UKIP has picked up a few defectors in local government recently. In Windsor & Maidenhead two Conservative councillors – Cllr Tom Bursnall and his wife Cllr Catherine Bursnall have joined UKIP on the grounds that the Government has not done enough to lower taxation. Perverse given that their local Conservative council is cutting tax. Why undermine that example?
On South Oxfordshire there has been the defection from the Conservatives to UKIP of Cllr Christopher Quinton. This is over the gay marriage issue.
Cllr Alan Graves, an independent on Derby City Council, has joined UKIP. He was a Labour councillor until 2009.
On the other hand UKIP will have been disappointed to do so badly in the Bradford West byelection where they only got 3.31% of the vote.
They have also just had a humiliation in the race for Mayor of London. UKIP candidate for Mayor, Lawrence Webb has urged his supporters to give their second preference to Siobhan Benita, an independent candidate. But the Evening Standard reports her as responding:
“I don’t want anything to do with Ukip. I don’t want any association with that party. Ukip are divisive. They are narrow-minded. I want to be an inclusive Mayor for all Londoners. Ukip do not share those values.
“I just don’t want to be associated with a party that is so different from me. Ukip just do not stand for any of the things that I stand for.”
UKIP's manifesto for Mayor of London lacks credibility. There are various things that are the responsibility of borough councils (like housing allocation policy) or a matter for legislation from central government (allowing smoking in pubs.) Other things are merely silly – "a 25p levy on all overseas visitors to raise money for the restoration of Big Ben." The manifesto says UKIP will "fight EU red tape" - but isn't UKIP's point that such a fight is futile and that the only answer is to withdraw from the EU?
Anyway I suspect that most UKIP voters will give Boris their second preference whatever advice Webb offers them. Ken Livingstone feels our failure to listen to his advice and join the Euro was a terrible mistake. By contrast Boris Johnson's Eurosceptic sympathies are well known and as Matthew Barrett reported Boris recently signed up to the People's Pledge which demands a referendum on our EU membership.
For UKIP to suggest there is no difference between Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson and therefore UKIP supporters might as well throw away their second preference vote on Siobhan Benita is quite bizarre.