I have a new favourite word I associate with UKIP and it is ….. ‘oxymoron’!
Oxymoron conveys in one word my feelings about the United Kingdom Independence Party (#UKIP), a single issue populist movement that has no problem at all juxtaposing lots of contradictory policies and silly ideas. Furthermore their activists seem to be mainly morons, a further reason for my mind’s playful association .
It’s bad enough meeting these boring people at some party spouting their straight bananas from Brussels nonsense. You can usually shut them up with a simple question: “Name me one thing, where the EU has had a negative effect on your personal life”. Uh.. Deafening Silence (now there’s an oxymoron!).When interviewed on the radio your average kipper doesn’t fare much better. Just listen to the LBC radio clip below. James O’Brien does a much better UKIP demolition job than I do at dinner parties.
On social media like facebook and twitter these paranoid loonies or ‘kippers’ are even harder to stomach; they seem to be in constant fights with lots of imaginary enemies or trying to pick new ones by endlessly regurgitating their wrongly held beliefs. Mostly these fights are all about some vague but passionately held belief that they should have the inalienable right to cut off their noses and spite their face, free from any #EU interference. All this in order to make the United Kingdom a worse place to live in and appear less attractive to immigrants from the EU and the rest of the world. Yes ‘mass immigration’, real or perceived is another favourite UKIP bug bear. It is this obsession with immigrants which cause people to suspect them of darker racist, even fascist motives. The fact that Great Britain is in fact the one of the largest exporter of surplus people in the world and certainly the biggest in Europe totally passes these people by. The FT recently reported that the number of European migrants in the UK is almost exactly balanced by the number of Britons living elsewhere in the EU, according to official figures. But hey, not something your average kipper would know, much less care about? To them free movement of people is a one way street.
For an amateur political analyst like me it is very difficult to fathom what UKIP actually stands for. UKIP seems to be a single issue party and the issue in question is Britain’s membership of the European Union. It seems that just about everything that is, or could possibly go wrong in Britain can be blamed by a kipper on the EU or it’s sister organisation the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). The average ignorant UKIPer probably has no idea these are separate organisations governed by completely different treaties. It will come as a complete shock, should they ever invoke article 50 and leave the EU after a referendum, that they would still be part of the Council of Europe and it’s treaty on Human Rights.
The two major established political parties in the UK are Labour and the Tories. Especially the Conservative Tory party, seems to have been shaken to the core by some recent political gains by a few successful UKIP candidates in local council elections, mostly far from London’s Westminster, but in what is considered Tory heart land. These gains are often dismissed as protest votes, but they still hurt at a local level. UK’s parliament seems for now reasonably protected from UKIP by Britain’s peculiar ‘First past the Post’ electoral system.
Cameron running scared on UKIP and EU
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is of course under a lot of pressure, not only from Tory councillors losing their seats to UKIP, but also from many grass root Tory supporters, who’s views on Europe are not that dissimilar to those of UKIP. To placate this group and stop them defecting, Mr Cameron recently pledged that, if the Conservatives win the May 2015 election, an in/out referendum of sorts would be held within the first half of the five-year parliament – which means by the end of 2017. It will be the first referendum on Europe since Britain voted in 1975 to stay in the EU, two years after joining.
Far from placating his Euro-sceptic back benchers, Cameron’s move seems to have back-fired on him. You see Cameron, in common with Britain’s established political classes does not really want to leave the EU and everybody in Westminster knows this! So he prattles on about ‘repatriating’ some powers from Brussels to make the EU more palatable for his back benchers. He suggests he has allies in Europe that desire the same like the Dutch! Instead of giving Cameron ample prior lea way to favourably reposition Britain’s position within Europe, a private members bill by Conservative MP James Wharton tried to guarantee this public in-out-vote on the UK’s EU membership would happen willy-nilly in 2017. After an initial cross party majority was achieved in the Lower House, Mr Wharton’s bill was effectively killed by the House of Lords On January 31st. Furthermore Cameron was cold shouldered about the whole idea by other EU leaders, most notably President Hollande and Chancelor Merkel who have better things to do. Thus the Conservatives continue to dream their dreams, prattling about negotiations which can never happen, the return of powers they never name and meaningless referendums sometime in the indefinite future. Thanks for that observation Mr.Booker!
