This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The local debate with UKIP

UKIP have seen fit to select Susie Colley for the Tormohun ward in Torquay. She appears to stand for little except for visceral hatred of the Lib Dems (locally and nationally) and has an over-inflated regard for her own abilities. Hence my initial letter to the local [and very Tory-inclined] paper - The Herald Express

01 July ;

As a former resident of Tormohun ward, I have followed with interest Susie Colley's

intention to stand for election to Torbay Council next May.

In announcing her candidature she states the need to bring truth, transparency and reality back to the council.

Would this be the same Susie Colley who has promoted herself firstly in the guise of "independent" candidate for the mayoralty, then as a "community campaigner" via Torre Action Group and now surprise, surprise as a party political hack as a UK Independence Party representative, all within a few months?

It seems her much publicised petition presented to the council was nothing more than a piece of party political opportunism on an issue which the council was powerless to act upon. Her actions are hardly a vision of transparency.

The UKIP policy programme, premised as it is upon defence of sterling, withdrawal from the EU and what is calls "controlled immigration" position it on the hard right of the political spectrum uncomfortably nestling between the BNP and the right of the Conservative Party.

More importantly, these are all matters Torbay Council has no jurisdiction over and point to the irrelevance of a UKIP candidature.

What local government policies which do exist and are published on the UKIP website amount to little more than a threadbare "wish list" and none are Torbay specific.

This has resulted in UKIP having only around a dozen or so councillors across the country and them being eclipsed electorally in pursuit of the English nationalist vote by the odious BNP.

It is UKIP and Ms Colley who need to get back to reality.

In the interests of openness, through the pages of this paper, I'd like to ask if Susie Colley agrees with the policy priorities of her new party and how this then translates into standing for election to the council?

I'd also like to challenge her to name any local authority where UKIP has made a decisive and positive impact.

Whatever the travails of the Lib Dem party locally, I can see in Cllrs Hayman and Faulkner representatives working hard all year round for the ward, be that through the recent crime survey, attempts to halt the closure of Hele Co-op, the obvious physical improvements in Torre and the taking up of constituent casework, of which I personally have been a beneficiary.

Granted they haven't continually courted media publicity like Ms Colley, but they deserve to be supported again, should they offer themselves for re-election next May.

In addition to the qualities earmarked by Susie Colley, I'd argue a councillor also needs to show good judgement and consistency.

Susie's attack on mayor Bye's allowances was especially cheap politics. I don't recall her rejecting these figures when she was a mayoral candidate.

Indeed, UKIP have been among mayor Bye's biggest cheerleaders since he assumed office and were heavily in support of the expensive and less democratic system of local government we are now saddled with in the Bay.

And, at European Parliament level UKIP voted in July 2004 against a proposal to cap MEPs salary at £60,000 (plus generous expenses).

All UKIP MEPs voted against the proposal, flying in the face of one of their supposed fundamental aims: to stop the alleged financial drain the EU presents the tax payer.

UKIP's opposition and non-attendance have achieved nothing positive in Europe, but cost much.

Let us not repeat this mistake locally next May and please no more hypocritical strictures from UKIP over elected representatives' allowances.

In summary, ego, populism, personal invective and opportunism are no substitute for detailed policy ideas, consistency and hard work.

I trust the voters of Tormohun will reject the divisive and fractious presence Ms Colley would bring to the town hall and at the polls next May once again vote for those Liberal Democrats who currently and continually strive to get things done for the ward.

Her reply published on 14 July reads :

I write in answer to Barrie Wood's letter (Your View, July 11) which attacks both myself and UKIP.

I assume Mr Wood's attack is a sign he and his Lib Dem colleagues fear what might happen to them at next May's council elections.

Perhaps I should be flattered because they wouldn't attack me unless they feared the opposition I would bring to the council chamber.

I would like to take this opportunity to equate him with facts rather than the suppositions which he has written.

Firstly, I stood as an independent in last year's mayoral election as I was sick and tired of the deception, lies and vacillations of the majority of councillors.

