Saturday, 31 August 2013

Syria: A Crushing Defeat For The Political Class

The wonderful and unexpected news that the government was defeated over military action in Syria has yielded a number of fevered interpretations by the commentariat:

A victory for parliament!

A humiliation for David Cameron!
Yes, but not so grave as many think - whatever Cameron may be, he is capable of a certain class in the way he deports himself, and his courtesy in recalling parliament in the first place and subsequent graciousness in defeat commands some respect. What the defeat did indicate, however, was just how badly he has run down his own stock of political capital through dreadful mismanagement of his party.

A victory for Ed Miliband!

The End of The "Special Relationship"!
You can't destroy something that never existed. However, if it brings about the end of this pathetic delusion, then so much the better.

But long term, the biggest losers of all from the vote are the political class.

As we all know, in recent years ambitious men and women have increasingly used British politics not as a means of serving their country or even as a career on the national stage, but as a stepping stone for greater things. A number of ingenuous career paths have been mapped out:

  • The Warmongering Path (patent holder: Tony Blair).  Join an American-led war on the basis of lies and distortions and become a 'name' in that country as a result. Grow extremely rich on the back of exploiting your new-found international brand recognition.
  • The Corporate Path (patent holder: The Tory Party). The traditional way of acquiring riches post-politics for superannuated Tory politicians, this route long predates the rise of the political class and involves attaining a clutch of directorships on company boards from the personal network you built during your time in politics. However some of the abuses have grown ever more blatant in recent years.
  • The Soft Power Path (patent holder: D. Miliband). Be an ineffectual and bland office holder in a position like Foreign Secretary or foreign aid. Leave British politics for an international charity on a well-renumerated salary.
  • The Euro Path (patent holders: Roy Jenkins, Leon Brittan, Neil Kinnock, Chris Patten, Peter Mandelson). Another old favourite. After a spell in national politics go to the European Commission on a very fat salary and expense account. At one time this used to be regarded as a route for those who had failed at national politics but with the every growing power of the European Union it is increasingly regarded as a first-rank prize.  A variation of this route was piloted by one T. Blair who, after trying everything to get Britain to join the doomed Euro and dodge treaty referendums, fancied the job of President of Europe, mercifully without success.
  • The Spousal Path (patent holders: Tony and Cherie Blair). Marry a high-powered spouse and once in office enact legislation very helpful to their careers and therefore to family finances. The recent European imposition of gender quotas is actually designed with this in mind, but that is a story for another day.
The rejection of military action in Syria has effectively closed the warmongering career path to the political class. Sadly, as you can see above, many other highly lucrative routes still exist.

However, the political class route to fame and riches amongst the new international elite has one central point of weakness: namely, the tiresome necessity of first getting elected as an MP for a constituency you have little affinity or interest in but is a rock solid safe seat you can ignore for your entire parliamentary career.

The rise of UKIP is rapidly choking off this starting point to political careers, and this is by far the most significant event to effect the Political Class. As Donna Edmunds of this parish blogged yesterday, the concept of the safe seat is becoming a thing of the past. Sitting MPs are beginning to notice, and it would be very interesting to analyse how many Tory MPs representing East Anglian constituencies rebelled yesterday, where the UKIP threat is strongest. Ed Miliband's vacillation was similarly motivated by the piling up of UKIP votes in Labour constituencies where previously the vote for that party was weighed rather than counted.

It is not only sitting MPs who will be deeply concerned about the ominous trends: in party research departments somewhere in London, smooth young things will be noticing their careers prospects no longer seem quite so rosy. Whether or not UKIP does win any constituencies at the 2015 General Election really is a second order issue: far more significant will be the rapid decline in the number of 'red monkey' or 'blue poodle' constituencies, where quite literally you could put up a monkey or a dog up as a candidate and it would get elected as long as it was wearing the right coloured rosette. Because of this enormous shift, MP's will be absolutely forced to represent their constituents rather than their parties or careers. Politics will once again be a very risky career to enter into, increasingly left to those who really believe in public service and go into it with passion and conviction.  The hated Political Class looks to be entering decline.

It is tempting for us in UKIP to congratulate ourselves on our undoubtedly major contribution in bringing this about, but we should not so complacent. Up and down the land, those bright and calculating young things will also be noting UKIP's rise and wondering how best to hitch themselves to our wagon. Sooner or later, we will become infected by the chancers, carpet-baggers and unsavoury careerists that have collectively brought down the other parties. Indeed, the process has probably already begun.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Government defeat on Syria? It's the UKIP effect.

