In 2015 #ukip promised Fat Cat Farmers they’d keep subsidies on #BREXIT! In 2018 @Conservatives say subsidies will last for at least five years … #FBPE

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BzS7Tq-CEAAeCrbWhen Matthew Goodwin writes Nigel Farage’s biography, I am sure you will, Matthew, perhaps he ought to call it Farage: The Diary of a Foxhunting Man (who liked a tab and a pint down the Stockbroker’s Arms)?

Farage (heading a party of the working man, women need not apply) has been spending a goodly amount of time cosying up to the Country Land and Business Association (formerly the Countryside Landowners’ Association).  Back on July 19th 2014 at Blenheim, Oxfordshire, Farage, a regular Game Fair visitor and shooter, promised that farming subsidies would continue if Britain were to leave the EU.  You know, the money we pay to the EU now that Farage says that, if we were out of the EU, we would use to give the low paid a tax ‘cut’.  You will note, though, that the panel’s response to the shooter’s anti EU stance was not all favourable.  Nice, however, to see that writer and racehorse trainer, Charlie Brooks, has already managed to find (gainful?) employment!

Now, you may be wondering about what Farage’s appearance at a Game Fair has to do with repealing the Hunting Act 2004?  Well, check out this article in the Sunday Express of 28th September 2014.  Yes, Elizabeth Truss (a member of the party of the working class, its trade union that has a bit of a problem with women) thinks devoting Parliamentary time to repealing the Act, if the Tories form the next Government, is more important than other matters which fall within her portfolio.  I am sure her stance is in no way affected by the thought of losing 500,000 votes to ukip.

So we have an organisation devoted to representing the interests of the landed Establishment (a trades union) lobbying two Right wing parties, dominated at the top by members of the Establishment.  And yet, ukip, in particular are the insurgents, the mould breakers, the party of the ‘left behind’, a peasants’ revolt in the making …  The definition of the ‘left behind’ has become very flexible, if it now includes people like country landowners and their neighbours, the peasantry (in the original sense of the word)?

These landowners hardly need ukip’s help to get their points across.  They sought to infiltrate the National Trust and overturn its hunting policy in 1998.  You will note who they did get elected, whose friend he just happened to be and the use of the term ‘political correctness’.  Now take a look at FONT’s slate in 2001.  A number of them, Clarissa Dickson-Wright in particular, ‘forgot’ to mention the reason why they were seeking election.  Ms Dickson-Wright wanted to put her culinary skills at the disposal of the Trust.  All she had to do was volunteer to work in the kitchen at one of the Trust’s properties not go to the trouble of getting elected to its ruling council.  I took particular pleasure in voting against FONT’s slate.  Incidentally, ukipers, the National Trust is more democratic than ukip and a lot more fun (and British) too!

Labour, Matthew Goodwin particularly says, needs to face up to the challenge of ukip.  In this regard, good advice about 200 or so years ago, but today most of us live in urban areas and we have universal suffrage.  It did, however, take from 1949 to 2004 for the will of the people to prevail and a hunting with dogs ban to be enacted.  Matthew is big on ukip addressing the issues of the ‘left behind’ whose interests he, condescendingly and patronisingly, thinks do not extend to matters such as climate change.  Well, Matthew, care to explain the level of support for the Hunting Act to remain in force?  Looks to me like a lot of us (working class boy made good, me), including ukip supporters support the ban.  Our concerns, Matthew, and those of “metropolitan liberals” quite often overlap.  I do wonder if Matthew was spooked by Polly Toynbee during his formative years.  It would certainly explain a lot!

Finally, lest we forget, we are not just talking about allowing people to hunt foxes again, a Christmas card scene, but Bambi’s mother as well.  Let us also not forget the words on a placard (held by a farmer) in a Steve Bell cartoon marking a Countryside Alliance March against the passing of the Hunting Bill, “Give us yer money and eff off our land!”  Well, ukip, just whose side are you really on?  Him and the ruling, rural elite or the rural poor (and the many who support the Hunting Act)?

Michael Gove forced to plough £10bn into farm grants after Brexit

Tally Ho! Unspeakable #Tories & #ukip Pursing Unpopular Repeal of Hunting Act 2004 #StokeByElection

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BzS7TUHCEAAhhc-When Matthew Goodwin writes Nigel Farage’s biography, I am sure you will, Matthew, perhaps he ought to call it Farage: The Diary of a Foxhunting Man (who liked a tab and a pint down the Stockbroker’s Arms)?

