Collapse of Respect & No Shows by BNP & English Democrats Behind Electoral Success of UKIP in Rotherham

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The Rotherham Parliamentary Seat was last contested in 2012 in a by election.  The results in percentage terms were as follows (the figures in brackets are the aggregated Local Authority figures for 2014):

BNP – 8.5 (0)

Conservative – 5.4 (9.5)

English Democrats – 3.3 (0)

Green – 0 (0.7)

Independents – 3 (2.7)

Labour – 46.3 (40.9)

Liberal Democrat – 2.1 (0.2)

Respect – 8.3 (0.7)

TUSC – 1.2 (0.6)

UKIP – 21.8 (44.3)

For the record, Labour’s support fell by 5.4 percentage points; BNP’s by 8.5 (no candidates in 2014); Respect’s by 7.6 and the English Democrats by 3.3 (no candidates in 2014).  All other parties saw their vote share between 2012 and 2014 fall, except that UKIP’s support rose by 22.5 percentage points and that of the Conservative’s by 4.1.

 

 

How We Already Get More Out Of The EU Than We Put In!

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I would like to share with you the details of a project that perfectly illustrates why we can get more out of the European Union than we put into it.

In the early 2000s, I joined the East Birmingham and North Solihull Regeneration Zone as its Employment Development Manager. I had recently completed a tour of duty within the Employment Service and I was being transferred to a new role monitoring the ES’s European Social Fund Co-Financing contracts in Birmingham and Solihull. An important, but mundane position in comparison with the jobs I had held with the ES in the previous ten years or so.

In retrospect, I was probably being rested and, tactfully, reminded that jobs like the one to which I was being moved were just as important as the highflying ones I had been involved with previously. Anyway, I played my face, partly because I had proposed turning down some of those applicants for those very same funds, who had subsequently gone on to receive them. Hardly a good starting point for building a partnership with projects and beneficiaries!

I was offered, co-incidentally, another position (on loan from the ES) to the Birmingham Race Action Partnership, at their request for me, in particular. I took the offer as a great compliment, coming as it did from a critical friend of the ES. If I had not already been working with the Zone, I might well have chosen BRAP over it. Again, thanks chaps for the vote of confidence!

The Zone job resulted from soundings from the local Learning and Skills Council who were overseeing part of the Zone in its embryo stage. I had replaced a senior ES manager on its Employment and Skills Sub Group as both a plenipotentiary for that ES manager and as a (respected, firm, but fair?) project appraiser.

Senior Management gave me the three options from which to choose and I chose the Zone. I became the fifth Development Manager. I think I was the only one such out of the six Zones set up by Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency. I was shortly joined by Development Managers for Enterprise; Economic (Built Environment) Regeneration; Economic (Skills and Training) Development and Community Economic Development. The Zone’s revenue pot was never very big so I advised and supported my colleagues with my expert knowledge; supported them in their roles, not just concerning employment; shadowed and learnt about key areas of social and economic regeneration; undertook project appraisals and led on project developments. We all were multi-tasking. It was exciting, but sometimes tiring work, but not in a Farage sense.

Apologies for the lengthy preamble, but it may help to underpin the following case study. We were approached at the Zone by an inventor seeking to start up a new business. He had been referred to me, because he was exploring the support that would be available to him when he started to recruit staff. In addition, it may have been a way of fobbing him off, but in a positive way.

Actually, he was looking, to begin with, for funding to develop a new recycling process. At the time, there was a lot of controversy about the recycling of Information and Communication Technology, especially Personal Computers. This chap had made a major leap forward in the field. All he needed was a small amount of money to take his idea to the next stage of development.

He needed the money to set up a mini plant to test out the commercial viability of his new process, namely the recycling of PC monitors and, specifically the two glass screens therein. If I remember rightly, the inner screen contained (contains still?) lead, which though it could be recycled, could not be used for glass products, such as, jam jars. Pesky European Union rules forbade the use of the recycled glass in containers that might contaminate their contents, for example the jam in jars. The glass, having limited uses when recycled was not viable, commercially. I gather the monitors were ending up in landfill, possibly leaching into the local environment or being sent to the developing world to be ‘recycled’ in unsafe working conditions. The advent of annoying EU Electrical Goods Recycling Regulations would make these practices illegal and, thereby, create a new opportunity for commercial and not for profit businesses with all the obvious resulting social, environmental and economic benefits.

The chap had approached the commercial business sector for start up finance. They said no, but we will be happy to lend to you, once you have proved that the process is viable. He had patented the process and already had potential customers waiting in the wings so he would not need the money, if the process could be scaled up.

