The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘ukip’ tag

Ipsos Mori June Issues – Immigration tops the economy for the first time

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Oh people. How you make me despair. The economy for the first time in recent history is not top of the list of issues that people think are effectively the UK (immigration has tied with the economy before) as immigration now has a sensational six-point lead in the latest Ipsos Mori issue index.

Ipsos Mori June Index

June Issues Index

This is undoubtedly due in part to the European elections and the amount of air time that UKIP have been getting. The more rubbish they spew the more people believe it and therefore the more airtime they get and therefore more people believe it and so on. It just goes on and on and the media’s determination to build up UKIP has led to more people worrying about our immigration policy than how the economy is doing. Just how backward is that?

I know on one hand you could argue that this is good news for the coalition parties, people aren’t worrying about the economy as much and therefore it gives credence to why the coalition formed in the first place. If come polling day in 2015 the economy is bouncing back nicely, unemployment going down and job creation going up then it is likely that both parties can look in the mirror and think they’ve done a good job.

Problem though is that if this polling data is accurate then people care more about immigration policy and I think it is fair to say that these people aren’t the type of people that are worried that our borders aren’t open enough. The isolationists are starting to makes their voices heard. These are the people that blame foreigners for their own problems instead of actually finding the problem. Do I blame foreigners for the fact I’m unattractive to the female species? No, no I don’t. Are foreign men coming over here and wooing females that I would have had a chance with? I doubt it. I’m just not an attractive man. Of course at this point I’m kinda taking the mick but I think you get my point (although my attractiveness and lack of it has been well researched and backed up by copious amounts of evidence).

People are worried about foreign people coming over here and abusing our benefits system. You know what, some do. You know who also abuses the benefits system? British people. Is it ok that British people abuse the benefits systems? Do they have more rights to abuse it because they were born here? Nigel Farage abuses the expenses system at the European Parliament and he is lauded for it. Other people abuse the expenses system in Parliament and they go to jail and the public derides them. It doesn’t make sense. It is like there is one rule for one set of people and one for another. It is a joke. It goes against the basic principle that we are all equal.

Ding, Ding, Ding – we have a winner! What’s this? You have won the award for hitting the nail on the head of the UKIP voter – they believe that we are not all created equal. People that are different should not have the same rights, when I say people who are different, what I really mean is people who do not share their philosophies and thought processes with. Of course not everybody that votes UKIP believes that but it is a general point.

Obviously I have a different viewpoint. For example the Ipsos Mori issues index has the NHS as the fourth largest issue facing the country today. You know another thing? If UKIP had its way and pulled us out of Europe and basically closed our borders then the NHS would collapse. There are so many EU and non-EU staff within the NHS that we should be eternally grateful that they choose to come over here and provide vital care for us. If I am in a traffic accident then I don’t care what nationality the doctors and nurses are and nor should anyone else. Caring about that is about as flat out dumb as you can get but heck people do. It beggars belief.

The point though is the media are fanning the flames. The majority of people in this country care mostly about the economy. I know this not because I’m spoken to every single person in the land but because it is sound logic. If people have a job and have money then they can afford food and a roof over their heads. That always has to be the first thing on the minds of any person. Whether foreigners are working here or claiming benefits here should never ever be the most important issue. Never.

This data doesn’t shock me although it does sadden me. The issues of the EU and immigration were always going to rise the more people heard from UKIP. The more people get told that something is a problem then the more they will believe it. I just hope the other parties don’t just lurch to the right because of this type of data. I fear that at least two of the parties will and that in itself will fan the flames even more. The more people get told something is a problem the more they will believe it and if UKIP, Conservatives and Labour all chase these votes then boy we are in for a depressing feeling in this country for many years to come.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 27th, 2014 at 11:44 am

Posted in Politics

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When is a social media comment fair game for the political blogosphere?

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In April a UKIP candidate for election in Southend posted on his Facebook that he was a bit pissed off and intended to move back to Cambridge in August. A month later and he won election to Southend Council. He has subsequently deleted the Facebook post but for some reason is is providing a bit of a stir and I feel compelled to defend the candidate.

Like others – I had seen the post before the election. I didn’t feel compelled to blog on it because I didn’t feel it was a story that needed to be written. It isn’t as though I thought he was only a paper candidate so wouldn’t win, as those who spoke to me in the run-up to the elections, I thought UKIP would make significant gains across the borough even if they didn’t campaign hard. The national protest vote was there and coupled with the European elections then it felt as though UKIP were going to have a good day. I just felt as though it wasn’t fair to write a story based solely on a Facebook comment – and more importantly now he is a councillor – I still don’t.

