Answering Redwood’s Questions

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I have a high regard for John Redwood, who I believe is one of the most decent men in politics.  In fact he wrote the preface to my most recent book “Sceptic at Large”, and I was most grateful for that.

But here we are with an election looming, so it’s all hands to the pump, and criticising other parties becomes de rigeur.  John has joined in, but as you might expect of such a man, in a measured and indeed rather academic way.  He asks a series of questions.  Asking such questions is a time-honoured tradition, but it does carry the risk that someone will answer them.  Here goes.

1. Would it continue to be UKIP party policy not to try to amend or block much EU legislation, leaving the detailed work of the Parliament to others?  It would not continue to be our policy, because it never was our policy.  We do rather take the view that there’s quite enough EU legislation and we don’t want to create any more, but we do also work very hard, in committee and in plenary, to “amend and block” EU legislation, and to limit the damage for our constituents and our country so far as we can.  And I may say, having experienced both the Tory Party and UKIP, that UKIP MEPs get rather better pre-vote briefings than the Tories.

2. Should people wanting an MEP to represent their view in Brussels look to MEPs of the other parties, given UKIP’s view on the irrelevance and undemocratic nature of the EU?  Given that we’re elected by voters who generally share that view, I should think they’re getting exactly what they voted for.  The many thousands – sometimes millions – who watch Nigel Farage’s speeches on YouTube clearly feel he’s doing rather a good job of representing their views. 

3. Would UKIP MEPs continue to draw salaries and allowances whilst not wishing to be participating Parliamentarians in a full sense? What will the support money to spent on?  The labourer is worthy of his hire, and UKIP MEPs largely do participate in the full sense.  They just have different objectives from the €uro-luvvie cannon-fodder that constitutes the majority of MEPs, but they pursue those objectives with equal (or greater) vigour.  In my own case I have a plenary voting rate close to 90%, in the top quartile.  But I respect the views of colleagues who place more emphasis on political work in their home regions.  In a smaller party, there is relatively greater pressure on the party leader and deputy leader to do a range of other additional tasks which reduces their voting participation rate.  This is exactly what you find with the leaders of the old parties, whose voting participation rates in Westminster in the current parliament are 36% (Miliband); 23% (Clegg) and 17.4% (Cameron).  Pots and kettles, John, pots and kettles.  UKIP MEPs spend their support money in similar ways to most MEPs – on staff, and on communication with their voters and constituency.

4. How would the presence of UKIP MEPs speed the UK’s exit from the EU ?  What have the current UKIP MEPs done to speed our exit?  Well we forced Cameron into another Referendum promise.  We have the Tory Party running scared on Europe.  We will probably force Labour to make a referendum commitment too.  We have led and driven and rallied support for British Independence, and made it a main-stream concern.  And we have struck a blow for democracy by offering voters, at last, a genuine choice.  We are the only significant party that takes a clear and unequivocal position on the EU – and on a range of other issues.  So Redwood may be right that a wedge of UKIP MEPs after May can’t directly take the UK out of the EU.  But we’ll be able to put enormous pressure on the British political establishment to end Brussels hegemony.

5. How will UKIP MEPs be whipped to ensure the elected party sticks together and delivers in relation to its manifesto?  Redwood is right (sadly) to point out that in the 2009/14 parliament, a number of UKIP MEPs have fallen by the wayside.  In 2009 we were fairly astonished by our success, and a number of candidates got in that had not necessarily been expected to succeed.  In 2014, by contrast, we have had a much more rigorous and open selection process.  I can’t promise that every one of our candidates will be perfect (any more than Redwood can of Tory candidates), but I can say we’ve got an impressive bunch, and I hope to see rather a lot of them in the parliament in July.  As for whipping, one of the great strengths of our party is that we try to get good people elected who will vote in the interests of their constituents, and we tend to run on light or advisory whips.  But because we share common objectives, we tend to vote together

John adds that “some UKIP supporters see the euro-elections as some kind of referendum on the EU”.  Yes we do, John, and I’m one of them.  There are three old parties that all promised EU referendums but failed to deliver; that are all committed, with more or less enthusiasm, to staying in the EU.  It is no use John’s saying ” It makes more sense to recognise the Euroscepticism of the Conservatives, and to accept that it will take Conservative votes in the Commons to sort this problem out”.  I believed that once, but I finally realised I was wrong.  Cameron has said he’ll “fight tooth and nail” in any referendum to stay in the EU.  He’s determined not to be the Prime Minister who takes Britain out of the EU.  No one who is serious about British Independence can vote Conservative ever again.

