be addressed and condemned.

RobertBlay threats

As a Conservative, I find the libertarian aims of UKIP fairly laudable, but this is mixed with long-standing and often ill-considered ravings about the EU that in the end informed and dictated the tone of the recent referendum as well as giving structure to Conservative euro-scepticism, whether Farage was part of the official Leave campaign or not. I was in some difficulty throughout the campaign because I believed and continue to believe that, while the EU is seriously damaged, the European project, nevertheless, and because of our shared history, remains a fundamentally sound one. I felt that the Remain campaign was emphasising the wrong things (fear and greed), appealing to the wrong people (experts) and singing to a songsheet promoted by Farage. In the few debates I attended, the “remain” pitch was made by people peddling weak claims about something that had long since been dismissed as folly. In contrast some brilliant people, particularly our local MP Chris Heaton Harris, made a reasoned and impassioned case for “Leave”. And Chris was fairly unique in specifically saying he would not play the immigration card. If Chris had dictated the terms of the debate, I would have been a “Be-Leaver”. Indeed, at Chris’s encouragement, I contributed animated adverts at no cost specifically to draw attention to the appalling treatment by Europe of our fishing industry, something we must address whether we are “in” or “out”.

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I was also appalled and have spoken and written about the abuse of Greece by Germany in particular (Greece had a referendum and Europe made it have another when the result was judged to be “wrong”). Our debate about Sovereignty was made clearer by seeing the sovereignty of Greece ripped away.

But it was Farage’s silence over racism and his indulgence of the powerful thugs in his party that convinced me this campaign would head in the wrong direction and that we might threaten or might leave Europe for the wrong reasons sending a very confused message. This has proven to be the case. The overall debate was controlled by Farage, and while Boris fought hard to wrestle the mantle from his shoulders, he must have found it tough to swallow the nonsense about Turkey’s accession and the £350 million that now Farage says he never endorsed (It was, nevertheless, in the literature I was given a year ago by UKIP). Believe me, I would have done the same thing – Boris had no choice and to his credit, I think, and in the end, Boris made the Leave campaign his own. More than that, he managed personally to avoid any hint of racism and indeed, as far as he was able, temper the debate.

I feared that whoever brought down a man as powerful as Farage was unfortunately doomed. And my fears have been fulfilled. Boris is a brave and noble man. He has taken one for the team.

BECAUSE there could have been nothing worse than giving Farage a place at the negotiating table or rewarding him with a role in government. Knight him and let him leave!

Farage demonstrated to me last year very clearly that he is a man wholly without honour and that those who follow his lead, also abandon honour and integrity. When one of his elected cronies made a foul and public racist comment against a sitting politician, Farage dismissed it as a joke.

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More than that, when I took a stand to support Humza Yousaf, the Scottish minister for Europe, my family was attacked by a sinister local UKIP councillor who thought that a smear and a distortion of facts was an effective and proper response to my resignation. He offered no apology, and nor did his master, Farage.

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Both promised to write to me after the election and neither did. Both promised to resign and neither did. Both said exactly what they thought the public wanted to hear at the time and then they did their own thing. This is demagogy and not democracy.

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Referendums

People do not always read the lessons of history. For example, both Napoleon and Hitler turned to the Plebiscite, today’s “referendum” to justify their actions. It may be a tool for democracy but it is also a weapon of tyranny. Today, the web is filled with cries of “foul”, and whimpers from people who felt they voted the wrong way, and now regret their vote, or claim that 63% of the youth vote simply did not bother to vote. Some people blame Jeremy Corbyn and others blame the Glastonbury festival for that!

