My Column – The screw in my sofa was too tight – but the whole European Union system has a screw loose

I normally write in this column about the major political issues of the day, but nothing better encapsulates what’s wrong with the European Union than the curious incident of the sofa in my office.

On July 1, the new MEPs took up our seats and we were shown to our shiny new offices. Everything is luxurious, but utterly grey and soulless: just like the European Union itself.

Each office comes with a wooden unit with drawers, wardrobes and a fold-out sofa built in.

I arrived in my Brussels office, only to find that someone had screwed the sofa shut. Not having a screwdriver of the right size handy, not wanting to risk taking a screwdriver from the UK in case of awkward questions at customs, and thinking it was a straightforward task, I asked for the Parliament’s furniture services to simply come and remove the screw.

“Remove the screw?” I was told, in horror. “But you are a député. You must have a new sofa!” My protests about waste fell on deaf ears.

 

 

You can read the rest of this article in my Journal column here.

My Column – Target-Driven Madness: UK Energy Policy

Perhaps nowhere is the short-termism of British politics better seen than in energy. Here, the Left-Right divide is stark but utterly meaningless. But perhaps the concept of Left and Right is outdated since the rise of Ukip, a Party with a blend of traditionally right-wing and traditionally left-wing thinking combined under the umbrella of common sense.

With energy, it is the Right which seems to be concerned about the cost of energy to working people; the Left, about meeting arbitrary environmental targets irrespective of cost. Just like Ukip’s approach to crime (which cuts through the old Right-Left deterrence-rehabilitation argument by seeing criminal justice not as a choice between the two but as two sides of the same coin), our energy stance cuts through the political spin. We are derided for it by an established political class which is bereft of its own new ideas. This article, though, is my own personal thoughts rather than a statement of Ukip policy.

Biomass is a textbook example of target-driven government policy missing an open goal. When a tree in the UK is cut down, it needs to be dried out (up to 50% of the weight is likely to be water due to our wet climate) and then processed. Pretty much every part of the tree is useful for something. Even sawdust can be used for example in the production of chipboard.

Whatever the wood itself has been used for, at the end of its life it can be recycled. Once the nails and other contaminants have been removed, it can be used again. At each stage of the process, there will be some dust which isn’t really suitable for making anything. It might be that, on average, the same piece of wood could be used and recycled six times. In that time, it has perhaps been an internal door, a kitchen surface, laminate flooring and a chest of drawers.

 

You can read the rest of my article at my Huffington Post blog here.

Supporting local businesses

Last week I was invited to visit Egger and toured the facility alongside our fantastic local Hexham  PPC, David Nicholson.   Thank you to Egger for a very interesting visit, it is always a pleasure to meet with local constituents and businesses and find out how I can be of assistance through my role as an MEP.

B8WX1AfIEAErYRW

Letters – Our justice system is failing victims

It is reported that a young mother was attacked by her boyfriend who forced his way into her home, threatened her with an iron bar, dragged her from her house, drove her to an abandoned quarry, made her strip naked and tied her to a tree – because she said she wanted to go home to bed and not spend the night with her attacker.  The attacker even threatened her life by saying ‘there’s already a hole dug for you.’  Unbelievably the attacker was sentenced to a mere 20 months in prison, a sentence  of which it is likely only half will actually be served.

Leaving aside the obvious point that the punishment doesn’t even come close to fitting the crime, one of the key principles of the justice system is that it should adequately protect the public from further offences.  If this were a single, isolated example of a failure within the system then it would be too much, but it is not: it is symptomatic of a much wider problem of victims being failed by our soft-touch sentencing policy for such violent offences.

We need to get a grip on the shattered justice system in this country.  We need to make sure that punishments fit the crime – and that sentences are meaningful, with an expectation that time will be fully served so that countless criminals do not get released without serving the sentences they were given.  Parole should be available on a case by case basis, not an expected aspect of the system.

Rehabilitation should always be a core priority for our justice system, but punishment and protecting the victim should never take a back seat role.  In the UK, the right-wing have traditionally been pro-tough sentences and the left-wing have been pro-rehabilitation.  In my view, and that of my Party, they should be two sides of the same coin.  The criminal justice system should be tough enough to act as a deterrent, making sure that no-one who has been to jail wants to go back.  Within that framework, every possible support should be provided for those in prison who wish to turn their lives around.  So I was also disgusted last month when a criminal released from jail, who had found an honest job on the outside, was returned to jail because of an administrative mix-up on the part of the prison relating to his job.  