I concede that there are some genuine eurosceptics in the Tory party.  Carswell, Hannan, Philip Davies, Redwood himself.  But they’re a small and beleaguered bunch.  I would hesitate to give them advice, but at least I can draw attention to my example.  I chose to move from a party where my position on Europe (and, indeed, on energy) was anathema, to a party where my views were mainstream (and where on Day One I was invited to become the Party’s Energy Spokesman).  And genuine eurosceptics are always welcome in UKIP.

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27 Responses to Answering Redwood’s Questions

  1. Me_Again says:

    Long awaited rebuttal, but well worth the wait for all that…..
    Thanks Roger I will pass this around.

  2. UKIP Cllr Christopher Browne says:

    Well said Roger but frankly I can’t take these so called Tory Eurosceptics seriously, if they were committed to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU it must be obvious even to them that the Tories wont do it, and that a move to UKIP is the only course to take.
    But career and pensions hold sway.

    • Chris says:

      Hannan has been described as Myrtle the sheep. Leading the animal to slaughter but saving its own life. Leading Tory waverers back to the party on the basis of empty promises.

  3. Anyoldiron says:

    As a once Conservative Voter (although never have been “in” any Political Party or Organisation) I now recognise THAT ALL THREE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES WANT TO REMAIN IN THE EU-FOREVER. SO FOR ANYONE THAT WANTS FREEDOM FROM ‘FOREIGN RULE’ THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO POINT IN VOTING FOR ANY ONE OF THOSE THREE POLITICAL PARTIES ANY MORE-whether for the EU Parliament or the UK Parliament.

    Think the Conservatives want to come out of the EU? Well here is a little if the speech from The Rt Hon Edward Davey MP Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and if the Conservatives want OUT, why are they bothering about what the EU wants for 2030? ” I’m grateful to you – the CBI and the Prince of Wales EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change – for this chance to set out a vision for a robust European Union Energy and Climate framework for 2030″. Etc. Nuff said eh!.

    • Thanks Anyoldiron. I saw in the paper today that an EU apparatchik said “We’re assuming the UK will leave the EU, so we’re not bothered about upsetting them”. A straw in the wind, perhaps.

      • cosmic says:

        I get the impression that there’s a school of thought in the EU, that the UK doesn’t fit in, has dragged its heels over the Euro and generally, and they’d heave a sigh of relief if we left.

        I’m not sure how influential it is.

        It might be that everybody who’s anybody sometimes thinks they’d be best rid of us, but there are relatively few who think that way consistently.

        I doubt there’s any sympathy for special pleading and treaty changes giving the UK a privileged position.

  4. Linda Hudson says:

    cannot argue with your summing up Roger!

  5. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Thank you Roger. I hope the Euro Luvvies get turned over/out, and that it greatly assists in the demolition of the EU machine as we now know it.
    I know little about any rumblings in the EU membership similar to UKIPs activities here. Perhaps if you get time you might be able to list the member states that have a UKIP type. That would be those that threaten coalitions (or whatever). I think Holland is one – Gert Wilders. The others perhaps need the loans ?

    I note Vaz apparently managed to welcome a phsyco criminal (druggy) into UK of late. And that is just the tip of the imports. I’ll carry on washing my own cars I think..

  6. David says:

    Question to Redwood, If your party ar eurosceptic, never mind the other two groups, why were there only 18 who voted for a referendum before the end of this parliament, out of over 600
    How eurosceptic is that. Pretenders more like.

    Me Im not eurosceptic, I detest the bstds in the eu, rumpy,. barrososad.

  7. Chris says:

    A good response from Roger: logical, respectful and precise.

    There is only one party, which is clear about leaving the EU, and that is UKIP, which is why it will be getting my vote this May.

  8. DICK R says:

    If they are so committed then if just one or two of them would only resign and force a bye election, standing as a UKIP candidate ,they may earn a little more respect , but it seems as ever that their precious careers trump any duty to the country.
    Cash, for one, has made a career out of being a ‘euro sceptic ‘, he is nearing the end of his political days, so what is stopping him ?

    • Me_Again says:

      Very good points. Be especially useful that if they fear election disaster by crossing now, if they got elected as Tories then crossed the floor……
      Still I’d much prefer it if a Labour MEP/MP crossed.
      I like to dispel the silly notion that we’d all vote Tory if they were more eurosceptic or something. I’d rather cut my fingers off than put an x in the box for any of the usual suspects.

  9. cosmic says:

    One problem Mr. Redwood has is that the Conservatives put in an effort at appearing to be the most promising option for anti-EU voters, but their actions over many years, point the other way. They are not in the slightest degree an anti-EU party, judged on their record over decades.

    The Conservatives’ position of making anti-EU noises, and hinting at reforming the EU away from what it was designed to be, by means which have never been made clear, is a fraud. Voting for them because of their carefully crafted and completely deceptive line, on the grounds that it makes them sound potentially in favour of withdrawal, is rewarding deceit.