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A blueprint for tomorrow

But the Leave vote has happened and we should be looking forward to finding solutions that reflect the reality – ensuring at the same time that Scotland, Ireland and Gibraltar are fully anchored to the UK, and also keep their place in Europe. There is even a case for London to retain its place as the financial hub of the EU while at the same time, pulling back the tide of EU bureaucracy from the shires. The EU is either a supra-national entity or it is dependent on the Nation-state. I think this is an opportunity to show the way the EU can work around Nationality and work with rather than against National and regional sovereignty. It should not be a case of choosing the EU over our nation but of accommodating both if necessary and at various levels of association. This is also a blueprint for establishing fully devolved and fully accountable local parliaments. I wrote a few days ago about the absurdity of pitching Nationalism against Federalism. Actually, with some flexibility and some grace, we can embrace the best of both.

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Our contribution to the EU

There are points to be made in favour of Europe and we may have to visit these over the negotiations. We need to look at ways to effect reconciliation rather than to drive a hard-bargain and we need to emphasise our overall contribution to the European project rather than posture as Farage has done and claim that European ministers have never had proper jobs. At the top of the list of contributions we have made to Europe is the Charter of human rights, the very thing that irritated so many people in my own party. The draft for this was written by a man called Maxwell Fyfe who became the Conservative Home secretary in Churchill’s peace-time cabinet. This was seen as the bedrock of a new EU-wide set of values, and it became our own in time. It was a British vision that anticipated the repeal of hanging, the institution of equality laws and the eradication of torture. This is a cornerstone to the modern Europe and I have successfully taken a case through the ECHR and helped to redefine the way the law is interpreted both internationally and nationally. I have a personal stake in this Charter.

Our role in History

More than that, I believe we have consistently gone to the aid of Europe in crisis, and to that end, fought two wars in Europe. Today, the Greek sovereignty issue is demonstration enough of the depth of crisis in Europe. Immigrants come and go and the immigration issue is actually a passing problem while the sovereignty issue drives to the heart of current EU abuse. It is not a time to be turning our back on Brussels but a time to engage fully with what happens across the channel and ensure that a long term-view, and that fairness, common-sense and goodwill are paramount. When Lord Fyfe wrote the charter, we were not a member of the EU. That clearly did not prevent us from playing a decisive role in the way the EU was established and the values it promoted.

Our Future

Whatever our legal relationship with the EU project, I think we should be determined to  play a pivotal role in securing the values we hold dear. It is in Europe’s interest and in ours to see that Europe works properly. It is not working properly now and nor are we. We can both do better and we need to work together.

It pains me to say

Much of what Farage says here is right, particularly about his reservations and warnings about the Euro- “through massive ambition and hubris, you ploughed on.”

I was in Greece in the run-up to the Millenium and the Euro project there was clearly a disaster hidden beneath a carpet of half-truths. But while Farage thinks we should walk away now the damage has been done, I think we should hang around and clear up the mess.

So much of what Farage says is reasonable, and of course brilliantly done- from a rhetorical point of view, he is a master of the verbal put-down and the jocular aside. But then he does a typically Farage thing and says he is walking out, never to return. But we know Farage from last year, when his resignation then turned out to be just a two week holiday following his unplanned defeat in the elections. Time to lick his wounds perhaps but not time enough to reflect on what the electorate had told him.

While I accept his comments about the hubris of those who drove the Euro, and while I share his concerns about the EU and its future, I hasten to add I have drawn different conclusions, partly because of his failure to eradicate racism in his own party, his endorsement of views that might well be taken to be racist, and his inability to control the thugs in his own backyard.

UKIP is the only party in the UK to embrace a libertarian view, and that is attractive, – more than that, there are excellent people in the party (not least Douglas Carswell, but I hope the option remains for him to return to the fold) – but it is too wide a church and the BPMers who infiltrated its ranks have been both tolerated and advanced to the detriment of others. (What was Sajjid Karim thinking of when he talked about “dealing” with Farage- I hope he was not suggesting violence and I am sure he was not- but no doubt that’s the way Farage would interpret it! We do not want to encourage the thuggery surely!)  If Farage is walking out of the EU, then, thank God, but recent history suggests he is not to be trusted to follow-through with this!

