“The road to the Houses of Parliament winds through the counties, districts, boroughs, towns and parishes we represent.”
So said Paul Smyth, Councillor for Swaffham, Norfolk in June this year, as he passed on some excellent words of advice to the legions of newly elected UKIP Councillors.
I am not sure if UKIP Councillor Caven Vines reads UKIP Daily, but he certainly seems to have taken this sentiment to heart. When Rotherham Council voted to close ten Sure Start centres, Opposition Leader Mr. Vines, offered to give up £11,000 of his council allowance to help keep the children’s centres open. As Mr. Vines said, “every little helps”.
Needless to say this offer was sadly not matched by his political opponents, but what a refreshing contrast to the cynical, self serving breed of politician that has dominated our public life for so long.
More good UKIP people will be needed in power before the old politics can be safely consigned to the scrap heap. In just the past few days, we have seen a Green Councillor in Brighton call the British armed forces “hired killers”, on Armed Force Day no less (that same Green Councillor has form, in 2012 he Tweeted “I only smoke weed when I’m murdering, raping and looting.” Can you imagine the feeding frenzy in the national media if a UKIP councillor had Tweeted that?!). In Leicester UKIP have challenged the council for spending £250,000 of council tax money on art. In Rochdale, a Labour Councillor was found guilty by magistrates of shouting homophobic abuse and fined £1,000. In Peterborough, a Tory councillor has been found guilty of criminal damage.
These are not manufactured smears given inflated prominence by a desperate and partisan media. Each day reveals another criminal, another scandal, in the ranks of the established parties. With each law breaker the people must cry “more UKIP, fewer career politicians”.
Councillor Vines has also shone a light on the turgid local government thinking that does such a disservice to council tax payers. The UKIP group leader asked why council assets could not be sold to fund the children’s centres. He was told that is was not possible to transfer money from asset sales to services within the council budget in this way.
These are exactly the kind of questions that newly elected UKIP representatives should be asking, challenging how things have been done and thinking of new ways of solving problems. If a council has assets, be it property, land, works of art, should we not at least be asking if these could be liquidized to help maintain vital services? Shouldn’t our elected councillors be looking at any way to create revenue, other than relying on taxation? Labour councillor Ken Wyatt, the Rotherham Cabinet member for finance, said “We can’t just sell things and put that money straight into services”. Well, so long as you’ve considered the idea from all angles, Ken.
UKIP won the popular vote in Rotherham in May, roughly 2,500 votes ahead of Labour. Only the way the wards fell kept UKIP in opposition. UKIP are clearly the only party capable of giving Labour a bloody nose in many northern areas where they have had a free ride for far too long. By offering a genuine alternative to Labour (and to the Tories in analogous areas in the south) UKIP are giving people hope. If everyone elected on a UKIP ticket in May can battle the politics of complacency and contempt in the way that Mr. Vines has in Rotherham, then UKIP will keep the votes won in May, and add a bundle more for the general election next year. Our elected UKIP friends have an opportunity to show people that voting UKIP gets UKIP, and that only UKIP deliver real change.
By showing at a local and European level that things can be done differently, that voters don’t have to accept the cancerous consensus of the past 40 years, UKIP’s 370 councillors and 24 MEPs are opening the door to the House of Commons. Just 300 days to go.