I found from Wikipedia that one of the definitions of Kipper is “a supporter of UKIP, a British populist political party“. It is also the term used by Labour Party activist, Matthew Dent, who appears, when I read his blog, to have made it his special mission to observe and comment on the various goings on in the Southend branch of UKIP, and from what I can make out he is having a field day given recent developments, which I will come onto. He seems to have formed a formidable double act with his party colleague, Councillor Julian Ware-Lane, who is also a prolific blogger including on matters pertaining to UKIP. Matthew had earlier pointed out, and no doubt as a result of some nifty detective work, that UKIP councillor, Lawrence Davies, was playing games on his smart phone at the precise moment when an important announcement was being made at a meeting of the full council. In fairness to Lawrence, I understand there may have been misdemeanors on the Labour side (like not being present throughout the whole session), that unsurprisingly were conveniently overlooked and, if Lawrence had gone for the jugular, I might well have awarded him my champagne moment of the night for questioning the current administration about the need to do more to address the issue of failing schools.
The two recent developments in Southend UKIP that have raised more than a few eyebrows and reactions among local political watchers is the fact that the person selected to stand for UKIP in the Rochford and Southend East Constituency in next year’s General Election is not the one most people (including me) had expected, i.e. NOT party leader James Moyles, but rather fellow UKIP councillor and one few know anything about, Floyd Waterworth. The other development is a much publicised rift between the two men. Matthew’s blog reflects further on this and the implications with a sensationally titled posting “Kipperwatch! Southend UKIP erupt into full-blown civil war“. Before reflecting on these developments, I should firstly thank Matthew and Julian for bringing these matters to our attention, although I regret the balance of their blogs is far more toward trying to undermine and discredit UKIP than offer a reasoned critique of UKIP policies, locally and nationally. When it comes to the “true, necessary and kind” criteria that I consider important, I fear they will not score too highly on those counts.
Regarding these two developments, patience is needed because we, the general public, are not in full possession of the facts. I daresay, in due course, some of the reasons for choosing Floyd over James will come out, as well as any shenanigans that might have taken place and the extent there has been bad blood between the two men (as discussed in Matthew’s blog). I have long realised politicians are like anyone else and being in the same party is no guarantee colleagues will get along with or like each other, like the now realised rift in recent years between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (my reading of political biographies often confirms this). It wasn’t that long ago when two Southend Tory ex-mayors had a rather acrimonious public fall out. However, for the sake of the “cause”, one would hope or expect differences to be laid aside. It is therefore regrettable that all this has happened. I am one, I suspect of many in the town, who have been toying with the idea of voting UKIP, as much out of disillusionment with the current parties, and I have been quite impressed so far with James Moyles, but as for Floyd Waterworth he is a complete unknown and has a lot of work to do to convince me, and no doubt others. I fear these recent events may well play more into the hands of the Tories who otherwise might be expected to lose even more of their support to UKIP.
As I reflect on the afore-mentioned events, it is with consternation I see UKIP with their five newly elected Southend councillors, who I had high hopes for (and still do), appear to be going backwards and shooting themselves in the foot. Already, their alleged poor attendance record has been noted, and this needs remedying. If there is a message I would like to leave with Southend UKIP, it has to be: build bridges, take stock, repair damage, stop focusing on subjects like too many foreigners which only goes to attract the disaffected for the wrong reasons, speak out on behalf of those who do feel let down by the main parties, get stuck into making Southend a better place, square with the watching public about what is really going on who, thanks to Matthew and Julian, will scrutinise your every move, and here comes the crunch … get your act together!