A senior UKIP official has been forced to delete racist Facebook posts after claiming he accidentally shared them to his followers.
Gordon Parkin, who is assistant to North East Euro MP Jonathan Arnott and who has himself stood for Parliament, shared a series of images by the far-right groups Britain First and The New Daily Patriot on Facebook.
One post depicts Enoch Powell – the politician who made the notoriously racist “rivers of blood” speech in 1968 – next to the House of Commons alongside the words “I told you so…”.
He also shared an image of women wearing the niqab which said “share if you find this offensive”.
Another from Britain First, a group which opposes what it calls the “Islamification of the UK” and was founded by a member of the BNP, claims schools who choose to stock halal meat are “wrong”.
Mr Parkin, who is a powerful official in the regional party and sits on panels that assess UKIP’s potential General Election candidates, claims he accidentally shared them on the social networking site and has now deleted them.
Sightseers could be banned from taking snaps of North landmarks and uploading them to social media sites if proposals in Europe get the go-ahead… or maybe not – UKIP circulating scare stories again.
The law would change what is known in the UK as the ‘freedom of panorama’ exemption that lets people to take use photos of modern buildings and artworks such as Gateshead’s The Angel of the North or Bottle of Notes in Middlesbrough how they like.
Jonathan Arnott, UKIP MEP for the North East, said the law would be an attack on the country’s freedoms but his opponents accuse him of scaremongering over EU proposals.
He said: “This would end up being another example of unintended consequences which so often happens when the EU passes laws.
“It is idiotic and would mean that visitors would not be able to snap views of the Angel of the North and other famous works and use them commercially if they so wanted.
“This attempt to restrict the freedom of panorama, by allies of the Lib Dems in Brussels, strikes at the root of our liberties. It will destroy an explicit British freedom guaranteed in our copyright legislation for over 100 years.
“Art and photography are valuable because of their intrinsic freedom. Freedom is constantly undermined by the European Union as we have seen time and time again.”
Lib Dem councillor Greg Stone said the amendment has no connection to his party in Europe and accused the MEP of creating “scare stories”.
He said: “This proposal has had nothing whatsoever to do with the Liberal Democrats or the ALDE bloc of EU Liberal parties and it is frankly pretty desperate stuff from a party that trades exclusively on Euro myths and scare stories.”
Police are investigating a threat to behead a UKIP election candidate after the 62-year-old reported a disturbing phone call.
David Robinson-Young, a 62-year-old barrister who hopes to be elected to represent the Newcastle East constituency, has said he fears for his personal safety after the “chilling” experience.
He described the man as an “irate” constituent who he says identified himself as a Muslim and angry with the Government.
He said the man was initially calm but after some minutes began to shout and swear at which point the former policeman hung up.
Mr Robinson-Young said:
“He said the Muslim community is really annoyed with the British government supporting bombing Muslim countries and that the community here just wants to get on with their family lives.”
Mr Robinson-Young said the man swore at him before making the beheading threat.
Northumbria Police confirmed they had received a complaint and are investigating the matter.
Mr Robinson-Young added:
“I’m not a man who is easily intimidated, I’m an ex-policeman and I’ve been subjected to numerous physical threats in the past. I left the police service because of injuries received in an assault on duty.
“I found this man’s threats to be particularly chilling and it as really shaken me. However I will not let this incident prevent me from continuing in the campaign to try and change our country for the better.”
> How very ironic – it’s only a few days since Robinson-Young was coming under fire from Newcastle’s Jewish community for his party’s xenophobic policies. UKIP certainly seem to be uniting the local population.
Meanwhile, the UKIP campaign office in Blyth has vandalised this week for the second time.
Crosses and the word ‘No’ were daubed on to the shutters of the office.
Jonathan Arnott, North East UKIP MEP, said:
“This is now the second time that anti-democracy protesters have vandalised our office in Blyth.
“Sadly some people don’t respect our fundamental British freedoms.
“This comes at a time when some of our candidates have received death threats, showing the ugly face of some of those who oppose our message of freedom, independence and democracy.
“Ultimately this kind of criminal activity will prove counterproductive as it will simply spur our activists on to work harder and campaign for longer.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 23 Apr 2015
A Green Party candidate has waded into a row over a Labour MP’s refusal to debate with a Ukip politician from out of the area – saying the Labour Party itself fielded a candidate from Teesside at an earlier event.
Sunderland Central Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Labour, Julie Elliot declined to debate with Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott in an event at Sunderland University on Monday.
Mr Arnott had attended in place of his party’s parliamentary candidate for the constituency Bryan Foster, whose wife Dorothy’s chronic illness had taken a turn for the worse.