Social media is a strange beast. We all post things that taken out of context can be used against us at a later date. That just seems the way of the world. Now pointing out if someone has racist tendencies or something similar is probably fair game for your political blogger. A UKIP candidate for Westborough certainly tweeted some shall we say ‘interesting’ comments a long time before he was selected as a candidate. I certainly question whether this is fair game but it probably is as it shows a history of a person. I will say though that people trawling through years of someone’s tweets shows quite some desperation. I suppose this is one thing about the lack of Lib Dem social media presence locally – it is harder for us to trip up or have comments misconstrued.

So anyway back to this particular case. A candidate (who was in reality a paper candidate) was pissed off with someone (or a selection of people) and stated that he wanted to move on. That happens but do you know what else happens? Things change. For example it is not exactly a secret that I am looking to move out of Southend. I am in the financial position now where I want to get on the property ladder and the cost of purchasing in Southend doesn’t really add up for me.

I work from home and can move either to a cheaper area of the country or I can move back down south where I have family and friends for a similar amount to what I could afford here. Still though things can change. I may stay in Southend, it is hard to predict the future. Had for example I stood and won election then I would see that as a reason to commit to the area for four years. I suspect the councillor in question may have similar feelings. This happens in every election, a paper candidate suddenly wins from nowhere and they have the choice of whether to get stuck in or whether to quietly quit within a few months. I don’t know this man from Adam but I have seen nothing to suggest that he is going to walk away now that he has been elected and I really question whether bringing up something he said before the situation changed is fair.

We all make decisions in our lives based on the facts we have at our disposal at the time. If nothing changes in my life then when I buy it will not be in Southend. However if something significant changed in my life then maybe Southend will continue being my home, who knows? Cllr. Davies may not share my political values to any significant degree but I don’t think that there should be any traction about a comment he made on Facebook two months ago that doesn’t effect anyone. Now if he did indeed go through with moving to Cambridge then it would be a story and certainly something the other parties could use to show that KIP candidates may not be committed but until that point, I think it should be off limits.

Being involved in the political blogosphere often leads to decisions to be made about what to write and what is fair comment and what isn’t. There is no question of intrusion of privacy here as it was a public comment on his Facebook but it is fair to write about it? I think my PoV is clear. My Facebook is private and set to friends only – and I even filter people out of statuses should I feel that I would prefer they not know what I am thinking. My twitter however is totally public and whenever I think about writing something that could be misconstrued then I sit there and read it and have a good think about it before I post it. I do the same when writing on this here blog.

I think we should just sit back and see what happens with regards to Cllr. Davies. I think it would be smart for him to issue a Press Release or write a letter to the editor of the Echo to clarify his position, certainly if he is planning on sticking it out. That should end any speculation that may build up. Whether he needs to or whether he should feel compelled to is another matter but once the bandwagon has started rolling then it might be wise to put the brakes on it as soon as possible but I do feel for him that his comments have resulted in several blog posts on the matter that seem to attack him on the matter, which I feel is unfair.

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Written by neilmonnery

June 10th, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Politics

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Lib Dems set to be part of coalition to run Southend Council

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Losing seats and gaining power. It reminds me of the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dems lost four seats whilst only holding one last week as the voters spectacularly said they weren’t enamoured with the party. Yet according to reports in the local rag (and lets be honest logic) they will form a rainbow coalition with Labour and the Independents to run Southend Council for the next twelve months.

I wrote earlier this week that the voters had voted positively for Labour and UKIP and whilst the Tories lost seven seats, they still got the most votes across the town and therefore these parties would represent the views of the voters of Southend to the best degree. Still doing a deal involving these parties was always going to be problematic due to the clear ideological differences between the Tories and Labour and the inexperience and relative unknowns of the new UKIP councillors. I fully acknowledge this but felt it would sum up the views of the voters.

So the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems altogether. On paper it can clearly work but mathematically it gives them a majority of just one and this is where I have little faith. I don’t feel any Labour members nor Lib Dem members would walk away from their parties but the independents are meant to be just that – independent – and as such have a variety of different politics across their group.