Farage (heading a party of the working man, women need not apply) has been spending a goodly amount of time cosying up to the Country Land and Business Association (formerly the Countryside Landowners’ Association).  Back on July 19th 2014 at Blenheim, Oxfordshire, Farage, a regular Game Fair visitor and shooter, promised that farming subsidies would continue if Britain were to leave the EU.  You know, the money we pay to the EU now that Farage says that, if we were out of the EU, we would use to give the low paid a tax ‘cut’.  You will note, though, that the panel’s response to the shooter’s anti EU stance was not all favourable.  Nice, however, to see that writer and racehorse trainer, Charlie Brooks, has already managed to find (gainful?) employment!

Now, you may be wondering about what Farage’s appearance at a Game Fair has to do with repealing the Hunting Act 2004?  Well, check out this article in the Sunday Express of 28th September 2014.  Yes, Elizabeth Truss (a member of the party of the working class, its trade union that has a bit of a problem with women) thinks devoting Parliamentary time to repealing the Act, if the Tories form the next Government, is more important than other matters which fall within her portfolio.  I am sure her stance is in no way affected by the thought of losing 500,000 votes to ukip.

So we have an organisation devoted to representing the interests of the landed Establishment (a trades union) lobbying two Right wing parties, dominated at the top by members of the Establishment.  And yet, ukip, in particular are the insurgents, the mould breakers, the party of the ‘left behind’, a peasants’ revolt in the making …  The definition of the ‘left behind’ has become very flexible, if it now includes people like country landowners and their neighbours, the peasantry (in the original sense of the word)?

These landowners hardly need ukip’s help to get their points across.  They sought to infiltrate the National Trust and overturn its hunting policy in 1998.  You will note who they did get elected, whose friend he just happened to be and the use of the term ‘political correctness’.  Now take a look at FONT’s slate in 2001.  A number of them, Clarissa Dickson-Wright in particular, ‘forgot’ to mention the reason why they were seeking election.  Ms Dickson-Wright wanted to put her culinary skills at the disposal of the Trust.  All she had to do was volunteer to work in the kitchen at one of the Trust’s properties not go to the trouble of getting elected to its ruling council.  I took particular pleasure in voting against FONT’s slate.  Incidentally, ukipers, the National Trust is more democratic than ukip and a lot more fun (and British) too!

Labour, Matthew Goodwin particularly says, needs to face up to the challenge of ukip.  In this regard, good advice about 200 or so years ago, but today most of us live in urban areas and we have universal suffrage.  It did, however, take from 1949 to 2004 for the will of the people to prevail and a hunting with dogs ban to be enacted.  Matthew is big on ukip addressing the issues of the ‘left behind’ whose interests he, condescendingly and patronisingly, thinks do not extend to matters such as climate change.  Well, Matthew, care to explain the level of support for the Hunting Act to remain in force?  Looks to me like a lot of us (working class boy made good, me), including ukip supporters support the ban.  Our concerns, Matthew, and those of “metropolitan liberals” quite often overlap.  I do wonder if Matthew was spooked by Polly Toynbee during his formative years.  It would certainly explain a lot!

Finally, lest we forget, we are not just talking about allowing people to hunt foxes again, a Christmas card scene, but Bambi’s mother as well.  Let us also not forget the words on a placard (held by a farmer) in a Steve Bell cartoon marking a Countryside Alliance March against the passing of the Hunting Bill, “Give us yer money and eff off our land!”  Well, ukip, just whose side are you really on?  Him and the ruling, rural elite or the rural poor (and the many who support the Hunting Act)?

BzS7Tq-CEAAeCrb

#ukip Would Scrap #ChildrensCentres & #SureStart! #ThanetSouth

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Well, well, well …  Who knew it?  ukip’s latest policy on welfare was out there all the time!  Basically, they aim to be tough on those in poverty and well to the right of IDS when it comes to social policy.

How do I know this?  I was chatting with someone the other day about ukip’s all things to all men (women know your place!) Bedroom Tax policy and I mused about where they stood on other Social Security issues.  My friend sent me this link to their last set of policies.  One of which alone kills dead the idea that ukip would really stand up for the left behind, the axing of Sure Start.

