UKIP’s farcical national conference and the subsequent forced resignation of Godfrey Bloom this week have brought cheer to the party’s opponents, across the political spectrum. Mr Bloom – the most ‘colourful’ character in a technicolour party – managed an unprecedented series of gaffes in the space of a single, tumultuous day. He began with the now infamous ‘sluts’ comment and ended by hitting a journalist on live TV when asked about the party’s ‘all white’ conference brochure. A tearful Nigel Farage later took to the stage to declare that his erstwhile flatmate had single-handedly “ruined our conference”. Rarely has so much bad publicity been awarded to so many by so few.
But Mr Bloom’s departure from UKIP’s delegation in Brussels and Strasbourg (he remains a party member, apparently) is far from an isolated incident. In fact, he is now the sixth UKIP MEP (out of 13) to either leave or be kicked out since the European elections in 2009. He follows Nikki Sinclaire (expelled), David Campbell-Bannerman (defected to the Tories), Mike Nattrass (de-selected and then resigned), Trevor Coleman (quit UKIP’s European grouping) and Marta Andreasen (defected to the Tories).
This means the party has lost almost half of their original MEPs since 2009. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, losing one MEP may seem a misfortune, but to lose six seems like carelessness. It is small consolation that UKIP have in the meantime gained one Tory defector (the climate- and LGBT-sceptic Roger Helmer MEP). Only the BNP have done worse, having lost 50% of their MEPs (one out of two) since 2009.
The irony of all this is that most voters (and even other MEPs) don’t have a clue who UKIP’s MEPs are. They are rarely seen in the influential parliamentary committee meetings where EU legislation is shaped, to the extent (as Fiona Hall MEP memorably noted in Glasgow) that UKIP’s leader is known in the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg as ‘Mr Mirage’. Indeed the independent VoteWatch Europe website found that UKIP have the worst attendance, voting and work performance of any political party from any EU country.
The challenge is in getting the message out to voters: that backing UKIP means throwing away Britain’s influence. Luckily, Mr Bloom’s escapades have just helped to make our job as campaigners a little easier.
This article by Giles Goodall, Lib Dem European Parliamentary Candidate for South East England was originally published by Liberal Democrat Voice
“There will be no culling of badgers on Hampshire county land.”
That was the message sent loud and clear from the County Council after a Liberal Democrat motion to ban badger culling on county owned land was unanimously supported at a Full Council meeting in Winchester today.
With pilot badger culls aimed at destroying around 5000 badgers already underway in Somerset and Gloucestershire in a bid to curb the spread of Bovine TB in cattle, councillors on all sides supported Liberal Democrat Councillor Rupert Kyrle’s motion to ban badger culling on county owned or leased land. Councillor Kyrle successfully argued that culling was not a proven solution to the problem, and called on more scientific evidence from government on the issue.
In the motion, it states that the science behind a cull “is not proven nor conclusive that a cull of badgers is the answer to eradicating Bovine TB from the countryside”. It also insists that “more research should be undertaken by Government and the scientific community to find more effective and cheaper vaccinations for badgers and cattle to help eradicate this terrible and costly disease from the countryside.”
Commenting on the ban, Councillor Rupert Kyrle said, “This is a great day for badgers in Hampshire! It was great to see Councillors of all political colours coming together to send a strong message to government over their misguided support of badger culling. We all want to see a real solution to prevent the spread of Bovine TB across our countryside, but it is not right that badgers should be singled out in this way. To make matters worse, taxpayers are being made to pay for the slaughtering of native species when the evidence in favour of the cull is shaky and inconclusive. We must protect our countryside, and that includes the species that make it their home.”
photo of badger courtesy of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (Credit: Dr David Williams for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife
I’m sure most of you know by now what the countyelection result was for those who don’t the result in Andover North was as follows
Tim Rolt (UKIP) 1239
Pam Mutton (Conservative) 1229
Len Gates (Liberal Democrat) 1053
Ryan Sutton (Labour) 404
Full results for all county council elections can be found at hantsweb
Thank you to everyone who voted for me. Your strong support on the doorstep and at the ballot box showed how important Liberal Democrat values are to the people of Andover. I and my colleagues will continue to campaign on your behalf and ensure your views are heard locally and nationally.
Readers of the Andover Advertiser may have been surprised to read that there is to be a “public debate” between candidates for the county council elections next Tuesday. So too was I as I had not received any notification or invitation to any meeting although I since have (email from Broadway garage Friday 26 April).
Subsequently I have discovered the meeting has been organised at short notice by, and for, the UKIP candidate in Andover South and his supporters. Very few of the 16 candidates seeking election in Andover will be attending and there is also some doubt about who will chair the meeting and what format the meeting will take.
While I normally would welcome the opportunity to debate policy, these elections should be about local people and who is the best candidate to serve their area, in my case Andover North. I already have a full program of meetings with Andover North residents over the next week and it would not be appropriate to cancel them to accommodate the organisers of this event. I regret, therefore, that I will not be attending.
