Eye Spy the By-election

So the by-election has finally been called for the vacancy for Office of Councillor for the Springfields and Trent Vale ward, it’s only taken since 27 April. So now the ballot boxes are being broken out and just in the nick of time… frustrated residents in Springfields & Trent Vale are already starting to petition the council over local issues, having begun to feel the effects of no local representation for the last few months.

Despite having more councillors than they know what to do with, Labour have not fallen over themselves to ensure residents have felt looked after, which is perhaps why there are rumblings that this by-election may see upwards of 8 candidates all vying to fix the numerous potholes and clear the litter on the yellow brick road from Trent Vale to Stoke. Hardly a ringing endorsement of previous incumbents…

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The number of witches had everywhere become enormous

Steve Povey has been in his grave for two weeks now. I did not know him particularly well, but I have seen him in action in a number of meetings since the beginning of the century. Over the weeks since his death many deserved comments have been made about his community involvement and about the energy he showed in all things Leek. I actually praised him on one social networking site for developing the St George’s Day event, which is simply a good day out with stalls and general festive atmosphere. Steve was a UKIP Councillor. This might have a bearing on the response I got from Norscarf, which labelled Steve Povey a ” racist”. Now as I know and unless someone tells me otherwise I would not call him a racist.( I also checked it out with a long term Sentinel journalist in the Moorlands and she was emphatic that it was a lie.) His lack of knowledge about the outside world was exposed at the 2010 General Election hustings on issues such as the Middle East and I am sure that he had his faults, but racism was not one of them.

This incident was quickly followed by the publication of a document by the Institute of Race Relations on the Social Geography of Racism in Stoke, which came out about a week. I read through the report and was incensed at such a flawed report could be seriously regarded. The errors in the report are many, but I will point out two. It mentioned an incident from 2000 when a man named Colin Salt was tragically killed in the north of the City when the flat he lived in was burned down. The report mentions Greek Cypriot and that the death was racist. It’s wrong on two levels. Firstly it was not a racist murder. It was an insurance scam that went wrong. Secondly it was not a Greek Cypriot but a Turkish Cypriot involved who was later convicted in a Turkish court in 2007.

The second case in the IRR report was the example of the clash in Oldham in April 2001 between Asians in the Glodwick area and Stoke City fans. The report calls this a trigger event. A very comprehensive report called the Richie report commissioned after the event looked at all the factors in Oldham including education, media reporting, employment, health. The Stoke City riot is in there but in the context of the Walter Chamberlain case of a 78-year-old war veteran was beaten up by young Asian men and robbed. His badly beaten features appeared in newspapers. And despite appeals from Chamberlain and his family disturbances occurred around this time of which the Stoke City riot was one. The problems in Oldham were developing well before the incidents of late April 2001.

My point both about the IRR report and the comment about Povey is that the casual bandying of words like racism and placing all the problems of racism on only one group is terribly counter- productive.

I was speaking to a friend and I remarked that some anti racism organisation reminded me of the actions of people seeking witches in 17th century Europe. Substitute the word racist with witch and you get my drift.

Stoke-on-Trent Local Election Candidates List Released

199 candidates have come forward to contest the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Elections which will take place on 5th May 2011.

These candidates will seek to represent 37 newly formed wards in a council reduced from 60 to 44 following a review by the Boundary Committee last year.

The City will be split into 31 single member wards, 5 two member wards and 1 three member ward.

The release of the candidates list confirms that whoever is elected, the council chamber will have a very different look to it on May 6th.

The 3 member ward of Baddeley, Milton & Norton has 16 candidates seeking election. 12 from national parties, 1 from Community Voice and 3 Independent candidates.

The current Council Leader Mohammed Pervez [Labour] is facing opposition from former Conservative & Independent Alliance Leader Roger Ibbs who is now standing as an Independent candidate.

Deputy Leader of the City Council and Leader of the Conservative & Independent Alliance Ross Irving is seeking election to the 2 member Hanford & Trentham ward. There the main opposition is understood to be from former coalition cabinet colleague Terry Follows [CIG] and Peter Hayward [Ind].

Liberal Democrats Group leader and coalition cabinet member Kieran Clarke is again standing in the Birches Head & Central Forest Park ward where he comes head to head with Former elected mayor Mark Meredith. He will also face a stiff challenge from former elected mayor champion and community leader Paul Breeze.

