Polling Day: Spoiling The Ballot Paper

We arrive at polling day after what has to be one of the most lacklustre and uneventful election campaigns in recent memory despite that the result is too close to call. Here we agree with Scribblings From Seaham that it has “felt to be an interminable farce of a general election”.

With a deep reluctance to deal with issues which matter to voters, a lack of policies of any substance and a largely staged television campaign with a reliance on pointless stupid gimmicks is it any wonder that 1 in 4 voters have yet to make up their minds by polling day.

I’m one of those 1 in 4 and when I began to write this blog piece on why, I realised I was repeating many of the points I had made 5 months ago. Here I wrote:

Voting for the Tories – a party that has consistently betrayed its country, its members and its voters – is somewhat nauseating and is something I’ve never done before. This blog has never really forgiven the Tories for Maastricht and particularly the membership of the ERM. To vote for them would take a Herculean effort and the intake of industrial quantities of intoxicating substances.

And

Then there’s UKIP. Yet it has been increasingly this blog’s view that under its current leadership UKIP is detrimental to Eurosceptic cause – a party which has also performed copious u-turns within a very short space of time on the whim of its leader.

More damaging is UKIP remains largely a single issue party but instead of being anti-EU it is now anti-immigrant and is being described as such. By reducing EU membership solely down to an aggressive stance on immigration, toxifies the debate, limits itself to dismissing an exit strategy which could actually win us a referendum and leaves itself very exposed to being outflanked by Cameron on Article 48.  

Perhaps if I lived in a marginal Tory seat then I would have to grit my teeth and vote Tory for the first time to ensure a referendum. But I don’t. I live in a seat where Tory PPC/MP “Lazy Vaizey” has his votes weighed not counted. How I vote won’t make any difference to the outcome, a situation common among many voters.

With UKIP, despite that my local candidate is very good, I cannot endorse a party which is helping us to lose the eurosceptic argument with YouGov now reporting a 12-point lead for the “inners”, up two points since April.

So unable to vote for any of the options available it’s for the first time in a General Election that I have spoiled my ballot paper (see above) and I’m not the only one.

I simply can’t wait for the whole charade to be out of the way to see if the Tories will win an overall majority. If so we get an EU referendum and then the real work starts.

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Carswell Defects To UKIP

“[The Tory] Parliamentary majority was slashed from a healthy 100 to a – by comparison – fairly feebly twenty. If the truth be told, John Major and the rest of us were relieved to achieve even that result. It was a workable majority, or so the PM thought. The debates on the Maastricht Treaty would prove otherwise. With a majority of 100 a rebellion would have been futile. But with twenty, a group of determined backbenchers can change government policies. The government can no longer allow itself the luxury of doing just as it likes”

Teresa Gorman MP, “The Bastards“.

In news that has seemingly come out of the ‘blue‘, Douglas Carswell has defected to UKIP. In some ways this is not really surprising. His political views have increasingly been at odds with the party he represents. It maybe more a factor that the party has left him not that he has left the party. As we remember he is one of the few Tory MPs to vote against EU measures.

However we also remember that Carswell has not been entirely consistent in EU views, often clearly putting his party first above his ‘principles’. He has backed Cameron when it is readily apparent that Cameron is not only a Europhile but has no intention of being a Prime Minister that leads the UK out of the EU. Despite Cameron’s clear deception on the issue Carswell noted in January 2014 he was wrong to rebel against the party line:

“What is it we now want, guys? We’re going to face a reckoning with the electorate in just over a year’s time. We’re two points behind the Labour Party. We can do this – we really can do this. If we lack discipline, we’re going to have five or six appalling years in opposition to dwell on it”

The Spectator concludes as a result of the interview:

Here’s a sneak preview of what was supposed to be a debate about the wisdom of rebelling – but ended up being Carswell explaining why he believes his colleagues should now stop defying the government, and support the PM.

And this was the same man who in 2012 that claimed (my emphasis):

One of the reasons I backed David Cameron to be party leader early on in his leadership campaign was because I wanted to see a different kind of Conservatism. I still do – and I’d vote for him to deliver it if there was a leadership contest tomorrow. 