So Back to UKIP, why do they so get under my skin?
Firstly you have to realise that, as an EU immigrant in the UK for 25 years, I was unable to vote and felt disenfranchised from both the political system in the country I lived and worked in for so long as well as my home country in the Netherlands. Sure, after the first five years I could have obtained UK citizenship and the right to vote. However living in a constituency with a fifty year old safe Tory seat, I didn’t really feel the urge. As a practising and committed European, I satisfied myself concentrating on and voting for European and local elections. Here my votes at least counted.
Over the years I became aware of a persistent negative tone in anything that was reported on European matters in mainly foreign owned British Newspapers. This aroused my suspicion. I checked facts with my sister who worked for the EU Commission and my Spanish brother in Law, who happened to be a Euro MP. More often than not the facts as presented to the British public turned out to be twisted. Some of my lesser educated British friends were lapping up the straight banana scare stories, as eager as my cat lapped up his breakfast milk. They seemed to positively revel in any negatively slanted EU story. I put this down to their island mentality and lack of EU travel.
And then we witnessed the rise of UKIPs court jester Nigel Farage. Someone with the gift of the gab for sure. But why does he have to spout his nonsense on serious debating programmes like BBC question time? Even chairman Dimbleby has to chide Nigel regularly for turning every question into another EU issue. Why does the BBC feel the need to keep inviting the leader of a protest party with zero MPs and a manifesto comprised entirely of bits of old Jeremy Clarkson jokes? Thanks for reminding me Martin Robbins.
EU Elections are no joke; not to be used as an opportunity for protest and to send UKIP terrorists to Strassbourg!
The United Kingdom’s 2014 European Parliament election is scheduled to be held on Thursday 22 May 2014, coinciding with the 2014 local elections in England. My fear is that UK voters for all the reasons outlined above will not take this election serious and just use it to give the existing coalition government a good kicking by voting UKIP.
After the last EU elections UKIP managed in this way to take up 13 of the seats allocated to the UK. Currently only 9 Members are left in the European Parliament. Not only have these people the worst voting record of practically all Euro MP’s, when they do make their sporadic appearances they use them for calculated displays of rudeness aimed at causing upset and attracting attention. The latest to cause embarrassment in this way was of course, Godfrey Bloom, already notorious for describing party activists as “sluts” and for hitting a journalist. Parroting a Nazi rallying cry to attack German social democrat Martin Schultz in European parliament led to his forceful removal from the Euro Parliament. IT seems that the only reason for travelling to the Euro parliament meetings for these people is to try to degenerate democratic debate and of course pick up their fat Euro expense checks. UKIP leader Nigel Farage and his Euro MPs claimed nearly £800,000 in expenses and allowances from the EU in one year while campaigning for Britain to leave. What hypocrisy!
UKIP should be judged by the company they attract and keep courting
It is not surprising that a young single issue party should attract more than its fair share of nutters amongst its followers. Or is something far more sinister at work? Channel4 news recently obtained a letter from Farage’s schooldays where a teacher branded the Ukip leader a ‘fascist’ and ‘racist’ when he was a schoolboy. Is it any wonder that his on-line followers like to play the race and mass-immigration card so often? Let me give you the example of failed comedian Marty Caine and his blog ‘Simple Economics’. Marty describes himself as a UKIP activist living in Poole, Dorset who does not want to see Britain turned into the Alcatraz [SIC] of Europe by the EU. He continues “If you ever wanted to know what it would have been like if Hitler had won the war just let the EU win this one”. In true Joseph Goebbels style he then conjures up some figures that are meant to represent serious ‘research’ and would have us believe that the UK government’s bill for benefits rose by a staggering 31% and guess who is to blame? Marty concludes:” Like I said I am no economic genius but if those figures and the research are correct then a large majority of that £50 billion increase in the past two years has to be down to mass uncontrolled immigration, either that or we have just had the biggest baby boom in history and no one has noticed.” I wrote a detailed rebuttal to this article, after all Marty himself said “I will be very happy if I am proven wrong” but so far Marty has only approved one comment to his ‘learned article’ of a fellow moron who said “YOUR BLOG IS GREAT”
When confronted with the above ‘real research’ on twitter, @Marty_Caine pretty quickly spat his dummy out and blocked me. I tried to explain Marty you can’t take a figure out of the Telegraph one year and another out of the Guardian newspaper the next year, without knowing what the base is of those figures. Unless comparing apples and pears suits the anti-immigration scare you are trying to promote of course.