City Independent Leader Brian Ward is standing in the Blurton West & Newstead Ward and will not be facing former colleague Roy Naylor who recently announced he is standing down. The main opposition is thought o be from the Labour candidate Neil Day.

BNP group leader Michael Coleman will have his work cut out to defeat the very popular Labour candidate Ruth Rosenau in the ward of Meir North while former BNP deputy group leader Anthony Simmonds will surely split the far right vote with England First Candidate Nicholas McVeigh which could give a boost to Labour Candidate and current cabinet member Tom Reynolds.

Former BNP group leader Alby Walker who is now representing Community Voice is facing an uphill struggle in the Meir Park Ward to defeat City of Stoke-on-Trent Conservative party Chairman Abi Brown.

Walker’s wife Ellie is taking on former BNP colleague Melanie Baddeley in the Abbey Hulton & Townsend ward. One surprising omission from the candidates listed for this ward is that of former Labour councillor Graham Wallace. A number of sources had indicated that he would stand against the official Labour candidates selected.

Community Voice group spokesperson Mick Salih will stand for election in the huge Baddeley, Norton & Milton ward. He faces stiff opposition from all the mainstream parties.

There is some 53 Independent candidates standing including members of the City Independents, Community Voice, Independents4You and those who have chosen not to put any description on the form.

Whatever the outcome, the city’s electorate have a wide and varied choice of candidates to select from.

These elections will be the last, barring by-elections, for four years.

Pits n Pots will launch our election coverage later today.

This will be the most comprehensive coverage anywhere, given to each and every candidate regardless of political persuasion.

We will offer every candidate an equal opportunity to write an election article for publication [500ish words] and the chance to record an audio interview of around 7 minutes. These will be left on the site for reference.

Parliamentary hustings to be held at Keele University

Members of the public and university students will have the opportunity to question candidates for the Newcastle-under-Lyme constituency at parliamentary hustings at Keele University.

The event, organised by Keele University Students’ Union, will be held on Friday, April 30, at 7:30pm. It will focus on the future of higher education, but there will also be an opportunity to debate local and national political issues.

Prospective parliamentary candidates Paul Farrelly (Labour), Robert Jenrick (Conservative) and Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrat) have already confirmed their attendance. UKIP candidate David Nixon declined to attend.

The hustings, which will be held in a Question Time format, will be the last time the candidates will meet in open discussion before the election on May 6.

The event organiser, Students’ Union Vice-President Democracy & Communications Nick Heath, said: “This is a brilliant opportunity to see politics in action and for students and local residents to directly question their future parliamentary representative.”

The event will be held in the Westminster Theatre and will be open to all members of the public. Questions and topic for debate can be submitted before the event by emailing vp.comms@kusu.keele.ac.uk, joining the Facebook group “ËœNewcastle-Under-Lyme Parliamentary Hustings’ or tweeting @keelesu

A week in politics!

Tony Walley

Tony Walley

Comment By Tony Walley.

Well a week in politics can be a very long time!

Last week here we all were anticipating either a Labour or Independent Council Leader. Enter stage left Ross of the Tories and exit stage right the BNP group and here we are with a Conservative Council Leader the first in 39 years.

Now let me be straight here, I don’t think that with all his experience and skills Ross will make a bad leader, but already we are seeing the knives out for him.

Now I can understand that the good folk from Trentham will be wary and a tadge worried that one of the arch enemies is now top dog at the Civic Centre. But surely it’s time to say ‘what’s gone has gone’.

It the audio interviews that I have done with Ross, I have never come away with the impression that he wants to reverse the decision to keep Trentham High open. I think the excellent Dan Jordan & Donna Dewar ought to be on the phone sharpish to Ross and have a meeting to allay their concerns and gain support for the future plans to safeguard their school. Who knows they maybe surprised if they do.

I would certainly see how the land lies before I burned any bridges.

Euro Elections

Then on Sunday night we witnessed the winning of the first European Election seats for the far right party of the WHITE only people of this country – the BNP.

I must admit that I anticipated a concerted protest vote, but I also clung on the the hope that my fellow country men and women would not protest by allowing the BNP these seats, and more importantly access to the substantial funding that comes with the reward of a seat in the European Union.

Last night Adam Boulton of SKY News absolutely ripped BNP leader Nick Griffin apart and if anyone was in any doubt that this party are racist, find that interview and the one that Griffin did with Dimbleby straight after and your question will soon be answered.