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Andrew Marr

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I was horrified by the story that Andrew Marr had been abused in the Daily Mail. Quentin Letts should have known better and it should not have been down to Roy Greenslade to get him to apologise, but that is the world we are living in. We are back to the same discussion we have had before (Jonathan Ross, for instance)- when is a joke no longer funny?

There have been many times when I have drawn something I later decided was too direct or simply did not work. Trying to be topical and humorous can often get us all into trouble, but there are some lines we should never cross. Racism is of course an absolute, but I think also we have to salute those people who are brave enough to stand up in public – Marr is particularly brave, to come back to prime time TV after suffering a stroke. He shows that this is possible. But that wider thought about public life is what makes me pause to admire even those public figures with whom I disagree- I am delighted Sadiq Khan, for example is now the first Muslim Mayor of London: it sends out a tremendous message, though I disapprove of many things Khan and his supporters have said and done (as I hope is clear from previous blogs). Nigel Farage might espouse views I dislike and behave in an appalling way (he still owes me a letter incidentally) but he must be saluted as one of the three great orators in the UK today (the other two are Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson).

Here is the best Farage speech: brilliant, cruel, and probably not something I would say (I balk at the reference to Belgium, for instance) but certainly not poking fun at someone with a disability:

Jeremy Corbyn may not be a man who leads from the front, but I recall on the Andrew Marr show, what a convincing and positive performance he gave. I salute that too, while at the same time bemoaning his inability to control his own cabinet and form a decisive and genuinely loyal opposition. In the absence of real political leadership, we in the conservative party have begun to form our own loyal opposition on our own backbenches! Not good for the Conservatives, not good for Labour and certainly not good for our wider parliamentary democracy.

But praise where praise is due, and frankly, I cannot find a word to say against Andrew Marr. It is fairly shameful that the Daily Mail peddles this sort of filth.

More on Nigel Farage’s fake resignation

This a story is a bit like a suicide attempt- it was an appeal for help, with Farage repeating the Cleopatra stunt at the end of Shakespeare’s play where she pretends to kill herself in the belief that poor Antony will come limping over. All, as GBS, observed, a bit adolescent as indeed is Mr Farage’s stunt.

Here is the finished cartoon of the incident.

Pantomime season returns colour2

Here is an early sketch of the same picture

Pantomime season returns

The Farage /UKIP resignation is interesting in many ways. Firstly, it establishes very clearly that Mr Carswell is of no consequence to the party machine, and was simply brought in- as we know by Simon wheeler who had given the party large donations after himself defecting from the Conservatives. Presumably Carswell sees himself as leader material. Carswell is his own man and as the only sitting UKIP MP, is determined it seems, to hold a moral line. That, I think, is commendable but will be difficult.

Many of the current UKIp Rankers, particularly the MEPs were parachuted into office under the personal direction of Farage, so forming his own college of cardinals and they owe their careers and present prosperity to him. Coburn is certainly one of these and no doubt was given license long ago to create as much mayhem as he could, undermining not only the SNP but also the existing UKIP branches that may not have been as Farage-focused as the leader would have wished. Coburn’s job, in otherwords, it is alleged, was to destabilise the local Scottish party. This is why he will not resign and why Farage will never apologise to Humza Yousaf no matter how often he is requested to do so.

My prediction therefore is very simple- should Farage genuinely be back in power, there will be some bubbles of resentment. There may even be a Carswell defection, but to whom? The Conservatives will not welcome him back. And Farage will probably win an early by-election gaining parliamentary credibility in the process. I may not like what he stands for but, as I have said before, I cannot fault his skills as an orator and I would be the first to applaud these. The place for such skills is certainly the House of Commons.

Other UKIP defectors, however, have warned me of the barrage of personal attacks and trumped-up charges that they have faced for speaking out. I am told darkly that UKIP has inherited, from the BNP/NF/EDF, a string of complicit police officers with power to corrupt the justice system. I am not sure this is a warning or is itself another threat.