I financed my own campaign and had the help of family and friends.

For some time I have been vociferous in my position as the spokesperson for Torre Community Action Group when I voice the opinions of the residents of both Torre and Tormohun.

Earlier this year UKIP helped me ascertain some detail I was unclear about and their help enabled me to clarify several issues that were of concern.

Until the disgusting way I was treated at a council meeting in February by several councillors when I represented Torre Community Action Group I had no desire or intention of standing for election next May.

However, as I am a firm believer in "either do something constructive or put up and shut up" I decided I was no longer prepared to tolerate the machinations of some of our councillors.

As I also have no desire to be ruled by some anarchists based in Europe, I decided enough was enough and as UKIP and I clearly have the same beliefs I felt together we might be able to restore some sanity and order to Torbay Council.

If common sense prevails among the electorate at next year's elections, those who cause the current disharmony in the council will be removed from office, and those of us who have the best interests of the Bay as our concerns will endeavour to bring prosperity back to our beautiful area.

Finally I responded thus (published 22 July)


11:00 - 22 July 2006
Susie Colley singularly failed to answer the substantive questions I posed to her in this paper in response to her declared intention to be a UK Independence Party standard bearer at the next local elections.

I asked her how UKIP's principal policy platform of withdrawal from the EU, defence of sterling and promoting what they call "controlled" immigration is in any way relevant to being a candidate for election to Torbay Council.

Additionally, I challenged her to name any local authority where UKIP has made a decisive and positive impact. I still await her reply on both matters.

Similarly with her party having been very supportive of the expensive executive mayor model of local government and indeed the Conservative mayor himself, I'd like to know what qualitative difference would there be in approach and policy that she'd take as a would-be UKIP councillor than that offered by the Tories?

All I know so far is she thinks she can do much better than most incumbent councillors and she "clearly has the same beliefs" as UKIP.

As a candidate for a fringe party with no record of achievement in local government, I think it only right UKIP's views are scrutinised and brought out in the open.

Where UKIP do hold elected office, in the EU Parliament, I am happy to debate their record with her and her party.

To imply, as she does, we are ruled by "anarchists based in Europe" clearly shows a lack of political understanding of either Europe or anarchism.

Good job it is her views on Torbay which mostly concern me.

I look forward to some straight answers from Ms Colley.

Now I'd be interested to hear of anyones' responses to fighting UKIP electorally. Any interesting tales to tell ? Do they in your locality fit the image of 'BNP in blazers' meets the Tory Monday club of old ?

Further, to continue the debate some 'good news' stories about Liberal successes in Europe would be helpful, for this isn't my strongest policy area. Thanks !


Anonymous Paul Griffiths said...

Personally, I have never bothered fighting UKIP at all, since they get hardly any votes and take most of those from the Tories. My advice would be to forget about Ms Colley and save your energy for the Conservatives.

8:34 pm BST

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Andy, In principle I agree.

However, the SW is one of the most euro-sceptic regions of the UK. Moreover at the last GE UKIP polled around 8% of the vote. In the ward I previously lived in UKIP are making a concerted push, much of it based upon vilification of the Lib Dems.

That Tormohun ward has an absentree LD councillor and UKIP's role in supporting the Tories in the referendum for [what has proved to be] both a disasterous model of local government [an Executive Mayor] and a woefully inadequate Tory mayor means UKIP cannot be ignored.

As my posting indicates, her tactic of trying to get votes by vote-for-me I'm not a Lib Dem needs to be countered because of the ripple effect that might impact upon other wards across the bay.

Her lack of political knowledge makes this seem something of a political 'marriage of convenience'. Dangerous mavericks need to be exposed as early as possible before any bandwagon gathers pace.

The Tories will always be the political enemy, especially in view of the two-way battle with them here in Torbay.

9:08 am BST

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At a recent by election last week in Dartford Kent the BNP candidate was the proposer of the UKIP candidate - all very strange!

Also be afraid of UKIP - they are stealing the clothes of the LibDems - read this post - one of many similar ones on this website:-

11:08 pm BST


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