The EU is a criminal enterprise. It’s accounts have not been signed off for 19 years. Giving money to the EU is aiding & abetting fraud.
— John M Knox (@johnmknox) February 28, 2014
— Edward Clark Leeds (@TeddyUKIPClark) February 24, 2014
— Ray Bareham (@WyeLea) February 24, 2014
— Mike A R Powell (@TheMikeARP) February 20, 2014
— Defiant Lion UK (@DefiantLionUK) February 6, 2014
To end this month blog post let’s try to debunk some of the more outrageous claims about the EU being ‘undemocratic’, ‘bloated’, ‘corrupt’ and ‘expensive’.
Where does the often quoted EU costs to Britain of £50 M. per day come from?
It comes from UKIP of course. Specifically from a report written for them by Eurosceptic professor Tim Congdon quoting figures from the Office for National Statistics out of context.
A gross figure of £18.4 billion divided by 365 days indeed comes to 50M. a day. But note these are ‘gross contributions’ and ignore any money that the UK gets back from the EU as Maggie’s rebate or in the form of regional development grants, payments to farmers etc. In fact 80% of EU outgoings is disbursed by National Governments, so to think this money is all wasted/could be saved means that there would be be many unhappy UK recipients of this money like farmers. If we quote the net figure we get closer to £10 billion (why don’t they use that amount? It’s also nice and round, easy to remember for kippers?) but we still have to figure that this entire amount is wasted and need not be spent by the UK on alternatives for EU regulation, the environment, EU foreign aid, Regulating EU’s banks etc. Let’s not forget Whitehall’s habit of ‘gold plating’ just about every directive coming from Brussels!
To put things in perspective, £10 billion a year seems to be what Britain spends on replacing its ageing fleet of Trident armed nuclear submarines. Now which would you rather spend £10 billion on to guarantee a peaceful and prosperous Europe?
Turning our attention to the UKIP accusations of corruption, the various myths propagated are that the EU’s accounts haven’t been signed off for 20 years by its auditors. When you dig down into the guts of these stories the problems are nearly always traced back to errors made by EU members, the nation states in other words, who spend as much as 80% of the EU’s budget. So is it a surprise that in Sicily some EU funds end up in the wrong pockets? No! But does that make President Baroso a member of the maffia? Of course not. We in Northern Europe should be cautious to throw the first stone when it comes to corruption and expenses fiddling (#duck house) . We should be glad EU auditors pick up on these things and should be worried if they didn’t!
Actually the ‘bloated and for ever growing bureaucracy in Brussels’ is another wonderful UKIP myth. It’s positively tiny compared to the behemoth in Washington DC that runs the United States of America. Birmingham city council, which employs about 35,000 staff, employs more civil servants than the EU which employs 32,666 according to its latest figures. A very modest figure indeed! And you’d be surprised how many Brits amongst them.
The EU is not undemocratic. It has a structure which assures the ultimate sovereignty of the member nation states. The European Commission, which ukippers often describe as the government of the European Union (which it is not), is simply the executive body of the Union. It executes the decisions taken by the Council of the European Union or the Parliament, knowing that these decisions stem from the European Council’s democratically agreed strategy. The members of the European Commission are nominated by the member states. If you have an issue with these people take it up with the people appointing them. Don’t keep repeating infantile suggestions that the EU is an undemocratic dictatorship. Please!
PS 106 views from #UKIP members. Not a single reply in comments. They must agree with me right? I will try to write about the positive aspects of #EU in my next blog. That will really rile them!