I have been sent messages about the fate of Justin Adams, for example, the pilot whose plane crashed in 2010. This was the same plane in which Farage was travelling and which was flying a doomed banner. The whole thing ended in disaster and recrimination. Farage was in hospital and is still doing physiotherapy for a bad back, while Adams complained that the crash led to the disintegration of his marriage, and his being “incarcerated” in his elderly mother’s home. In 2011, he was convicted on 5 counts of threatening to kill Farage. Apparently, he made a telephone call to Samantha Sutton, the UKIP national secretary, claiming, “It’s just been delivered. I now have a 9mm pistol. I have got the means to do it and I will take them and then myself.” He was threatening to kill Farage and the civil aviation investigator, Martin James. Indeed, the whole story sounds a bit alarming. Later Justin Adams was found dead. It seems he had taken his own life.

Certainly, I did not expect the degree of pressure I have so far experienced or the personal attacks against my family. But it is far from clear from the story of Adams that there is some sort of Cabal or conspiracy against ex-UKIppers.

Indeed, when you look more closely, the conspiracy theories seem wrong. Mr Farage is on record at the time of the crash urging the pilot to steer clear of the village of Charlton. I am not sure who told us that but it is hugely commendable. If Adams became abusive as the investigation proceeded at snail’s pace, that is probably understandable though not prudent. People react to trauma in different ways but threatening to kill someone seems a bit excessive. I see evidence here that perhaps there was a lack of care by UKIP, but certainly not of a trumped up charge. It would be wrong to indulge paranoia.

I have also been told to look up the story of Nicole Sinclaire, an ex MEP- thrown out of the party for refusing to sit with Liga Nord/ EFD. She said that some of the group had extremist views. It certainly took her a long time to work this out! According to one report, the trigger for her defection was being called a “queer” by fellow UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom. Bloom is the man who was himself thrown out of the party for calling women “sluts” and referring to “bongo bongo land”. When challenged by journalists who showed him a newspaper article, I recall he hit one of them over the head with the said newspaper. At some point he also criticised David Cameron as “pigeon-chested; the sort of chap I used to beat up.” Bloom simply seems to be a bully, and I feel rather impressed that UKIP ditched him. But did they not suspect he was a bully in the first place?

bloom

There was a case of sexual discrimination which Sinclaire won. She said,

“During my time as an MEP I put in more than £120,000 of my salary into the cost of my work activities. It was also me who in 2010 drew the attention of the West Midlands Police to irregularities I discovered had taken place, without my knowledge, in my Ukip office.” She was arrested herself in February 2012 and accused of money-laundering and misconduct in public office. This story is more troubling, but there are parallels with the recent Atkinson story and it seems to confirm only that there is dodgyness in high places. We know that!

No doubt, if I am suddenly faced with a string of allegations, then there might be some credibility to the consipiracy theorists, but as yet, I think it best to be cautious and calm.

Why Farage cannot be Vicky Pollard

farage i may be back

Vicky (Vicki?) Pollard is a tremendous creation- a whinging no-hoper, so from that point of view, it might surprise people who have read my other posts that I think the link between Farage and Pollard is wrong. Particularly as Mr Farage has now resigned without winning South Thanet, a failure for which I hope I can take some personal credit.

“no but, yeh but, what happened was- shut up. I wasn’t even supposed to be here like this… blah blah blah” Brilliant!

She blisters forth with a barrage of contradictions and bluster, some of it quite unprintable and, in fact, all beautifully cadenced.