Labour took a well expected kicking across the country as the current government, amidst all the expense rows I supposed it wasn’t as bad as some thought it would be. Especially talk of them slipping to 4th or 5th in the placings. Gordon Brown is fighting to cling on to power but the Tories will be keen to see the back of him as soon as possible. They won’t like the possibility of Brown masterminding the economic recovery and cleaning up parliament and having the opportunity of saying to the country before next years general election, ” look at what I have achieved!”

The Libdems were woe-full! They are the party that have come out of the expense fiasco relatively unscathed. Yet they never seem to capitalise on other parties mis-fortunes. In Stoke we have long since had a Libdem voice. The local party are swallowed up in a coalition and their sole target is to hang on to the coat tails of Labour and the Tories. Does anyone know what the Lidems stand for here in Stoke? There is to much empathy on keeping Libdem followers gagged than engaging with their voters or recruiting new members. The proof? Where has Paul Billington gone since his wings were clipped by Aunty Jean and Uncle Kieran? David Jack to his credit keeps battling on flying the yellow flag dodging the bullets from the local group.

The Conservatives did ok in parts and increased their vote by 1.2% not as well as much as many predicted. The managed to keep their share of the vote and increased their number of MEPs by one. But for all his pontificating and Bruce Forsyth impressions [“didn’t we do well!”] the Tory leader and his party failed to cover themselves in glory. That said they topped the polls in Wales for the first time since 1910.

Ukip proved to be the biggest winners on the night which is somewhat ironic really given the expense scandals involving their leader and some MEPs. The fact that they out polled Labour who are also suffering from an expense scandal is confusing to say the least. Leader Nigel Farage will now press ahead with his plans to turn Ukip into a fully fledged parliamentary party. They will have to convince the county’s electorate that they have more policies apart from their well known euro sceptic stance.

The Greens can be very encouraged by their showing.The failed to win any extra seats but increased their vote by some 8.7%. They also polled more votes than the BNP, winning 1,223,303 votes to their 916,424.  Which probably means that they received more of the so called protest votes than the far right party. That at least gives me hope that we as a very fine national are a long way off selling out to the policies of hate and division perpetrated by the BNP.

Stoke-on-Trent Euro Election Results

By Mike Rawlins

Just in from the council:

British National Party – 8,706
Christian Party “Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship” – 826
Conservative Party – 8,719
English Democrats Party – 1,346
Jury Team – 239
Liberal Democrats – 4,806
No2EU: Yes To Democracy – 688
Pro Democracy: Libertas.eu – 216
Socialist Labour Party – 723
The Green Party – 1,877
The Labour Party – 10,144
United Kingdom Independence Party – 10,885

A total of 49,389 votes were cast in Stoke-on-Trent, with a turnout of 26.73 per cent.

By Tony Walley.

Pits’n’Pots sources tell us that the BNP will not be successful in the West Midlads area, our predictions are:

Conservative seats = 2:  Ukip = 2: Labour = 1: Libdem = 1.

The BNP have managed to secure their 1st EU seat.

Mr Brons won his seat at the expenses of Labour.

“Despite the lies, we’ve managed to win through,” he said.

Mr Brons is a former leader of the National Front.

The party took 10 per cent of the vote in the region, up two per cent.

Nick Griffin’s far-right movement polled 120,139 votes in the Yorkshire and Humber region, following signs that the UK Independence Party could be the main beneficiary of another bad night for Labour.

The BNP has spent £500,000 on its election campaign, believing that a win in Europe would allow it to enter the political mainstream. Mr Griffin had initially predicted that his party could win six or seven seats but that still looks highly unlikely considering the party’s relatively poor polling in the county council elections.

Early in the evening, anti-BNP protesters stopped Mr Griffin from attending the election count in Manchester. Crowds waving placards surrounded several cars, one of which was thought to be carrying Mr Griffin, outside Manchester Town Hall.

Local elections: Labour faces up to county hall wipeout!

More than 250 Labour councillors will adjust to life out of office this week after the spectacular election defeat that left the party without control of a single county in England.

In Staffordshire, 29 of Labour’s 32 councillors were struck out of office like skittles in a bowling alley ““ a fitting end to one of the most chaotic election campaigns in memory which saw all parties consumed by the row over MPs expenses and one local Labour MP calling for Gordon Brown’s resignation even as the count was under way.

