A moment in time or just another day

Stayed up last night to watch the event unfold in Scotland, so many hashtags difficult to keep up with the various twitter feeds but they made for interesting commentary running alongside the more traditional BBC, ITV and Sky election marathons, thought the BBC won hands down! As always Andrew Marr and Nick Robinson were insightful.

The really starling thing to me was the turn out, particularly when you think a general election only usual managing to head towards 70% and the local elections….well let’s not go there. Who says politics can’t engage.

Of course the unanswered question was the third question which did not make it to the ballot paper, I suspect for perfectly reasonable clarity sake to draw a line under the fundamental question of staying in the union or forming an actual country. Had it been asked would most of those who voted NO had put a cross in that box, to stay in but for significantly increased devolution, I think so and that to me is the real challenge to Westminster. This of course can be countered in part with the ill-fated regional argument that gave Prescott such a bloody nose in the North-West not so long ago, so there is something about identity wrapped up in this as well. The Scottish may well see themselves as Scottish but I don’t thing I have ever heard anyone refer to themselves as being East Anglian.

Of course the various leader’s words have been carefully drafted one way or the other over the past week but it certainly lays a challenge to Westminster which I think was reflected in the emails/tweets/Facebook post/press conference words issued by David Cameron.

So perhaps the question is not so much will there be a re-framing of the relationship of the union and Westminster but in what form and how quickly, for Westminster to brush this level of voting aside would be a mistake.

Seaside Fun

Polling StationToday is, for many, the start of the new school year and in some ways this is true of Local Government as well, this first week of September is when the Councillors come back after summer holidays and focus on the budget setting process. Of course just as soon as the previous year’s budget is put to bed the process starts again but the follow February always seems to loom larger once the summer is out of the way.

Speaking of things that loom larger, this coming year is also election year at both the local district and national level.

At FHDC we Conservatives are now firmly in the manifesto stage of looking at our strong track record of delivery over the past four years and just what can we put forward as our platform for the coming term and I hope to play a full and active part in that process.

As always there are somewhat bigger issues about and principally South Yorkshire should be a focus for Councillors across the country as the failings of Children’s services at Rotherham and terrible abuse that has taken place is investigated, rightly it should have been the entire focus of last week’s domestic news agenda but as Harold Macmillan once famously said “Events, dear boy, events”, and last week’s surprise announcement by Douglas Carswell was certainly one of those. In some ways not that much of a surprise as he was the bookie’s favour to be the first to cross to UKIP, given his views, but it certainly was a moment.

As Nigel Farage said in his various interviews last week it’s a defining moment for UKIP, some would say the Conservative Party but not me. Let’s face it beyond the decision to defect, Douglas Carswell decision to stand down and seek re-election is a calculated move. If he crossed the floor and did not go to the polls he would simply have been swept aside by a high general election turn out in a strong Conservative seat in 2015. Now he’ll use the by-election, the armies of political supporters it brings and the nature of by-elections so close to a general election being about sending messages to the incumbent government, to try to keep his job.

If the polling out there is to be believed and one poll had a swing to UKIP from Conservatives at 44% coupled with a lower turn out as always occurs, however much the various parties encourage people to vote, then he may well do precisely that. But that does not deflect from the core message residents of Clacton and voters across country have to face up to at the general election ‘Vote UKIP and get Labour’, by-elections are one thing  but top slice the Conservative vote in marginal seats in May 2015 and Labour will be the only winners. One maverick MP, one by-election, all the excitement of the ‘political fairground’ that will be going on in Clacton however much it will fill the news agenda of the coming weeks does not change this simple fact.

So for all the fun to come, the serious issue remains the Economy and the danger that 5 years after almost bankrupting this county the very same people are proposing to get the keys back. Equally Labour would not hold a referendum and anyone who wants the question of Europe resolved knows, as will take place in Oct 2017 if a Conservative Government is returned, we need a referendum. Firstly to allow David Cameron to have the leverage to re-negotiate terms and secondly for the issue to be put to the vote once and for all. A vote for UKIP in May 2015 would have the possibility to achieve the exact opposition of what UKIP want, what’s that saying – ‘it’s a funny old world’.

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