Last night, for the first time since 1782, the Prime Minister lost a vote on taking military action. Much of the press and Twittersphere are presenting this as a Labour victory, but in fact the Labour leader’s amendment motion also fell. In other words, the leaders of the largest parliamentary parties lost control of their parliamentary members last night. This is no Labour victory – it is a victory for democracy.
The defeat of the motions has taken the leaders by surprise. British ships were already manoeuvring into position in the Mediterranean, alongside those of the US and Russia. The Parliamentary vote was to have been the equivalent of box ticking before military action commenced.
Yet only 25% of the British people are in favour of British military action in Syria. 50% are against. To those who believe in representative democracy, loss of the vote should have been no surprise at all. If our democracy was truly representative, the margin of defeat should have been much greater than the 13 votes it turned out to be.
It was a surprise because our democracy hasn’t been particularly representative as of late. Polls show that our leaders are on the wrong side of public opinion on a whole range of issues – immigration, climate change spending, Europe to name just three. This military action was to have been yet another issue to add to that list. So what has changed?
Simply, it’s the UKIP effect. MPs up and down the country are starting to realise that unless they represent the opinions of the people who put them in Westminster, those same people have the ability to remove them from that place in 2015. When there was just Lib, Lab and Con to choose from – a conglomeration of intermingled opinions – the public were relatively hamstrung. Many of course simply failed to vote at all. But now there is a credible alternative (and a string of very close defeats in by-elections, as well as wins at local level, have made us credible).
Thanks to UKIP, our Parliamentarians are starting to wake up to the fact that they need to listen to the people once again.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Mike Nattrass loses MEP de-selection case

Mike Nattrass MEP has lost his case against UKIP over his de-selection as an MEP.

Mike was due to retire in 2012 to give his replacement an opportunity to build up their profile with the electorate before the next election but changed his mind.  He subsequently put himself forward for re-selection this year but was turned down.  He says he was turned down unfairly, the judge said "politics isn't fair" and ordered him to pay £9,000 in costs.

The reason why Mike was de-selected hasn't been made public - not even to him - but is likely to be a result of his siding with Nikki Sinclaire when she was in open warfare with the party and for some time after she parted company with UKIP.

The crux of his legal complaint seems to be that the process was unfair.  In emails he and his supporters have sent to members he's cited the lack of a psychometric test for sitting MEPs as a reason why the process is unfair.  But not requiring sitting MEPs to undergo a psychometric test presumes that they've passed so that removes a barrier rather than adding one.  He also says that he wants the membership to decide who should stand and that's what the rules say but the rules were changed some time ago to give the NEC more control over the lists and the membership voted for those new rules.

When the regional lists were released I was surprised to find that Mike's name was missing but it was always a possibility given his recent history with the party which marred many years of hard work and dedication to the party and the eurosceptic cause.  I just can't see where the rules were broken or where Mike or any of the other MEPs were treated unfairly though.

Perhaps now the court case is finished the party's side of the story will be made public so members can take a balanced view on whether Mike was treated fairly.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Want To Know How To Win In The North? Promise Complete Local Control Of Fracking Rights And Revenues

One of the most depression things about the Political Class is not just the cynicism of their decision making but the numbers of opportunities missed due to their myopia and sheer lack of courage.

Cameron, Clegg, Osborne et al. have never taken any risks in life and it shows. Their natural mediocrity means they fail to appreciate just how well people can rise to the challenge given the opportunity.

One such opportunity is fracking, which represents a glorious, perhaps once in a century opportunity to reinvigorate the industrial economy of Northern England and set it on a path to become the proud, wealth-producing region it once was and can be again.

This blog passionately argued that fracking was best exploited by giving local people and council's complete control over fracking rights and revenue-generation. Fracking is after all an intensely local issue, not just in the sense that the resource itself is of course terrestrially defined by local geology, but also by the fact that the gas produced, being a high volume product, is not easily transported. Thirdly, any environmental effects, such as the effects on ground water reservoirs, are largely local as well.

Here was an issue that cried out for genuine localism and a hands-off approach from the Treasury. Instead, Osborne - ever the Political Class schemer - advocated a pathetic level of local renumeration and incentives that is now predictably unravelling before his eyes.