Keeping that band of twelve together without one of them deciding that enough is enough and they remove themselves from the group (like Dr. Vel did) will take some doing. A majority of one is precarious at the best of times but when it is a three-way coalition with one of the three being a band of independents with views across the political spectrum from socialist through liberal to right-wing Tories. If they stay together through the budget then huge kudos.

The electoral maths were really not helpful and this might be the best option available. I honestly don’t know. If the three run the council well over the next year then it will be a huge fillip and will help them politically. For the Lib Dems they do not face up to the independents nor Labour in any obvious target seat in 2015, so if the council does good work then seats such as Blenheim Park, Prittlewell and maybe even St. Laurence will be back into play. For the independents and Labour, both parties play more in the east of the borough where they face up against the Tories in most places and UKIP in one of two. Good governance will help them and with Cllr. Ian Gilbert’s run to win a seat in Westminster as well.

If this deal does go ahead as reported then Cllr. Woodley would become leader and the three parties (well two parties and one group) will have a year to pretty much make or break their political ambitions in Southend for the next few years. If they do well and stop the seawall, stop the closures of care homes as well as restoring paid staff to all libraries then I have little doubt they’ll be popular. If they are unable to find the money for the latter two then it will be tough.

The UKIP leader feels that his party and councillors have been unjustly shutout of any potential coalition and they may have a point but that’s politics. Had UKIP had won one more seat (probably Victoria) then they would be in a much better position due to that bone that I bang one about – electoral maths. Had the Tories won Leigh from the Lib Dems then the same could be said. Still the maths and makeup of the chamber are what they are and UKIP could be shutout by this proposed coalition. I wonder if they regret their pact with the independent group now?

Still here we are. It looks like the Tories are going to sit on the sidelines for a year and it is over to the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems to show that they can run the town better than the Tories did. I hope that they can because if they don’t then it is very possible that UKIP will be the kingmakers next year and personally I would prefer this not to happen.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 29th, 2014 at 11:05 am

It is time for Labour to step up and put Southend above politics

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Oh maths, electoral maths, it has been a while since we have met but the future of Southend is up for grabs and it is time to turn to you to work out what is feasible. The Tories went down big on Thursday night and unsurprisingly lost the majority in the Civic Centre. So the big question is now, ‘who will run Southend Council?’ and the realistic possibilities bring about a rather unlikely coalition.

The composition of the chamber is as follow with the number to yet a majority at 26:

19 Conservative
12 Independent Group
9 Labour
5 Liberal Democrat
5 UKIP
1 Independent Independent (yes that is as funny as it sounds)

So the easiest answer is the Tories do a deal with the independent group. 31 seats. Simple. End of blog. But wait there are two issues at play here, John Lamb has already stated that he won’t work with ‘some independents’ and also that loose UKIP/Independent alliance that meant they didn’t challenge each other in any seat across Southend, does that alliance go as far as becoming a package deal in coalition talks? To answer that then the leaders would need to speak but both have hilariously denied there was any form of alliance and it just happened to be coincidence that they didn’t stand against each other, yeah and its a coincidence that women run away from me when I start talking about my care bear collection that live on the headboard of my bed, get real people.

So lets for now say that a Tory/Indy deal is problematic.

Next up is the juicy one and if we are being 100% non-partisan then what would make the most sense for the people of Southend – a Tory/Labour coalition. This results in 28 seats of the 51 and would provide the stability that Southend needs at this point when budget squeezes are making budgets harder and harder to put together. Of course there is one huge problem and that is Labour would not want to go into coalition with the Tories politically nor philosophically.

I suspect the Tories would do the deal as they are rather pragmatic and know that a two party coalition is more likely to hold together than any potential three-way. Labour though would have to stop throwing rocks at the council and would have to deal with the real issues of power and taking the tough decisions is a difficult climate for local councils, are they ready for that?

The local rag on the front page yesterday said that an Independent, Labour and Lib Dem three-way was the most likely outcome. That would be tough to do. I firmly believe that the voters of Southend spectacularly rejected the Liberal Democrats last Thursday and therefore they should not be part of any ruling coalition on principle unless there really was no alternative. Also Labour have been more vitriolic towards the Lib Dems than any other party and working with them would be at best an uneasy truce and I’m not sure the Lib Dem five would back Ron Woodley as leader of any coalition considering we’ve abstained on this issue before (note to Lib Dem councillors – abstaining is weak).

