> UKIP’s intention of becoming the people’s party in the North East doesn’t seem to be going too well.
First one of their Newcastle candidates managed to upset both Jewish and Muslim voters in less than a week. Then their office in Blyth was targeted.
Now reports of more grassroots action on Wearside…they could be excused for thinking someone doesn’t like them much….
UKIP have hit out at vandals who tore down advertising hoardings and attacked a home, accusing them of an “attack on free speech”.
Party officials say six incidents have been reported to police in the space of one week in Hetton, Houghton, Newbottle and East Rainton.
It started on Tuesday, April 14, when a 4ft by 4ft board was stolen from a residential garden in South Street, East Rainton.
Then, on Saturday, the acts took a more sinister turn when a Wesleyan Chapel – converted into a home in Front Street, Hetton – was attacked.
On Sunday, a board on private land at Grasswell was sawn down.
It was replaced on Monday, this time only lasting half an hour before being chopped down again.
On Tuesday, two boards were stolen from a private field at the junction of Murton Lane and Colliery Lane.
The party’s parliamentary candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, Richard Elvin, said:
“Our parents and grandparents, many of whom gave their lives, fought to preserve our democracy and the right to free speech.
“It appears that many people, especially those who describe themselves as left wing, seek to deny these hard-won freedoms.
“UKIP supporters do not invade private property or steal or vandalise other political parties’ promotional material.
“We appreciate that people have different political views to ours and we show due respect, which is the way everyone in a civilised democracy should behave.
“There is no place for intimidation, theft or damage in a British society, against anyone who does not agree with your personal political beliefs.”
Chief Inspector Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police, said:
“Police take any incidents of criminal damage very seriously.
“We have been made aware of a number of incidents in the Sunderland area regarding advertising boards being damaged or removed.
“We are working closely with the victims to carry out a full investigation.
“I would ask anyone who may have any information about these incidents to contact police.”
Also standing in the parliamentary election for Houghton and Sunderland South are Stewart Hay (Conservative), Jim Murray (LibDem), Bridget Phillipson (Labour) and Alan Robinson (Green Party).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 24 Apr 2015
UKIP is set to win its first seats on a Labour-run town council.
Labour will not field candidates in all 21 seats on Hetton Town Council being contested on May 7, which means Ukip will automatically win six seats on the local authority.
The remaining 15 seats will be contested between Labour, Ukip and Independent candidates.
Richard Elvin, Ukip’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Houghton and Sunderland South, said:
“This is a clear illustration that the traditional dominance of Labour in the North East is coming to an end.
“A healthy democracy thrives when there is an effective opposition.
“For too long the North East has been a one party state and this has not been good for the region”.
> Not so healthy for democracy if councillors are elected by default, though ?
Not so democratic if you get a Ukip councillor without the chance to vote against them.
Source – Northern Echo, 13 Apr 2015
The forthcoming general election has been described as one of the most unpredictable in generations.
And with the polls revealing Labour and the Conservatives to be neck-and-neck, the result could depend on how well the so-called minor parties perform.
For some time now this has largely meant UKIP which has enjoyed a level of success in the North.
Now it also means the Green party which has seen its membership surge of late reportedly to a higher level than that of UKIP.
So will either of them manage to win seats here or perhaps gain sufficient votes to affect the final outcome?
Political expert Dr Martin Farr of Newcastle University said Labour was most at threat from the rise of UKIP while the Greens posed a threat particularly to the Lib Dems.
Dr Farr also said the support in the North East had given UKIP a certain amount of credibility.
“Before it had been portrayed as the party of disgruntled Tories, the anti-immigration party.
“But the North East is Labour’s heartland and immigration isn’t as big an issue here as it is, say, in the North West.
“The issue here is about representation which many former Labour voters don’t think they are getting from the party.
“Meanwhile UKIP can say what it likes at the moment as it is a party untarnished by being in Government.
“What it is offering is what Labour used to offer – clarity and certainty.”
This could explain why UKIP has enjoyed notable electoral successes up here recently.
At present it has a North East MEP, Jonathan Arnott, and four local councillors, two in South Tyneside and two in Hartlepool.
At the 2013 South Shields by-election following David Miliband’s resignation, UKIP’s Richard Elvin came second to Labour’s Emma Lewell Buck winning 24% of the vote, with the Tories and Lib Dems a distant thrid and fourth.
And, if the UK didn’t have a first past the post electoral system, it could have many more representatives.
In the May 2014 local elections at Newcastle City Council, having never contested a ward before, UKIP put up candidates in 19 and nine came second in the vote.
Its overall share of the vote was 9,231 or 13.5%, ahead of the Conservatives although trailing Labour and the Lib Dems.
Meanwhile at Sunderland City Council, UKIP put up five candidates in 2012 and although none won, it got some notable numbers in Hetton in particular with 1,363 where their candidate came a close second.
In 2014 it was unlucky not to win any seats despite gaining 16,951 votes in total, a 24.3% share. Of the 23 wards it contested it came 2nd in 16 of them.
Even as we approach the general election it is still making inroads. Last month the Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Coun Colin Race, quit the Labour Party and joined UKIP.
As for the Greens, Dr Farr said:
“There has been a huge surge in support because the Lib Dem support has collapsed and they are also attracting people from the left of Labour who are fed up with austerity.
“There isn’t a Syriza type party (the left wing anti-austerity party in Greece which formed the last Government there) in the UK.
“The Green party is basically still a pressure group without fully formed policies on all the issues. It’s leader was embarrassed recently in a TV interview because of this.”
However he said in time, using the success it has had at local level in places like Brighton, it could achieve credibility at a national level.
This might mean any electoral success it enjoys in the region by be more limited than UKIP which, in the public’s eye, is a bit more of an established party.
Overall Dr Farr said he wasn’t expecting many surprises at the May general election.
He said: “I think in most of the North East, the majorities are such that the numbers they attract won’t be enough to win seats.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 07 Feb 2015