Even though there is obvious evidence that Cameron is not…

…a secret patriot waiting for the chance to rip off his expensive tailoring and reveal his inner Thatcher. He is exactly what he looks like, an unprincipled chancer with limited skills in public relations”.

So with this in mind we have a couple of observations or more accurately a number of questions regarding Carswell’s motives.

The first is why defect? As it currently stands (and currently is the operative word) the Tories are the only party in a position to possibly win the next General Election who offers an in/out referendum on membership of the EU. Labour have chosen not to unless there’s a new Treaty and the Lib Dems… well they, to no-one’s surprise, have no intention of doing so.

As we have noted on here before Cameron has categorically promised a referendum in 2017 and one in circumstances which are most favourable to the “outers”:

Thus the EU is in a mess, Cameron has been shown up publicly that he cannot deliver on reform or influence and he almost certainly cannot recommend an “in” vote in 2017. Add to that his general incompetence and it’s difficult to envisage a better framework for the ‘outers’ to win a referendum. The chances of winning a referendum has improved significantly.

Understandably there is much scepticism of Cameron’s promises given the “cast iron” one over Lisbon – which turned out to be one of Cameron’s greatest mistakes and which more than likely cost him the 2010 election.

However political reality suggests that he won’t have much choice to attempt to try the same again. Poll ratings, Labour bias in the electoral system and Labour’s superior ability to manipulate the postal vote means if the Tories do win the next election any majority they gain will be relatively small in number.

With this in mind we refer to Teresa Gorman’s quote above that a small majority gives the backbenchers far more power over the government – “the government can no longer allow itself the luxury of doing just as it likes”. Nothing illustrates this better than the constant rebellions over current coalition government policies such as the EU rebellions over an EU referendum.

In other words, with a small majority the political reality would be that Cameron will be forced to hold a referendum on terms which will be the most favourable possible for the ‘out’ camp. This is reflected in the fact that Cameron only promised an EU referendum precisely because he is “unprincipled chancer”. He will do what ever his party tells him particularly with a small majority.

Of course we are under no illusions of the Tory track record on the EU or that party positions might change in the meantime, but as it stands:

  • A vote for Labour is EU membership
  • A vote for UKIP is EU membership by virtue of they can’t possibly get enough MPs based on current poll ratings
  • A vote for Lib Dems is EU membership
     
  • A vote for Tories is a possible referendum we can win.

We wonder therefore why Carswell has jumped ship, just under a year away from a General Election, when statistically a Tory win might give him the EU exit he craves?

We appreciate that we’re in the middle of silly season and crucially the news is understandably being dominated by the appalling deficiency of Rotherham Council and Police. So why would Carswell defect when he maybe unable to guarantee dominate coverage to ensure Cameron is fully embarrassed? The answer may lie in the fact that the Tory party conference is taking place towards the end of September which is four weeks away. If the by-election is moved quickly it will occur just in time for the result to be the main discussion point at the Tory conference.

In addition intriguingly via a by-election Carswell might ensure that by winning he would become the first elected UKIP MP – UKIP defections have occurred before of course but not with an electoral mandate. Carswell winning a by-election would pose a problem for Farage, if not a threat. For a man who has made UKIP his own party it could be that the first elected UKIP MP would not be himself – “let’s make history” Farage’s latest email says:

Last night I was selected by local party members to stand as UKIP’s Thanet South candidate for the upcoming general election.

With recent polling showing that UKIP can win the Thanet South seat in May, I look forward to the forthcoming campaign where we can set out a positive vision, for a free and independent Britain outside of the EU.

Farage calls ‘Carswell’s’ move “brave” but we wonder whether that for Farage himself this is a “be careful what you wish for” moment. Another question is where does this leave Daniel Hannan, who co-authored the Plan. Hannan seems reluctant to make the same jump.

Perhaps rather cynically we might consider if this is attempt of a coup d’etat of UKIP by the Tory party just before an election. Its consequences mean there will be splits in the eurosceptic camp – to the convenience of the establishment. A Labour government in 2015 will result in 5 more years of EU membership.

