I have marched against UKIP. I have attended several anti-UKIP demonstrations. I have spoken out publically against UKIP on many occasions and I vehemently oppose most of UKIPs policy. I will continue to strongly oppose UKIP. But I have not joined and do not support the organisation Stand Up to UKIP, or at least its manifestation here in Thanet. Because Stand Up to UKIP , in my view, is an adjunct of the Thanet Labour Party which, in association with a group of revolutionary socialists, is trying its level best to use the UKIP demon to scare left of centre people into voting only for Labour at the general and council elections. Some of its members are happy to bully, pressure and intimidate those of us political progressives who will not fall into line with the vote Labour mantra. I myself was subject to such treatment at the hands of certain Stand Up to UKIP members in Thanet and several of my colleagues have been treated in the same way. I understand that members of Thanet Reality Party, also vehemently anti-UKIP, may have had similar treatment meted out because they don’t chose to support Labour.
I was at the founding meeting of Thanet Stand Up to UKIP last. The meeting was well attended and included people from across the progressive political spectrum. But even at its first meeting it was evident that Labour was positioning itself to dominate the organisation. Labour’s South Thanet PPC, Will Scobie, was there and had a lot to say, as were other Labour councillors including Jenny Matteface, John Worrow, Michelle Fenner and serval newly selected Labour council candidates including Kate Hamlyn and Karen Constantine . During the course of the meeting several people argued that the Green Party should not be running candidates as it would split the left of centre vote and assist a UKIP victory. This incessant refrain has continued to be developed, reaching a foul mouthed hysterical crescendo at a recent public meeting in Ramsgate.
Now I have no problem with the way people vote. We live in a democracy and its up to you how to vote. But I will not be bullied or intimidated into silence by a bizarre united front of right-wing austerity-lite Labour and so-called revolutionaries. Labour has an appalling track record in power at Thanet Council. It is utterly incompetent, secretive and in the words of an external peer review– dysfunctional and toxic.
As an elected councillor seeking another term I have a duty to the public to speak out about Labour’s disgraceful record in office and to campaign for change rather than becoming a cheerleader for a party with which I fundamentally disagree. A party which through its policy of austerity is making life much more difficult for the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled, the unemployed, the badly housed and who, sad to say, appears to be trying to out-UKIP UKIP in its anti-immigration stance.
I have the greatest admiration and respect for many supporters of Stand Up to UKIP in Thanet. Some of them are my friends. But from where I am standing Stand Up to UKIP appears to me to be nothing but a cynical effort to exploit fear of the UKIP demon in order to distract attention from Labour’s appalling record in Thanet; silence its critics and cling on to votes it does not deserve. It could have so different. It could have been a genuine coalition of likeminded people but that potential was strangled at birth by Labour manipulation.
Despite my criticism of Thanet Stand Up to UKIP, it’s not for me to tell you how to use your vote. The only thing I would say is please, please vote on the basis of your conscience and genuine beliefs. Otherwise what’s the point in voting at all?