This lot are reaching the end of the line but it’s fear of them that is still preventing Labour and Tory Parties from having a rational debate about Brexit.
I discovered two things on Radio 4 this morning – that UKIP still exists and that, for some reason known only to themselves 11 people are standing to be its Leader. I had to question why the BBC has chosen once again to give the breath of oxygen to this absurd and ridiculous party but decided it was because UKIP has now become a freak show of the absurd, grotesque and ridiculous.
When I was little every self-respecting circus had a ‘freak show’ of bearded ladies, 9-foot men, ‘performing dwarves’ and 50 stone ladies. This sort of attraction is, of course, a relic of our past and totally unacceptable in the eyes of modern society. But perhaps there is in all of us a yearning for the grotesque so step forward UKIP.
The news bulleting appeared to be predicated by a lady who wasn’t allowed to stand for Parliament for UKIP because of her views but can, apparently, stand to become their Leader! I am not clear precisely what she wanted but it appeared that she disapproves of Moslems and wants them banned. I had never heard of her, not had I heard of UKIPs’s Deputy Leader who I had also never heard of. (Can you be a Deputy- Leader when there is no Leader?) He didn’t argue the specific point about her views but contended that it did not matter what her views were because she was able to stand for the Leadership because she had been cleared by the National Executive of UKIP to do so!
I thought that they had disappeared because I saw in a recent LGA publication report on the 16 council by-elections since the General Election. UKIP had stood in just two of them where in the same wards last time they stood in 9. Both of their candidates secured a handsome 1.2% of the vote. Whatever point there was to UKIP there is clearly no point now. They caused a massive disruption in the life of our Country by scaring the Tories into a Euro Referendum and have now disappeared beneath the waters leaving hardly a ripple. Incidentally their record was only slightly worse than the Greens who also seem to have disappeared into obscurity.
I had to agree with the UKIP bloke on one point however. The Government are making a mess of the BREXIT talks. He had different reasons for saying so, of course. He thought that they were back-sliding and as part of the British establishment were back-sliding in an attempt to stay in the EU. I don’t see anything so clever and calculated. All I see is a total lack of vision; knowledge and negotiating skills. No matter how people voted last year surely no one voted for the breath-taking incompetence on the scale which we are seeing on a daily basis.
The sad thing is that many of the hard problems which the Government are grappling with were not only predictable but, indeed, predicted.
The hard border with the Republic of Ireland is a major problem for Liverpool and its port. Liverpool is a major import/export port for the Republic. It works well because of its location and the lack of bureaucracy and charges in sending stuff to and from Dublin. Its geography will stay the same but a hard border will impose new costs to the Port and may well mean that goods will go to and from the Republic via continental ports.
Already the debate on immigration is causing huge consequences to our sectors ranging from health to agriculture. Crops are lying un picked in fields because the migrant workers needed to oick them are not coming over and those that are here are beginning to return. The number of nurses recruited from Europe has already gone down by 94% and those medical professionals including doctors and consultants are going home.
Europe is repatriating other jobs in both the public and private sectors. Euratom is going to continental Europe; banks are creating new jobs I Germany and France at the expense of jobs here. The German Stock Exchange is already eyeing up lucrative listings.
Our car industry is in despair. Our one big manufacturing sector is losing out on big investment. It is quite possible that in 5 years we will be hearing that Ellesmere Port will close as General Motors places its base within the customs union. Almost 250,000 manufacturing jobs are dependent on car production and they are good well-paid jobs as well.
So the Government is in disarray with one Minister saying one thing and another Minister saying another. They have no feeling for what is achievable in the case of our departure from the EU. No principles are guiding them just a panicked reaction to circumstances which no longer pertain.
Meanwhile the only reason that huge splits in the Labour Party are not visible is that they have all gone on holiday!! There can be no doubt that Corbyn is pleased with the vote to leave Europe which he thinks is a capitalist club. That is behind his determination not to hold the Tories to account and not to ensure that we stay in the single market and customs union. But that is not the view of two thirds of his voters; two thirds of his members or two thirds of his MPs. Sonner or later there will be a ‘punch up!’
Leaving the EU is bad enough but outside the single market our jobs are defenceless. Labour talk of putting more money into the NHS and other services is totally meaningless when there will be less money in the public and private coffers to deal with new as well as existing problems.
So, the Lib Dems fight on. Amid speculation that there will be another ‘centre’ party formed we will fight our corner. There are only three traditions in UK politics; socialism; conservatism and liberalism. Another party will, in the long term, make no difference to that. We have seen the SDP; Referendum Party and the Greens have brief a flourishing of activity and some prominence but then subside again into irrelevance.
So if you really believe in Europe; if you really area an internationalist; if you really believe that climate change is important; if you believe in a farer society there is already a Party you can join and work for. You can join us here at www.libdems.org.uk.