Sitting in the empty council chamber, the county’s new Tory leader Philip Atkins illustrated the enormity of his party’s victory.

“All that used to be Labour, all of that area,” he said, pointing at the benches. “They won’t even fill a single row from this week.”

The last time the Conservatives controlled Staffordshire, Prince Charles was engaged to Lady Diana, a pint of beer cost 45p and Bucks fizz were at number one with Making Your Mind Up.

Twenty-eight years later, the scale of Labour’s collapse was already apparent even before candidates arrived at the Knutton Recreation Centre on the bleak outskirts of Newcastle-under-Lyme to see the ballot boxes opened.

Among those witnessing the meltdown on Friday was Paul Farrelly, the local Labour MP, arriving fresh from an interview on BBC Radio Stoke in which he called for his own Prime Minister to step down in favour of Alan Johnson.

“It is clear that there is a lot of disillusionment with Labour in north Staffordshire and that coupled with Westminster there has been a backlash. The question is what we do about that,” said the MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme, who now favours Alan Johnson as party leader.

Labour’s collapse in Staffordshire, aided by a big switch to UKIP and a smaller shift to the BNP, was mirrored in Derbyshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire ““ leaving it in charge of not a single English county council.

Last week, Labour councillors in Staffordshire were responsible for a £1bn budget for schools, roads and social care for more than one million residents. This week nothing.

“I will sit down and have a long chat with my wife about what to do next,” said former council leader John Taylor, whose own defeat to UKIP at 5.20pm on Friday sealed the first Tory victory since May 1981. “She says he has got her husband back so I may be in for some gardening or decorating.

“It is a shame that Labour councillors have borne the brunt of public anger over MPs expenses. I understand the anger ““ I am angry too ““ but the way voters have taken it out on the county council is very disappointing.”

He said there had been a drop in support between the postal votes, cast before the party leadership crisis, and ballot box votes. “Hazel Blears and her colleagues should be ashamed of their behaviour in the middle of a campaign. They have cost the party control of the heartlands it has held for decades.”

“I hope you’re proud of ourselves at the Telegraph,” said an emotional Sandra Hambleton, also unseated as a Labour councillor by UKIP. “This country has become governed by you in the media and a lot of good people have lost out because of it. It will let in a load of fascists. The real losers will be local people.”

The butchery at the ballot box gave the Conservatives 49 councillors against four LibDems, four UKIP, two independents and Labour crushed to only three. UKIP picked up four seats, including one from the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats lost a seat to the Tories but gained from Labour and the BNP gained hundreds of new votes in white working class areas but failed to win a seat.

Conservatives believe they could gain local Westminster seats including Burton, Stafford, Staffordshire Moorlands and Tamworth in a general election, based on the local election result.

Up for grabs across the diverse county were some of the most affluent rural areas of England but also among the most deprived, with north Staffordshire in particular still haunted by the death of its mines and potteries. There was also public anger over in the wake of the scandal of “appalling failings” at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust identified in a recent Health care Commission report and the county council’s £19 million Changing Lives programme to modernise care for elderly which involved the closure of all but seven of the area’s existing care homes.

Turnout averaged 31 per cent. “I haven’t voted and I don’t know anyone who has either,” said taxi driver Alam Khan from Tunstall. “I’m an Asian with unemployed children. I think Europe is all right but Labour and Conservative MPs have been taking money they shouldn’t have. So who am I supposed to vote for? It is waste of time.”

Stalking the sports hall in a shocking pink shirt was Albert ‘Alby’ Walker, flamboyant leader of the BNP’s nine councillors in Stoke on Trent. His party had poured its efforts into two former industrial areas in the hope of winning the party’s first county council seat, campaigning on a platform of British jobs for British workers. Among them was the former mining village of Silverdale. “We did a leaflet campaign earlier in the area earlier in the year and had a positive response,” he said, flanked by supporters in blazers and sunglasses ““ an old soldier’s version of Reservoir Dogs.

UKIP candidates seemed as surprised by their success, collecting one in 10 votes across Staffordshire, winning four seats and coming second in more than half a dozen others. Derrick Huckfield, who knocked Labour into second place by more than 500 votes, said: “The message I got was that people were fed up with the mainstream parties but they were not racist and did not want to follow the example set by Stoke by electing BNP councillors. They no longer wanted to see politicians who were only interested in their parties.”