I think the Lib Dems are out of this and this of course depends on whether this Indy/UKIP alliance goes forward beyond last Thursday. If it does then an Independent, Labour, UKIP coalition would achieve the same goal mathematically. We can pretty much take it as fact that the Independent group would work with UKIP and those parties could gain control of the chamber if Labour follow them.

The Tories and the Lib Dems do not have enough seats to form a deal on that front, even with Dr. Vel and would need in all likelihood the Thorpe three to go with them. It doesn’t seem practical and nor would it be right that the two parties that were rejected by the electorate form a coalition.

There are only two coalitions that make sense mathematically and would seemingly form a cohesive group of councillors who could lead Southend and both involve the Labour party. One is a straight up coalition with the Tories and the second is a coalition with the Independent Group and UKIP.

So it is time for the nine Labour councillors to decide whether they are prepared to put politics aside for the good of Southend or whether politics comes first. If they want a better Southend then it is time for them to step up and form one of these two coalitions. If they decide that they would rather sit on the side in opposition and throw rocks at whoever leads the council then it would be disappointing and disheartening, albeit not surprising that they put ideology and politics first and the betterment of the people of Southend second.

I implore Cllr. Ian Gilbert and his team of councillors to do one of the two deals above. Swallow your pride and work with either the Tories or the Indy/UKIP alliance and put Southend first. If you don’t then the door is wide open for the independent group and UKIP to gain enough to win an outright majority in 2015 and that is something that I personally would not like to see.

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May 27th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Nick Clegg v Nigel Farage – A debate that would be well worth watching

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If you were not listening to Nick Clegg’s LBC phone-in programme this morning and you don’t follow any Lib Dems on Twitter or are friends with any Lib Dems on Facebook, then you may have missed the open offer that the leader of the Liberal Democrats made to his UKIP counterpart this morning about debating the merits of being in or out of the EU. You may have been say on the exercise bike watching the Curling for instance but I have no idea who’d be doing such a thing…

Anyway…

This is what Nick Clegg said:

I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I will challenge Nigel Farage to a public, open debate about whether we should be in or out of the European Union. That’s the choice facing the British people.

He is the leader of the party of OUT, I am the leader of the party of IN. It’s time for a proper public debate so that the public can listen to the arguments and decide for themselves.

It is a bold move but a move that (short-term) at least won’t harm the Lib Dems. As a member of the party but someone who isn’t wed to the EU (I do think we are better in than out based on simple economics of it all) I would like to actually hear the case for both options straight up in a debate. I think there are a lot of people who are firmly ensconced in the out camp because they have lapped up the ‘small island’ mentality believing that immigration is the biggest problem facing the country, however I think there are a lot of people who still have open minds on this front and would actually like to hear both sides of the debate straight up.

Of course I think Nick would perform fantastically because I think he’s a very good speaker. Farage would be firmly more style over substance. Also the public perception of Nick Clegg is so low that any victory (even a small one) would be seen by the press and people at large as a real boost for the Deputy Prime Minister.

The only problem is whether this opens the door to Farage in terms of Prime Ministerial debates come the spring of 2015. Personally I am fine with any party who puts up MPs in enough seats where they could mathematically be Prime Minister being involved in these debates. I have held this position for a long time. The public have the right to hear these people speak and debate many topics. Of course we don’t know if they will return in 2015 and even if they do, in what guise, but I think they added something to the national debate and would welcome them returning.

Nigel Farage’s press people have said he’ll reply tomorrow to the offer and we wait with baited breath (well maybe not) but it would be a fascinating debate between two people on complete opposite sides in this regard. Our position within the EU is something that we should openly discuss, but to do that we need to know more than what we hear through the biased media.

Hearing things straight from the politicians mouths I think only enhances our knowledge of where they stand and why they have those opinions and in turn we can weigh up the pros and cons of each side of the debate to decide how we feel about it. I genuinely believe most people don’t have enough knowledge of why EU membership is important or not (I include myself in that) so anything that gives me more knowledge is something I’d like to see.

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February 20th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Posted in Politics

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The story of the West Leigh by-election is the rise of UKIP

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So here we are. UKIP are four months away from having potentially several councillors on Southend Council. 410 votes in West Leigh was a staggering result but the thing that is worth noting is that people on the doorstep weren’t canvassing as UKIP at all. The UKIP vote is silent but it is there. The disenfranchised vote is loud and unless the three main parties address this quickly then it will be carnage come May in local elections, although I still think in the General Election things will be slightly different.

