With our poll ratings on the rise, the other parties are increasingly determined to tarnish the reputation of UKIP and our elected representatives and candidates. Councillor Tony Hooke on Hampshire County Council is just one councillor who has come under fire in recent weeks. Fellow UKIPper Brian Otridge writes here about the events.
In Andover in May, three UKIPpers stood for the Town’s County Council seats. One was Tony Hooke, who was appalled at the rundown of his town and wanted to do something about it. One of his hot buttons was Neighbour Care, a local voluntary organisation with 150 volunteers who deliver ‘Big Society’ care to elderly people such as transporting them to hospital and various chores, together with help and advice.
The County Council had just withdrawn its £82,000 grant to them, and Tony was incensed, but he vowed to get the funding back and donate his own Councillor’s allowances of £12,003 a year to them.
Roll forward to today, five months in which Tony has fought tooth and nail with the county bureaucracy and the ruling Tory group, in concert with his 9 fellow UKIP Councillors, to preserve front-line services while cutting management and support costs. At the same time he has waged a one-man war, supported by a number of local UKIP activists, against his local Test Valley Borough Council. Run by a Conservative cabinet, they are also cutting front line services while funding a lavish unproductive back office.
Tony has attended over 60 community group meetings since May, and while he has made thousands of friends amongst the local electorate, he has enemies amongst the ruling Conservative groups and their Liberal Democrat allies. Recently, the jungle drums were beating that “they” were out to “get” him, digging the dirt, trying to find a chink in his armour – on Monday they thought they had it. Tony was invited to be interviewed by the Police on allegations of “bribery of the electorate” under Section 113 of Representation of the People’s Act 1983, thanks to his generous donation to Neighbour Care.
While the investigation is ongoing , he believes they have absolutely no grounds to charge him on. Tony also had his ducks in a row – the Chairman of Neighbour Care is Cllr Ian Carr, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, and he had agreed before the May elections it would be all right to make the offer, obviously believing that UKIP could not beat the Conservatives. Tony had also mentioned the donation to the County Police Commissioner and a Police Inspector.
So, now their attempt to besmirch the reputation of a hard-working, charitable and honest councillor has backfired on them. While we do not know who made the allegation, there is circumstantial evidence to point the finger.
Tony has also made an offer they can’t refuse. He’s prepared to be judged by UKIP’s own recall policy – if 20% of his electorate recall him, he will stand down and subject himself to the people’s judgement. No other party has this policy, meaning that unpopular councillors are safe for their entire terms. For the record, Tony has had over 130 messages of support since Monday and not one complaint.
He has also challenged the Test Valley Borough Council Leader to subject himself to the same strictures following calls from the electorate for him to resign on numerous occasions – let’s hope he will pick up the gauntlet.
We live in a strange world now. While it is alright for politicians to ‘bribe’ the electorate with their own tax money in an election manifesto, it is not alright to be charitable and help maintain a community service under threat from a Council with misplaced priorities. Even in these financially tight times, David Cameron’s 2010 Manifesto contained at least 13 financial ‘bribes’ to various groups of people.
At European, national and local level, politicians think they can Lord it over us, the plebs. Well, Mr Barroso, Mr Van Rumpoy, Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, Mr Milliband, Cllr Perry (Leader Hants CC), Cllr Carr (Leader Test Valley BC), WE THE PEOPLE have had enough of your arrogant nonsense. UKIP’s approach is a breath of fresh air, one the people of this country are turning to for salvation, despite the best efforts of the ‘elite’ and the biased national media to ignore, ridicule or terrorise the only truly democratic party this country has now.
Whoever did this deserves the kicking the electorate will give them the next time they have the chance to put an “X” on a ballot paper.