Tagged: European elections.

Green Party is set to stand candidates across the North East for the first time

The Green Party is set to field more than three times as many candidates in the North East as in 2010, in a further sign that the smaller parties could play a key role in the general election.

And the party has turned to an “crowdfunding” website where supporters, or anyone who want to help, are urged to contribute small sums of money to help pay the cost of deposits.

One candidate is even offering donors rewards such as a sketch or a personalised poem if they help to fund his campaign.

It follows the success of the Greens in winning support from one in 20 voters in the region in the European elections last year, placing them almost level with the Liberal Democrats.

The party had just ten candidates in the region in 2010.

But it expects to have candidates in 25 seats on May 7.

However, standing for election can be an expensive business – particularly for a party without funding from big businesses or trade unions.

To help raise the £500 deposit which every candidate needs, the Greens have turned to a website called crowdfunder.co.uk which allows anybody to contribute sums, typically of £5 or more, to a cause.

In return, donors will receive a reward which varies from candidate to candidate.

Michael Holt, who hopes to be the Green Party candidate for Hartlepool, is offering to draw a sketch for backers who donate £5, write a personalised poem for £10 or record a song, on the subject of the donor’s choosing, for £30.

Other candidates are offering more conventional rewards. Donors backing the campaign of prospective Tynemouth candidate Julia Erskine can receive a badge or a mug.

The fundraising has a serious purpose – to allow the Greens to take part in May’s General Election in a way that hasn’t happened before.

It comes amid speculation that the traditional three parties – Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – could lose ground to parties such as UKIP, the Greens and, in Scotland, the SNP.

One opinion poll published this week found that Labour had 27 per cent of the vote in the North of England while Conservatives were on 22 per cent, UKIP on 14 per cent, Greens on seven percent and Lib Dems on four per cent.

The North East has not traditionally been the most fertile ground for the Greens, who have one MP, representing Brighton Pavilion.

Brighton and Hove Council is also the only council controlled by the Greens, as a minority administration. London, the south east and south west each have one Green MEP.

But the party believes it could pick up support in the North East and is campaigning on a series of local issues across the region. In Northumberland they are opposing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and they are also working with residents concerned about planned open cast mining at Druridge Bay.

Greens in Newcastle and Gateshead are campaigning to protect the green belt. Greens have also opposed the closure of the Jarrow NHS walk-in centre in South Tyneside.

Shirley Ford, North East organiser for the Greens and the party’s organiser in South Shields, said:

“The party has pledged to stand in at least 75% of constituencies and we are determined to exceed that in the North East. We really want to give everyone the chance to vote Green in the General Election. The way our membership and supporter numbers are rocketing, we are optimistic that we will be able to do that.”

“With local parties right across the region blossoming, we are confident we can raise all the deposits and funds for campaigning.

“And one key way we are doing this is by crowdfunding, with some local parties having already fully funded their candidates’ deposits. We rely on the commitment and dedication of our members and supporters to raise the money we need.”

What they stand for:

In line with the other parties, the Green Party has not yet published its General Election manifesto. The party says that its manifesto published last year for the European Elections provides a good guide to what it believes.

Policies include:

  • Opposing austerity and instead creating jobs by investing in a low carbon economy
  • Scrapping the welfare cap
  • A new tax on bankers bonuses
  • Stopping the “privatisation” of the National Health Service
  • Bringing schools such as academies and free schools back under local authority control
  • Bringing rail franchises back into public ownership
  • Scrapping the high speed rail line known as HS2

> The Green surge in the North East is interesting because formerly UKIP were claiming to be the alternative vote in the region for disillusioned Labour voters.

I suspect that the Greens are now becoming the alternative to UKIP being the alternative (if that makes sense). Certainly you’d like to hope that any ex-Labour or Lib Dems with principles would vote Green rather than UKIP and its pathetic policies.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 14 Feb 2015

UKIP’s North East MEP says his party is coming after Labour

UKIP’s first MEP for the region has talked of his party’s ambition to shatter the dominance of long-standing Labour strongholds.