It is now clear that the incentives offered by Osborne will not be enough and that greater local renumeration will be necessary to get local communities to accept fracking. In the meantime, it's start looks like to be depressingly delayed, both lessening the prospects of local regeneration and giving it's enemies more time to organise. However, even if fracking does get off the ground, there is a very real danger that it will become just another 'resource curse' that a visionless, bean counting Treasury and cynical political class will blow for their own short term gain, rather than using this magnificent opportunity to rebalance the economy and allow whole regions to rise from the ashes of deindustrialisation.

Herein lies a fantastic chance for UKIP: a bold scheme that promised complete local control of fracking decision making and revenue collection would likely prove very popular and put rocket boosters under our May 2014 local government campaigns. If a local area decides against fracking - fine - it can vote it down. If it does want it - great. It is highly likely that those post-industrial Northern regions overlying the gas-rich Bowland shale would jump at the chance; UKIP could start to seriously threaten Labour hegemony and truly cement it's position as the second party of the North if it promised to give them the opportunity.

More importantly, it is the right thing to do. Centralised, Westminster control over our economy has demonstrably failed, resulting in the lop-sided, London-centric country we have today. For over 30 years, the post-industrial regions of Northern England have felt side-lined and humiliated. Psychologically, these areas will only ever be reconciled to capitalism when they can fashion it on their own terms, just as they did during the Industrial Revolution. For that to work, they have to be given control over their own destinies that the revenues and cheap energy that fracking promises to allow.

Let's be bold by having faith in the good sense and enterprise of local people and, in the process, outflank the tired and cynical LibLabCon once again.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Telegraph apologises to UKIP IoW candidate for publishing false quotes

The Daily Telegraph have published a correction on their website to an article they published during the May elections falsely attributing extreme remarks to Isle of Wight UKIP candidate Richard Wilkins.

The reporter in question - who has now moved to the Guardian - appears to have lied to the police about recording the phone conversation with the hoax caller.  Lying to the police is a serious enough offence in itself - publishing false statements about a candidate in an election makes it a far more serious offence.

The Press Complaints Commission have carried out an investigation and found against the newspaper and the journalist, Rowena Mason.  The paper have apologised to Wilkins but his good name and reputation has been dragged through the mud and the election unduly influenced.

Wilkins was tipped off about the person impersonating him by a local member of the Conservative Party.  The Chairman of the Isle of Wight Conservative Party also made an allegation at the same time that Wilkins had falsified signatures on his nomination papers.  If memory serves me the word at the time was that the alleged false signature was a member of the local Conservative Party.  Nigel Farage personally intervened in the case and wrote to the Tory Chairman, Alan Wells, pointing out that Wilkins submitted 14 signatures to the elections office when only 10 were necessary and so had no need to falsify any of them.

The evidence suggests a dirty tricks campaign by the local Conservative Party and hopefully Hampshire Police will reopen their investigation into this very serious matter and get to the bottom of who is behind it.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Zombie Tories Today, Zombie UKIP Tomorrow

Stuart Parr blogged yesterday on the astonishing news that Tory membership could be as low as 59,000. Having crunched the numbers, he showed that even taking much more generous estimates of membership that the party, once sitting councillors were excluded, is now almost completely devoid of activists.

No one seems to know exactly how many members the Tory party now has, including the Tory party itself. Rumours circulate of estimates between 59,000, 84,000, 100,000 and 130,000. However membership does seem likely to have slipped below the psychologically important 100,000 mark. Still appreciably bigger than UKIP's of course, but crucially even those members who remain are horrible demoralised, with around half of them no longer campaigning for the party.

The Tories are now a Zombie party. Terrified that it's members and the country will perceive the horrible truth  must surely be the reason why the Tories refuse to release estimates of membership. However, it is another fantastic own goal by it's blundering, arrogant leadership. Refusing to be open about the issue won't stop rumours circulating, and, as is the way with rumours, getting ever more wild over time. More importantly, it is yet another insult to it's poor remaining membership. After all, would you want to be a member of an organisation that refused to tell you even the most basic of information about itself?

Given our own rapid rise in membership, it is very tempting for us 'Kippers to sit back and gloat, and look forward to the wonderful day when UKIP membership overtakes not only the failing Lib Dems but also the weak and sickly Tories.

Not so fast.

