The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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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…


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

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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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January 24th, 2014 at 12:56 am

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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.

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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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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…

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March 1st, 2013 at 2:46 pm

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Can Maria Hutchings turn this all around and pull off a sensational Eastleigh victory?

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When the markets opens the Tories were the favourites – one bookie even opened up with the party the 2/1 on favourites – which is quite strong. The incumbant MP was going to jail, he was a member of a political party that were languishing in the polls, the smaller coalition party were bearing the brunt of the voter rage of the government and the seat is in an area that has always been blue until the death of Stephen Milligan prompted a by-election at a time where John Major was overseeing a tough and deep recession and had a cabinet full of backstabbing bastards. This was a Blue gain and the chance to make Nick Clegg seriously squirm.

However very quickly the punters lumped on the Lib Dems and within hours most bookies had them both around evens and they weren’t sure which way to go. The Tories got in first with their candidate and on the face of it is seemed a swift and obvious choice but as the days have passed we have noticed one thing – it was a horrific one.

Eastleigh people clearly like the local Lib Dems as they hold every seat on the local council in the constituency. So to win they needed to appoint a candidate who was a soft Tory and not a hard line one. Someone prone to gaffes, speaking about how local schools aren’t good enough for her son, someone who wasn’t down with equal marriage and isn’t exactly keen on foreigners coming to the UK and working. This was a Tory candidate who was basically walking hand-in-hand skipping along with UKIP policies. Not exactly the best plan when you consider UKIP will be picking up the protest vote so instead of gaining disaffected Lib Dems she is busy fighting off disaffected Tories going to UKIP.

When you have an election where the majority are clearly broadly in a small political spectrum then you should put yourself in that political spectrum if you want to win. The Tories and the Lib Dems currently are in a pretty narrow field overall. Cameron is a soft Tory and Clegg is certainly not a natural left leaning Lib Dem leader so essentially if the candidates towed the national line it would come down to whether the Huhne mess and the general Lib Dem national malaise would be enough for the Tories to step in.

As we all know though the Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton is the only person in the narrow spectrum that the majority subscribe to. Soft liberals will not vote Tory next Thursday. They may vote Labour or one of the fringe parties or not bother voting but the soft Lib Dem vote will not go in any significant number to Maria Hutchings. So to win she has to establish herself as more credible than UKIP and try to tear down the Lib Dem vote to keep it at home or to send it to Labour or fringe candidates.

Can she do this? Yes but I can in theory become a Calvin Klein underwear model. Maria Hutchings is not a dynamic candidate that is engaging the public nor one who is generating positive press. I think the press over-inflate their influence but she just isn’t getting *any* positive play and her ground game is not what the Lib Dems or UKIP is. The Lib Dems know to win all they have to really do is keep the vote they had and maybe take a few soft Tory votes who are scared by the right-wingness of the Tory candidate and UKIP. UKIP know all they have to do is target anyone who is pissed off with everyone and swoop them up. When you see Boris Johnson knocking on doors and getting nowhere you know you have an issue.

The Tories could well win still in Eastleigh. Things can change but the general noise coming out is that they know they won’t. The thing is though that the Tories could and maybe should have won Eastleigh. The Chris Huhne trial and story has been knocking around for an awful long time now. Plenty of time to prepare, get on the streets, collect canvass data and have a candidate in place who was a soft Tory that could basically say, ‘look…you are pissed off with Nick Clegg and disappointed in Chris Huhne, why not vote for me and I can be that centerist candidate and not be a liar’ and victory was a far more realistic prospect.

Polling day is six days away and the more likely scenario now is the Tories fighting UKIP for second than fighting the Lib Dems for the win. If the polling does see UKIP get second place it will become possibly the biggest story of the by-election. UKIP’s strength against the Tories, the Tory collapse and the Lib Dem resilience would be the stories and in that order. Having a strong Lib Dem hold might just be the third biggest story of this election – who saw that coming?

Of course plenty can change but the Lib Dem campaign is holding up and confidence is there. The UKIP campaign is strengthening and they are sniffing giving the Tories a real real scare and the Tories are floundering. Labour were never going to be a significant runner and a fourth place would not be embarrassing for Ed Miliband in the slightest. If they were to get in the mix with UKIP and the Tories it might actually be a very good night for the party.

Still all to play for but the Lib Dems have run (so far) a very good campaign. The Tories seem to have stumbled without a clear plan (despite plenty of feet on the ground) and UKIP are picking up on that general anti-establishment feeling that is encompassing the nation.

Whatever happens next Thursday I can see several very interesting storylines…

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February 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 am

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So an Eastleigh by-election is upon us. Can the Lib Dems hold on…?

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They say you’ll never find a poor bookie. Well as the books open on the Eastleigh by-election one thing is clear – they have no idea who’ll win this by-election. You can get both the Lib Dems and the Tories at odds-on and also odds against. It is a straight two-horse race as it just isn’t a Labour area and the big question we’ll see for the first time in this new political climate is the effect of UKIP on a Tory/LD marginal.