Former maths teacher Jonathan Arnott, who lives in Guisborough, Teesside, said Ukip is now challenging for power in areas across the North East which have traditionally voted Labour for half a century because Labour had lost touch with the working class.

Jonathan said: “At the recent European elections in Redcar, Ukip secured 11,087 votes, compared to Labour’s 8,548. In Stockton, Ukip got 13,862 votes, with Labour on 12,579. And in Middlesbrough, a long-standing Labour stronghold, UKIP gained 8,695 votes, with Labour on 8,429.

“We’ve got to build on those results so that we’re not just seen for our views on the European Union and immigration. Our no tax on the minimum wage policy is going down well in working class areas.

“At the moment, we’re gaining a lot of support in Blyth, Northumberland. Many of our supporters in these areas say they feel abandoned by Labour.”

During the May European elections Labour topped the North East poll with 221,988 votes and Ukip got 177,660.

The Conservative vote dropped by around 10,000 to 107,733 and under the European voting system the result was enough for Martin Callanan, leader of the Conservatives in Europe and a 15-year veteran on the parliament, to lose his seat.

Labour took two of the North East’s three European parliament seats, with one going to UKIP.

But that gain has not been matched elsewhere in the region, with UKIP not holding a single parliamentary seat and only having a handful of councillors.

> And in Tyne & Wear, lets not forget, they lost 50% of their councillors and now have just one.

It is not widely thought that UKIP will be actively targeting sitting North East MPs as it is more likely to concentrate its efforts on other parts of the country.

Mr Arnott said that Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to block Jean-Claude Juncker from becoming the next president of the European Commission has left the prime minister “outnumbered, humiliated and utterly isolated.”

He said “The whole process is a sham, in so many ways. Whether you got Schultz or Juncker doesn’t matter anyway, virtually no-one in the UK has heard of either of them.

> But perhaps that’s down to the kind of coverage the EU gets in the British media ? 

And Britain is not Europe – just a small part of it.  The EU’s not just for our benefit.

“The Prime Minister went to war over the appointment of the next commission president but it was a war that he was clearly going to lose.

“There is an increasingly bad relationship between Britain’s leaders and the leaders of many other European countries.”

> Which UKIP would make even worse…

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  07 July 2014

Row over use of Bedlington working men’s club as a polling station

> Northumberland Conservatives get increasingly weird…

Conservatives have called for a review of the use of a working men’s club as a polling station.

Tories are demanding the club at Bedlington, Northumberland, not be used in future, given they believe it has a “direct affiliation” to the Labour party.

They say supporters and others feel “uncomfortable” voting there given its apparent political leanings and that they “would not dream” of Conservative clubs in the county being used.

> So, Ok, my local polling station was a Church of England church hall… I’m not a Christian, should I complain about feeling uncomfortable using it ?

Of course not, because I don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel anything – its just a space temporarily housing the polling station.

However, Labour accused them of “sour grapes” following their third place finish at the recent European elections in the region, and said parties have the chance to protest against polling station venues before votes are cast.

The club confirmed it is used by one Labour councillor to host surgeries, but insisted it has no affiliation with Labour and that is it politically neutral.

The authority which conducts elections in Northumberland said it hosts polls at a number of social clubs.

The calls for a review relate to the use of Bedlington Netherton Social Club and have been lodged with Northumberland County Council.

They have come from the Morpeth and Wanbseck Conservatives (MWC) acting on a complaint from a local resident.

MWC chairman Richard Wearmouth said he belived the Netherton site might – like other working men’s clubs – pay a subscription to the Labour party.

It might have people less inclined to go in and vote, I do not know. In Bedlington there is more people voting Conservative in increasing numbers. We find that anything can disincentivise people to vote.

> It might have people less inclined to go in and vote, I do not know.  So he doesn’t know, he has no proof, but he’s still sounding off about it ?

In Bedlington there is more people voting Conservative –  shouldn’t that read ‘there are more people…‘ ?

I blame Tory education cuts…

A spokesperson for the Labour group on Northumberland County Council said: “The county council makes a non political decision to designate polling stations and they follow electoral law when making that decision.

“Political parties generally have a right to highlight issues with polling stations before elections.”