Mike Maryon, Conservative councillor in Cheadle and Checkley, admitted his party had been worried over revelations that local Tory MP Bill Cash made expenses claims for rent on a “second home” owned by his daughter. “There was a lot of disbelief,” said the former director of the now-defunct Bass brewing museum in Burton. “It was right in the middle of the campaign and the postal votes had already been sent out. We got all sorts of comments on the doorstep…’can we get a round of drinks on our expenses’ and all the rest of it. But in the end voters understand we are about local issues.”

Cllr Atkins said his new ruling group would set about preparing for a budget for next year, a £30m spending drive to improve the county’s roads and a “general move away from the culture of targets”.

And what of the ousted Labour members? “We’ll get up and fight on like we always do,” said Sandra Hambleton. “We won’t just pack it in because of what happened here. Local councillors are used to tough work.”

Source: The Telegraph.

Shaun of The Tories – Gives us his election forecast!

Contributed Article By Shaun Bennett.

I just thought I’d jot down a few predictions for what we can expect in
the local and EU elections on Thursday. Its all ‘Just a bit of fun’ of
course, but it’ll be interesting to see what really happens on the night.
So, here goes:

1) Labour will perform disastrously in the County elections and will lose
control of ALL their remaining county councils. But in the EU elections
Labour will only lose a couple of seats (thanks to the electoral system
that they introduced). This will allow Labour heavyweights to say that
they have done better than expected (having spun furiously that they are
on course for a meltdown in the days before the poll).

2) The Conservatives by contrast will perform very well in the county
elections and will gain control of every single county except for
Cornwall, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and probably Cumbria. Closer to
home, the result in Staffordshire will probably be a huge Tory majority of
around 20 on the council. But in the EU elections although their vote
share will go up  by a fair amount since 2004, they will only gain a
couple of extra seats (again because of the electoral system and the
reduction in the number of MEPs at this election). What will be most
interesting will be how each parliamentary constituency votes in the EU
elections-it may not tell us much with any great accuracy for 2010
(remember how well the Tories did at the 1999 euro elections) but it may
indicate how the parties are doing at constituency level. Nevertheless,
Labour will try to claim that the Tories have not done as well as they
need to-whether they have or not. Personally, it is the county elections
that I will be looking at with interest rather than the EU elections.

3) The Lib Dems will come out of the county elections with around the same
number of seats as they went into it. They will make some gains against
Labour  and against the Tories (because the last county elections were on
the same day as the general election and thus the Lib Dem vote was
artificially low). However, they will most probably lose two of their
three counties (Devon and Somerset) to the Tories; so even if the Lib Dems
make modest gains overall, the results will look worse for them. In the EU
elections the Lib Dems will end up with around the same number of seats as
they already have and so may feel somewhat disappointed. However the main
interest will be whether they manage to recover third place after losing
it to UKIP in 2004. My feeling is that its on a knife edge and could go
either way, a few weeks ago I would have said that UKIP would collapse
enough to let the Lib Dems overtake them, but now I’m not so sure.

4) UKIP will make no headway in the county elections-maybe gaining the
Silverdale division in Staffordshire (good luck, Dave) but probably no
other division in the entire country. In the EU elections however it may
be a somewhat different story. Not long ago, most people expected UKIP to
fall back heavily from their 2004 position but the expenses scandals that
have dominated the last few weeks headlines have made all the parties less
convinced of that. In addition, a lot of loyal Tory voters may well follow
Lord Tebbit’s advice (or rather, implied advice) to vote for UKIP as a one
off in this election to ‘send a message’ to the main parties. If they
choose to do so, then UKIP may well end up with an extra seat or two. If
however the Eurosceptic vote is heavily split as the main parties hope,
then UKIP could find themselves reduced to just a handfull of MEPs and
relegated to 4th place in the popular vote behind the Lib Dems.