Farage, for all his faults, is one of the best political performers in the UK today. His speeches in the Chamber of the EU alone are always worth watching on Youtube and I am sure are thrilling in real life. I love the fact that he is so confident and speaks without notes. His delivery, the content, the Chutzpah and humour are always, therefore, remarkable and it would be churlish of me not to acknowledge that. His only rhetorical rival is Boris. Just to press the point, listen to, or watch Ed Miliband who has a stream of very specific rhetorical flourishes, most of them repetitive, and that is it. He has managed a slightly better screen image of late- with some coaching, but it is nothing as extreme as the transformation wrought on Thatcher by Gordon Reece, nor indeed as effective. (Reece was a schoolboy contemporary of Norman St John Stevas at my old School Ratcliffe College)  Ed remains, therefore, “nice Ed” and today watching him resign, I felt that what he really needed was a good hug. (I am not volunteering: I am not really a hugger at all) But Ed Miliband does vulnerability and that is not the diet of choice for leading British politicians today.

I can go a little further and add that on many issues, I share Mr Farage’s views. I differ significantly about immigration but I certainly recognise that the EU project, as it stands, is seriously damaged. Simply looking across to Greece, which is a country I know well confirms that Europe is no longer working properly. No country in a cohesive federation of National states should be so bullied or so shamed and punished for faults that were made years ago and with the connivance of the very countries that now seem to press for austerity. The Greek demand for reparations, incidentally, from Germany seems to me reasonable, but more reasonable would be Germany’s unconditional offer of such reparations. That way, at least the money would flow, and we would no longer be talking about debt.

When Farage tries vulnerability, however- with pleas about back-pain or, today with a reference to his plane-crash (which caused the back pain in the first place), it all seems a bit disingenuous. He is better on attack, and that is why he is no Pollard. Pollard is all stammer and alot of unprintable invective scatter-gunned at whoever might be in the  Farage’s attacks have bite and bile. I should know- his people tried some of that on me!

Vicky Pollard, however, is all about vulnerability. A different type of vulnerability to Ed Miliband’s, of course. She is aggressive because she is hurt. That is not Miliband, and certainly not Farage.

I have drawn a picture of Farage as Vicky, which is below, and that is why I have given this some thought. The idea came from a tossed-off comment made on the BBC so it is not my analogy at all.

farage as vicky

Let’s face it, a politician cannot plead for sympathy when he has lost an election. Farage tried that and he was compared on the BBC to a character from Little Britain. Well done, BBC!

However, for UKIP resignation is not about honour. It is about punishment which is why Coburn will not resign and why Farage has converted his resignation into something else. Let me offer a visual hint with refence to Cliff Richard and Greece- “Who forgot to fill the tank?”

Farage’s resignation was odd. Within minutes of resigning, he was offering to stand again for office in September. So for Farage, resignation is just a cheap holiday away from responsibility. But he remains an MEP and I have already written to him as my MEP to ask him very specific questions.

Meanwhile, the fate of the UKIP project hangs in the balance because there is no-one quite able to take the place of Farage. Suzanne Evans, who Farage recommends as interim leader, exposed herself the other night on TV as morally hollow when she failed to recognise the wealth of difference between a labour man, Sumon Hoque, dismissed for not having a proper MOT- a driving offence- and a UKIP man, Robert Blay, who has threatened to shoot a rival Sri Lankan candidate between the eyes. She pleaded, rather stupidly, that the press were over-emphasising the case of Robert Blay simply because he was a UKIPPER. If anything, they underplayed the story because of a BBC fear about political bias in the days immediately before the election.

sumon-hoque

Screen shot 2015-05-08 at 21.01.15

Because of the postal votes, the system in both cases went ahead. the labour guy insisted he was still standing; I am not sure Blay has said anything and I assume both that Blay did not attend the count and that the votes were wasted. The issue is largely academic but it would have been interesting if either had come first.

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In the case of Jason Zadrozny, who was arrested I think just before the campaign began, he withdrew from the election process himself. As I understand it, unless the issue was bankruptcy, criminal proceedings would not automatically bar a candidate from standing in an election and indeed Bobby Sands was elected to Parliament in 1981, the then youngest MP but a prisoner who died a month after his election. Prisoners who are serving gaol sentences of more than a year’s length are now forbidden to stand under the Representation of the People Act 1981.