He went to the Department for Trade and Industry. They said, interesting idea, but recycling is not a priority business sector for us. Try AWM and they passed him on to me. Now AWM had access to European Regional Development Funds, which might have been open to him, but EU rules would only allow for up to 50% of his prototype to be funded and he, like all applicants would have to spend his own money before claiming it back from ERDF. ERDF rules allows for public fund grant aid to go to Small and Medium Size Enterprises, but not directly to the likes of Tesco. Not surprisingly, given the risk aversion amongst conventional lenders, ERDF monies for enterprise are rarely enough to fund all the projects approved, in principle, for funding.

I could address the employment aspects of the project and that might lever in funding that might be matched against funding being sought from elsewhere. Few, if any funding bodies, will fund the full costs of a project, but they will consider being part of a cocktail of funding. However, what about all the paperwork, the bureaucracy etc?

The bureaucracy is more than it might be, because most funders distribute funding, courtesy of the taxpayer. Moreover, there are many people out there ever eager to find fault with the spending of public funds. It is a shame that they are rarely as anxious to report the many successes resulting out of ERDF spend, for example. Often the money goes to plucky entrepreneurs (including social enterprises) and the Big Society, in the shape of the long established Voluntary and Community Sector. The VCS existed before David Cameron’s ancestors waded ashore at Pevensey.

We talked about alternative avenues of finance, for example, borrowing from potential customers who would soon need his services to recycle their products, because of the EU. Then we got on to my specialist subjects.

I was looking into potential jobs growth in the Environmental Business Sector and, within that sector, likely job prospects for People With Disabilities. He wanted to employ PWDs, particularly people with learning difficulties. He wanted to do so for social and business reasons.

His process was safe. It had to be to comply with Health and Safety Regulations, imposed on him by national and EU tiers of government. He was creating labour intensive, repetitive manufacturing jobs. He feared that people, who might be easily bored, would not stay very long and that the resulting staff turnover might cost him his business. However, there is a lengthy tradition of PWDs carrying out similar work for the likes of Hornby, the model train manufacturer. He wanted to offer well-paid, hopefully secure jobs to PWDs. He wanted to discriminate.

He could positively discriminate in favour of PWDs, as long as he complied with the Disability Discrimination Act. We, in the ES, could help him do so. We had access, then, to a smorgasbord of funding and support for both him, those applying for his jobs and subsequent employees. We could help him create new, well-paid jobs in manufacturing, courtesy of EU regulations. We could support growth in a new business sector and help a company with the potential to become an exporter to Europe, partly through the Single Market and related regulations.

He had patented the process. European companies, courtesy of the EU Regulations, were eager to pay him for a licence to use his process. Possibly, they might see their way to stumping up some development money.

The Chinese just wanted to buy his patent from him.

As his company was in Stourbridge (outside of our patch), I put him in touch with colleagues at the Jobcentre in the town and a sister RZ. Stourbridge has a history of glassmaking. He had set up in a building linked to the industry. I think he was local. I am sure he had a relative who was a PWD.

All the guy wanted to do was to get his business off the ground, make some money and put something back into the community. It was not the EU stopping him making his dream a reality, was it?

PS What is there not to like about what this chap wanted to do? His idea ticked all the boxes and, if he had got money from the EU, the return for the taxpayer from each pound would have been more than a pound.

The business would have been paying taxes, as would the employees. Some of them may have come off social security. In addition, it is not every day, PWDs, particularly those with learning difficulties get the chance of a well paid, fulfilling job in the private sector. And the environment would have benefited too.

Priceless, as the ad says (or what)?

Alas, like many people I had the pleasure of helping during my career, I do not know what happened next. I would very much like to know though!

How Many Votes Did It Take To Elect An MP In 2010? Part 3 Wales

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Liberal Democrats: 98,388 votes to elect each of their 3 MPs; 20.1% of the total number of votes cast.

Plaid Cymru: 55,131 votes to elect each of their 3 MPs; 11.3% of the total number of votes cast.

Conservatives: 47,841 votes to elect each of their 8 MPs; 26.1% of the total number of votes cast.

Labour: 20,446 votes to elect each of their 26 MPs; 36.2% of the total number of votes cast.

And UKIP? 35,690 votes to elect 0 MPs; 2.4% of the total number of votes cast. If UKIP really wants to surge in Wales.  I think that will happen only in their dreams!