Mrs Elliot’s reasons were that Mr Arnott is a candidate for Easington and not Sunderland Central.
Now Green Party candidate Rachel Featherstone has hit out at her decision because she was substituted with a candidate from Teesside at an event held at St Aidan’s School in Ashbrooke, in March.
Ms Featherstone said Mrs Elliott had no objections in the past, when in the second debate, a local election candidate stood in for LibDem candidate Adrian Page.
“I was happy to debate with the Ukip representative,” Ms Featherstone said. “I believe that in the interests of democracy, all the parties should have been represented.
“I’m concerned that this may affect the willingness of the university to host this kind of event in the future.”
She added: “The organisers are to be commended for the efforts they made to ensure this was a lively and informative debate.”
A Labour Party spokesman said the debate at St Aidan’s was a regional event, with parliamentary candidates from outside Sunderland taking part, while the Age UK debate was a whole of Sunderland city debate not a Sunderland Central hustings.
“It’s odd to see the Green Party cosying up to Ukip,” he said.
“But our position remains the same our candidate debates with other Sunderland Central parliamentary candidates in hustings for Sunderland Central constituency.”
Also standing in the Sunderland Central constituency is Jeffrey Guy Townsend (Conservative) and Jospeh Young (Independent).
Source – Sunderland Echo, 23 Apr 2015
It was ultimately unsuccessful, but the campaign for devolution in Scotland has fanned the flames of regional rule in the North-East that were never quite extinguished by the 2004 ‘no’ vote.
The North East Party was launched less than a year ago as the independence campaign north of the border was in full swing. On May 7, it will field four candidates in Easington, Redcar, Stockton North and Newcastle North.
Vice-chair Susan McDonnell, who formed the party with former Labour MP Hilton Dawson, admitted they had hoped to have more candidates standing, but people who had initially shown an interest backed away when they realised the effort involved.
“They also had to find £500 for the deposit from their own pocket which may have put them off,” says Mrs McDonnell, who will contest the Easington seat.
The party wants to see a referendum for the the region’s 12 unitary authorities to be replaced by a single North-East government, however Mrs McDonnell stresses that it is not all about devolution.
“It’s about decision making taking place in the North-East by people from the North-East – we’re sick to death of being the poor relation in the North.”
The party has enjoyed some early success with two councillors voted on to Peterlee Town Council, and Mrs McDonnell says its membership is growing fast.
“We’re got quite a large presence on social media and are getting people from all over the region travelling to our meetings – Blyth, Newcastle, Redcar, Hartlepool and Stockton.”
The candidate accepts she may not be able to defeat the standing Easington MP, Grahame Morris, who has a majority of almost 15,000, but she adds: “I’m having a whale of a time.
“I am taking it very seriously but I also understand it’s a game. I’m not so naive to think that I will win on May 7 but I will give Grahame Morris as good a run as he’s ever had – I hope to give him a bloody nose.”
The party is one of several regional parties which have appeared around the country in recent years, with many forming an allegiance under the Vote Local banner.
Mrs Mc Donnell says the parties have been launched because of a combination of being disillusioned with the mainstream Westminster centred parties and the referendum in Scotland. The new parties include Yorkshire First, which wants to see a Yorkshire parliament.
Devolution and regionalism expert Arianna Giovannini, who lectures at Huddersfield University, said the idea of regionalist parties was not new.
However, she adds: “What is certainly new is the emergence of regionalist parties in the North of England, ie Yorkshire First, the North East Party, and the Campaign for the North.”
Dr Giovannini says the emerging regionalist parties have great potential, especially if they succeed in joining forces with other organisations and movements, and manage to achieve grassroots support.
But she adds:
“Whether regional devolution in the North of England will succeed or fall may well hinge on the ability to generate democratic momentum, creating a clear, bold, confident and concerted vision for the future.
“However, the story of the Scottish Constitutional Convention tells us that such a process will take time, and cannot be rushed or accomplished overnight. In this sense, the following months and the results and effects of the imminent general election will be crucial in shaping the path ahead.”
The North East Party may not yet be big enough to change the course of the devolution debate in this region, but it is certainly a sign of the growing desire to see greater powers handed over.
Source – Northern Echo, 09 Apr 2015
The saying goes that you could stick a red rosette on a passing dog in some parts of the North and it would get elected as an MP.
A new analysis of the last six General Elections shows there is at least some truth in that often-heard phrase.
The region is home to the Labour Party’s safest seat in England – County Durham’s Easington – and is second in the UK only to Wales’ Rhondda.
South Tyneside’s Jarrow, which Stephen Hepburn is campaigning to regain, is the party’s 13th safest seat in the entire UK.