In Southend, UKIP and the Independent’s are either in an unofficial nod and wink allience or they are not depending on who you talk to and what their mood is at the time you speak to them. However lets put it this way, the UKIP literature is rather similar to what the independents have been saying, just with added anti-immigration phrases thrown in for good measure.

West Leigh is not where you’d expect a strong UKIP vote and clearly they did well on a minimal campaign. We have seen this before in Southend is more favourable wards for them, but with the next local elections being on the same day as European Elections they will fight a more vigorous campaign that will see them make their Southend breakthrough.

Nationally though this news is positive for the Lib Dems. In areas where we work hard our vote seems to be holding up whereas the Tories vote drops with UKIP sweeping up that vote. So when you look at these Lib Dem/Tory battlegrounds then the Lib Dems can either hold or take them at the next General Election. For ages the hope that Lib Dems have been clinging to is UKIP can split the Tory vote and it is perfectly possible it can happen.

However for us locally this is a rude wake up call and all parties should have taken really note of this result. Even though they came 17% away from winning, the fact they canvassed so badly (and we did a lot of canvassing) yet came through so strong says so much. At the count the votes counted from ballot boxes today actually had UKIP right up there with the Lib Dems and the Tories but the postal votes were a lot stronger for the two other main parties.

As for Labour, well it was nice of them to turn up. 7% is around what we expected so that canvassing data held up well. We also thought we’d be nip/tuck with the Tories and who got their vote out today would win it. That UKIP vote though came right out of left field.

UKIP will win seats on Southend Council, they will win seats on many councils, they’ll send more people to the European Parliament than any other party, yet I firmly believe they’ll do all this not because people support them but because they are so disenfranchised. This is where the three main parties have to step up and better engage people on issues and policies. If we fail to do that then I fear for the future.

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Written by neilmonnery

January 24th, 2014 at 12:56 am

Posted in Politics

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Nigel Farage set to take on Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam in 2015?

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A cabbie has tweeted that he has ‘reliable sources’ that Nigel Farage will take on Nick Clegg in the Sheffield Hallam constituency in 2015 in what would be the most eagerly awaited battle since Tatton in 1997 when Neil Hamilton faced off against Martin Bell. The official announcement will come shortly before the summer recess says said tweeter.

The tweet has sent the twitter political sphere into meltdown but it is the Lib Dems on twitter who seem to be smiling most – and it is no surprise. If UKIP are serious about winning seats in 2015 then they have to ensure they target certain seats with the right candidates. In the local elections in many seats they did no campaigning and won based solely on the strength of the national tide. This of course is far easier in local elections when you can win with a few hundred votes. Getting 15,000 odd though without lifting a finger is slightly harder to muster.

Nick Clegg might not be the most popular person in the country. I won’t sit here and say he is but he also isn’t hated in his own constituency. The Lib Dems will struggle with the national vote in a couple of years but what we have seen is that where the Lib Dems have MPs embedded and a string local party then they are resilient. The Lib Dems could easily lose half of their votes in 2015 but could come away with 40-50 MPs. That isn’t an unrealistic look into the future.

So I have to ask myself why Nigel Farage would want to take on Nick Clegg? He is far more likely to win a different constituency and if he was serious about being an MP and leading his party into the House of Commons then surely he would find a far easier seat to run in? I think though that the previous sentence showed up an important piece of information, is Nigel Farage serious about being an MP? Lets be honest here. Had Farage run in Eastleigh then he may well have won. Not saying he would have but there was every chance.

Facing Nick Clegg would cause a media stir and would focus the campaign strongly on Farage himself and not his party. Is that what he wants to do? Does he want to ensure that the media solely focuses on him and the UKIP party in general are relegated to a secondary issue? If he does then that would be a pretty poor show on his behalf but secondly for the Lib Dems putting up Clegg mano a mano with Farage is not a situation that would phase the party.

So I think most Lib Dems would say ‘bring it on’ but as I say this was all sparked by one tweet so take it with a pinch of salt…

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May 30th, 2013 at 5:49 pm

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Why shouldn’t UKIP get a voice at any PM TV Debate?

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Local election campaigns are in full swing across the country (although not here in Southend-on-Sea) and there is only one story that seems to be coming out. This story isn’t about whether Labour will make gains against the Tories. The story isn’t about whether the Lib Dems will stop the hemorrhaging of votes/councillors. The story isn’t about whether the austerity will hurt the Tories. The only story I keep reading about is the surge of the UK Independence Party and what this means for the future.