A spokesman for the county council added: “The location was swapped from a mobile classroom at St Benet Biscop High School due to it not being accessible by wheelchair.

“Polling stations are chosen due to their location and accessibility. In Northumberland we use a wide variety of locations that include churches, pubs and a football club.

“The elections team is always happy to receive alternative suggestions on location, however this is the first complaint they are aware of after changing the location over three years ago.”

Ian Rosemurgey, secretary of the Netherton club, said Labour county councillor Terry Johnstone holds his surgery there once a month.

But he added: “We are politically neutral and we are affiliated to the CIU (Club and Institue Union), not Labour, Conservative or anything like that.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal,   16 June 2014

Local Election Results 2014 Pt 2 – UKIP do even worse

> The rest of the results from Tyne & Wear…

 

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE

It was a day that promised much for UKIP with rumours of winning a seat in Woolsington early on. Flopped again, though.

They  did come second in a number of seats, registering particularly highly in Walkergate with 843 votes and Benwell and Scotswood with 823, however outright victory eluded it.

In all 27 seats were up for grabs at Newcastle City Council, 16 previously held by Labour and 11 by the Lib Dems.

At the end of the count it was almost a case of “as you were” with Labour winning 17, the Lib Dems nine and Independent candidate Bill Corbett landing a spectacular success in Westerhope, taking the seat from Labour.

In some wards the Lib Dem vote collapsed but overall party leaders were visibly relieved that its support held up well compared to other parts of the country.

However its Chief Whip Tom Woodwark was the major casualty of the day when he lost out to Labour in South Jesmond.

Overall Labour won 45% of the vote, the Lib Dems 21.7%, UKIP 13.5% and the Tories 9.9%.

 

NORTH TYNESIDE

North Tyneside’s former elected mayor Linda Arkley failed to make a civic comeback after losing in the Tynemouth ward to Labour’s Sarah Day.

The seat was one of the most hotly contested and the Conservative candidate missed out on being elected by just 37 votes.

Current mayor Norma Redfearn said she was “overjoyed” Labour had managed to retain overall control of the council as well as gaining two additional seats in Wallsend and Chirton.

She said Labour had weathered many a protest vote in the past and were not worried about UKIP coming second in nine wards.

Their surge was down to the current Government’s record on job creation and the bedroom tax, she added. UKIP gained a 20% share of the vote overall although failed to win a seat.

Party member Marianne Follin, who also stood in Tynemouth, said: “It’s been said we are the fourth political party and we’ve proved that now.”

> What ? That you’re in 4th place ?  Behind the Lib Dems ? Nothing to boast about there !

The council is now made up of 44 Labour councillors, 12 Conservative and 4 Lib Dems.

 

GATESHEAD

Labour remained in control of Gateshead Council despite a strong UKIP showing.

Leader of the council, Mick Henry, thanked the public for their support to his party despite the Government cuts his borough currently faces.

He said: “Nothing has changed. Considering that we are suffering a 37% cut in the budget and we have had to take actions as a council, I am pleased that the Gateshead public have shown support for us in the circumstances.”

When asked about the number of votes secured by UKIP, Mr
Henry said: “Next year will be different.

“The European elections have helped them on this occasion and we are hoping it will be different next year.

“It’s the Liberal Democrats we need to worry about, and the actions of the Government.”

> It’s the Liberal Democrats we need to worry about – not a phrase you hear very often…

 

> The national media seems to be intent on boosting UKIP on the basis of these local elections, and even locally the Newcastle Journal was making statements like:

Asked for his response to Ukip’s success in Sunderland and the Yorkshire town of Rotherham, where the party won ten seats, Mr Balls said: …”

Pardon me ? Ukip’s success in Sunderland ? Did I miss something ?

They didn’t win a single seat ! That’s success ?

Neither did the Greens or Lib Dems, so they must be doing very well too, right ?

The truth is – and the Newcastle Journal and other local media have failed to point this out – before these elections UKIP had 2 local seats across the whole of Tyne & Wear, both in South Tyneside.

After these elections, they only have 1… and that perhaps only because that particular seat wasn’t up for election.