How Many Votes Did It Take To Elect An MP In 2010? Part 2 Scotland

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Conservatives: 412,885 votes to elect 1 MP; 16.7% of the total number of votes cast.

SNP: 81,897 votes to elect each of their 6 MPs; 19.9% of the total number of votes cast.

Liberal Democrats: 42,315 votes to elect each of their 11 MPs; 18.9% of the total number of votes cast.

Labour: 25,256 votes to elect each of their 41 MPs; 42.0% of the total number of votes cast.

And UKIP? 17,223 votes to elect 0 MPs; 0.7% of the total number of votes cast.  If UKIP really wants to surge they will have to start to campaign for a Yes in September!

How Many Votes Did It Take To Elect An MP In 2010? Part 1 England

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Greens: 258,954 votes to elect 1 MP; 1.0% of the total number of votes cast.

Liberal Democrats: 141,306 votes to elect each of their 43 MPs; 24.2% of the total number of votes cast.

Labour: 36,871 votes to elect each of their 191 MPs; 28.1% of the total number of votes cast.

Conservatives: 33,325 votes to elect each of their 298 MPs; 39.6% of the total number of votes cast.

And UKIP? 866,633 votes to elect 0 MPs; 3.5% of the total number of votes cast. If UKIP really wants to surge they will have to start to campaign for an end to First Past The Post!

UKIP, after all, does benefit from a Johnny Foreigner inspired electoral system every five years!

Is UKIP Serious About Winning Seats at Westminster?

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UKIP may well top the poll in terms of vote share in the Euro Elections on Thursday 22nd May, but to what end?  UKIPers seriously do think that coming first in an election to an institution, which UKIP says is pointless, counts as a political earthquake.

If, however, UKIP were serious about winning seats in the only Parliament that counts, when it comes to enacting legislation to put an In/Out Referendum to the UK electorate, then it would surely focus time, resources and money on winning elections within the UK that would help it gain seats at Westminster.  Therefore, the results that really count for UKIP on May 22nd are not the Euro ones, but the parochial local authority contests taking place across England and in Northern Ireland.

As any party campaign strategist will tell you, local authority Councillors are the boots on the ground that you need to raise your party’s profile in local areas.  It is not Quantum Mechanics to say that, if you want to be a serious contender to win seats at Westminster, then you need locally elected representatives of your party undertaking the ‘mundane’ work of Councillors and, crucially campaigning all year round with all that implies.

One might almost be led to think, by the decision to field Roger Helmer in Newark, that the party has no serious wish to win the seat.  Were there no more emollient, less controversial characters from which to chose a candidate, perhaps even a woman?  Someone well placed to maximise the expected protest vote in the by election?  Or are more controversial statements and gaffes, forests of column inches, extended media coverage and Nigel Farage appearing on every programme on the BBC (with any tenuous link to politics) more important than finally securing a seat in Parliament through the ballot box?  Is UKIP, instead, hoping to gain a seat through yet another (fag end of a Parliamentary term) defection by a well past his sell by date, hard right Tory backbencher?  A Roger Helmer of Westminster, in fact.

Without any likelihood of there being a referendum for many years, UKIP and its supporters are putting sizeable efforts into electing a group of their members into, in their opinion, a moribund institution.  These lucky individuals, predominantly white, male, middle aged and well heeled can look forward to five years of honing their expenses claims skills, whilst doing next to nothing to constructively represent their constituents and the UK in Brussels and Strasbourg (and the wider world).  And, whilst doing nothing they will at every opportunity bellyache about the institution that they are doing their best to undermine from within, one expenses claim at a time.  And, just in case any UKIPer is reading this, it is your taxes that pay for their generous expenses, allowances, research trips etc.  Their extravagant expenses (as UKIP themselves refer to them) are part of our subscription to the European Union.

Of course, if turkeys had a vote, they would probably not vote for Christmas, so perhaps we should not be surprised that UKIP’s would be MEP turkeys are quite happy for their party to commit significant resources to get them elected to well paid sinecures (funded out of the purses of their fellow taxpayers).  Resources that would surely be better used to get them the political leverage within the UK to bring about their collective heart’s desire, an In/Out Referendum, if they were serious about obtaining one?

Aneurin Bevan said, “How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political power to keep wealth in power?  Here lies the whole art of Conservative politics in the twentieth century.”  UKIP have assiduously studied and copied this art, whilst at the same time absorbing it through osmosis, courtesy of ex Tories like Mr Helmer.  No slouch he at completing a European Parliament expenses claim.  Should he lose in Newark, he will be able to drown his sorrows at length as a newly elected MEP.

