Tuesday, 17 October 2017

October Branch Meeting

After opening the meeting there was a report on the recent UKIP conference. There were a number of excellent speakers at the conference and in particular Bishop Nazir-Ali, Steve Crowther and David Kurten were mentioned. Congratulations were made to Henry Bolton on his election as leader. The meeting agreed that UKIP needed to unite behind him. Some of the more 'radical' former candidates (AMW, JRE) have now left the party, which hopefully will close that story. At the conference the UKIP rebranding was also unveiled and the meeting was generally positive about that.

There was a lengthy discussion on 2 policy areas. This was an initiative from the national party which was running a consultation on members views.

The first issue was Disability. One member related their personal experience of applying for ESA and PIP and how the system was mainly aimed at saving the government money rather providing help to those in need. The meeting agreed that the assessments should be carried out by qualified doctors, although to minimise fraud they should be independent and not from the local area. Social media should also be used to investigate claims in case the real lifestyle of the person making the claim did not not match what was claimed on the application. There was discussion on reducing the stigma associated with disability and in particular mental health. Martin has setup a Facebook page "Rushmoor Voice" which supports these issues.

The second issue was Education. The consensus was that too many people were going to University and not enough people were developing technical skills. The meeting voted against compulsory sex and relationship education on the basis that parents should have discretion. It was also thought that the school leaving age should be lowered to allow young people to start apprenticeships and that shorter university courses (2 years) would be beneficial.

Councillor Mark Staplehurst reported on local issues. The County Council is going ahead with the consultation on budget issues. This is expected to have a big impact on local services. In Farnborough the new shopping development is likely to causes major traffic issues and there appears to be no measures in place yet to address this. The strategy for the borough elections in May 2018 was also discussed.

As usual the evening ended with tea and biscuits.

Ken McNair

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Cuts to services in Hampshire

Back in July we reported that Hampshire County Council was running a public consultation on reducing its budget.

Now, a report seen by this blog, says that the county are aiming for savings of £140 million during the 2019/2020 financial year. As the report says "There are some significant proposals to reduce spending and provision, transform services and in some cases to increase charges and generate income." The County Council is meeting on the 2nd November to consider this.

There are over 20 'key proposals' listed and these include the following:
- Reduction in salting roads in winter months
- Withdrawal of school crossing patrols
- Withdrawal of all Bus Subsidies
- Stopping the Community Transport Service
- Closure of Household Waste Recycling Centres
- Reducing Home to School Transport to the statutory minimum
- Reduced library services
- Reduced funding for the Basingstoke Canal.
- Over £50 million reduction in Adult Social Care and Health

The report that we saw is a high level one and the detail of what is being cut is not yet clear. However it is clear from the amounts involved that the impact of these cuts will be significant. Unfortunately this is a result of political developments; the Conservative party, at the local level, is now intent on implementing whatever policy they are directed to by the centre rather than fighting for local people and services. The results are not pretty.

Friday, 8 September 2017

UKIP Daily

As has been said before, one thing that UKIP has been lacking is an unofficial website that allows members to air opinions outside the formal structure of the party. UKIP Daily is the best attempt we have seen so far. As compared with Kipper Central, this is a more grown up and mainstream website, even if it does not have such a cool name.

UKIP Daily appears to have input from across the spectrum of UKIP; so you are unlikely to agree with every article. However that is probably a strength; there needs to be an exchange of views in order to stimulate debate.

You can find UKIP Daily here.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Democracy in the Conservative Party?

As a follow up to our previous posts regarding selection of the Conservative candidate for Aldershot (see here and here), it is interesting to see some further details of the story emerge. I have lifted the quote below directly from the Conservative Home website.

"In effect this was a huge centralisation of power over [candidate] selections – one of the most valued powers which normally sits with [Conservative] Associations and members, but which had already been eroded somewhat in the Cameron era. The special rules supposedly provided for consultation with senior officers of the local Association when shortlisting or imposing a candidate, but experience proved this to be lip-service at best. When Associations made clear requests for someone to be shortlisted – most notably when Aldershot asked for Daniel Hannan – their request was “noted”, but then ignored. Those who threatened to reject all three of CCHQ’s suggestions were first pressured subtly, being told they would have to do so with the candidates present, on the night, and then bluntly, being told that if they did then CCHQ would impose one of them anyway."

You can read the full article by Mark Wallace here.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Saturday, 2 September 2017

UKIP Leadership Hustings - Opinion

I thought it would be useful to separate my impressions from the straightforward reporting. So the following is entirely my opinion. Lets go in reverse order.

7. Anne-Marie Waters: "Let me tell you why I am a horrible racist fascist" she said at one point. Was she being ironic? It was hard to tell.