So across Tyne & Wear, which UKIP had been making noises about targeting, they won nothing and actually lost 50% of what they did hold.

Now there’s success and there’s success… and there’s also dismal failure. I think I know which category UKIP’s performance falls into.
As I interupted Ed Balls earlier, perhaps we should return to him for a moment…

So we have to understand that challenge (of UKIP). People want to know we will have tough controls on immigration, that you’re not going to be able to come here to work in our country and send benefits back to families at home “

In other words, some people are voting for UKIP, so lets steal their policies and hijack the closet racist vote.

Surely they learnt their lesson with New Labour’s desperate attempts to win the middle class vote ?

Evidently not.

 

UKIP leader Nigel Farage due in North East

Nigel Farage is due in Tyneside this week as Labour prepares for a battle for its heartland.

The UK Independence Party leader is speaking at a party event at the Sage in Gateshead as polls continue to suggest Mr Farage will see a North East MEP elected in this May’s Euro poll.

UKIP are threatening to take working class votes off Labour across the North amid speculation the party has maximised the amount of support it can take off the Conservatives.

Mr Farage, in the region on Wednesday, has seen his party rise to second in many polls looking at voting intentions for the European elections.

With him will be North East Euro candidate Jonathan Arnott, who pointed to one YouGov poll which had UKIP on 33% compared to Labour’s on 37% across the North.

He said: “Polls have been confirming what we’re seeing on the doorstep across the region, that UKIP are within touching distance of winning here in the North East. If these polls are to be believed, we’re not far from beating Labour and actually taking two of the three North East seats.

“Our message of being good trading neighbours with Europe and the rest of the world is going down well, and as the Farage-Clegg debate showed, Labour and Lib Dem scaremongering about threats to jobs is hollow.

“We are the party of rebuilding our trade links with the Commonwealth and developing links with emerging global markets – something which would boost the economy and create jobs.”

UKIP yesterday had to defend a new immigration-centred election poster campaign as “a hard-hitting reflection of reality” after it was attacked as “racist” by political opponents.

The anti-European Union (EU) party is using £1.5m of funding from millionaire ex-Tory donor Paul Sykes to launch its biggest-ever publicity drive ahead of European Parliament elections on May 22.

To be displayed at hundreds of billboard sites across the country, they carry stark warnings that “British workers are hit hard by unlimited foreign labour” and that 26 million unemployed people across Europe are “after” UK jobs.

Others complain that 75% of British laws are made in Brussels and that UK taxpayers fund the “celebrity lifestyle” of EU bureaucrats.

> As opposed to the celebrity lifestyle and general abuse of the system by those in the British parliament ?

Mr Farage said: “These posters are a hard-hitting reflection of reality as it is experienced by millions of British people struggling to earn a living outside the Westminster bubble. Are we going to ruffle a few feathers among the chattering classes? Yes. Are we bothered about that? Not in the slightest.”

Source – Newcastle Journal  22 April 2014

Bid to boost Euro-election turnout takes new twist as DOG is sent polling card

Boosting turnout at elections has taken a new twist after a family’s eight-year-old dog was invited to vote.

Canines in the constituency don’t usually figure highly during the battle for votes on election day, but Zeus, an ageing Rottweiler cross, has got his paws on a polling card in the run-up to one political dogfight.

He has received an invitation to vote in the forthcoming elections for the European Parliament on May 22.

The card, addressed to “Zeus Hoyle”, dropped through the letterbox of his owner Russell Hoyle’s home in Cheshire Road, Norton, Teesside.

Russell is planning to take his four-legged friend for walkies to the polling station on election day.

He said: “Me and my wife are going to vote and Zeus is coming with us. He has got his voting card.”

Zeus appears distinctly underwhelmed by it all.

His political persuasion is unclear, although his owner hopes he is not a Tory.

Asked how he planned to vote, Zeus let out what appeared to be a big yawn.

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette  14 April 2014

Labour now too posh for the North ? UKIP to benefit ?

> Sadly, this scenario seems all too possible…

Posh Labour is leaving the door open for a UKIP victory – and Hartlepool could be about to prove it.