There is no ulterior motive on this blog, apart for campaigning for EU exit. We make no suggestions apart from the fact that as it currently stands Carswell’s defection actually makes EU exit less likely not more, and he is not a man to be entirely trusted. Split parties do not win elections.

The ultimate question is what do Eurosceptics want? Destruction of the Tory party or EU exit?

One Last Chance?

The tedious metronomic Tory policy on the EU strikes again…

[Cameron] says the European Union deserves “one last chance” to change before voters are given a say over whether Britain should quit in a referendum by 2017, ruling out a vote before the election. While he can “understand” the appeal of Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, Mr Cameron tells voters who want a referendum: “I am the one person that can give it to you”;

I don’t think I need to insult anyone’s intelligence by pointing out the copious fallacies in Cameron’s assertions. But I guess it’s still conference season…

Daley Bust Up

There’s usually nothing more undignified than a physical altercation between two chaps who are clearly not used to it, and so it proves with Iain Dale confronting a protester in the video above.

However the “comedy” aspect of the confrontation belies a more serious point that, as Richard North notes, Iain Dale has taken it upon himself to attack a lawful protester in the street  – in essence carry out common assault. An allegation over which Dale is being questioned by Police.

Astonishingly, in a complete lack of self-awareness, he makes light of it on his blog, beginning his piece with the words;

“I knew I shouldn’t have had three weetabix this morning…

This describing a situation where a pensioner is assaulted by 6 ft 5, well built bloke nearly 20 years his junior. A pensioner who was exercising his right of free speech, lawfully, peacefully and harmlessly in a public space over an issue that is not without merit. One wonders if Dale would have been so keen to act if the protester was a chap who was younger, fitter and more able to look after himself? One suspects if he had done so he would have needed more than Weetabix. It certainly shows Dale for the bully that he is.

Dale concludes his piece:

Everyone has an inalienable right to protest, but no one has a right to make a continual nuisance of themselves and interrupt interviews like that.

Well actually yes they are, if they do so in peaceful and lawful manner which was clearly the case here. Interestingly Dale has a different take when it came to Walter Wolfgang at the 2005 Labour conference or more recently Ian Tomlinson, which had far more serious consequences (my emphasis):

I know in these situations one shouldn’t prejudge until the IPPC reports its findings, it is difficult to see how anyone could be anything other than revolted by the pictures. It’s not what we expect from the British police force. Mr Tomlinson was not involved in the G20 protest. He was trying to go home after working on his newspaper stand. He wasn’t abusing the Police, he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

It’s worth remembering that in 2009 Dale applied to become a Tory Parliamentary candidate (and failed), if this is his reaction to a law-abiding “nuisance” what would he be like when dealing with not always complimentary members of the public when out campaigning knocking on doors?

What is largely being overlooked is that Dale did not respond like this out of “public duty” but instead for commercial reasons – personal profit – protecting an interview by Damien McBride who is plugging his book which happens to be published by Iain Dale’s company.

Oh the irony, that a former Labour thug is protected by…a Tory one.

The Great Deception Continues

One of the main themes of our membership of the European Union is that it has been based on a gargantuan lie. Our entry was a lie, arguments for our continuing membership are generally lies and a referendum campaign for our exit will be shrouded in lies.

The problem with deception though as is widely acknowledged that the only person you end up deceiving is yourself. With this in mind I turn to Norman Tebbit’s latest column in the Telegraph. In some quarters he appears to be viewed as a so-called “sound Tory” – for example he’s highly critical of Cameron and is seemingly a supporter of Ukip:

How I wish that someone in the No10 circle could understand that there might be a better approach to winning the election than a mud-slinging exercise to expose the real or imaginary personal shortcomings of Mr Farage and just hoping that Labour will passively surrender.

Yet further down the article, in response to comments on his blog, he writes this rather revealing paragraph:

As usual Amos 47 banged on about the Single European Act. As I have explained before, that was designed to make a reality of the single market. Until then any member state could veto any action to open its markets to other members, notably against British exporter of services such as insurance and banking. It also gave us a chance to undo foolish decisions by our predecessors in Government.