The fact is that our structure is as archaic and in desperate need of reform as all the other parties. The era of the rigid silo is well and truly over. In the internet age, political parties will have to take on the characteristics of social networks.  Policy formation, for instance, must be crowd-sourced rather than confined to a closed and select few, and there must be all sorts of models for social engagement and membership.

In no way should the hard work and guts of UKIP activists in getting our party up to a historic high of 30,000 members against the fierce head winds of general voter apathy and alienation be disparaged. However, as the pundit Fraser Nelson never tires of pointing out, something is desperately wrong with party politics in this country when other voluntary organisations and causes routinely have memberships in the millions.  Put UKIP membership figures in that context and it shows just how far we have to go.

The first political party who radically reforms itself on social network lines may see huge increases in membership, and there is a great danger that it won't be us. Nothing is as dangerous as success, as the saying goes, and it is very tempting indeed to think that nothing is wrong and to carry on as we are.

It has been to UKIP's huge luck and advantage that it's principle rival has been lead by people without an original idea in their heads over the last few years. It would be extremely foolish to bank on that luck lasting forever. Facing extinction, there are strong signs that the Tories are now beginning to look seriously at Douglas Carswell's ideas to "spotify" the party. Carswell, perhaps the most brilliant original thinker in British politics today, has already proven the worth of his ideas in his own Tory branch in Clacton. Given his head, he would be far more formidable opponent than dunderheads like Cameron or Grant Shapps.

The political fates are always fickle: although now very seriously wounded, you should never underestimate the Tory party's ruthless instinct for survival. It has still got significant financial resources,  individual though woefully under utilised talent and  residual - though badly tarnished - brand recognition and loyalty. A Tory party returned to it's members and supporters via the social network route could well leave UKIP high and dry, struggling to catch up but without the depth of resources to do so. It is therefore absolutely essential that UKIP is both first and boldest in embracing the new models of social organisation that are an inevitability in the age we live in.

The Tories may be a zombie party, but that is the thing about zombies: they have a very nasty habit of rising from the dead.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Tory membership could be as low as 59,000

The Conservative Party's membership may have dropped to as low as 59,000 according to ConservativeHome.  This would put the Conservative Party's membership at less than double UKIP's.

The Sunday Times and the Telegraph have both done some digging into the Conservative Party's returns to the Electoral Commission and found that only about 3 in 5 accounting units (groups of branches in the Conservative Party's organisational structure) filed returns and of those only about a quarter returned membership figures.

If the Conservative Party's membership has dropped that low (from over a quarter of a million when David Cameron took over as leader 8 years ago) then it's frankly astounding.  It would mean that their councillors made up 15% of their whole membership and that doesn't include parish councillors.  They probably have 4 or 5 times as many parish councillors as they do for the councils above so even allowing for perhaps a quarter of them being double jobbing councillors, as much as 60% of their membership could be made up of their councillors.

Even if the Conservative Party's membership was as high as 100,000 - which appears to be a psychological barrier for the membership - then Conservative councillors could still make up as much as 35% of their total membership.

The youth wing of the Tories, Conservative Future, is struggling to keep and motivate members whilst previously active members are leaving in droves either for UKIP or just turning their backs on politics altogether.  Even with the most optimistic estimate of 100,000 members, the Conservative Party must be completely devoid of activists.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

MEP Candidate Shortlists

The final shortlists for next year's EU elections have been published complete with points scored from the assessment days.  Ballot papers will be sent to members shortly who will decide where the candidates will appear on the regional lists.  The higher up the list a candidate appears, the more likely they are to be elected.

