Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The EU Elections

We all know by now that UKIP attracted most votes in the elections for the EU parliament,  but there appear to be widely contradictory views as to what this means in national terms and in particular what it means for next year's general election.
Although I'm a keen UKIP supporter, I'm also a pessimist, and find it hard to believe that what happened in the recent election will be repeated next year.  I feel that any meaningful prediction is virtually impossible as there are so many unanswered questions.

The main result seems to be that the LibDems have lost a lot of ground both in the local and the Euro elections. This, I suspect, is because people have realised that the LibDems were trying to be all things to all people and you can't do this when you are in power and actually have to be party to real decisions. Until now, it didn't matter if they promoted a different policy in Penzance than in Newcastle because no-one noticed, but once they came into power, they had to make choices which were bound to upset a lot of people.

The Tories and LibDems clearly lost out to UKIP because of their EU policies. Although Cameron has promised a referendum if his party is re-elected, this is dependent upon "renegotiations" and he has made it clear that he wishes to stay in. I don't believe this policy will attract voters unless he provides far more details of what he expects from the renegotiations. For all we know he might secure an exemption allowing us to sell Coxes apples by the pound rather than the kilo and claim that he has secured a great victory! I suspect those Tory voters who are Euro-sceptics prefer the straightforward position of UKIP.

When it comes to Labour it seems clear that many traditional Labour supporters are not attracted by current policies. Contrary to the perceived view, my impression when working as a site engineer and talking to, presumed Labour supporting, site workers was that they were probably even more opposed to the benefits scroungers and immigrants than many Tories. I suspect that Labour is out of touch with the real working class whom they claim to represent. However, as the people I describe are unlikely to ever bring themselves to vote Tory, it is possible that many could be persuaded to vote foe UKIP, and Farage's image of the "man in the pub" won't do him any harm, especially when compared with Miliband.

We then come the "wasted vote" category. Up to now, many have considered a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote and so have voted for one of the other parties. This could change significantly now that it has been shown that voting for UKIP does not result in a wasted vote.

Finally, we come to the non-voters. Only about a third if the electorate voted in the Euro elections whilst about double that number vote in a general election. The main parties like to assume these voters will support them at a general election, but there seems no logical reason for such an assumption. It could be argued that many can't see any real difference between the two main parties and thus don't bother to vote. Perhaps they might see UKIP as something different which could bring changes.

So, I'm still unable to make any logical predictions about the future, other than that there are two events which will undoubtedly have considerable influence. The first is the Newark by-election where UKIP will deploy all the resources at their disposal. Even if they don't win (which I believe is unlikely), a "near-run thing" will do the Tories a lot of harm. Will the Labour supporters vote tactically for UKIP knowing that their candidate is unlikely to win?

The other event is, of course the Scottish independence referendum. As an Englishman I would like an independent Scotland if only because it would bring us nearer to an independent England, although as a Unionist, I believe we should stick together. I've been unable to find any reasoned arguments as to how independence would affect Westminster politics other than the fact it would severely reduce the number of Labour MPs.

I await with interest next week's by-election and look forward to politicians and the media trying to explain what has happened!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Local Elections

I've been busy reading the various media reports about the local elections and the contortions that some columnists and political leaders are getting into in their efforts to minimise UKIP's achievements.
Labour is claiming that they're the winners, and statistically this is true in that they gained the most seats. But they didn't gain some of the seats they would need to gain if they are to win next year's general election.
The Conservatives lost 231 seats but retained some 1350 with the LibDems being the biggest losers having lost nearly half their seats, losing 307 and retaining a mere 427. So UKIP, coming from nowhere and collecting 163 seats is quite an achievement, particularly when you read the fatuous comments from the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennet, who claimed "We're becoming much more of a national party.". Now many seats did they win? A mere 36 in total, up from their previous 20!
Meanwhile, Nick Robinson, the BBC's political correspondent, takes the view that "UKIP have not turned into a party of power. They have though confirmed their power to disrupt." As this is what the LibDems have been doing during the past four years, it's not a position to be despised.
George Osborne, meanwhile has decided that 'he respects Nigel Farage but that the UKIP leader does not have "answers to the country's future".'.
One suspects that George is carefully positioning himself to be in a position to negotiate with Nigel Farage in the event that the Conservative Party decides that it's had enough of Cameron.
So now it's a matter of waiting until tomorrow for the results of the elections for the EU parliament.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Foreign Takeovers

I am not totally against foreign companies taking over British companies, but I believe that there are certain industries which it is advisable for us to have on our own soil so that their facilities and products may be used in a time of emergency.
There is surely little harm in the shares of infrastructure companies being held abroad, the Spanish owners of Heathrow can't suddenly uproot it and move it to Madrid, but when it comes to manufacturing, it is a different matter. There is nothing to stop the new owners deciding to move some or all of the business to a cheap labour country as Kraft did with Cadburys, in spite of promises to the contrary. The net result of a deal like this is that the owners in this country get a one-time payment, but thereafter, all the customers wanting the product have to rely on it being imported with not only an adverse effect on our balance of trade, but with the profits from sales generally going to the shareholders outside the UK.
I am thus opposed to the sale of AstraZeneca to a US company as it would be quite easy, as with Cadburys, to move production to a lower cost country. Not only would this have yet a further adverse effect on the country's balance of payments, but we would have no control over quality and standards.
We need a major pharmaceutical company in Britain, and it is perhaps of historical interest to note that at the outbreak of World War Two, one of the first actions of the "Custodian of Enemy Property" was to secure the assets of the German Bayer company in the UK so as to ensure the continued supply of pharmaceuticals, including the humble Asprin.
We may not be expecting war but we keep being told that various pandemics are imminent so we surely need both pharmaceutical research and production facilities in this country in order to safeguard the interests of the people living here.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

It's not in the News

The main political parties are making an all out effort to discredit UKIP and are feeding the mainstream media with any scraps of news which might conceivably discredit UKIP, and even better from their point of view, demonstrate that UKIP is racist.

Fortunately, this joint campaign seems to be having little effect, and support for UKIP seems to be growing. The suggestion that a remark made by a UKIP member questioning why a runner, Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia and is resident in America should run on behalf of Britain is, I am sure, something that many people have asked or thought. It's hardly a racist question, at least by any reasonable definition of the word.

What the media don't tell you, but was revealed yesterday in Guido Fawkes blog is that:
Labour have suspended a candidate for a councillor post because he has been as accused of defrauding his own council.
A LibDem councillor remains a candidate in spite of being photographed with an AK45 in his native country.
The Tories have selected as their candidate for a seat on a Lincolnshire Council an individual who was formerly an active member of the BNP.

Had any of these been UKIP candidates, one imagines it would have been headline news, but as they were not, these items only get a small mention in the local press.

It is fortunate that there are people around like Guido to blog on these issues, and it is easy to see why, as far as politics are concerned, I prefer reading the various blogs to reading a newspaper or listening to the BBC.