They Still Don’t Get It

UK reformers are about reforming government as well as restoring UK independence

Over the weekend of 15th-17th November newspapers carried the report that Yorkshireman Paul Sykes had offered the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) “whatever it takes” in financial support to ensure UKIP wins the most seats in the European elections next May (2014) on a platform of UK withdrawal from the European Union.

Mr Sykes previously gave some £5 million to help defeat the Maastricht Treaty’s option (stage 3)for Britain to abolish sterling and join the euro by 1st January 1999.  This writer took part in this campaign as vice-chairman and campaign manager of the Campaign for an Independent Britain (1991-99).

It is pertinent to remind the caste of received wisdom (CRW) – broadly the editors and journalists of the broadsheet newspapers, leaders of the 3 main UK political parties, bosses of most FTSE 100 companies, the BBC (of course), senior officials in local and central government – that they were virtually 100% in favour of abolishing sterling and adopting the euro as our national currency.  The concomitant change in the status and functions of the Bank of England (founded 1694) from being an independent national bank of the world’s fifth or sixth largest economy would have left it as a branch of the European Central Bank (ECB) founded in 1998 and situated in Frankfurt, Germany.

At the time, those of us opposed to this demolition of our country’s basic financial and economic structures, were routinely referred to as “mavericks”, or in Prime Minister Cameron’s later colourful phrase as “nutters” and “fruitcakes”.  The late Sir James Goldsmith provided the major financial support to the Referendum Party.  This opposed the surrender of the pound without a national referendum of the British people and was routinely described as “maverick” and worse.  Eventually it became apparent to the CRW that they would never win a referendum to abolish the pound.

Now the Casta (CRW) are at it again

Right on cue, (Daily Telegraph, November 18th) Philip Johnson comes forward with his view of Paul Sykes as a moneyed maverick who while “not seeking power for himself . . . can play a part in denying it in others”.  By “others” Johnson means, of course, the CRW, particularly the Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem parties, whose combined efforts over the last 20 years have landed Britain with an unnecessary energy crisis, mass immigration opposed by the vast majority of the population, and the largest peacetime budget and trade deficits in our history.

In an interview on channel4 (18th November) Mr Sykes said he was not a member of any political party: he simply wanted Britain to be independent of the European Union, in charge of its own finances and borders.  As he reported, a poll of his fellow Yorkshiremen and women showed that two-thirds want a complete reversal of the uncontrolled settlement and work access for EU nationals, which staying in the EU entails.  (Title IV of the Lisbon Treaty: Free movement of persons –  is one of the four basic pillars of the EEC/EC/EU, dating from the very beginning in 1957, and is completely non-negotiable – David Cameron please note.)

The UKIP Voter: Not a “maverick”

The defining goal of UKIP and its supporters is of course recovery of Britain’s independence from the EU and the contingent goals of reduced regulation of business, control of the UK’s borders and repeal of key statutes, including the European Communities Act 1972.  Most also favour repeal of the Human Rights Act (1998), withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights and withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

If the Conservative or Labour parties adopted these goals in their respective 2015 election manifestos, doubtless many intending UKIP voters would consider voting for them.

UKIP’s other policies

As things are though, few voters trust the promises of the three main parties on European and immigration affairs, and doubt whether they would actually carry them out.  Many UKIP supporters are not, or even mainly, “disaffected” Conservatives, as the Daily Telegraph (editorial 18th November) and other commentators believe.  They also want big changes in Education, and in Transport spending, with a measured upgrading of the transport system across the country, not spending vast sums on one gigantic 15 year vanity project costing more than £50 billion (330 miles of high speed rail at £150 million per mile (!) from London to Birmingham and Manchester with a spur to Leeds).  Many also want to see a more determined long-term strategy for reviving manufacture and nuclear power and an increase in defence spending, financed by reductions in our overseas aid budget.

UKIP’s position and policies demonstrate similarities with the Reform party of Canada.

Much of the UKIP grass roots impetus (dismissed airily as “populism” by the CRW with regard to the Conservative party in Britain), closely resembles the Reform party in Canada in the 1980s – the same party which today supplies the Prime Minister of Canada – Stephen Harper – and several ministerial colleagues.  This has followed in effect a takeover of the Progressive Conservative party (the party of the first prime minister of Canada) by the Reform party, renamed the Canadian Alliance, after the former’s shattering defeat in 1993[1].  In 2003 the rump of the Progressive Conservative party joined the Canadian Alliance to form simply the Conservative Party of Canada which after 3 general elections now has a majority of seats in both the House of Commons (166/308) and in the Senate (59/108).

UKIP’s takeover of some Conservative seats?

If UKIP threatened to obtain as many votes in the UK 2015 General Election as current polling suggests (11 – 14%) perhaps 50-60 of the 304 Conservative seats in the House of Commons (650 seats) would be highly marginal.  The latest poll (for the Daily Star) shows over 50% of voters questioned support UKIP’s policy of leaving the EU.  Only 22% thought leaving might harm the economy – 78% were completely unmoved by CRW scaremongering about losing 3 million jobs.

It might be thought that some at least of the around 30 Conservative MPs who support the “Better Off Out” campaign (of the EU that is) would defect to UKIP at the last minute to save themselves from defeat and give the party its first House of Commons MPs[2].


[1]  It was reduced to two seats in the Canadian House of Commons

[2]  A number of Progressive Conservatives jumped across to the Reform Party in 1993.

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