I must admit my gut feeling is that UKIP will be like a fast burning love affair. They will burn oh so bright but they will not burn for a long time. The fact of the matter is there are a significant number of people who don’t like nor trust politicians. The whole expenses scandal has left politicians looking up at journalists in the respected by stakes, which is not a good place to be. Heck divorce lawyers are more respected than politicians at the moment. UKIP are promising a breath of fresh air and to put Great Britain first and not to kowtow to Brussels and the EU. It isn’t like the UKIP leader has taken (to 2009) around £2million in tax payers money from the EU in expenses. Oh wait…

They are basically scratching the itch of those who are disenchanted with modern politics. They are different they say. The system is crooked they say. Nigel Farage has seen a stronger eye on his party in recent days as it has come out that they have struggled to vet their candidates. Some of them seem to be less than desirable and certainly not the type of people you’d want in any position of power. The main issue is a lot of people vote for the party and not the candidate so if you don’t vet properly then you may find you have councillors representing the party who don’t truly reflect the views of the party.

The UKIP leader is not happy with all of this, ‘Have you met the cretins we have in Westminster? Do you think we can be worse than that?’ exclaims the 49 year-old. On one hand he has a point that all parties have the odd person who deep down you aren’t sure truly reflects the parties values and you get a sense they aren’t being their true self. When it comes to UKIP though who knows?

However this blog isn’t about that. It is about the talk over the possibility of more PM TV Debates in 2015. Stories in the press over the weekend have linked Labour to the Tories in wanting to keep out UKIP. Remember Labour do not want the Lib Dems in because they formed a coalition with the Tories so think any Lib Dem leader should share a platform with the Tories and Labour’s deputies because that is as high as they could ever be. Gotta love Labour’s stance on that. So in Labour’s eyes any debate would be two-way between them and the Tories. The Tories are happy for three-way with the Lib Dems also involved. We don’t know the Lib Dem view as yet.

My view though is extremely simplistic. If a party is putting up enough candidates to form a government then their leader should be invited to join the other leaders in these debates. The SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and others were unhappy about being left out last time but none of them were fielding enough candidates to form a government and their leader could never be Prime Minister so their place in any ‘Prime Ministerial Debate’ did seem relatively pointless. The likelihood though is that UKIP will be putting up enough candidates across the country and in the interest of democracy they deserve the to share that platform in my eyes.

We saw last time that Nick Clegg’s profile rose dramatically throughout the process last year and at one point, in one Sunday poll the Lib Dems actually led. As we all know though that extra exposure translated to over a million more votes but actually fewer MPs. It also led to far more scrutiny in the right-wing media as they went to town on the Lib Dems and on Nick Clegg in particular. This worked to some degree and should Nigel Farage and his party get the same exposure they would be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

My feelings on UKIP are pretty clear but I also believe in fairness and equality (good liberal traits there) and if UKIP are in a position where they could feasibility (no matter how unlikely) form a government if everything went right for them on polling day in 2015 then they deserve the right to share that platform. It is up to the other parties and particularly their leaders to show UKIP for what they are and to get the public to vote for them and not Nigel Farage’s lot.

The thing is we all know that the moment UKIP get any power (either at local or national level) the public will quickly realise what they have done. At a local level voting UKIP will not change anything to do with the EU or tax rates or immigration which is basically what UKIP are all about. So a vote for UKIP locally on Thursday is basically saying, ‘we hate them all and even though they can’t follow through with their primary objectives in local governments we’ll vote for them as a symbol of our anger towards national issues.’ When it comes to national issues though their rhetoric of being anti-EU and anti-foreigners is actually something they could act on.

UKIP are unlikely to ever have a Prime Minister, they are unlikely to ever be in a position to form a coalition but as they say – you never know. UKIP’s core support is with the older generation – a YouGov poll in February found that only 15% of UKIP support comes from those under 40 – the fact is the older generation are more likely to vote.

For me I don’t see UKIP as a viable party and are just a protest against the status quo and the current financial climate. The moment the economy pulls itself out of its funk and the countries finances are balanced then the need for a protest party will dissipate. This will happen but it won’t happen before 2015. So let UKIP play with the established parties and give them the opportunities that they deserve. I just hope they shoot themselves in the foot when they are under a serious national spotlight. It is easy to protest when their are few repercussions but when it comes to a General Election protests are harder because actions (and votes) have consequences.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 30th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

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An open letter to all on immigration – hint – immigration is good.

