Out and About
I today attended a debate at Egglescliffe School on our membership of the EU. Chaired by the head of the sixth form, Mr Dave Gratton, I spoke for 10 minutes on why we should leave the EU. Drew Durning, a Lib Dem supporting the Remain campaign, was my opposite number.
I very much enjoyed the debate and was impressed by the questions that we were asked after our talks. I also took the opportunity to leave some “EU Myths Exposed” booklets, written by North East MEP Jonathan Arnott, for the students to read.
If any other schools in the area would like me to attend to put the case for why we should vote Leave on Jume 23rd, just give me a ring or drop me an email.
My UKIP election address is arriving and the posters are going up. As predicted, Stockton North is turning purple.
A team of Ukippers attended a meeting at the Sheraton Pub in Hardwick, this evening. The Sheraton is the last remaining pub in Hardwick, and the regular pub goers are concerned that their community pub is to be sold to be turned into a nursery. Members of the community have launched a “Save the Sheraton” campaign on Facebook and you can view it here.
We in UKIP are no strangers to Save the Pub Campaigns, and you can view Nigel’s opinions on our local pubs here:
Unfortunately I couldn’t be present as I am in Blackpool for the UKIP North West Spring Conference. However, to show support, the meeting was attended by the UKIP regional organiser Gordon Parkin, John Leathley, UKIP PPC for Sedgefield and Ted Strike, UKIP PPC for Stockton South.
John and Gordon spoke to me after the event. John said that Alex Cunningham, the current Stockton North Labour MP, attended and gave speech where he outlined his intention to contact a brewery which owned a viable pub for advice on what could be done to save the Sheraton. However, Mr Cunningham was shouted down by irate members of the audience who apparently felt that he was all talk and no substance.
Gordon Parkin spoke to those assembled and was well received with a great round of applause. Mr. Cunningham accused Gordon of saying that planners were receiving back-handers, but Gordon said no such thing. Other UKIP members present stood up and talked about writing letters individually to the planning committee to do their best to make sure that local views were taken into account. It is UKIP policy to always work in the best interests of local people.
Of course, Mr Cunningham has form with his insults. He agreed with his leader, Gordon Brown, that he was right to refer to Gillian Duffy as “that bigoted woman” when she questioned him on immigration. He only apologised to Mrs Duffy when he was forced to do so by his party leadership. And regular readers will recall the dreadful letter he sent me, full of nasty insinuations, which I received soon after I was selected by UKIP members to be the PPC for Stockton North.
Since writing the above, a UKIP councillor in Portsmouth, Julie Swan, has advised me of an update to the NPPF (National Policy Planning Framework) which now contains several national policies which are protective of pubs, most notably a requirement that planning authorities should guard against the loss of valued community facilities like pubs.
Two recent decisions by Planning Inspectors demonstrate the power and value of the NPPF for pub campaigners. Read more here.
I attended a meeting of the UKIP Friends of Israel on 2nd December in London. The main speaker was Douglas Carswell and the meeting was run by Rabbi Shneur Odze, an MEP candidate for the North West region in the European Elections.
Douglas Carswell drew some interesting analogies between Israel and the UK. Both Israel and the UK are democratic countries which should be allowed to rule themselves without external interference, and it should be remembered that Israel is the one free and open democracy in the Middle East, which does not discriminate against women or on the grounds of sexual orientation.
Other speakers included Steven Woolfe, an MEP for the North West region and the UKIP Migration Spokesman and Nathan Gill, MEP for Wales.
My own view on Israel is that at the present time it was premature for Ed Miliband to propose a motion that recognises Palestine as being a state. Recognition of Palestine at this time is detrimental to negotiations for a peaceful solution. The “government” of Gaza, Hamas, is a terrorist organisation. Mr Miliband imposed a one line whip on this vote, which means that those members of his party who turned up to the vote had to vote in favour of the motion. It is interesting to note that key senior Labour figures including Rachel Reeves and Luciana Berger decided to stay away, unlike Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham who voted in favour of the motion.
Today I visited the Moses Project in Stockton to find out a little more about this charity, which helps and supports literally hundreds of men who often find themselves in chaotic circumstances due to problems such as drug and alcohol abuse.
These men have somewhere they can go to where they can learn about positive lifestyles, gain new life skills and equally importantly – have fun.
The Moses Project works with local agencies including Lifeline and the Prisons and Probation services, and their aim is to increase the likelihood of the men gaining independence and integrating back into society.
The project is run entirely on charitable donations and staffed by volunteers.
Currently the centre is attended by in the region of 800 men, fortunately not all at the same time, and provides up to 70 meals a day. They also provide much needed food parcels to locals in dire need, referred by agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Lifeline.
The centre is in need of larger facilities to cope with the demand.
The Moses Project is a Christian charity with no political affiliations.
However, my belief is that charity begins at home, and this is certainly a charity that is worthy of our support.
Please click here to visit the Moses Project website for further information and to make a donation.