Things are a bit quiet here while I catch up with a backlog of work, but I did find time to speak to That’s Lancashire yesterday and explain how UKIP is needed as much as ever and how Brexit must be delivered.
A few weeks ago I signed up to notifications from the Labour Party. I wanted them to let me know when their manifesto was published. Of course I’ve been spammed by them ever since, with a range of amusing begging letters. They’ve just sent me this:
There it is. It’s been an incredible effort today and we’ve done
everything we can. All that’s left to say is….
…thank you Simon.
Thank you for all you’ve done for this campaign.
When this election was called we knew it would be tough — the Tories wouldn’t have called it otherwise. But together, in less than eight weeks, the Labour movement has achieved so much.
Because no matter how high-tech and well-run this campaign was, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Record breaking donations, huge crowds and thousands of members and supporters campaigning for the first time. We left no stone unturned.
So thank you to the thousands who knocked on doors today and throughout the campaign. The thousands more who made calls, organised campaign centres and helped people to polling stations. Who shared our message online, reminded friends and family to vote, donated and campaigned for what we believe in.
You’ve done the Labour movement proud — both today and over the past 51 days — and we can’t thank you enough for that.
Here’s my reply:
Dear Labour Party,
The time has come for me to reply to your spamming and let you know that my aim over the last six weeks has been to unseat your candidate in Preston, Mark Hendrick. It’s a tricky thing to do in six weeks; Preston has been a Labour sinecure for seventeen years or more.
I used be a member of the Labour Party, but haven’t supported you for a long time, not since some point between the death of John Smith and the beginning of the Blair Terror. I can’t imagine what could possibly convince me to vote Labour ever again; the party no longer represents the ordinary people of Britain. You are irresponsible and dangerous, for Britain and for the world.
Yours very sincerely,
I’ve just seen, or at least heard, Mark Hendrick on my street (in Preston constituency, of course) for only the second time in 17 years. The first time he was in a posse of canvassers during an earlier general election campaign (it must have been 2001, I think). Just now we heard his disembodied voice as we sat down to tea. “Mark Hendrick… Mark Hendrick… today is polling day”. Rushing to the window, there was a white car – looked like a minicab – at the junction at the end of the street, pulling away. Of course I shook my fist and shouted “boo”, but it was too late. And I’m not sure whether it was really him, or just a recording. (I didn’t actually see him, but I’ve come to recognise his voice, of course.)
That is very encouraging. It suggests a level of concern. We’d just been discussing whether yesterday’s attack ad in the Evening Post was significant. In the conversation, someone had said “he must be worried”, just before we heard him, and that person is convinced of it now. It was also pointed out that the Labour Club opposite our house hasn’t put up its usual “vote Labour” posters this year.
So go out and vote UKIP, if you haven’t already. There’s a couple of hours left.
Publication of UKIP’s manifesto for this year’s general election was delayed in response to Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, but the manifesto has now been published and I am proud to make it available here: UKIP manifesto 2017.
I’m pleased to be receiving responses, by email and telephone, to my campaign to be Preston’s next MP. I had had several, mostly supportive and some asking for help with local problems, which help I’m trying to give. But I have also had one, polite, letter of criticism from a voter who thought my campaign team should not have been delivering leaflets on Tuesday, the day after the Manchester terrorist attack. He deserved a full reply, which I take the opportunity of posting here, anonymised:
Thank you for your email. I’m sorry you’re unhappy, but I’m glad you got in touch. I know it can be tricky to write a letter of complaint, and you deserve a proper answer.
There are two leaflets that have been delivered on my behalf this week.
One is an election communication being delivered by Royal Mail. Every house in Preston constituency will have received one by early next week. That delivery is not under my control. Some will have been delivered on Tuesday.
But I think you probably mean the other leaflet, which is my letter to postal voters. That is being delivered by a team of volunteers working on my behalf. Here is what happened.
I am currently away on business, in China. It’s unfortunate that this comes during the election campaign, but I had a professional commitment here which I needed to keep. I arrived here on Tuesday evening (Chinese time, Tuesday morning in England) to hear about the terrorist attack in Manchester. When I checked my email later I learned, via an email from the UKIP leader, Paul Nuttall, that campaigning had been suspended for the day.
In the meantime, my volunteers had responded differently to the call for campaigning to be suspended. Even though delivery of the letter to postal voters was urgent, some had decided that they must not deliver any on Tuesday, because they considered that to be “campaigning”. That’s obviously your view, too. Others took a different view, taking “campaigning” to mean something more narrowly defined. On Tuesday I asked my agent to find out, and in the meantime I sent this message to my leafletters by email:
“Thank you for delivering letters to postal voters on my behalf.
