It’s been an interesting few days for all concerned on the campaign trail in Stoke-on-Trent Central.
We had the former and current leader of UKIP ‘egged’ in Hanley town centre, a concert hall full of U-kippers, and a smattering of NorScarf protesters outside objecting to their presence – which I’m calling a Marmite protest because they aren’t to everyone’s taste and I need to keep up the food theme in the title.
Although 70% of Stoke Central voted to leave Europe – Paul Nuttall and Nigel Farage found out that they’d somewhat ‘over egged’ the pudding when they suggested the constituency is ready to turn purple. They certainly know now they’ve ‘whipped’ up the anti-fascist element. They won’t be counting their chickens before they’ve hatched in the future.
I’m not so sure this kind of behaviour shows the good folk of the potteries in the best light but each to his/her own, they say.
While we’re on UKIP, that most controversial of Stoke-on-Trent City Councillors Rich Broughan has been spotted in and around the campaign.
So what’s so strange about that I hear you cry?…. well simply put, Mr Broughan, now a fully paid up member of the City Independent Group, was suspended from UKIP in September 2015 after he sent a tweet mocking those who died in refrigerated lorry in Austria a month earlier. He tweeted:
“#IsItOk to ask migrants to ‘chill out’ following the Austrian refrigerated lorry incident?”
He then quit the party before he could be thrown out citing difficulties with the head of UKIP in Staffordshire, Mick Harold.
He has been seen visiting UKIP campaign HQ in Hanley wearing a purple rosette and he was pictured with his arm around Party Leader and Election Candidate Paul Nuttall in a pub. He went on to post this on Facebook:
“Here we are at the end of the beginning then eh?
Great night, good mates and a light at the end of the tunnel!
Come on Stoke and let’s set the precedence for our future!
I love you all, we can do this x — with Paul Nuttall MEP”
This is an issue for his Group Leader Dave Conway because the City Independents are a recognised political party and as such, it certainly can not be right that one of their members is out pounding the campaign trail for another party, can it?
Broughan also faces a standards board hearing in the very near future over a number of misdemeanours.
The City Independents have been heavily criticised for readily accepting controversial candidates into their merry band, including a former BNP councillor and a convicted sex offender.
But Dave Conway needs the numbers you see? He will do everything to hold that most slender of majorities on the council. He sees it as a favour to the citizens of Stoke-on-Trent to keep Mohammed Pervez’s Labour group out of the leaders office. But what price principles these days?
The first hustings took place on Monday morning. The North Staffordshire Pensioners Convention held theirs at the Potteries Museum.
Paul Nuttall of Ukip, Gareth Snell of Labour, Conservative Jack Brereton, Green candidate Adam Colclough and Godfrey Davies, of the Christian Peoples Alliance were all in attendance the Lib Dems were represented by their candidates campaign manager.
The rest of the candidates decided to give it a miss.
It was a lively debate by all accounts.
Nuttall and Snell were slugging it out for the title of outright winner. Adam Colclough from the Greens did very well too. Jack Brereton of the Conservatives was a bit lackluster and very ‘wishy washy’ according to my sources and well…… the Christian Peoples Alliance candidate informed the audience that the answer to everything could be found in the bible. The Lib Dem rep was doing OK until she said we should be grateful for food banks!
Back to the Marmite protest. It has been alleged that Norscarf’s protest was a bit over the top. There were aggressive chants of ‘Racists out’, ‘Shame on you’ interspersed with a whole host of naughty words.
I’ve been informed that certain members who were protesting were very uncomfortable with some of the language and terminology used to those who were trying to access, what was in essence, a legitimate political meeting.
Do we really think that all members and supporters of UKIP are racist? As I have said in an earlier blog there is an element of left leaning voters who have strong sense of nationalism at their very core. Do I think they are racist? No – I absolutely do not.
Don’t get me wrong – I do know some who I would class as holding racist views, but let me be very clear here, I have met racists from most political parties, including Labour.
There are people who now think that UKIP are speaking for them and make no mistake, UKIP know where/how to find them. Whether there is enough of those voters to get the kippers a new MP remains to be seen.
I’m all for the right to protest – I really am, but if a protest goes over the top it can inspire some folk to reject that protest and use the ballot box to voice their displeasure at it – that can mean more votes for UKIP.
A list of all the candidates can be accessed here.