Yes, I know, we must await the much anticipated Manifesto, whose unveiling has become like a particularly arthritic Dance of the Seven Veils.  First, it was to appear early this year; next Friday 23rd May, conveniently a day after the European Elections; then later in the summer; then later this month, but the last I read was that only a few key policies would be unveiled in Doncaster.  Would they be those of which Farage has already spoken?  For example, the National Minimum Wage and tax ‘cuts’ policy and the ones listed in this article?  Until they repudiate their previous anti-poverty proposals then we may assume that they are still current or, at the very least still being considered for their Manifesto.

Sure Start, established under Labour; a major issue at the last General Election and broadly supported by the mainstream parties is practically the quintessential policy for helping the left behind within a few years of their leaving their cradles.  It is a lot less controversial and judgmental than the current government’s Troubled Families Programme.  Troubled Families expects almost overnight easily measurable outputs and outcomes.  We will not know the full impact, good and/or bad of Sure Start until the first cohort of beneficiaries reaches the age of 18.  Anyone who thinks Sure Start to be a waste of money is either ignorant, stupid and/or cares nothing for those who start their lives at the rear of the convoy and who steadily fall behind as the voyage progresses.  No wonder Nigel Farage studiously avoids discussing ukip’s social policies in any open forum.

Sure Start, based on Head Start in the United States of America, aims to prevent poor children, often from very deprived areas, from experiencing an opportunity gap opening up between them and the children of those in higher income groups.  Put simply, if the poorest children do not get a hand up before the age of 5 then in most cases they will never improve on the position at which they started.  Truly, these children are the left behind.

I am in no way criticising the parents of these disadvantaged children.  Many were themselves disadvantaged and could not break out of the poverty trap.  Unlike so many of the Commentariat and the likes of Matthew Goodwin, I have grown up alongside them, met them and those working with them (and supported both during my career).  I have not, Gradgrind like, sat at my computer and written reports, recommendations and so forth after just reading the latest statistics, opinion polls and the comment pieces of others.  I suspect many of you reading this now have done the same as me and share my respect and awe for the efforts to which these parents (and families) go to try and give their children a better start in life than they had.  Sometimes it is heartbreaking to think what the future may hold for these children.  Sure Start is all about giving the poorest children a more than even chance of breaking out of the cycle of poverty.  Crucially, it also helps their parents to help themselves to improve their lot and thus the lot of their children.

Poverty is about more than just money, as important as that is to getting out of it, it also denies people the chance to experience new things and different cultures.  It denies them the opportunity to go to art galleries, the theatre, the cinema, in fact to enjoy the rich and varied culture of our society and other societies that many, not in poverty, take for granted.  I must confess I am a Bevanite snob, if it is good enough for them then it is good enough for us!  You might even call me a Champagne Socialist.  I have tried it, do not like it, but like a glass or two of port after a good dinner.  And yet I sprang from the working class in what still is one of the poorest parts of Birmingham.  And although Children’s Centres, a key component of Sure Start, do not I assume promote the drinking of port, they do in part aim to broaden the horizons of children.

There is something else about Children’s Centres.  They are non means tested.  Consequently, there was at least a hope that children across social groups and income levels would mingle and learn a bit about each other, thereby, promoting community cohesion and understanding.  Who knows, they might just develop the friendships, networks and connections for which some parents send their children to private schools, public schools and Oxbridge.  More than a touch of social engineering there?  I am not sure if that has come to pass.

Locally, Labour rolled out the centres in three tranches, starting with the hardest to help areas.  The Tories, on coming to power in Birmingham scaled back the third phase, but then the deprived children of Falcon Lodge might have met and played with the well off children of the rest of Andrew Mitchell’s Constituency of Sutton Coldfield, one of the most affluent areas outside of London and South East.  We cannot have the kids off the estate learning that only money separates them from their ‘betters’, can we?

Story Wood Children’s Centre (previously Brambles/Sure Start Kingstanding) is one of the Children’s Centres I had the pleasure to visit in my time as a Civil Servant.  Story Wood is at the heart of the community it serves and is on the site of Story Wood School.  Some of the detail of what the Children’s Centre does is here.  For me, Children’s Centres are my kind of Socialism and something of which to be unashamedly proud.  I visited one a couple of times at a Junior and Infant School that I used to attend.  And that was a very deprived area (in terms of money) when Mom, Dad, my brother and me lived there.  Thankfully, things have improved somewhat and I helped a little with some of that improvement in recent years.

Whilst talking about ukip policies more generally, I would observe that Children’s Centres operate under the auspices of local authorities, but not all are run by them.  Lakeside was set up by Enta, a widely respected Voluntary and Community Sector organisation and like a lot of Children’s Centres engages in a variety of ways with the parents who use the Centre’s services.  Jargon like empowerment springs to mind, but not ukip’s ‘Power to the People’ ideas.  Helping to run a Children’s Centre your children attend is power to the people.  Closing it is not.