Whatever else UKIP’s supporters may or may not be, they are looking more and more like mugs, easy prey for a bunch of hardened expense account liggers.  Liggers who know as much about the lives of the people whose votes they are soliciting as David Cameron knows about what it is like to live on JSA, with no hope of getting a job.

More North/South Divide Statistics

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Area A (figures as at August 2013)

Percentage of resident population claiming:

Jobseeker’s Allowance = 6.4.
Employment and Support Allowance & Incapacity Benefit = 7.4
Lone Parents = 2.1
Carers = 2.0
Others on income related benefits = 0.5
Disabled = 1.4
Bereaved = 0.2

Key out-of-work benefits = 16.4

Area B (figures as at August 2013)

Percentage of resident population claiming:

Jobseeker’s Allowance = 4.4
Employment and Support Allowance & Incapacity Benefit = 9.9
Lone Parents = 1.9
Carers = 1.8
Others on income related benefits = 0.6
Disabled = 1.5
Bereaved = 0.2

Key out-of-work benefits = 16.8

Area C (figures as at August 2013)

Percentage of resident population claiming:

Jobseeker’s Allowance = 4.4
Employment and Support Allowance & Incapacity Benefit = 7.4
Lone Parents = 1.5
Carers = 1.6
Others on income related benefits = 0.4
Disabled = 1.1
Bereaved = 0.1

Key out-of-work benefits = 13.7

Area D (figures as at August 2013)

Percentage of resident population claiming:

Jobseeker’s Allowance = 3.4
Employment and Support Allowance & Incapacity Benefit = 5.5
Lone Parents = 1.4
Carers = 1.0
Others on income related benefits = 0.3
Disabled = 0.9
Bereaved = 0.1

Key out-of-work benefits = 10.6

Great Britain (figures as at August 2013)

Percentage of resident population claiming:

Jobseeker’s Allowance = 3.2
Employment and Support Allowance & Incapacity Benefit = 6.1
Lone Parents = 1.3
Carers = 1.3
Others on income related benefits = 0.4
Disabled = 1.2
Bereaved = 0.2

Key out-of-work benefits = 10.9

Source: DWP benefit claimants – working age client group

 

Key out-of-work benefits includes the groups: job seekers, ESA and incapacity benefits, lone parents and others on income related benefits. See the Definitions and Explanations below for details
Note: % isa proportion of resident population of area aged 16-64DWP Working-Age Client Group

The number of working-age people who are claiming one or more key DWP benefits. The key benefits are: bereavement benefit, carer’s allowance, disability living allowance, ESA and incapacity benefit, severe disablement allowance, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, and widow’s benefit. The age at which women reach State Pension age is gradually increasing from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and April 2020. Throughout this period, only women below State Pension age are counted as working age benefit claimants.”

The total count is broken down by statistical groups. These categorise each person according to the main reason why they are claiming benefit. Each client is classified to a single group.

Benefits are arranged hierarchically and claimants are assigned to a group according to the top most benefit they receive. Thus a person who is a lone parent and receives Incapacity Benefit would be classified as incapacity benefits. Consequently, the group lone parent will not contain all lone parents as some will be included in the incapacity benefits group and Job seekers groups.

Key out-of-work benefits consists of the groups: job seekers, ESA and incapacity benefits, lone parents and others on income related benefits.

These groups have been chosen to best represent a count of all those benefit recipients who cannot be in full-time employment as part of their condition of entitlement. Those claiming solely Bereavement Benefits or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) are not included as these are not out-of-work or income based benefits. DLA is paid to those needing help with personal care. These people can, and some will, be in full-time employment. If DLA claimants are also in receipt of JSA, IS, ESA or Incapacity Benefits in addition to DLA they will be counted under the relevant statistical group. In addition, we exclude those claiming solely carer’s benefits or claiming carer’s benefits alongside income support, as DWP does not pursue active labour market policies for this group. Carers benefits are paid to those with full time caring responsibilities. The group entitled to Carer’s benefits alongside Income Support (IS) includes around 86,000 claimants and has been stable over time.

This Nomis series is different to that published in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Labour Market Statistics Bulletin (table 25) and on the DWP website at http://83.244.183.180/100pc/wa/tabtool_wa.html (against the link entitled “One-Click” Key Out-of-Work Benefits). This Nomis series uses DWP Jobseeker’s Allowance numbers, whilst the other two series use the ONS claimant count for Jobseeker’s Allowance. Details of the difference between these series can be found at http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/tabtools/differences.pdf