5) Although so many on the left in particular have remained traditionally
obsessed about the performance of the BNP, this will be another of those
many occasions in which the outcome fails to live up to the threat. The
BNP will gain just a couple of seats in the county elections. The Heanor
ward in Derbyshire looks particularly vulnerable to the BNP after the
party notionally ‘won’ it last year in the district elections. But beyond
that any other BNP gains will be isolated to the old stomping grounds in

BNP Flag logo

BNP Flag logo

the northern counties-and will most likely be restricted to just two or
three gains in total. In the EU elections the BNP will most likely gain
just 2 seats (and will certainly not win above 4). Whilst this is an
advance on their previous position it would still fail to justify the
level of attention that they have been afforded by certain sections of the
media and the Labour Party. The main question will be who the BNP take
most of their support from-Labour or the Eurosceptic vote?

So in conclusion, the county elections will show massive Tory advances but
the EU elections will show very little change either way. Whatever the
results, the Tories will claim success, the Lib Dems will claim to be
‘encouraged’ and Labour will try and convince us that whilst they’re doing
‘terribly’ they are actually very pleased that the Tories are not doing
well enough to win the next election. In that sense the script has already
been essentially written. It’s the same script that they have used at
every local election I can remember in the last 10 years-and the media
will have their own script written too. They will want to show that the
minor parties are giving all the main parties a good kicking-whether they
are or not.

And whatever the results, all that the parties and the media will really
only be thinking about is the result of the next general election. In
reality the results this Thursday will tell us very little about that; its
all still very much to play for. All the talk now in the media is of Brown
‘standing down’ or ‘being forced out’ after terrible results on Thursday.
So here’s another prediction: he WON’T.

Then theres the talk in the media about a post-election cabinet reshuffle
in an effort to re-launch a flagging government. There probably will
indeed be a reshuffle but I’m prepared to predict that it will not produce
the widespread sackings of the big names that the media are talking about.
The election results this week will change very little, and Brown doesn’t
have the authority any more to make the big cabinet changes that would
lead to a rebellion within the party. Furthermore, having waited so long
to obtain the premiership, he won’t be giving it up voluntarily now even
if defeat n 2010 is increasingly likely-and Labour Party rules makes it
virtually impossible for a credible challenge to come forward, especially
with less than 12 months to go to the general election.

So whilst this week may well provide the last real chance for a
significant change of direction in British politics before the general
election next year, the likelihood is that the story of the elections this
Thursday will be one of ‘steady as she goes”¦oh look, there’s a big iceburg
on the horizon’!

Shaun Bennett BA(Hons), MA

The Euro Elections Starting Gun – Who’s First Out Of The Blocks?

By Pits’n’Pots Reporter.

Well the European Election campaigns have started in earnest, so what can we expect in Europe from our political parties?

Labour:

As yet Labour have not launched their national campaign statedgy, but here in Stoke Labour MEP Michael Cashman got his campaign underway yesterday. Speaking from the £2.2 million Silverdale Enterprise Park, built mostly with European money.

He said: “This is a wonderful example of what we have done with European money and the county council and European parliament working together to boost the economy for local people.”

Liberal Democrats:

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg launched his party’s Euro Campaign by saying the UK must “stand tall” in Europe if the British people are to get the full benefit of EU membership.

Mr Clegg said the EU offered “safety in numbers” in a recession and help for jobs and the environment.

Labour was “finished”, he said, while a vote for the Tories would be “wasted”.

In the 2004 European elections, the Lib Dems were pushed into fourth place behind the UK Independence Party.

He said Labour was deflated and disunited while a vote for the Conservatives next month would be a “wasted” one as they were on the sidelines of the European debate.

“The Tories want to pull down the drawbridge, turn the clock back and retreat to the fanatical fringe of European politics.”

Mr Clegg urged voters to take next month’s EU elections seriously, saying Europe took collective decisions on key issues like climate change which affected people’s daily lives.

“We have to act together if we want to make Britain safer, if we want to safeguard jobs and protect the environment,” Mr Clegg – who was an MEP for five years before being elected to the House of Commons in 2005 – said.

“We are stronger together. We are poorer apart. It is as simple as that.”

The Lib Dems were the only party which could get out of Europe “what British families need”, he stressed.

Mr Cleggs party trailed in behind the UK Independence Party in 2004, with 14.9% of the popular vote.

Politicians from the three major UK parties have expressed concerns that voters could use elections for the European Parliament to punish them for the expenses row bedevilling the House of Commons.

Lib Dem West Midlands MEP Liz Lynne has served on the European Parliament for 10 years and says her party believes the UK is stronger working with its neighbours.