Nigel Farage97
Paul Nuttall89
Janice Atkinson88
Patrick O'Flynn87
Stuart Agnew86
Ray Finch85
Jonathan Arnott85
Roger Helmer85
Paul Oakley83
Gerard Batten82
Godfrey Bloom81
Margot Parker81
Tim Aker81
Andrew Smith81
Michael McManus80
Jill Seymour80
Gawain Towler80
Julia Reid79
Louise Bours79
Michael Heaver78
Andrew McNeilis78
Jane Collins78
John Tennant78
Phil Henrick78
Jonathan Bullock77
Diane James76
Jason Smith76
Bill Etheridge76
Amjad Bashir76
Anthony Brown75
Elizabeth Jones75
Shneur Odze75
Tony McIntyre75
James Carver75
William Dartmouth75
Lawrence Webb74
Keith Crawford74
Alastair McFarlane74
Steven Woolfe73
Michael Wrench72
Michael Green72
Peter Whittle72
Robert Smith72
Lee Slaughter72
Nigel Jones72
Mike Hookem72
Peter Harper71
Simon Strutt71
Simon Noble71
Andy Monk71
Patricia Culligan71
Alan Stevens70
Mick McGough70
Lyndon Jones70
Donna Edmunds70
Barry Mahoney69
Barry Cooper69
Nigel Wickens68
Gary Shores68
Richard Elvin67
David Coburn75
Mike Scott-Hayward75
Christopher Monckton73
Otto Inglis73
Paul Henke70
Malcolm Macaskill66
Ross Durance63
Steven McKeane62
Kevin Newton56
Nathan Gill83
James Cole79
Gareth Dunn76
David Rowlands74
Caroline Jones69
Martyn Ford69
Brian Morris63
Northern Ireland
Henry Reilly
Patrick O'Flynn
Stuart Agnew
Tim Aker
Andrew Smith
Michael Heaver
Andy Monk
Mick McGough
East Midlands
Roger Helmer
Margot Parker
Jonathan Bullock
Barry Mahoney
Nigel Wickens
Paul Oakley
Gerard Batten
Andrew McNeilis
Anthony Brown
Elizabeth Jones
Lawrence Webb
Alastair McFarlane
Peter Whittle
North East
Jonathan Arnott
John Tennant
Richard Elvin
North West
Paul Nuttall
Michael McManus
Louise Bours
Shneur Odze
Steven Woolfe
Lee Slaughter
Peter Harper
Simon Noble
South East
Nigel Farage
Janice Atkinson
Ray Finch
Diane James
Nigel Jones
Simon Strutt
Patricia Culligan
Alan Stevens
Donna Edmunds
Barry Cooper
South West
Gawain Towler
Julia Reid
Tony McIntyre
William Dartmouth
Keith Crawford
Robert Smith
West Midlands
Jill Seymour
Phil Henrick
Bill Etheridge
James Carver
Michael Wrench
Michael Green
Lyndon Jones
Yorks & N Lincs
Godfrey Bloom
Jane Collins
Jason Smith
Amjad Bashir
Mike Hookem
Gary Shores

Monday, 12 August 2013

UKIP And Political Correctness

Metropolitan journalists must love Godfrey Bloom. Not only does he give them license to exercise their feelings of smug superiority, but he does so in the dog days of August. A dopamine fix and valuable copy all rolled into one. It is therefore not surprising that the "Bongo-Bongo Land" story has run and run.

The latest journalist to give vent was that Uriah Heap of the political classes and Metropolitan moderniser to his fingertips,  Matthew D'Ancona. Writing yesterday in the Telegraph, he opined that modern-day political correctness  was no more than politeness necessary in a diverse society, and that the Bloom furore marked a 'fork in the road' for UKIP, who he describes as a "fringe party".

D'Ancona's fork in the road analogy is very telling, as it offers the binary choice so common in Metropolitan circles: you either follow our "correct" way, or you are by definition a racist / sexist / homophobe, blah, blah, blah, spouting prejudice, hatred and deliberately causing offence.

In practise there is a third way, and that is not to be gratuitously offensive but not to shy away from hard truths either. In that narrow sense D'Ancona has a point: Bloom did overstep the mark with using a disparaging and dated phrase that can only be interpreted as dismissive and derogatory. Although it was not racist, it hardly helps UKIP's cause when the party makes great play of exploiting our links to the Commonwealth. Whenever we talk about that in future, the question "do you mean Bongo-bongo land?" will not doubt be used against us.

However, in the wider context D'Ancona is very much in the wrong. His emphasise on being polite completely ignores that politeness segues very easily into lying, or at the very least avoiding telling others painful truths not in order to protect others but to protect yourself. For instance, not mentioning to someone that they are fat is no doubt polite, but it would be immoral not to do so if that person is dangerously overweight.

Politeness, in short, can very easily be a camouflage for outright moral cowardice, and it is moral cowardice that so completely infects our political and media classes today. Having by and large led shallow, easy lives in Metropolitan circles where the greatest social crime is to say something that doesn't make others feel good, they refuse to confront issue after issue on the spurious grounds that it is "impolite" to do so.