6. John Rees-Evans started his statement with the bizarre proposition that only Anne-Marie Waters and himself were radical enough to save UKIP from oblivion. Was he being ironic? Who knows.

5. Aiden Powlesland was an entertaining speaker but probably not down to earth enough for UKIP.

4. I had heard good things about Peter Whittle but was somewhat disappointed. We spoke well and his closing statement about his parents values was quite moving. However I suspect that he is taking the cut and thrust of the campaign in a rather personal way and is possibly not thick skinned enough to lead a rambunctious party like UKIP.

3. Jane Collins has now got the backing of 4 former candidates, so clearly she understands the internal politics of UKIP. She seems like a reasonable and competent person. However there was nothing new in her vision for party.

2. Henry Bolton has a very impressive CV and is clearly a great asset to the party. He can speak well and his viewpoint is what I would call mainstream UKIP. I am less clear on whether he would connect with the voters though.

1. If there is one thing the leader of UKIP needs it is a sense of humour, and David Kurten had the ability to make the room laugh. He was upbeat and hopeful about the future of UKIP. He was also the only person in the room who had read my blog post on social conservatism (or so it seemed). UKIP needs a vision for the future and David seems to have that.

As I said at the beginning this is only my opinion. Take that for what it is worth.

Ken McNair

Friday, 1 September 2017

UKIP Leadership Hustings - Report

A regional leadership hustings was held in the Christian Centre at Dorking on Thursday evening. The meeting followed the usual hustings format of statements from each candidate, followed by a question and answer session, before closing statements from each candidate.

Ben Walker was first to speak and talked about the need for a grassroots up party and reform of the NEC. He then announced that he had decided to step down from the leadership contest and would be supporting Jane Collins from now on. He also stated that David Coburn and Marion Mason who had recently stood down would also be supporting Jane Collins.

That left 7 candidates and first to go was Peter Whittle. He said that it had been a mistake to stand down candidates at the General Election and that from now on UKIP should aim to field candidates everywhere. He planned to set up a UKIP Media Unit. His vision for the future of UKIP was to complete Brexit and then reverse the legacy of the EU by creating a more democratic society which valued British traditions, the rule of law and free speech. In his closing remarks he also talked about his parents and how they would have been UKIP if they were still around.

Next was Anne-Marie Waters who talked about how women were not safe from sexual harassment and rape by immigrants. She also promised to let the members decide about reform of the NEC. She then had an argument with the Chair about the time she was allowed to speak.

Jane Collins emphasised that she was leading a team and not a lone player. She discussed reform of the NEC and the need for UKIP to improve on messaging, media and fundraising. Her vision for the future was to complete Brexit and then deal with issues such as immigration, fisheries and HS2.

Henry Bolton started off by admitting that he used to work for the EU and then told a story about two Belgians discussing the re-appearance of the 'British Lion' (Brexit). He saw Brexit as being the core purpose of UKIP and an opportunity to give a voice to the people. He said the UKIP organisation was too centred on Brussels at present and that he wanted to see regional representation on the NEC. He was then interrupted by Anne-Marie who accused him of making allegations, about her, behind peoples backs. Henry responded that everything that he said was on the record before the Chair intervened.

David Kurten said that Brexit was the current priority but that in the future Education, Immigration and the NHS should be at the centre of UKIP policy. He then talked about the need to provide an opposition to the 'cultural Marxists' who wanted to deconstruct society. As an example, he said it was 'evil' that primary school children were being confused about gender identity issues. In his closing remarks he pointed out that UKIP got almost 4 million votes in 2015 and that, despite a poor result in 2017, those people were waiting for a reason to vote for UKIP again.

John Rees-Evans could not be present due to the recent death of his Father. His representative read a statement which started off by saying that only Anne-Marie Waters and JRE were offering radical enough leadership to save UKIP and that the other candidates would simply lead the party into decline. He then discussed the need for reform of the political system in the UK in order to provide 'direct democracy'.

Aidan Powlesland was the last candidate to speak, as he had been held up in traffic. He said that he would open up spokesman positions to ordinary members instead of MEPs. He also talked about the need to attract donors and the need for more direct democracy in UKIP.

Marion Mason then made a brief statement regarding her withdrawal from the contest and how she was now supporting Jane Collins.

During the Q & A session, Peter Whittle was accused of making personal attacks on JRE and David Kurten. Peter responded that as he was gay he had taken exception to some of the things that had been said. David Kurten said that as a Christian he did not accept gay marriage but that he was the victim of a 'hatchet job' by Pink News which had misrepresented what he had actually said. The Chair then intervened to move things to another topic.

The meeting moved on to brief final statements before closing.

Ken McNair