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Dear All,

Immigration is one of the biggest issues facing our country today. Not because it actually is but more because that is what the media is telling us. Ten years ago immigration was a footnote when questioning the public about what they wanted the government to sort out. These days it has become a bigger talking point on the doorstep than everything bar the economy. Yes even the NHS and Education are less of a talking point than immigration. So why the sea change?

Basically the economy has gone down the tubes and someone has to be to blame and it can’t all be the bankers fault, can it? We have gone from one of the most tolerant societies to one that openly talks about immigration in a bad light. The media whip up a firestorm with stories such as the benefits cheats who get to live in mansions at the tax payers expense but the stories about the hard working people who come over here, pay taxes and enrich our culturally diverse society don’t seem to get as many inches in the written media for some reason?

If I’m awake in time I often leave BBC1 on in the mornings (because Homer Under The Hammer is fantastic) and there is a show called ‘Saints & Scroungers) and practically every single scrounger is a foreign national who shouldn’t be living here. Am I to believe that these people account for more benefits being illegally received than born and bred Brits? Yeah. Right…

The argument I often hear is, ‘well I was born and bred here and they weren’t so why should my taxes pay for their benefits.’ On the face of it a fair point of view but when you dig deeper they don’t just chastise those who don’t work and claim benefits, they chastise those who have jobs as well because they are doing jobs that born and bred Brits could do. I ask them what they think about Brits moving abroad and they don’t have a problem with it. So Brits moving abroad and working is fine but others coming to the UK and doing the same isn’t. I bash my head against a brick wall sometimes.

Angry voices are swelling about immigration and you hear that people want the government of the day – whoever they are – to be tough on immigration. One of my main issues is the loudest voices want the government of the day to be tough on everything. Being tough is the way forward they say but it isn’t however a political party can never be shown to be anything other than tough otherwise they’ll be torn apart in the media. Being tough on crime is one of the main ones and yet locking everyone up and throwing away the key doesn’t actually solve all the problems. The penal system isn’t just about punishment but also about rehabilitation but you can’t say that out loud without sounding soft in the eyes of many.

This leads me to the immigration issue. The country and the economy will prosper if we are open for business. That means foreign companies investing in the UK and it also means skilled nationals from other countries coming here and working. It also means foreign nationals coming to the UK to learn and get educated.

On a society front I hear people argue that they feel more uneasy being around foreigners instead of UK nationals. Personally I have never felt this is the case. It is akin to people saying that foreigners are more criminal than people in this country and that just doesn’t wash with me. We are all human beings when it comes down to it and yes there are bad people in this country who are not helping our economy or society but you know what – the majority of those people are British. Should we tolerant these people and persecute the others just because they were born here? Does being born somewhere give you the right to be treated differently to another person when that is the only difference between the way you are acting? I think not.

The reason I am discussing this today is simple. Nick Clegg spoke today on this issue and the headline is about looking into the feasibility of visitors from certain countries having to pay a bond that they would collect on their way out of the UK once their visa was up. It is a pretty dumb policy in my opinion but they are just looking into it, just like the previous Labour government did twice and the coalition has already looked into. If civil servants think it is feasible then a pilot will be run.

Now that is the headline that was on the news and is in all the online editions of the written media. It doesn’t come across well but the speech wasn’t just about that. A very interesting part was about exit checks and the way they had been scaled down by the previous government. To me it just seems logical that you count and check people in and then check them on the way out as well. Isn’t that just good practice so you know who is where?

I have no issue with being ‘zero-tolerant on abuse’ as long as it doesn’t impinge on those who are wanting to do things legally and would benefit the economy and our society. I know Nick wants to sound tough on immigration and wants to be at the forefront of the debate but the issue now isn’t about actual immigration – it is about how to differentiate between all the main political parties on this issue. They all want to sound tougher and more outraged than the next party whereas in reality the best practical solution would be to sort out the management of the system and ensuring that we know who is here, for what purpose and for how long. If we know that then that is the majority of the battle won. The way I see it our biggest problem isn’t the amount of people who are here but that we don’t know who is here.

Whilst immigration is an issue – as I said earlier it is seen as such a large issue because those with the loudest voices have dictated it to be so. UKIP, the Tories and Labour all want to be seen as the hardest and toughest on immigration and that will play well with many. However there is plenty of room for a sane and reasonable approach to immigration and that is where I hope Nick and the Lib Dems go. If a political party could say (and more important achieve) a situation where they could effectively manage immigration to the point where the country was open to anyone with the skillset that was deemed needed and that students on education visas were free to come and study but with the important caveat that when their visas ended they had to either leave or apply again for either an extended or a different visa then that would be music to my – and a lot of other people’s ears.