My red line, however, remains: Racism, in any form, cannot be condoned, and, so far, I understand neither Humza Yousaf nor Ranil Jayawardena has received a written apology from the leader of UKIP or from anyone claiming that authority. If Mr Farage has indeed resigned, and if Evans is appointed only as a caretaker, then maybe there is now no-one left to write these letters until a new leader is elected in Septamber. Should Mr Farage don the mantle again then, I suppose these questions will remain there to haunt him. And certainly whoever succeeds to authority in UKIP would take on the responsibility of writing at least the three letters I have myself demanded of the leader. This is quite apart from the demand that Mr Coburn MEP should resign, which I suppose is his own decision now as there will be no leader with the authority to command his suspension. I still hold out hope that Farage has a heart and will take proper responsibility during the next few weeks to sort out what he has so far not bothered to do. I would genuinely like to hear that he has bothered to respond. And anyway, Paul Oakden in his interview on Radio Northampton promised that “after the election, he will get round to” answering me. Who knows!

I remain an optimist.

Why Sticks and stones matter

This evening I am blogging about a National story. But it has relevance to Daventry and, indeed, to any political campaign.

Let me put this in context: A few weeks’ ago, I felt a red line had been crossed when an elected MEP, David Coburn, compared a Scottish Parliamentary Minister to a convicted terrorist. I had written to the leader of the relevant party (my own) asking for a clear letter of apology to be sent to Humza Yousaf and when no such letter was forthcoming, and equally when the said MEP failed to resign, I did what I thought was the honourable thing and resigned myself both as a Parliamentary candidate and as a member of the said party. In this way, I found myself as an independent candidate standing for the District Council in Drayton.

I am proud that I stood up for what is right. We need to respect one another and we need to stand up to bullies, whoever and wherever they are. Sometimes falling on your sword is the only way to make a point, pun intended. And the point MUST be made that Racism and homophobia are simply unacceptable in today’s society.

I was verbally savaged after I resigned, and then my family was attacked. The savaging I accept- the attack on my family I denounce. It is plucked from the same cupboard as the racism and the homophobia, a cupboard full of the “dark arts” of Politics. It has no place in our world and those who use, or even dip into these dark arts do not deserve public office.

I believe passionately that bullies should be ridiculed. I was a teacher and remain an educational consultant: I know the harm that bullies can do, but I also know how readily they collapse when we laugh at them. I think of the “Ridikulous spell” against the Boggarts in Harry Potter- I think it is not surprising that it features in the best Harry Potter book, “the Prisoner of Azkaban”. That’s how to deal with bullies!


Both racism and homophobia are mostly about bullying, calling people by foul names, of demeaning a person by reference to race, creed, gender. Of course, in extreme cases this can also lead to actual violence. But name-calling is quite bad enough, and it is worth reflecting on the old adage about “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” They may not, but the person who uses racist or homophobic “names” is exposed there and then as a pathetic individual, quite unworthy of election. Anyone who defends that person is smeared by association. Names may not hurt me, but they should certainly hurt the name-caller!

Of course, when you stand up to a bully, as one brave boy I know did a few weeks’ ago in one of our major Public Schools, there is every chance the bully himself will start crying and claim he has been the victim. Though soon after that, he was into blackmail: “By their fruits shall ye know them”!

neil hay

Today, there is a news story about a Labour man called Ian Smart who referred to the SNP as “fascist scum” and Neil Hay who is himself an SNP candidate has called UK supporters “quislings” or traitors. He has done this rather more shamefully under a pseudonym, and he has rightly been exposed and asked to account for what he has written. It seems he was also fairly outspoken about elderly people, questioning their ability to vote. We can’t have that!

