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.

 

 

My Column – Small Business: EU-Expendable or Economic Engine Room?

The biggest assault on our small businesses for many years seems to have slipped through the public consciousness. I was aware of it, of course, but until very recently I had failed to grasp the sheer scale of it.

Big business, of course, loves much of the Brussels system. They have the money and resources to lobby the Commission and Parliament, which of course no small business can realistically do. Brussels has more lobbyists than Washington DC (hint: that’s not actually something to be proud of) and so big business is able to manipulate EU legislation in ways that the others simply cannot. This is where I fail to understand the mindset of the Left of British politics in respect of the European Union. They remain pro-EU despite the fact that the EU is the friend of everything that they hate: globalisation, big business and the corporatist agenda.

I’m writing about something which is putting small businesses in my constituency and all over the country out of business. It all sounds so very straightforward, and it seems to have come out of the idea that Amazon and other companies trading online should be made to pay their fair share of VAT in every country. So far, so good. You might agree or you might disagree but even if you disagree, you can see the Commission’s reasoning. The days of companies plumping for the country with the lowest rate of VAT would be over. It may not be the most effective means of improving the tax system, but it’s a simple one.

 

 

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

My Column – To the Murderers Who Attacked Charlie Hebdo

It is quite clear that you do not care about the loss of life and suffering that you have caused. It is quite clear that you have no regard to the friends and family of your victims or to the people of France. You clearly lack the conscience to recognise that what you did was fundamentally immoral and sickening to all right-minded people. There is no point in asking you to reflect on right and wrong. I ask you instead to reflect on the utter futility of those murders and the impact to the faith you claim to follow.

There may be blood on your hands, but your actions have far wider consequences than you may care to admit. You do not realise what you have done, the impacts you have had on global political opinion or the freedom of moderate Muslims to practice their religion in peace. Consider what you have achieved. In the days leading up to your massacre we saw the far right take to the streets of Germany. By your actions you give fuel to their hatred. The far right in the UK – parties such as the BNP – have been utterly defeated. By your actions you have raised the spectre of the return of such unsavoury organisations.

You have set back the cause of tolerance and understanding of Muslims in Europe. Few members of the general public are aware of the differences between Sunni and Shi’a, between Suffi and Wahabi, just as few would be able to explain the difference between Protestant and Catholic. Although your beliefs do not represent those of Muslims in any way, shape or form, in the minds of many people you will have associated them with your actions.

 

 

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

My Column – UKIP and Ebola – Countering More Propaganda

There’s a strange prevailing attitude amongst the Left of British politics, which is essentially “if you don’t like something, blame it on Ukip”. This time, it’s Bob Morgan– who surpasses his own usual standards of anti-UKIP propaganda as he randomly implies that Ukip holds some pretty horrible views on Ebola. No evidence is presented for this wild assertion; it’s just the usual kind of logic. In his mind, ‘Ukip are bad’, ‘certain attitudes about ebola are bad’, and therefore ‘Ukip hold those views’. Aren’t Ukip awful? This is what passes for logic in the world of the Liberal Democrats.

An alternative approach might be to look at what people in Ukip have actually said about ebola; he wouldn’t have had to look very far to find what I’ve said on the subject as a Ukip MEP. I have argued consistently that our money should have been spent on ebola quickly. A fast response would have saved lives, and in the long run been cheaper than what we have done. We must salute those brave doctors, nurses and volunteers who have taken their lives in their hands trying to work against this awful disease, and I believe we have a responsibility to help those including the nurse who is, at the time of writing, being treated in the London Free Hospital.

My comments in the European Parliament can be found here and here on the subject. Compare them with Mr. Morgan’s article, his straw man caricature of Ukip. We see, once again, some intellectual dishonesty.

 

 

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

My Column – Racism, Homophobia and Bigotry (No, Not Ukip)

In my last article for the Huffington Post, I talked about the 99.7% – the percentage of Ukip candidates at the 2013 and 2014 local elections who had not said or done stupid things. I didn’t think the 0.3%, who have been dealt with by internal disciplinary action and are generally no longer UKIP members, merited the oxygen of publicity. We’re not the only Party to have a 0.3%.

Read the papers, watch the news, and you’ll get the impression that it’s only in Ukip where there are a small minority who need to be dealt with. Nothing could be further from the truth: Greens, Lib Dems, Conservatives and Labour all have their fair share. And they’re often of an order of magnitude worse than anything from Ukip candidates. Yet there is a difference in perception and reporting: when it’s Ukip, it’s perceived as a structural failing within the Party. When it’s another Party, it is likely to be local news not national, or reported in only one newspaper. It rarely makes television, and so the cycle is perpetuated.

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