That’s the message of two academics who say the Labour party is foolishly ignoring the threat to its Northern heartland from the UK Independence Party.

With one eye on the 2015 General Election, and even the 2020 vote battle, the professors say Labour must learn that UKIP is not just a problem for the Conservative party.

Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin warn in their Revolt on the Right book that Labour leader Ed Miliband is about to get a big wake up call.

Prof Ford has told the Sunday Sun that voters in Hartlepool were probably still fed up with having Peter Mandelson made the Labour candidate in 1992, despite his lack of any local connections.

Prof Ford said the party was ready to start reaping the rewards of having local council candidates.

“The problem with Labour as regards UKIP is that is has a lot of people. Particularly in the contemporary Miliband Labour party, who are young, Southern based, university graduate, socially liberal, outward looking.

“The world of UKIP is a world they have basically no familiarity with, it might as well be Mars. They don’t realise how angry these voters are, how alienated they feel from Labour.

“Labour will say, ‘Look at these seats, we get 40%, 50%, there is no threat.’ But what they don’t see is the threat. There are now more ex Labour voters in some areas than there are current Labour voters.

“Those people who have sat out will not sit out forever, and they have lost the habit of voting Labour. You get a strong showing in 2015 for UKIP and in 2020 they will be selling themselves as the only party that can defeat Labour in the North and winning seats.

“UKIP will try to capitalise on the feeling that Labour takes the region for granted.

“South Shields is one of the safest Labour seats in the country and UKIP got 25% of the votes without really breaking a sweat. That’s not enough to get a seat, but it is enough to get second place and to make people think maybe I can have a voice now. It should be a wake up call but they have not taken this on board, Labour thinks it has it all figured out now.

“They see UKIP as an irritant rather than a real political threat.”

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “The professor from Manchester may sit in his ivory tower, but he obviously hasn’t visited Hartlepool. You don’t see UKIP in Hartlepool from one election to the next. I think it is important that candidates demonstrate how they are working for an area all year round, but you don’t see that with UKIP.

“That’s why they lost council seats in Hartlepool a couple of years ago. To think they will turn up six months or so before an election demonstrates they would take the electorate for granted and shows arrogance of the highest order.”

Jonathan Arnott, UKIP’s General Secretary and the Lead party candidate in the upcoming Euro elections, said the authors were right to highlight Hartlepool.

He said: “At the last European elections, UKIP took more votes in Hartlepool than any other party. We know that there is huge potential in Hartlepool, and this research merely confirms what we already know.

“Many Labour voters are attracted to UKIP’s policies such as ‘No Tax on Minimum Wage’ and our opposition to open-door immigration from Eastern Europe which has driven wages down for hard-working people. It’s not about the old left/right struggle, but about rewarding people who work hard.”

> And by definition punishing those deemed not to be working hard enough or otherwise undeserving ?  Different arseholes, same old shit…

Source –  Sunday Sun,  30 March 2014

Tories deny they have abandoned the North East

The Conservatives have said they will target working class Northern voters even as austerity measures continue.

Tory party chairman Grant Shapps hit back at claims the party had “given up on the North” and insisted tomorrow’s Budget will be good news for the region.

With a strong UKIP vote predicted in the upcoming European elections, the party is still way behind any signs of a revived North East presence.

Mr Shapps said he was confident the party could fight back in the region.

He said: “I recognise that we have a long way to go, we took over a recession from the last Government, there was no double dip recession.

“Now there are in the North East 17,000 more people in a job than there were.

> 15,000 of them are self-employed leaflet distributors….

There is just the start of the recovery. I know the North East had some big issues to deal with, the reliance on the public sector, but it is showing good signs.”

He admitted though that there was little hope in sight of an end to Government spending cuts.

“What we need to do now is not create more Government jobs but help create more private sector jobs,” he said.

“There is no short cut. If you believe you can somehow just raise taxes and spend money on jobs we know from years of experience that it just does not work.

“We have come this far, it has been difficult and painful, I totally get that. But what we do not want to do is hand the car keys back to the people who crashed this economy in the first place.”