    Generally, Mr. Redwood appears to be a member of a party which in practical terms, has very little sympathy for his stances.

  10. George Morley says:

    I know that many of my friends would vote for UKip if they had the vote. Being an ex-pat living in Canada and having left over 15 yrs ago I have no vote but many still do. Would UKip restore the vote to all ex-pats ? After all we have our pensions controlled by Westminster and are assessable for tax to the UK and should have access through the ballot box to address any problems as we are all British citizens still although you would not think so by the great effort that the current lot in parliament by doing their damnest to keep us frozen and for future emigrants to certain favoured countries by having clause 20 in the new Pensions bill which is a carbon copy of the regulation that denies us any annual uprating.

    • Me_Again says:

      Interesting points I would certainly vote for pension equality. It is outrageous.
      The vote though, that’s an interesting point. I can see both sides. You are a Brit [presume you haven’t gone Canadian] but you choose not to live here. Interesting.

      • George Morley. says:

        Well life is very unpredictable. My wife died and my family were grown up and I was alone as they were scattered and I met a lady who had children in Canada and on retiring we moved there. Had I been asked years before emigration It would never have come to mind but really that is irrelevant in respect of the pension. The freezing is against the pensioner and not the country to which one moves in retirement as the country has nothing to do with it, being as it is purely a government regulation that imposes the freezing. All pensioners that are frozen out have paid the same contributions as those that get the indexing and looking at the complete picture there are about 13 million pensioners worldwide of which 12 1/2 million get the indexing and half a million are frozen. That is the real problem. The figures are approximate for ease of explanation but near enough to show the discrimination that is being continually used against a minority of citizens with no justification. Answers from the DWP say that they cannot afford it while the government give billions in aid which is creditable but cannot afford half a billion for their own citizens who have paid for the pension. Also the National Insurance Fund is in a healthy surplus of about 25 billion. Yes, the surplus is used by government as they borrow this money, through the Debt Management Office, for other things but the prime purpose was to pay the pensions and we maintain that as the contributions were mandatory then the payments should also be mandatory with any borrowing taking place after the pension commitment has been met. To do otherwise is discrimination and against the Commonwealth Charter signed last March by Her Majesty the Queen which says that “We are implacably opposed to discrimination of any kind “.
        This is no doubt an embarrassment to her and an indictment on the government which shows a lack of integrity by the government ministers who effectively signed it. I would add that most of the frozen pensioners are in the ‘family’ of Commonwealth countries. Some family ! The DWP also take no account of the saving to the UK because they are not there to have the many benefits available to those who live in the UK and the EU. which would include the NHS, prescriptions, bus passes, winter heating allowance and many others estimated to be worth over 3000 pounds per pensioner per year making about 1500 million saved. Even considering a saving of 100 pounds each per pensioner per year gives a gain of 100 x 500,000 = entitlement by virtue of the benefit gained but they do not consider this. They talk about reciprocal agreements which they have said are not required to uprate the pension and a Canadian will get his pension uprated wherever he lives in the world including the UK.

      • Me_Again says:

        The only thing I can disagree with George is this “…the government give billions in aid which is creditable…”
        On that I disagree wholeheartedly. It is not the business of government to give away taxpayers money as a charitable donation. Charity is and should always be an individual thing. The way these people throw our money around is utterly appalling, such waste. When you consider that they throw away -to causes some good and some bad- 12billion a year, and are busily slashing the police budget, the defence budget and the welfare budget, I just wonder what the hell they think they’re playing at.
        Worse still, for the first time ever I heard a UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, say that some of the money given on foreign aid is going to good causes/the right place or something like that. for a libertarian that’s heresy.

    • Not sure we have a policy on that, George, but I sympathise with your position — not least because I spent at least a dozen years in SE Asia myself!

  11. George Morley says:

    Thankyou for your response Roger and I have to agree as like the frozen pension issue, there should be no aid before all domestic problems have been addressed which is what I was trying to say. To give India 9 billion , I think the figure was, when they have their own space program is just plain stupid and did I hear that some is going to China ? Good ‘Ole Dave wants everyone to like him by being generous with other peoples money and to hell with doing what is right for the people that he represents. But I suspect not for much longer !

    • catalanbrian says:

      Just to comment on your position George, I quite agree with you on the question of the frozen pensions. There seems to be no logical reason for this and this would indicate that it is just penny pinching by the government. Although I am also an expatriate I am fortunate that as I live in the EU my pension is not frozen, and it just seems to make no sense for your situation to be any different.

      I have to disagree with your views on aid, as often the money spent on aid is a good investment for the UK. Finally I would point out that the current aid given to India is around £280m, some distance from the 9 billion that you mention.