Were ukip to have its way then closing Children’s Centres would leave the left behind, both children and parents further behind; put trained professionals in a variety of child related disciplines out of work; remove community centres from communities with few or no other community facilities; waste a lot of money in a variety of ways and I suspect leave more than a few children heartbroken.  Thankfully those who use and have used the centres are not easily fooled (which is a sign they are working).  They made the survival of their centres an issue in the last General Election.  David Cameron said none would be closed on his watch.  Somewhere in the region of 250 have gone, but a network remains, even where authorities are Tory run.  The equivalent of the NHS of the First Age has developed deep roots, thankfully.

Replacing Early Years’ Funding, Sure Start, the childcare element of Working Tax Credit and the tax relief on Employer Nursery Vouchers into a flat-rate, non-means tested Nursery Voucher to cover approximately half the cost of a full-time nursery place is no answer to the challenges facing the children of the left behind.  The bulk of the funding being replaced by the voucher currently goes on the left behind.  Under ukip, the likes of David (I claimed Disability Living Allowance) Cameron would get some of the money if he used a voucher.  ukip proposes a simplistic answer to a complex set of problems and moves money away from where it is most needed.  Could they be seeking the votes of Tories with a non means tested voucher?

And for any ukiper who has read this far, rather than posting a comment accusing me of a smear and/or being a paedophile, Children’s Centres provide childcare, support for lone parents and employ a lot of women.  Is your blood boiling now?  If you closed Children’s Centres you would reduce the amount of childcare, possibly pushing up the price of that remaining.  We know you do not like lone parents, women in the workplace and seemingly women in general.  However, let me cause you some more grief, men are lone parents too and men work in childcare.  One of the latter I met had worked on the track at Rover before being made redundant.  Oh, and around 8% of HGV drivers are women!

If Labour (and to a great extent) the other mainstream parties have left people behind through Sure Start then we are guilty as charged.  Perhaps this policy is further proof that ukip is seeking to attract and retain the support and votes of the poorly educated, uncultured and those seemingly lacking in empathy?  Why does one need to have a reading age of more than seven, because with it you can comprehend The Sun?  Why do you need to know the difference between a Hindu, a Muslim and a Sikh?  They are all ‘foreigners’, are they not?  And, if you start developing emotional intelligence then you might just realise that the Muslim family down the road or the lone parent around the corner has a harder life than you.  Why is this starting to sound familiar?  These are the tunes played by the Hard Right since time immemorial.  Divide and conquer, divide and rule.

#RochesterandStrood Questions For @MarkReckless Of #ukip About Social Security #WOW #RochesterStrood

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Will you, Mark Reckless of ukip, call for the repeal of the Bedroom Tax (rather than continue with ukip’s pointless we oppose the Bedroom Tax line)?

In fact, if re-elected, will you vote in favour of the Private Member’s Bill seeking to reduce the impact of the Bedroom Tax?

Will you go into the lobby with Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat and other opposition party MPs to support this bill?

Will you call for:

the urgent reform of the ESA/WCA process, that has brought death and misery to so many since May 2010?

a scaling back of the JSA sanctions regime?

a return to effective, proven support to help people into work?

the scrapping of the Work Programme?

an end to contracting out by DWP?

the Government to do more to ensure that people in receipt of Social Security payments, Tax Credits etc get all of the money to which they are entitled?

the Government to make serious efforts to increase take up of Social Security, Tax Credits etc?

the Government to scale back DWP’s fraud efforts and transfer the freed up resources to tackle tax fraud and alegal tax avoidance?

the Government to scrap Universal Credit?

the Government to return Universal Jobsmatch to its default settings?

the Government to rethink it’s policy of Digital by Default?

the Government to make significant changes to PIP?

more money for Council Tax Benefit?

a review of the various Social Security changes that have made life worse for those on low incomes since May 2010?

a concerted cross party campaign against the vilification of the working poor and those on Social Security?

Will you, in fact, Mark Reckless dispel the rumours and comments put about by ukip’s supporters that ukip thinks IDS has been soft on those in receipt of Social Security?

Of course, many of the the above questions may be put to all those standing in Rochester and Strood, and in every other constituency, in next year’s General Election. The GE campaign is now well under way.

Go get them, chaps!