> No chance of that, they never gave up possession of the car keys in the first place… just got someone else to take the points on their licence (something certain Lib Dems, for example, know all about).

Mr Shapps faces a difficult task turning that economic message into votes in the North East, with a 10% unemployment rate standing as the UK’s highest.

Asked if he feared losing out to UKIP in the region despite the Budget message, Mr Shapps said: “If voters want a referendum the last thing they should do is vote UKIP, because that will just hand power to Labour, and then you will never get what you want.”

Over the weekend Labour had attacked the Tories record in the North, saying it had abandoned the region.

Asked if he thought this was true, Mr Shapps said: “Absolutely not, the North has been the engine of the economy and I think we will see that again in the North, and Conservatives are going to be a part of that.”

Source – Newcastle Journal,  18 March 2014

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Billy Bragg defends decision to host UKIP rally at Sage Gateshead

UKIP has found an unlikely ally in left-wing musician Billy Bragg after a move to host its largest ever rally at the SageGateshead.

The venue’s management was attacked on social media for itsdecision to provide the venue for the party’s spring meeting on St George’s Day in April.

After critics on the social networking site Twitter said the organisation had a “moral obligation” not to allow UKIP leader Nigel Farage to assemble his party on Tyneside,  Bragg waded into the online spat to support the Sage.

Responding to online questioning, Mr Bragg – who regularly plays at the venue and was part of its recent poster campaign – wrote: “I don’t have a problem with it.

“We shouldn’t be complacent about UKIP, but denying them the right to hold meetings is not the way forward. Don’t UKIP have the right of assembly?”

> He may have a point – UKIP is home to so many fruitcakes that giving them the opportunity of making prats of themselves in public might be a good thing. 

The meeting on the evening of April 23 will be the largest public meeting ever to be held by the party and its “early bird” free tickets have already been snapped up.

The Eurosceptic party has previously held a North East conference in Tynemouth but Nigel Farage will be speaking in person at this event.

> If anywhere in Tyne & Wear was going to host a UKIP conference,  you’d have bet on it being Tynemouth  😉

After by-election successes across the country, Mr Farage has said he hopes to make considerable gains in May’s local and European elections.

Messages left for the Sage online from the public prompted the organisation’s general director Anthony Sargent to clarify his stance on hosting political events.

The music and concert venue has previously been booked to hold the meetings of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats and Mr Sargent said: “Picking and choosing between political views would be an indefensible position and that really would be letting the local community down.

“We need to give these people a platform, then trust the democratic process to separate the wheat from the chaff. We have no opinion on UKIP nor do we on the Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrats.”

Quoting political philosopher John Stuart Mill, he added: “There’s a very basic freedom of speech right in the UK which is prized by the British whether or not you agree with a set of opinions. It’s a foundational right living in Britain that you have the right to express yourself.”

One critic of the planned conference, Alan Verth, wrote on Twitter that Sage needed to consider its “moral obligations to community” while a user of the site calling himself Trevstanley called it a“disgusting” move and would not be visiting the Sage again.

Mr Verth wrote: “I’m not happy with my home town hosting this as it goes against everything I stand for.”

Newcastle-based singer Gem Andrews, who released her debut last year, also took to Twitter to ask people to campaign against UKIP meeting on Tyneside.

Meanwhile…

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has disowned proposals from one of his MEPs for Muslims to be asked to sign a charter rejecting violence.

Gerard Batten, who sits on the party’s National Executive Committee, said he stood by the “charter of Muslim understanding” which he co-authored in 2006 and which states that parts of the Koran which promote “violent physical jihad” should be regarded as “inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic”.

His comments sparked criticism from Muslim groups and UKIP’s political opponents.

The Conservative leader in the European Parliament, Syed Kamall, who is himself a Muslim, left a letter on Mr Batten’s empty seat at the Parliament chamber in Strasbourg, sarcastically offering him a guarantee that he had no intention to commit acts of violence.

Mr Farage said: “This was a private publication from Gerard Batten in 2006 and its contents are not and never have been UKIP policy.”

> Fruitcakes, the whole lot of them…

Source – Newcastle Journal  06 Feb 2014