If any residents in Andover North wish to speak to me or ask questions I will, of course, try and deal with them by phone, email or personal visit.
Yesterday I and my campaign team spent the afternoon talking to residents in Roman Way, Caesar Close, Tiberius Road, Agricola Walk and Augustus Walk. I hope to call on other parts of Roman Way over the coming week.
Thank you to everyone for the warm and supportive response we received. I was particularly pleased to see how well town councillor Barbara Carpenter is regarded. She is a great example of how local councillors can and should represent their communities.
One issue which came up time and again was the high handed attitude of Synergy Housing towards those residents who now own their homes in the area. Synergy are doing an excellent job repairing and upgrading footpaths and car parking in and around Caesar Close. But their demands that home owners pay up without question what appears to be arbitrary amounts towards the cost are unacceptable. Synergy has a serious customer service issue here which they are reluctant to admit.
Many residents have asked me and Barbara to intervene on their behalf and we are trying to organise a meeting between Synergy and residents to air their views. To date Synergy has been reluctant to meet us. We will keep trying.
Further to my previous posts about lorries reversing into Cricketers Way (see post here) I can report further action had been taken by environmental health officers.
I and other concerned residents have contacted Test Valley Borough Council detailing the persistent failure to observe the agreed safety procedures. Moat recently I contacted the chief executive of TVBC as follows –
“This has been an ongoing problem for some two to three years. Despite the best efforts of TVBC’s Environmental health department lorry drivers are regularly and with impunity disregarding the agreed safety procedures. I have spent a great deal of time recently working with the HSE on safe manoeuvring of lorries on an agricultural/industrial site. The practices residents are reporting taking place outside this Tesco store would never be allowed on my site. This problem really does need urgent attention.”
I am pleased to report that Test Valley officers have had another meeting with Tesco to tighten controls on their own (Tesco) lorries visiting the store to prevent their drivers manoeuvring unsupervised. They will also be monitoring third party drivers delivering to the store.
If you see further breaches of safety procedures or drivers reversing unsupervised let me or the council know immediately.
On Wednesday evening Andover based Conservative councillors forced through the immediate disposal of the Test Valley Borough Council Offices site in Duttons Road, Romsey. A proposal to delay the disposal proposed by Conservative Councillor Collier of Romsey Abbey ward was defeated after a long and sometimes acrimonious debate. Councillor Hurst, the Test Valley Liberal Democrat Group Leader, commented that there were just too many uncertainties about the future of Romsey to be certain that Duttons Road would not eventually be required for a community use, such as car parking, or as office space.
“Unfortunately the Tory cabinet was blinded by the prospect of a large capital receipt and were prepared to sacrifice the future of Romsey so they could get their hands on it as soon as possible”, he said. He continued; “There is no need to rush into this disposal, the council has just unnecessarily raised the council tax charge by 4.1% and the financial reserves are very healthy. Nor would a delay mean that the receipt would be foregone for ever because when the future direction of Romsey is clearer, and it is known that the Duttons Road site is not required for anything else, then it can and should be sold. The current commercial offers for the site are to meet a need which is simply not going to go away and may even get greater over the next few months. In the meantime the site can be used to ease the car parking problems in Romsey”.
Support for the delay in disposal was not party political. It was supported by a large majority of Southern Test Valley Councillors of both political hues. Councillor Hurst said “We are now seeing that the closure of Duttons Road Council Offices and the withdrawal to Andover was more than just a rationalisation of office space. The Test Valley administration is turning its back on Romsey and ignoring the views of Romsey residents and their Councillors. It looks like they see Romsey simply as a source of cash and a dumping ground for housing”.
Once again Test Valley’s Tory leadership is forcing through the sale of the family silver (our assets) to balance the books and pay for their top heavy, expensive administration at Beech Hurst.
Yesterday I went out talking to residents and campaigning in Pilgrims Way and River Way. It was good to hear positive views from them about how they are working together to improve their local environment. It’s also encouraging to see the hard work put in by their borough councillors Nigel Long and Katherine Bird is having a real impact on these estates.
What was disappointing was to hear that residents are not always getting the support and help needed from their councils and housing associations to sort real and immediate problems. More work is needed to deal with the state of the roads and paths, with overgrown trees and poor lighting. If elected county councillor I will work with Nigel and Katherine to get problems on these estates and across Andover dealt with quickly and efficiently.
I see Alamein’s Tory councillors have dsitributed another of their In Touch leaflets.
In this they proudly announce that Hampshire County Council has frozen council tax. But, in smaller print, they admit the Tory controlled borough council has raised its council tax by a massive 4.1% and seek to distance themselves from it by saying none of them supported it. From what I remember of the council meeting they didn’t vote against the increase either, just made disapproving noises and then left the meeting before it ended. However you interpret their views its obvious the local conservative group are hopelessly split on how much council tax you should pay and what they should spend it on. Time for some changes at county and borough level??
I also notice they are pictured posing beside repaired potholes on Caerleon Drive. What a pity they didn’t take the time to visit Ryon Close or Viking Way while in the area. The potholes there are disgraceful and have been so for months.