It is therefore "impolite" to face the truth that Islam contains some tenets wholly at odds with Western civilisation. Instead, we are told time and time again that terrible crimes committed in it's name are 'nothing to do' with the religion. It is "impolite" that the lawless sub-cultures of Romania and Bulgaria will probably lead to an explosion of crime when those countries  are given full unfettered immigration rights at the end of this year. It is "impolite" to mention that much foreign aid is wasted, and that if we were really serious about helping Africa and developing nations, we would instead unilaterally withdraw from the morally truly wicked Common Agricultural Policy.

Cosseted and buffered against the harsh winds of reality, this is precisely how our gilded Metropolitan elite would prefer things to remain, hence the blatant attempts at moral intimidation aimed at Bloom and UKIP this week. However, it is this culture of lying and cowardice that the rest of society is heartedly sick of. Both Bloom and UKIP were largely given the benefit of the doubt during this last week by an electorate who see UKIP as it's last best hope of ridding themselves of a political class that has become so completely morally corrupt.

There should be no return to the 1970s world of casual insensitivity and prejudice so typified by Rupert Rigsby from Rising Damp or Gene Hunt  from Life On Mars, but nonetheless the public are prepared to hear hard truths, and look to UKIP to utter them. In short, we must continue to be thoroughly rude, but not gratuitously so. To Political Correctness, we must never bend the knee.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The far left aren't #UKIP's only enemies - BALE attack even more fiercely.

The objective is not just to attack the individual, it is to sew the seeds of mistrust among all UKIP members - if this can be done, BALE and HnH/UAF can sit back eating popcorn while UKIP members attack each other using time/energy to damage UKIP instead of building it.

UKIP grass roots are getting it from all sides, but when you are sensibly in the middle, as UKIP are, that is what happens.

I blogged about HnH/UAF (Hope Not Hate/Unite Against Fascism) a short while back, for claiming to be 'anti fascist' but in practice being fascist themselves and attacking the moderate centre (UKIP), rather than authoritarian groups like the promoters of Sharia Law.

I only recently heard about BALE (Britons against Left-Wing Extremism), they appear to be a far right group and claim to oppose Hope Not Hate. However, from their actions it is clear that they, like HnH really want to attack the moderate centre (UKIP).

BALE are working with HnH (whether organised or just opportunistically) to disrupt UKIP's grass roots members.

The BALE attacks are using the same tactics that the BNP used (before it collapsed), so I assume BALE is really just a new front for disaffected ex-BNP supporters) - BALE picks an individual and then makes wild claims about them being a HnH infiltrator and a paedophile (for some reason BALE think everyone on the left is a paedophile, so everyone they attack is called a paedophile too).

While these attacks are in progress it is usual for fake profiles and pages to pop up on various social media in the name of the person being attacked, and for incriminating postings to be attached to them. These fake postings are then taken and used elsewhere as 'evidence' - removing them further from the original source and making them that bit harder to verify/disprove.

The objective is not just to attack the individual, it is to sew the seeds of mistrust among all UKIP members - if this can be done, BALE and HnH/UAF can sit back eating popcorn while UKIP members attack each using time/energy to damage UKIP instead of building it.

One person currently being attacked is Linda Reid - secretary of UKIP Brighton and Hove. I originally met her as she was a long time UKIP supporter and became my electoral agent in the 2010 general election and even since then we spent many days leafleting together and doing other UKIP work - I can say from experience and without hesitation that she is a first rate supporter of an Independent UK, she is honest, fair and has great integrity - a huge asset to UKIP and someone anyone would be proud to count as a friend.

As BALE have made such wild, incredible claims about someone I know well I believe everything else they say must be read knowing that they are untrustworthy and seek to damage UKIP. They as much an enemy of UKIP as HnH/UAF - and being anonymous dangerous in many different ways.

While on 'enemies' - I will mention the SLAT accounts (like SLATUKIP) - which I think is short for Sad Losers ATtack UKIP. They are just as keen to disrupt UKIP, and have cooperated (whether formerly or opportunistically) with both HnH/UAF and BALE against UKIP - their common enemy.

My advice? Ignore anonymous postings on the internet - if they don't have confidence to make themselves known, they aren't worth a second of a real persons time.

Have You Ever Polled A Human By Mistake, Mr. Cameron?

That line, is of course, a paraphrase of the famous "Have you ever retired a human by mistake?" question asked by Rachael to Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, in the iconic 1980s film Bladerunner, arguably the greatest science fiction film of all time.

The central twist of the film is that neither Rachel or Deckard are aware that they are both in fact machines, replicants, who thanks to implanted memories believe themselves to be human. Bladerunner asks important questions about the human condition: what is it to be human? Do we have souls? Is free will just an illusion?