And therein lies the classic deception – or self-denial – of a Tory, depending on how you view it. The SEA was not a single market treaty but instead part of a process to further integrate the member states into the EU, a clue given explicitly in its title.

Its origins lie with Altiero Spinelli who in 1984 via his Draft Treaty establishing the European Union proposed a massive and bold leap forward in European integration. So bold was this leap forward that for tactical reasons it was decided to split the draft into two separate treaties which happened 5 years apart. Thus it became the SEA (part 1) and Maastricht (part 2). One can see for example Article 3 from the original 1984 draft:

The citizens of the Member States shall ipso facto be citizens of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be dependent upon citizenship of a Member State; it may not be independently acquired or forfeited. Citizens of the Union shall take part in the political life of the Union in the forms laid down by this Treaty, enjoy the rights granted to them by the legal system of the Union and be subject to its laws. 

 …which then went on to appear in Maastricht. Even some Tory MPs subsequently acknowledged the significance of the SEA and regretted its passing through Parliament. Peter Tapsell said: “We didn’t give it the attention we should have done.”

The second assertion by Tebbit is the implication that the abolition of the veto was a benefit, giving the then Tory government the chance to “undo foolish decisions of the past” created by vetoes. One is staggered by his naivety if he believes that. Abolishing the veto is the holy grail of EU integration as it transforms an intergovernmental organisation into a supranational one. Jean Monnet abhorred the right of veto. The SEA lead to the biggest-ever number of “competences” on which national vetoes would be abolished – it was a treaty precisely because it involved so much surrender of powers to Brussels.

Thus Tebbit’s comment that it was designed to make “a reality of the single market” is a lack of candidness that fails to acknowledge that the EU is not an economic project but a political project disguised as an economic one. A lack of candidness that has lead to the collapse of the Tory party as illustrated by this article in the same paper:

….the party’s own MPs openly admit [membership figures] could be lower than 100,000, around half Labour’s membership. Speak to those in the party outside Westminster, and they will tell you the branches out in the country are withering, and this could cost David Cameron an outright majority at the next election.

A collapse of the Tories, or indeed of any credible alternative, leads to a vacuum – one that inevitably gets filled which, as Political Betting starkly shows via this graph, leads to a rise of the others:

Mrs Thatcher eventually acknowledged the deception and real intent of the SEA – albeit too late, how revealing that a party that is so intent on admiring her can’t bring themselves to do the same.

It Was Twenty Years Ago…Yesterday

I didn’t get time to blog, but yesterday marked 20 years since the 1992 election when the Tories won their last ever majority. The election itself was notable for many reasons; the War of Jennifer’s Ear, the infamous Sun front page and Major campaigning on his soap box. And as the picture above illustrates (shamelessly nicked from political betting) the exit polls got the predictions spectacularly wrong.

1992 also marked the terminal decline of the Tory party as divisions, particularly over Europe, wreaked havoc from which they have never recovered. Diehard party members and supporters departed en masse, donations and subscriptions collapsed between 1992 and 1997. Labour’s win in 1997 was less to do with Tories switching sides but that they stayed at home instead.

On a personal note, I remember 1992 well. It was the first election I ever stayed up all night to watch – I missed out being able to vote in it by just 2 months. It also marked the beginning of my journey of eurosceptisim, as the next 18 months left their mark on our country in the form of Maastricht and the ERM crisis.

20 years on and still they can’t win an election. Couldn’t happen to nicer chaps. Bastards.

Calm Down Dear

A wonderful display of Cameron’s disdain towards Parliamentary procedure today during PMQs. In response to a question from Tory MP Brian Binley, Cameron replies (my emphasis):

The honourable gentleman is right… (3:20 mins in)

Gentleman? It’s a question from an MP from his own party, surely Cameron should say ‘my honourable friend’? Thankfully Hansard tidies up the mistake for him:

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend is right about the figures today and that what is happening in the construction industry is disappointing

Given that Cameron is not a real Tory, one has to wonder if it was a Freudian slip.