I wrote last year that UKIP could actually be the saviour of the Lib Dems in 2015. It sounds mad but a strong UKIP could work very much if the Lib Dems favour. The majority of Lib Dem seats in the south are very much in Tory/LD marginals. Heck most of the marginals that the Lib Dems are in are with the Tories in the south. Now I hypothesise that a strong UKIP will pick up more votes from the Tories than they do the Lib Dems. Yes there will be Lib Dem protest votes that disappear to UKIP but the question is will these be more or less than those votes from disaffected Tories?

It should be noted that in the pathetic Police and Crime Commissioner Elections that in the borough of Eastleigh (which isn’t strictly the constituency ward but is the majority of) that the Lib Dem candidate got the most votes with the independent candidate second, Tories third and Labour fourth. The council is made up of 40 Lib Dems and Four Tories. No other party is represented. In 2012 Eastleigh actually saw two LD gains. So this is an area where the Lib Dem vote is strong and is holding up.

Chris Huhne took over the seat in 2005 and just about held on but in 2010 he increased his 600 odd majority to just short of 4,000. The seat was a three-way marginal but Labour’s portion of the vote has dissipated since their high point in the 1997 massacre where they were still a good 5,000 short of winning in Eastleigh. Labour are not winning Eastleigh so don’t throw your money away. This is now a two-way marginal with UKIP being the interesting party to watch.

I don’t think Chris Huhne’s actions will hurt too much with the electorate. It won’t help for sure but if the Lib Dems put forward a good local candidate who speaks well and campaigns hard then they it shouldn’t be a huge issue. I don’t see the Huhne personal vote as a big one. Just watching VoxPops on the local news and the general consensus is that he was an idiot and they are very disappointed in him personally – but not disappointed in the party.

This is without a shadow of a doubt the first by-election that will actually show something of this parliament. I know George Galloway won in Bradford West but that was very much a protest vote against Labour and an excellent local campaign. If The Lib Dems lose Eastleigh then they might well be in real trouble in 2015 but if David Cameron can’t take Eastleigh then there will be a large section of his party that will think they can’t win an outright majority in 2015.

Labour should sit back and watch the carnage and basically work out their 2015 strategy in large based on this. This by-election will be the largest indicator that we’ll get to how the Lib Dem vote is holding up against the Tories and in turn how UKIP will influence these vital Tory/LD marginal. After this by-election we’ll know so much more but for now all we can do is speculate and watch the drama unfold. Oh and Phone Bank, Phone Bank, Phone Bank…

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Written by neilmonnery

February 4th, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Politics

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Olly Neville removed from UKIP position for not being a member of the Borg

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The twitter rumour-mill was working at full capacity last night talking about the fact Olly Neville was being removed as Chairman of the Young Independence council (the Youth movement of UKIP) because his personal opinion on equal marriage was that it was a good thing. It was his personal opinion but having an opinion that doesn’t marry up with party policy was enough for UKIP to swing into action and remove him from that position. The reason seems to be pretty simple – they are a party only have one opinion – like the Borg – and if you don’t agree with them then you cannot speak about your views.

This is one of the reasons why I’m so happy and comfortable within the Liberal Democrats. You are pretty much free to have an opinion and air it freely. The Lib Dems are a party full of opinionated people who will argue tooth and nail over policy and if they air differences on a personal level then so be it. They won’t be disciplined as it were.

Going back to the case in point Olly has written over at the Independent about what happened from his point of view. He seems a bit disillusioned with the party as he believed they were a Libertarian Party who promote freedom and minimalist state intervention whereas it seems as though freedom is not exactly at the top of their agenda.

We all have opinions of UKIP and this – for me – backs up what I always saw UKIP as – a party that was basically BNP-lite for those who didn’t want to be associated with a racist party but deep down thought that if Great Britain only had British people then it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

UKIP say he was removed from his position because he was ‘misrepresenting UKIP policy’ and not for airing his personal opinion but even if he did seemingly do that then why is any Libertarian Party having a hard line policy on equal marriage? Surely that is an oxymoron in itself? A Libertarian Party would surely not have too much of a strong opinion on this and would in fact promote as little state intervention on this as possible. If it isn’t directly harming anyone then surely it isn’t a problem for any Libertarian?

All this has done is hardened my opinion on UKIP as a party. The people that vote for them are people who are unhappy with the status quo and want to see something different but when you actually examine what UKIP have to offer people will be surprised – and not in a good way. It is a party for people who would like to turn back the clock 100 years and be isolationist and put freedom back to the stone age. As a race we have evolved and freedom is developing as is equality. We aren’t there yet but UKIP don’t seem to want to evolve. They want good old fashioned values which on paper looks good but in reality that isn’t the way.

Removing one of the very few names that people knew within the party because he had a personal opinion on a subject that disagreed with party policy says everything. In UKIP it is their way or the highway. Olly has been cut off from the collective and will now be free to express his opinions without the pressure of being watched like a hawk. As he said himself in the constitution it was written that he was allowed to express a personal opinion. That though seems to have been a lie.

UKIP as the Borg. I see that. Just like Monty Burns as the Goa’uld…

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.

Written by neilmonnery

January 9th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Posted in Politics

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