Today UKIP made contact through the letterbox. Nobody is expecting a major swing to them in Redbridge so I don’t really need to write this. Maybe somebody living in a south-east coastal town or up north will read it. Pledge by pledge, this is their leaflet.
Early reference to ‘tired old parties’.
Political parties don’t get tired because they’ve been around a long time. And anyway, UKIP is famously old, backed by old and supported by old. And anyway, what’s so wrong with old? In fact, what is ‘old’?
Deduct half a point for making cheap statements and half a point for negativity.
UKIP Councillors would have the right to vote in the best interests of the people that they represent, rather than following a predetermined party line.
The strapline of the entire leaflet, which blatantly contradicts the statement above, is ‘Vote UKIP Get UKIP’. Both statements can’t be true.
The thing about party lines is that aren’t all about bossy people at the top pushing their agenda on the little guy. Party lines are chosen by candidates, not the other way round – otherwise the candidate would presumably be standing as an independent. The major party themes are also developed by consensus, rather than on one person’s whim.
Another important point about party lines is that they broadly let voters know what they’re getting when they vote for a candidate – if UKIP Councillors don’t have a party line on anything, then a vote for UKIP is like voting for an independent candidate. The reason few independent candidates succeed is that, without the benefit of a selection process within their party, most of them give the impression of being superficial, inexperienced, ill-disciplined people of uncertain principles, pursuing vanity projects or narrow single issues. Those who don’t mainly fail to convince voters that they will be able to sufficiently inform themselves to properly think through every decision – this constant need for reliable intelligence is where a political party comes in very handy. If you want an independent candidate, then don’t vote UKIP – vote for the kindest, most generous, most hard-working, most intelligent candidate.
Deduct 2 points for incoherence.
UKIP Councillors would work to provide much-needed permanent leisure facilities around the borough.
I thought this could only mean a permanent swimming pool – a Labour pledge after the Conservatives were criticised for proposing to waste a lot of money on a temporary pool. But UKIP don’t mention a pool, which indicates that they are reluctant to pledge a pool. So they aren’t pledging a pool. What exactly are they pledging?
Deduct 1 point for vagueness and coyness.
UKIP Councillors would work to keep control of council tax, ensuring a fairer Redbridge for all residents.
What do they mean, ‘keep control of’? Where does council tax threaten to wander off to? Is somebody trying to snatch it? To the best of my knowledge, this statement is meaningless.
Deduct 5 points for misleading scaremongering. Add 2 points for striving to seem less racist by mentioning ‘all residents’.
UKIP Councillors would work to ensure that housing policy will reflect the needs of all residents.
This is not distinctive – every single candidate will pledge to do this in their own way – because it is absolutely core to a councillor’s job. The question is, according to what principles would they balance the needs of all residents? And what about those who seek to become residents? Again, there is no UKIP line to which we can refer here.
Deduct 1 point for wasting text and 3 points for taking voters for fools (making confident pledges without declaring any principles).
UKIP Councillors would work to improve street cleansing across the whole of the borough.
Again, this is not distinctive – all candidates pledge this.
Deduct 1 point for wasting text.
UKIP Councillors would work to improve law and order in the borough.
Deduct 1 point for wasting text.
UKIP Councillors would work to improve facilities for the elderly and vulnerable.
Again, this is something that all councillors have to do, irrespective of their political persuasion. It isn’t optional at all. But by going out of their way to mention older people while omitting younger people who have had their services cut and thin job prospects, UKIP again demonstrate a failure to understand intergenerational tensions and inequality.
See above – deduct 1 point for wasting text, and 2 points for poor selectivity.
UKIP Councillors would work to provide priority in adult social care for local residents.
I don’t understand what this means – are there non-local residents who are demanding adult social care? I don’t think you can apply for social care unless you are a local resident. Given UKIP’s reputation for stoking fears of foreigners, I detect some nasty insinuations in this pledge.
Deduct 5 points for groundlessly planting suspicion that social care is being poached by non-residents.
I’m missing anything on local jobs, healthcare or schools. Deduct 5 points for each of these important omissions.
Help us to make a difference in Redbridge on May 22nd 2014
Change for the worse, I’m certain.
Turning over, we get the smiling face of James Kellman – I think this is a lightly customised national leaflet, since our UKIP Action Team seems to be just one gent.
We learn he is a long-term local man. He is happily married. Turkish wife. Why would he mention the nationality of his wife? Because UKIP is characterised for the attraction it exerts on racists and xenophobes. He worked for Transport for London for 20 years and is now self-employed with more time. Former Conservative, disenchanted with the main parties on the EU.
He has one specific desire: transparency in Council matters. He doesn’t say what this means, or where they fall short now (the meetings are already public and well-documented, for example).
“You will no doubt have several candidates from different parties doorstepping you – it is felt better to leave you in peace”.
UKIP have not attracted enough volunteers to knock on our doors and talk with us about our local concerns, so this is really making a virtue of necessity. On the ‘leaving in peace’ part, what James hopes to distract us from is that canvassing is an important part of democracy. Working street by street, sitting councillors, candidates and party volunteers gain a deep familiarity with their constituency and those who campaign throughout the year can grasp changes for the worse or better. They report fly-tipping and anything else that needs fixing as they encounter it, and they have a chance to start illuminating conversations with residents who would otherwise be unlikely to make a first approach to a politician. This is another benefit of being in an organised, disciplined party rather than a loose collection of Europhobes with barely anything to unite them.
I think it comes to minus 33.
I’d score the other parties in the minus, but that would be the lowest out of Greens, Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem. And although I am extremely appalled with politics, I believe that in a democracy we get the political leaders that the middle classes deserve. I am middle class, and so I have shared responsibility to strive for a better politics. A protest vote for the shambles that is UKIP has no part in that.