I read the extensive coverage last week about the defection of the Conservative deputy leader of Horsham District Council, Roger Arthur, to UKIP.
Whilst some have chosen to denigrate him for making a bold, if not unpopular move, I admire the piece Ray Dawe, the Conservative leader at Horsham DC, gave in response to Roger’s defection.
I like to see the best in everyone I meet, until they give me reason to think otherwise, and though I have never met Ray Dawe I sense he is a good, honest and fair man with the interests of the community in which he lives at heart, which shines through in his response to Roger leaving the Conservative Party.
I note Ray is perturbed that Roger, whilst having been voted in as a Conservative, has chosen to stay on, but as a UKIP councillor.
Is this wrong? I don’t think so. Roger remains committed to the same views and values he held when elected and as a UKIP councillor now has freedom to follow his conscience.
Mr Dawe says that ‘UKIP’s primary purpose is to get the UK out of the EU’, but he, like so many others, is missing the point.
Yes, UKIP stands unashamedly for British exit from the EU but also now stands against the established Westminster consensus on a wide range of issues from education and environment to justice, policing, and constitutional reform.
And in any case, EU directives, such as on landfill, are directly impacting on council budgets and local communities.
Our local manifesto details our belief in a leaner, meaner, council-freezing and cutting council tax, cutting councillor allowances, more democratic input to local development and planning issues, etc.
However, his idea that Mr Cameron is going to give us a referendum is laughable.
I recall we had a ‘cast iron guarantee’ from him this would happen if he became Prime Minister.
On numerous occasions he has resisted an in-out referendum publicly, declaring his belief we are ‘better off in’.
His sudden change now is quite obviously down to pressure exerted largely by UKIP. He promises a choice between renegotiation and exit, but has not told us what he wants to renegotiate, nor how he anticipates forging agreement from 26 other EU countries for a treaty change, added to which he doesn’t stand a cat in hell’s chance of winning the next general election.
Unless enabling legislation is passed in this parliament to set the ground for the referendum, and he deigns to tell us the nature of his planned renegotiation to be put in that referendum, then to support the Conservative Party is to support the potential, if we are lucky, and the promise is kept, to have a referendum between something unspecified and EU withdrawal!
However to support UKIP is to increase the pressure on all parties to deliver a referendum, and to ensure no politician can wriggle out of it.
UKIP have a full slate of candidates standing on May 2. I hope that UKIP’s first councillor in Horsham District might be joined by others across West Sussex.
Chairman Horsham UKIP Branch, Two Mile Ash Road, Horsham