Middlesbrough sits at number 20, followed by North West Durham at 23, South Shields at 24, Blaydon 37, Bishop Auckland at 42.
The constituencies all bear the scars of lost mining and steel industry which many believe has led a generation of voters to reject alternatives to Labour, especially the Conservatives.
Grahame Morris is campaigning to be re-elected in Easington and said he sees strong support for Labour.
The average majority of votes for Labour in the constituency over the six elections since 1979 is a commanding 21,119.
“I work very hard inside and outside of Parliament to advocate Labour’s traditional values of fairness and social justice and locally we don’t take anything for granted. It is over 20 years since our last coal mine Easington Colliery closed.
“It is the case that historically the Labour Party and Trade Union movement embody the best values of local people. The origins of the Labour Party were forged in our industrial communities from which we developed progressive policies to meet the needs and aspirations of local people and we continue to this day to fight for a more just, fair and equal society.
The Labour Party belongs to the people of Easington, and it is only through their support that we have been able to realise many of our greatest achievements including the creation of the NHS, decent affordable homes for working people, paid holidays the introduction of the minimum wage, new schools, concessionary travel, the winter fuel allowance and an end to pensioner poverty.
These things did not happen by accident. They were not a gift but were won through our collective struggle and common purpose. Easington’s power was coal but the cement that binds our communities together was laid in times of great adversity and has given East Durham a sense of resilience and identity that makes it such a special and possibly unique place.
“Personally I consider it a privilege to represent Easington and wouldn’t wish to represent any other constituency.”
Among the main challengers to Labour in the region is Ukip and the party’s only MEP for the region Jonathan Arnott is standing in Easington.
His decision to stand is symbolic, he said, adding:
“I’m standing here not only because I live locally in Blackhall Colliery, but because I have a message for Labour: unlike with the Tories and Lib Dems, there’s no such thing as a no-go area for Ukip and we will challenge you here.
“Our message of supporting local businesses, removing income tax from the minimum wage and developing apprenticeships is vital in an area that has suffered so badly from the demise of our mining industry. My father-in-law was a miner, and I know how deeply the pit closures under Wilson and Thatcher affects our communities.
“As the North East Manifesto shows, there’s a real appetite here for Ukip policies – from cutting business rates for local small businesses to a points-based system on immigration. And that’s exactly what I’m seeing on the doorstep.
“Of course, I fight to win in any election campaign – but I have just given myself the most difficult task for any party anywhere in the country!
“But even if I don’t win, it will be good for democracy that there’s some genuine competition at last in Easington.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 04 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
The Labour Mayor of Bishop Auckland has defected to UKIP.
Councillor Colin Race, who says he has voted Labour “ever since he was old enough”, made the shock announcement at a Bishop Auckland Town Council meeting, in County Durham, on Tuesday.
Coun Race said he will be joining Nigel Farage’s party before pouring scorn on his former Labour colleagues for being part of a “cosy consensus” of politicians.
Coun 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 27 other EU member states?”
> But its not immigrants who are cutting full time jobs and replacing them with short hours or zero hours jobs. That’s the real problem, not immigration. Still, sounds like UKIP’s his natural home.
Coun Race’s defection comes four months before Labour MP Helen Goodman fights to keep the Bishop Auckland constituency red.
UKIP’s North East MEP, Jonathan Arnott, said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the Mayor of Bishop Auckland, Coun 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.”
> Don’t forget the Green Party, who have the added bonus of not being racist.
It is understood Coun Race attempted to stand for Labour on Durham County Council but was rejected as a candidate.
Labour hit back at the councillor’s criticism and branded UKIP “more Tory than the Tories”.
A party spokesman said:
“On the day Nigel Farage confirmed his plans to privatise the NHS, people in Bishop Auckland will rightly be questioning the decision of one of their town councillors.
“UKIP’s policies include another tax break for millionaires, higher taxes on working families, scrapping rights as at work and higher bankers’ bonuses.
“They can’t be described as a party who will stand up for working people. In reality they are more Tory than the Tories.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Jan 2015
Labour MPs in the North-East have shrugged off predictions of a UKIP surge at next year’s general election – insisting their seats are not at serious risk.
The party’s MPs spoke of their confidence despite Labour’s disastrous performance in the Rochester and Strood by-election, where UKIP scored a stunning success.
> But wasn’t the turnout only 50.6% ? Not so stunning, when the majority of the electorate (those who didn’t vote and those who voted otherwise) did not vote for UKIP.
Of course, the UKIP winner was actually a rat leaving the Tory ship, defending the seat he won under their flag. He got 16,867 votes (42.1%).