Politicians need to remember that the loudest voices are not always the majority of voices. If you can put yourself in a position where the more reasoned voter could believe you could deliver something that made sense then you have a chance with these people. Not everyone votes on the strength of what the media tells them. In fact the truth is most vote based on their own opinions. Not everyone is extreme in their views on immigration so I’d like to see a political party talk to these people – and I for one would like that political party to be the Liberal Democrats.

Immigration is not bad. Uncontrolled immigration might be but the whole issue of immigration is a good thing for all countries around the globe. Finding a way to ensure our doors are flung wide open to the right people is far more important than ensuring the wrong people are finding a way in but we need a balance. If we can find a way to manage immigration – both the good and the bad – then we’ll be going someway to building a better society and economy. The biggest story in Nick’s speech wasn’t the bond issue but the fact we are building up our network of exit checks that the party has been calling for since 2004. Once we have a handle of who is where and who hasn’t left when they should have then we can start effectively managing the whole immigration system. It was a Labour mistake but it is one the Lib Dems are helping to fix.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

March 22nd, 2013 at 2:42 pm

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Are UKIP showing us we are more xenophobic than we were before?

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The Liberal Democrats pulled off a hard fought victory in the early hours in Eastleigh but it isn’t the story today. The story is UKIP’s surge but not for the reason that you might think.

They received 28% of the vote and beat the Tories into second place. They had a very impressive candidate who didn’t seem very UKIPpy at all. In fact she sounded like a middle of the road Conservative – and this is because she is in fact a middle of the road Conservative. The Tory candidate was far more UKIPpy than Diane was but that isn’t the debate here.

The interesting note coming out of the Eastleigh by-election is that a lot of people who usually don’t vote – did – and they went big for UKIP. For years we have had a significant segment of society who have zero interest in politics and think they are all as bad as the next person but these people were stimulated to actually go to a ballot box on Thursday and vote for a political party that most people thought were a bit of a joke.

If 100% of eligible voters voted in every election then we might get lots of different results. Those who ‘don’t care enough to vote’ are often those with the biggest gripes against the government but don’t see any alternative. Now if suddenly UKIP can put themselves on the side of these people and get them motivated enough to vote then suddenly they are a political force not to be ignored.

I started this blog post thinking about whether we as a country are getting more xenophobic or not on the back of this result. The headlines figures would suggest that maybe we are but maybe it is just those who are xenophobic are now making louder noises and feel that they have someone on their side.

I read the local rag every day and on the ‘letters to the editor’ page one of the most popular things people are seemingly writing in about is about foreigners coming over here and taking jobs and benefits from hard working British folk who are entitled to it. A decade ago it was completely different as this country embraced foreign nationals but as the economy has shrunk so has the countries love of foreigners. The correlation is pretty stark.

Do people not like foreigners or are they just scared that there are not enough jobs to go around? I still think (read: hope) that as a nation we are still pretty liberal but the xenophobes are certainly far more vocal then they used to be. Whether this is because they feel it is more acceptable these days to have these opinions or that they have actually changed over the years I don’t know.

The truth is UKIP are able to engage voters who don’t vote. Yes they are taking votes from the other parties but also picking up fresh voters in their droves might be the most significant thing to come out of the Eastleigh by-election. Lets be honest here – had the Lib Dems not moved the writ for the by-election so quickly then UKIP could easily have won and had their first MP.

The other major parties have to take UKIP seriously now. They have seen they can engage with a significant proportion of the disenfranchised electorate. With more voters hating all politicians the number of these potential protest voters is increasing all the time and if UKIP can persuade them to bother voting then they are a dangerous foe. The fact is that UKIP can now make a good argument to be treated in the media on the same level as the other three main parties despite not having an MP and should they do this – for example in TV debates – then they’ll reap the rewards of the extra exposure.

It was a good hold for the Lib Dems – and one they needed. However the danger of UKIP is greater than we all thought. They won’t just split the Tory vote – they’ll also attract votes from people who previously didn’t vote. That combination if they can continue it could see them in a good position come 2015 but as we all know – plenty can happen in the next two and a half years…

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

March 1st, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Politics

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