Our system is failing victims and letting them down badly.  It is failing in attempts at rehabilitation during and after sentencing.  Society must not continue to sweep these issues under the carpet. 

 

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP welcomes local Labour Mayor to UKIP

The Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Cllr Colin Race, has today decided to leave the Labour Party and join UKIP.

The announcement was made in a town council meeting earlier this evening.

Mr Race stated he has voted Labour “ever since he was old enough”, but now feels UKIP are the only party in British politics that supports hard working families.

Cllr Race said “Year-on-year it has become increasingly clear that Labour are neglecting voters and taking us all for granted. The Labour Party that I once knew – the party that stuck up for the working families, is no more. We have a cosy consensus of politicians in Westminster who spend more time patting each other on the back, than representing the people who pay their wages at the end of the month. Here in the North East we have the highest rates of unemployment in the country, how are my kids meant to get a job when our political class support open door mass immigration from twenty-seven other EU member states?”

UKIP’s North East MEP, Jonathan Arnott, added “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Cllr Colin Race, to UKIP’s peoples’ army. Labour party members across our region are simply realising that the incredibly wealthy individuals who sit at the top of the Labour party don’t, and make no attempt to, work for hard-working, law-abiding citizens across the country. Only UKIP are offering a sensible, credible alternative to the Labour party who have neglected the North East for years.”

 

Congratulations on another successful UKIP public meeting

Congratulations to UKIP North Tyneside for holding a very successful public meeting last night.   By  far the majority of attendees were not UKIP members and we enjoyed a very lively debate about what UKIP stand for on everything from the NHS to income tax.

It is always a pleasure to meet constituents through my role as an MEP and I was delighted to see so many members of the public turn up to hear from UKIP and our very strong local candidate in Tynemouth – Gary Legg.

Thank you to UKIP North Tyneside for a great evening.  Over my first few months as an MEP, it has been a pleasure to see UKIP continuing to grow all across the North East; from Darlington in the south to Berwick in the North.  I look forward to attending many more grass roots events right across the North East in the near future.

Letters – The education system needs to be fixed now, not in 2025

Dear Editor,

Nick Clegg has declared that if the Liberal Democrats are still in power after the General Election, no child will be illiterate by 2025.

It is an absolutely damning indictment of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems that any child can leave school illiterate.  This is not the pre-Victorian age, this is the year 2015.

Every child coming through the school system in this country should have a good standard of education – no excuses.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East.

My Columns – Crystal Balls and General Elections

Political anoraks are going to love 2015, the most unpredictable election campaign in a generation. It’s been at least 23 years since we last had a General Election campaign as difficult to predict as this one.

In 1992, the Conservative Party had deposed Margaret Thatcher as leader. An insipid John Major faced the unelectable Neil Kinnock, but opinion polls suggested that it would be touch and go. Opinion polls in 1992 lacked the sophistication of today’s polling, not realising (for example) the fact that Labour voters were more likely to answer the phone than Conservative voters. So the Conservatives outperformed the polls, gained a narrow overall majority and saw their next government racked by scandals that would keep them out of power for 13 years.

1992 was competitive, but lacked the complexity of what is to come in 2015. There are many unknowns, and few of them relate to the Labour and Conservative parties. Neither is riding high in the opinion polls, neither has shown signs of sweeping the nation at Parliamentary by-elections, Council and European elections. Indeed, it is the other parties which could lead to some interesting results:

 

You can read the rest of my article at my Huffington Post blog here.

 

 

Letters – Schoolchildren deserve better

Dear Editor,

I am stunned to learn that Central First School in Ashington has gone from teaching students in buses to making use of converted toilets and cupboards.

Our children deserve to be taught in fit for purpose classrooms, they simply should not be taught in buses – or worse toilets.  Again, I credit this school for finding ways to make the most of what they have available to them, but the point is they should not have to.  Our population is constantly rising, so the long running school places shortage may go from extremely serious to the point where it could be causing significant issues for an entire generation of students in this country.

Labour and the Conservatives have combined to drive the education system in this country into the ground and as a former teacher I hate to learn about children’s education being impacted so recklessly.  We need to get a grip on this issue, which has been allowed to fester for years with nothing being done to seriously address it.

We have seen governments aiming to build “cathedrals of learning,” spend millions of pounds on beautiful buildings and grounds, hiring armies of middle managers and investing in unnecessary technology.   What schools need is more classroom space and more teachers – and that needs to be the main priority from now on.  Don’t push for this because it’s what UKIP want, push for it for your children’s sake.

 

Jonathan Arnott MEP

UKIP, North East