At the last election, standing as a Tory, he got 23,604 vote (49.2%). the turnout then was 64.9%. Not such a ringing endorsement of UKIP after all.
On the other hand, the Green Party overtook the Lib Dems and scored their best result since the 2010 General Election – but the media are so in love with UKIP that they ignored that.
And they denied they were drawing up new strategies to combat the phenomenon of a party once famously ridiculed, by David Cameron, as a bunch of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.
Nigel Farage’s party is widely acknowledged to have broadened its appeal beyond being an anti-EU pressure group and can claim to have more working class backing than Labour.
Researchers have suggested some North-East constituencies – Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland, South Shields and Middlesbrough – may be vulnerable to a UKIP surge.
And, at last May’s European elections, the fast-rising party topped the vote in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland.
UKIP has refused to release its target seats in the North-East and Yorkshire, but is widely believed to have identified Hartlepool as its most likely success.
However, Iain Wright, the town’s Labour MP, said: “I think UKIP shout about it, but it’s all talk. I speak to voters all the time and they really don’t mention them.”
That was echoed by Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who said: “The response I get on the doorstep is overwhelmingly supportive of Labour policies to tackle inequalities head on.”
And Durham North West MP Pat Glass pointed to three county council by-elections in her constituency since last May 2014, all of which Labour had won “convincingly”.
She added: “My view is that, whilst UKIP will take some votes in the North-East, they will not come close to winning any seats.”
Helen Goodman, the Bishop Auckland MP, acknowledged growing concern about the level of immigration, but argued her voters were being won round to Labour’s solutions.
At the 2010 general election, UKIP won only a tiny share of the vote in, for example, Hartlepool (seven per cent) and Bishop Auckland (2.7 per cent) – giving it a mountain to climb.
Indeed, Jonathan Arnott, UKIP’s North-East Euro-MP stopped short of predicting sensational gains for his party in the region next May.
Instead, he said: “At the European elections in May, UKIP won in Redcar and Cleveland, Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton.
“UKIP are the only viable challengers to Labour across the North-East and we are expecting a two horse race come next May.”
Source – Northern Echo, 22 Nov 2014
> Why do the media seem so intent on boosting UKIP ? I’m reminded of this year’s Sunderland City Council elections, in which UKIP’s performance was described in the national media as astounding.
So astounding, in fact, that they won 0 seats.
In fact, across Tyne & Wear as a whole, they suffered a 50% loss (losing one of their two local council seats – they might have lost both, but the other wasn’t up for election this time around). Yet on this evidence we’re told that they’re going to sweep to victory.
Hartlepool has been identified by UKIP as its top target in the North-East at next year’s general election.
Despite finishing fourth in 2010 with just 2,682 votes, Ukip leaders claim it will be a two-horse race between their party and Labour in 2015.
UKIP is hoping that Hartlepool could become its first seat in the region – if the swing from Labour seen at last Thursday’s Heywood and Middleton by-election is repeated in May.
> But why would it be ? That was Heywood and Middleton, this is Hartlepool. That was a bye-election, the next one will be the General election. not the same at all.
UKIP’s grasp on how things work is so naive that I’m suprised anyone votes for them… except of course that there are far too many voters who are equally naive.
The party has pointed to its success at last May’s borough council elections when it picked up two councillors, and its good showing in the town at the Euro elections as evidence that it has strong support in the area.
Ukip’s North-East Euro MP, Jonathan Arnott, said:
“Hartlepool will be a two-horse race between UKIP and Labour next May.
“Lazy Labour have taken their voters for granted in Hartlepool and people don’t just feel neglected, but completely and utterly betrayed too.
“We got a fantastic result last week in Heywood and Middleton in what was an incredibly short campaign. If we emulate that next May, we will win here.”
UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate, Phillip Broughton, added: “Rather than focus on the tiresome left/right struggle, we’d much rather prioritise what’s right and wrong.”
“Hartlepool has always been my home and I will always work hard in Parliament for the people of my town.
“The Ukip candidate is an ex-Tory councillor from Stockton who doesn’t live in Hartlepool or have any connection to the town.
“He attended Tory party conference and praised George Osborne. UKIP’s policies include charging people money to see their GP, increased privatisation of the NHS and further tax cuts for millionaires while raising taxes for everybody else. UKIP has Tory policies, Tory politicians and is funded by Tory money. They are more Tory that the Tories.”
Cllr Ray Martin-Wells, leader of the Conservatives in Hartlepool, rejected the claim that his party would not stand a chance next year.
In 2010, UKIP came fourth in Hartlepool with 2,682 votes which represented a seven per cent share – its best result in the region.
Source – Northern Echo, 14 Oct 2014