      • Me_Again says:

        Nice to know we can at least agree on something Brian, the pensions thing is ridiculous.
        However taxpayers money spent without our consent to ‘big up’ business? Effectively to bribe others. Well it doesn’t work anyway does it? The latest failure of public note, having poured in money, billions for sure over time, India bought the French fighters not ours, Pakistan bought Russian subs whilst pursuing its space and missile research -with TAXPAYERS MONEY.
        The abhorrence I feel for spending working people’s money this way is similar to that I felt when Gordon the Moron gave all our money to banks.
        It is simply wrong and the stupid supine public put up with it. We are cutting the police budget, cutting the border force budget, cutting the fire brigade budget, the defence budget and still stupidly spending other people’s money to but favour.

  12. George Morley says:

    I would like to add thanks for your comment Caralanbrian and maybe the India figure was incorrect as I believe the aid was withdrawn or reduced due to public reaction at the time. It would be great to get those ex-pats who do get the indexing though to add more support to changing this policy along with the vote that you in particular are denied over your future in the EU. One thing I would like to know is “Why do the UK HAVE to index the pensioners in a country that joins the EU?” Is it compulsory for all countries within the EU to index their pensioners pensions because to not do so is discriminating against those pensioners ? I just wondered if there is a lever there somewhere that could support our campaign.

  13. DICK R says:

    The disgraceful performance of Kinnock and Mandelson in the lords debate is enough to tell anyone just what is going on.
    Both of these treacherous quislings are in receipt of EU pensions conditional on their continued support of the EU at every opportunity , therefore it can be assumed , that even when speaking in the British Parliament that their first loyalty is not to the people of this country , but to their puppet masters in Brussels , a clearer case of treason would be difficult to find .

    • catalanbrian says:

      I really cannot start to understand why it is that you UKIPPers are constantly fearful of conspiracies surrounding anyone who supports the EU, and accuse those who support the EU of treason, a very serious charge, and which is of course preposterous. For a start you should be aware that any pension received by any EU official is not conditional on their continued support of the EU. Further, can you not get it into your head that these people support the EU because they believe that membership of the EU is good for the UK. Your view is quite the opposite and I assume that you hold it honestly, although I do sometimes wonder, given the outrageous claims made. You accuse pro EU views as being treasonable, and I dare say that the more unhinged members of the pro EU club will consider your views to be equally treasonable on the grounds that withdrawal from the EU would severely damage the UK economy

      • Me_Again says:

        Pensions aside they are both committed europhiles, they’d be more credible if they weren’t sucking on the teat.
        It isn’t that pro-EU views are treasonable, just every leader or minister in each and every government since Teddy Heath, has technically been guilty of an offence against the 1689 Bill of rights, oh and of course the monarch too.

        The reason being that they are knowing accessories after the fact. The fact being that the intent and purpose of the European Union has always been to create a United States of Europe. Such an intent is an offence under that STILL CURRENT ACT OF PARLIAMENT. It is made worse by their conspiring to prevent the truth becoming known to the people, to deride and hide it wherever possible.
        You may or may not believe the EU is good or bad but the law is the law -except if you are rich and powerful or have rich and powerful ‘mates’ – and the law states “And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm.”

        Which said is fairly concise and totally ignored, but still law. So technically, each monarch [there has been only one who is guilty] or government who allows it is guilty directly or as an accessory. But not of course if you are rich/powerful [the two are usually synonymous]

        I hardly think we’d ever be able to get anyone for it, but you never know your luck.

        PS. leaving the EU would not seriously damage the economy it would in fact, as anyone with half a brain knows, release it.

  14. Neil Craig says:

    I find this is one of the minority of John’s pots where I have not left a comment so it is contradictory that I suggest you post this Roger, as a comment on
    there.

    However I have since commented on another of his posts about UKIP that this tactic of effectively saying UKIP & the Tories are the same – it is just that only the Tories will have and use power – may backfire if they place 3rd in the EU elections. It will then be the Tories who are splitting the free market vote not UKIP in at least most of the regions. If the tories don’t want such a split they are able, at any time, to suggest some sort of deal as Lord Pearson did before the last election (though I think his offer was overly generous).

    John is one of those I would very much welcome in a free market coalition, but the ball is in their court. Alteernately if the Tories really disagree with our policies they should say so, why, and what their better ones are. – that is democracy. Not offering an alternative and insisting you have a right to people’s votes isn’t, and won’t work if you don’t have the voting force to enforce it.

    • Me_Again says:

      “If the tories don’t want such a split they are able, at any time, to suggest some sort of deal as Lord Pearson did before the last election..”

      Now what would be the point of that? Half of UKIP -or more- would walk on the same day. Aah yes so perhaps it would be a good ploy to destroy UKIP as a threat, by winding back its membership……

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