His blog has now been deleted but that is never enough. Nicola Sturgeon said this, “I do condemn the language used and I condemn the comments made – as I always do when anybody steps out of line on Twitter, on Facebook or any medium.”

cure d'ars

There is the famous story of S. Jean Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, canonized in 1925, who was faced by a penitent, a lady who claimed to have been gossiping. He asked her to bring him a chicken and, because lunch was calling, to pluck it as she walked from her home to church. When she arrived with the freshly plucked bird, he told her to go back and collect all the feathers. “But that’s impossible,” she said, “Many of them will have blown away”. And so it is, said the priest, with gossip and name-calling. It spreads. The damage that is done when we write a stupid blog cannot be undone simply by taking down the blog. And an apology needs to be made good by a proper demonstration of repentance. (I knew a wonderful man in Greece called Roger de Ponton d’Amecourt who was writing a comprehensive biography of the Priest. I do not know whether he has finished it and we have sadly fallen out of contact.)

I resigned from UKIP because I felt the need to sever the link from a party that condoned racism and homophobia. My penance is not finished. I must now try to repair some of the damage done by my association with that party. The least I can do is to continue writing to Mr Farage and demanding Mr Coburn’s resignation as well as a letter of apology to Mr Yousaf. So far, Mr Farage has failed to respond directly, though I gather he has made national funds available to target my campaign in Drayton.

But it is surely time that politics in the UK changed, and politicians of all parties grew up. Three things need to be said. First of all, some of the greatest politicians have changed party allegiance. That is nothing shameful or new. Churchill, for example, did so. Secondly, there used to be a code of honour because we are all, after all, in the same business: we want to change the way that things are done, and we feel propelled to do this in the public eye. We do not set out to be savaged personally, or to be lynched, and nor should we expect our families to be attacked. Instead, we stand up, we speak out and we, alone, should be held to account. And thirdly and finally, regarding the name calling that has taken place today- there was a referendum only a few months’ ago and Scotland voted very clearly to remain in the Union. That may not be the result the SNP wanted to hear, but it is a democratic decision and until there is a further vote, it should be accepted. The people who voted for the Union are not “quislings”- they were exercising a democratic right. And the SNP is one of the most socially aware parties in our United Kingdom – to call the SNP “fascist scum” is to belittle the people who died fighting genuine fascism in the Second world war; Fascist scum would not welcome immigrants. Fascist scum would not put out one of the most generous education packages for University students in the country.

We need to be less tribal in our politics and there is no need at all for British Politics to be so grubby.

The Observer piece on Farage

nigel's plans

Rachel Cooke can barely restrain her contempt for Mr Farage as she pens this rather fascinating article in the magazine section of the Observer today. I am sure it was set up by the media boffins in the Dorset HQ of UKIP with the thought that Nigel is the party’s greatest asset, but he is a bit like Marmite. I have never really liked Marmite. And I get the impression from this article that he is actually a bit out of his depth. He is running a National election with a sticking plaster and a rubber-band. Whatever your views about his policies, hats off to him for his spunk.

Given my own recent brush with the powers of UKIP, I thought it would be interesting to analyse the main points in the piece.

Firstly there is a photo which is captioned, “Whatever my faults, I have some principles.” Certainly not any ones I would admire, Mr F! Not anymore. My eyes have been thoroughly opened (and incidentally, I am still waiting for a response to my letter!)

But what is interesting about the article is that, given Rachel’s evident dislike of the man’s policies, he comes across as someone we would all enjoy meeting, actually someone we might actually like. He describes himself as a “sentimentalist” and as a man who wants to watch lots of theatre when he retires – I certainly hope he has booked himself into plenty of shows after May 7th, then- She does her level best to do him down “looking at his weary face, clammy and puce”, but for all her efforts, what I felt by the time I finished was a wave of sympathy for a man against the odds. And I liked his observation that politics is full of “corruption and laziness.” Having had a brush with it, I concur.