Such questions have been asked by philosophers for centuries, of course, but we are going to hear a lot more of them in the years ahead thanks to the rise of Big Data and predictive analytics. Essentially, the increase in computing power and ability to store data now allows machines to crunch through vast amounts of data and apply complex statistical algorithms to it, well beyond the capacities of the human mind to manage. The machine then learns a model from the data which can be used to discern patterns within it and in some applications, predict human behaviour. This machine learning is itself a branch of artificial intelligence, the holy grail of which is to create a machine with equal or better intellectual capabilities than the human brain. Some data scientists even believe that in future we will be able to predict human thoughts.

Machine Learning is not some Sci Fi fantasy, it is here, and the fact that you are reading this article on the web means that it has almost certainly been used on you: machine learning algorithms will predict what books to recommend you on, or what ads to show you on Google, for example.

Now is is being applied to politics, with the news that the Conservatives have hired the data expert Jim Messina, the man credited with winning the 2012 election for Barack Obama.

The central idea is that by applying gigantic sets of polling and behavioural data to an election campaign, you can tailor your election message individually to voters in order to get them to respond to your message. I thoroughly recommend anyone to watch this rather sinister video of the overly smug Messina to see what is in store for us on this side of the pond.

Well, anyone watching that piece doesn't need machine learning in order to know the thoughts of the Political Class if they think this is the way to win elections: the underlying contempt they have for the rest of us could not be more stark. We are little more than dumb machines and units of consumption, to be sold a packaged message, spun, used, manipulated and discarded by the new uberclass as they see fit.

Although Messina's data driven campaigning is frighteningly sophisticated, it is in essence nothing new but a continuation of the same poll and focus group driven politics we have all come to despise over the last ten years. Dreary and reductive, such ultra-segmentation of a political message treats us all as atomised individuals with little regard for a greater whole beyond ourselves. In essence the tailor-made campaign is the absolute antithesis of the leadership, belief and vision that successful politics - in the sense of actually changing the country for the better rather than just winning office - requires. It is very noticeable for example, that previous leaders who were obsessed with data driven campaigning - Clinton and Blair for example - achieved very little in office. Obama looks like another failure in this regard. So does David Cameron.

But will it work in Britain in 2015? Against the kind of mediocre candidates the political class tend to produce, almost certainly so. However, against a true leader with courage, vision and integrity, a man or woman who treats the people with dignity and respect rather than contempt, the results are somewhat less predictable. Big data, machine learning and predictive analytics are tools, nothing more. Like all tools, they rely on a master craftsman to be used properly. Better and more sophisticated tools can help you refine your craft, but they can not in themselves supply the inspiration to create something of lasting value or beauty.

Like all political parties, UKIP will have to adapt and use the tools of the big data age, but we must never lose sight of the fact that politics is a human activity, and human beings need romance in the true meaning of that word. Far more than big data, what politics requires and always has done, is a romantic vision of a better tomorrow.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Legal challenge to gay marriage ban in churches

Back in May I wrote about gay marriage and warned that the EU Court of Human Rights would rule that churches refusing to conduct gay marriages is a breach of human rights.

The matter hasn't made it to the EU Court of Human Rights yet but a gay couple have just announced their intention to take the Church of England to court for the right to get married in church.  Their argument is that their choice of venue for their wedding is more important than the religious beliefs of a few million Christians and that the law should be changed.
It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works, I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away.

As much as people are saying this is a good thing I am still not getting what I want.
As I said back in May, I'm neither gay nor religious so I really don't have a vested interest either way but I do think it's wrong to force churches to conduct same sex marriages if it's against their religious beliefs.  This legal challenge will almost certainly fail because the Church of England isn't refusing to conduct a gay marriage of its own volition but because the law bans them from doing so but it will undoubtedly be used to request a judicial review of the law banning gay marriages in church and that will eventually end up in the EU Court of Human Rights.

As a party, UKIP warned that this would happen and lawyers and even MPs warned that it would happen too.  Cameron knew what the consequences were but continued down this divisive and dangerous route where a foreign court will decide whether the right of a gay couple to get married in church is more important than the rights of members of the church who believe it is a sin.  Either way, one group of people is going to be denied their "rights" as defined in the EU Convention on Human Rights and a lot of lawyers will get very rich bringing legal cases on this for decades to come.