How nice to find someone agreeing with you. It's a bit annoying that he does it more eloquently than you did, but what the hell, it's just peachy to find that you are not, after all, a lone voice calling in the wilderness. Here's journalist Richard Littlejohn on the subject of Ken Clarke and his UKIP outburst, which we wrote about a couple of days ago ...
He likes a drink, smokes like a chimney and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. By common consent, he’s the kind of politician you’d most like to share a pint with.
No, not Nigel Farage. Ken Clarke.
With his scuffed Hush Puppies and ubiquitous cigars, Clarke stands out from the identikit crowd at Westminster. He’s more likely to be found stumbling out of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in Soho at midnight than plotting Press regulation over pizza.
He’s taken on a few airs and graces along the way, but Ken is his own man. Even though I profoundly disagree with him over Europe, I accept that he’s a man of principle.
Clarke fervently believes Britain should be run by foreigners. He is in favour of our laws being made in Brussels by people we didn’t elect. He is quite happy to surrender what remains of our national sovereignty and open our borders to all-comers, even if that means a housing crisis, public services at breaking point and itinerant Romanian beggars using Hyde Park Corner as a public toilet. Ken thinks our courts should be subordinate to foreign judges, many of them from countries which until fairly recently were totalitarian Communist dictatorships. If he’d had his way a few years ago Britain would now be chained to the euro and our dire economic predicament would be ten times worse than it is already. So passionate is he about a European superstate that he couldn’t even be bothered to read the Maastricht Treaty before it was signed into British law.
You might think that neglecting to inspect the small print was a bit of a shortcoming in someone who trained as a lawyer and went on to become Lord Chancellor. But Ken’s not the kind of person to let the small print get in the way of a Big Idea. He even thinks turning Britain into a safe haven for international terrorists is a price worth paying for his principles. His devotion to Europe almost certainly cost him the chance to lead his party and become Prime Minister. So we must respect his opinions, no matter how strongly we disagree with him.
The problem with Ken is that he doesn’t extend that courtesy to others. He has nothing but contempt for those who believe Britain’s future would be better outside the European Union.
He epitomises the arrogance of the political class who are convinced they, and they alone, are uniquely equipped to rule. Clarke was at it again over the weekend, echoing Call Me Dave’s description of UKIP supporters as ‘fruitcakes and closet racists’.
He went on to say: ‘It is tempting to vote for a collection of clowns or indignant, angry people.’ UKIP, he alleged, is ‘against political parties, the political classes, it’s against foreigners, it’s against immigrants,’ blah, blah, blah. It was the typical, lazy response of traditional politicians towards anyone who threatens their cosy consensus.
Yes, UKIP does have its fair share of nutters. All political parties harbour a variety of extremists. There are plenty of Tories who could be described as ‘closet racists’. What are the Lib Dems if not a whole pantry full of ‘fruitcakes’?
As for Labour, the party is bankrolled by a neanderthal trades union leader who wants to take Britain back to the days of general strikes and public ownership and led by a weirdo last seen playing footsie with George Galloway, a freak show turn who has never met an Arab dictator he doesn’t like.
If voters really are ready to — as Nick Clegg claims — back UKIP only because they want to say ‘to hell with mainstream politics’, who can blame them?
To paraphrase the Monty Python ‘Romans’ sketch: what have the mainstream parties ever done for us? So-called ‘mainstream’ parties monopolise politics and reject any opinion which doesn’t chime with their narrow orthodoxy.
OK, so UKIP may not have a forensically honed manifesto containing policies for everything from the funding of diversity workshops to transgendered toilet facilities.
But getting the hell out of the EU, scrapping the Yuman Rites Act and dismantling ridiculous, ruinous wind farms is a start.
Whoever thought that in the 21st century we’d have an energy policy which includes automatically turning off our fridges by remote control rather than building power stations or exploiting our untapped resources of shale gas? All so that politicians can burnish their ludicrous ‘green’ credentials and feel good about saving the polar bears?
Ask yourself this: who is the real extremist — the politician who wants to give Abu Qatada board and lodging for life or the one who would rather put him on the first plane to Jordan? What’s extreme about wanting to make our own laws, set our own taxes, control our own borders?
Above all, most people just want politicians to listen to us for a change. Democracy in Britain is in a perilous condition.
Ed Miliband is basing his entire strategy on gaining just 36 per cent of the total vote, which will put him into Downing Street on the basis of rigged constituency boundaries. For all his talk about ‘fairness’, Clegg reneged on his agreement to revise the boundaries, so that each constituency would contain roughly the same number of voters. He has decided to stick with Labour’s rotten boroughs because he thinks there’s a chance the Lib Dems might just be able to slide into another Coalition, this time with Labour, after the next election. Whatever happens, Clegg will get his reward in Brussels, probably as Britain’s next EU Commissioner.
Does Call Me Dave care whether the Conservatives win the next election? Your guess is as good as mine. He’ll have had his five years of fame, he’ll get his peerage and still be young enough to earn some serious money, like his role model Tony Blair.
If UKIP had sprung up in Egypt, or Poland before the fall of the Iron Curtain, it would have been hailed as a spontaneous popular, democratic movement. So what if it is a protest party? How else are we supposed to protest, if not at the ballot box?
The kind of people who are attracted to UKIP are mostly decent folk who don’t go in for throwing petrol bombs or smashing in the front of McDonald’s. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a voice. Or that the main parties should take them for granted.
For what it’s worth, I won’t get the chance to vote UKIP on Thursday because there are no council elections in London. In any event, my local Conservative councillors seem to be doing a reasonable job and at least we still get our dustbins emptied every week. They shouldn’t be punished for the sins of national politicians in Westminster.
But I shall be voting UKIP again in next year’s European elections, simply because I don’t trust Cameron ever to hold a proper ‘in-out’ referendum. Farage may come across as a bit of a circus act, but he speaks for millions of people who feel utterly disenfranchised by the political system. I wouldn’t blame anyone who votes for UKIP this week, if that’s what it takes to get the attention of the cosy little cartel at Westminster.
You can tell Farage has got the mainstream politicians worried. If they weren’t concerned, they wouldn’t be wheeling out big guns like Ken Clarke to trash UKIP. As I said, I respect Ken’s honesty even though I despair of his cussed devotion to the EU. I’d cheerfully buy him a pint and a small panatella. But when push came to shove, if they were both standing in my constituency in a general election, I’d vote for Farage.
The GOS says: Ah, the warm glow of satisfaction! It's beginning to look just a little as though two days ago I wrote something intelligent. I think I might retire. Always a good idea to quit while you're ahead.
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