As you know our target was to complete this by the end of tomorrow, Wednesday, so that my message to postal voters reaches them before their postal votes packs arrive on Thursday. I know that deliveries to some wards had been completed by yesterday and that good progress has been made elsewhere. Thank you.
And then, overnight, there was this massacre in Manchester. I’m on business overseas as I write and so I don’t have easy access to British news, but I know that the election campaign has been suspended for today, Tuesday, by UKIP and I think by other parties, too. I also understand that there is some uncertainty about what is meant by “campaigning” – whether or not it includes delivering leaflets, or whether it is limited to things like TV appearances, set-piece speeches, etc. Kieran, as my agent, is finding out about that. And, so, some of you tell me that you have stopped delivering; others that you are carrying on.
This email is to let you know that I am happy and will support you in whatever decision you have made. I know you’ll try your best to complete your delivery rounds by the end of tomorrow; please don’t feel bad if you have to finish the job on Thursday.”
The advice given to my leafletters later on Tuesday was as follows:
“In reference to campaigning, please do continue to deliver leaflets. But refrain from any social media campaigning, and please do not door knock. Engage with the public if necessary but don’t wear your rosettes out on the streets.”
I’m still not sure what is the right thing to have done, but that is the advice that was given to my leafletters and I am happy to stand by their individual decisions because I think they were all made in good faith. There certainly should not have been any canvassing and I don’t think there will have been – we were not planning to do any canvassing this week because our priority was to deliver letters to postal voters.
I understand that campaigning has resumed in earnest now, although I also heard that there was a minutes’ silence today.
Once again I’m sorry that you were unhappy with the approach taken by the deliverers in your area. I’m willing to be held responsible for that but I can assure you that my leafletters and I take this business of the Manchester bombing very seriously indeed.
It’s useful to have feedback, and your email has prompted me to put an anonymised version of my reply on my blog, Standing Up (ukippreston.wordpress.com).
Your postal voting pack will arrive soon. You can help me change the course of the country. Together we really can make a difference.
Please vote for me to be your next MP. You will be voting for a Proud Prestonian who knows Preston well and who cares for Preston and for Britain. I believe in a prosperous future for my home town and my country. Like most Prestonians I supported Brexit in last year’s historic referendum. I am the only candidate in Preston who has always believed that Britain has a brighter future as an independent country.
Only a vote for me, your local UKIP candidate, is an unambiguous vote of confidence in Britain’s future outside the EU. UKIP say we should not pay to leave the EU and should not continue to pay the EU after we have left. We should control our own fishing waters. We should be able to control immigration from the EU. We should begin trade negotiations as an independent country. Did you know that in April Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs voted against these proposals? That’s right – they voted against the clear national interest! (Source: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/votes.html)
We shall have a Conservative government after the 8th of June, probably with an increased majority. Nothing that happens in Preston will change that. As your MP I will support that government when it acts in the national interest and oppose it, vigorously, when it acts against the interests of Britain and of Preston.
And this election is not just about Brexit. Conservative, coalition and Labour governments have served Preston poorly. Young people are being let down. Adult social care and the NHS are in crisis. Police stations and post offices are closing. Fulwood Barracks is closing. Our defence industry is not valued enough. Our energy bills are artificially high. All this is due to the policies of the three old parties. UKIP opposes these policies, and I oppose them. We stand for revitalisation: of trade, of education, of defence. We stand for security: secure borders, secure energy supply, security of strategic industries. We stand for community, for local empowerment, for democracy. That’s why I’m standing for Preston, and that’s why I ask you to vote for me.
As a Proud Prestonian I am delighted and excited to have been chosen to be UKIP’s candidate for Preston in the forthcoming general election. Preston has lacked adequate representation in parliament for many years, and I will change that.
Only UKIP is unequivocally committed to independence for the UK. Voting for me will put pressure on the government to fulfil its promise to respect the wishes of the British people, democratically expressed in last year’s historic referendum.
But Brexit is only part of the picture. Preston has been very badly served by Labour, coalition and Conservative governments for generations, especially in defence and education. Preston needs a new voice to stand up for its interests and the country’s. That voice is mine.
I think UKIP has a reputation for standing up for free speech (our leaflets are often headlined “straight talking”, after all). So I was very interested to read a statement from Colin Hart, of The Christian Institute, expressing concern about Conservative Party plans for a “Commission for Countering Extremism”, as revealed in their manifesto this week. I agree with Colin, and make his words my own. He says, among other things:
“The word ‘extremist’ has been robbed of all meaning by activists who use it against anyone who disagrees with them. We’ve already seen a series of witch-hunts against people with traditional views.
“This Commission on extremism might make a bad situation a whole lot worse.
“People labelled extremists in their own day include Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William Wilberforce and the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
“Today, people like Germaine Greer and Dame Jenni Murray are vilified for ‘extreme’ views on transsexualism that actually represent the views of the great majority of people.”