I remembered  the awful pictures taken of him getting out of the plane wreck, as I was reading Rachel’s article and urge you to check above his brilliant summary of what happened and the way it has affected him. Then, of course, there was the terrible melee last week when his family was attacked by the “hope not hate” people. Also, I realise I must know some of his contemporaries at Dulwich. There are moments, certainly for me, when the Farage image moves from marmite to something rather more all-embracing, and there is undoubted warmth. He has the theatricality and actually the charisma and “common touch” to appeal to a much wider audience, but something stops him doing that.

There was a bit where Rachel pressed him about his family, and I felt his discomfort. (“his absolute refusal to wheel out his family. .. I won’t even let you through the front gate.”) But then, he tells us that his wife would pass the Australian migrant points scheme, and that made me cringe.

Some of the points he makes are blatantly wrong of course – he claims that Blair is responsible for the influx of “hard-working Polish builders”. It was not Blair, but John Major who signed the Maastricht treaty and Blair was simply following the inevitable progress of the Brussels juggernaut. The treaty guaranteed European Citizenship over and above National citizenship. This allowed for freedom of movement within the community, the right to vote and stand for elections in the country of residence and the right of petition to the EU parliament and of complaint to an ombudsman. It also provided for monetary union. A number of subsequent treaties (including Nice, Lisbon and Amsterdam) may have had some Blair input but they were essentially tinkering with what was set up in 1992.

thatcher

Mrs Thatcher rejected Maastricht saying that she “could never have signed that bill”. And the rebellion against Maastricht formed the centrepiece in the Government of Mr Major, with famously the approval of the Maastricht agreement inching through the Commons with a majority of only 18 votes.

But despite the title on the front page, Rachel does not really draw any conclusion about “what drives Farage”, though I certainly have my suspicions.

UKIP

carswell

I am not sure what I think of UKIP.  Douglas Carswell (here shown with a little more hair than he has now) has resigned and therefore triggered a by-election. He nobly castigates the present Prime minister for failing to deal with the difficult issue of Europe. Mr Cameron, says Carswell, “is not serious about real change. It’s about not changing things – it’s about hanging on to office,” he said.

As for hanging on to office, Carswell has a notion to do just that by switching parties and retaining his old seat.

The former Labour MP for Clacton made the folllowing observation about Carswell, “I don’t think this is as honourable as he says.This is Douglas Carswell panicking because for the last few elections he has promised his electorate would be campaigning to get them out of Europe and it has worn thin with those who vote for him. I think he is very worried would have lost his seat to UKIP.”

Carswell is not a man afraid of notoriety. He was the one responsible for organising calls on Michael Martin to step down as speaker, the first time in 300 years. He also criticised spending on military helicopters on an official trip to Afghanistan.

During a recent election round here, I had a chance to meet a wide range of local politicians and the UKIP lot seemed by far to be the nicest. At the moment, the man selected by UKIP to stand against the sitting Conservative Carswell is none too pleased with this evening’s news and refuses to step aside. He is a local farmer and a councillor. He claims to already have a campaign team and an election strategy. “Roger Lord is not now, nor has he ever been the by-election candidate for Clacton,” said UKIP’s party secretary.  So much for Party memory…

This is what the Clacton Gazette said of Roger Lord on 29th July 2014:

“UKIP claims a Conservative MP’s days are numbered in Clacton after naming its own General Election hopeful.

“Roger Lord, 57, will stand against Douglas Carswell in the battle for the Clacton seat next year and UKIP bosses are confident the Great Bentley farmer will oust his Tory opponent.

“Ukip’s Clacton party secretary Anne Poonian said they had asked Eurosceptic Mr Carswell to defect from the Tories and join them.

Mrs Poonian has ‘no doubt’ UKIP will take the Clacton seat in next year’s General Election.”

According to the report, there are to be only 2000 votes in it! Here is my picture of poor, displaced Mr Lord. I am sure Nigel Farage wishes him well.

roger lord clacton