She said: “We believe that laws should always be made at the most local level possible, but there are some areas when Europe needs to work together. The global recession, climate change and cross border crime are some of the biggest challenges Britain has ever faced, but we can only tackle them if we co-operate with other European countries.

“No one has faith in Gordon Brown or Labour rule any more. The Conservatives and UKIP want to isolate Britain, which would be an historic mistake.

The BNP:

BNP Flag logo

BNP Flag logo

The British National Party has launched its campaign for next month’s European Parliament elections, predicting it could win up to seven seats.

The party is contesting all 69 seats at stake in the UK mainland regions, on a platform of demanding the country withdraws from the European Union.

Leader Nick Griffin, a candidate in North West England, said the BNP also wanted to stop Turkey joining the EU.

His party was a threat to “tired, corrupt old politicians”, he added.

The BNP, which currently has no Euro MPs, is contesting about 465 county council seats in England’s local elections, which also take place on 4 June.

This is up from 39 candidates four years ago.

At the BNP’s campaign launch in Essex, Mr Griffin said: “There’s no protest vote like a British National Party protest vote, because all the others are in it together.

“Everyone knows we are the ones that they hate… We are the ones who are really a threat to their rotten, internationalist, liberal system.

“So we are the ones people have got to vote for if they want to protest against what the old politicians – the tired, corrupt old politicians – have done to this poor country of ours.”

Outlining his party’s anti-immigration stance, Mr Griffin said: “Not all immigrants are terrorists but all terrorists are immigrants or their immediate descendants.”

On its opposition to Turkey joining the EU, he said: “While we are in the European Union we most definitely, and above all else, oppose its expansion to bring 80 million low-wage Muslims into Christian democratic Europe.”

Simon Darby, BNP candidate for the West Midlands, said the party was concerned about exposing alleged EU corruption, incompetence, fraud and waste.

He said: “BNP MEPs will always vote in the European Parliament in the best interests of Britain and the British people.

“We will seek to expose and oppose. We will work closely with MEPs from other countries that share our aims and beliefs, in order to be more effective.

“We will maintain the highest standards of probity and integrity. In this regard, all BNP MEP candidates have signed a pledge to donate 10 per cent of their pre-tax salary to local cultural groups and activities in their regions.

UKIP:

The UK Independence Party could topple Gordon Brown by beating Labour into fourth place in next month’s Euro elections, says leader Nigel Farage.

Launching the party’s election campaign, Mr Farage said the “humiliation” of being beaten by UKIP would force Mr Brown to quit.

Mr Farage also claimed the best way to defeat the BNP was to vote UKIP.

And he hit back at claims that the party, which came third in 2004’s euro poll, would lose many seats this time.

UKIP, which campaigns for Britain’s exit from the European Union, achieved a breakthrough in 2004, winning 16% of the vote and beating the Liberal Democrats into fourth place.

It has performed less well in elections since then and has lost three of its 12 MEPs, including television celebrity Robert Kilroy-Silk, who left to form his own party.

It also faces competition from new Eurosceptic parties such as the trade union-backed NO2EU and the pan-European Libertas, which wants wholesale reform of the EU rather than withdrawal.

But Mr Farage – who has said he will quit as leader if the party returns fewer than 10 MEPs – was bullish about its prospects at its campaign launch in central London.

UKIP West Midlands MEP Mike Nattrass said his party was worried about the cost of European membership.

He said: “It is costing us dearly, not just the £40 million a day we give to the EU but also the jobs lost, like Peugeot to Slovakia.

“We seek to send a message to the professional politicians by increasing our share of the vote from 2004 when we surprised the political establishment by finishing third ““ beating the Lib Dems.

“In the West Midlands UKIP scored over a quarter of a million votes missing out on electing a second MEP by just 4,500 votes.

Conservatives:

The Tories have yet to announce their Euro Election campaign. But locally, Simon Tagg, chairman of Newcastle Conservative Association, said the party believed in the European Union but also wanted to keep independence.

He said: “We believe in working closely with our European partners for the benefit of our local community.

“However, we would not give any more powers to Europe without a referendum in this country. We want to give people the choice of how to go forward.”

The Green Party:

The Green Party’s party election broadcast for the European elections will be on the following confirmed times and dates:

– 11th May, 1755 on BBC2, 1825 on ITV, 1855 on both Five and BBC1

– 26th May, 1855 on BBC Wales

– 27th May, 1755 on BBC2, 1825 on ITV, 1855 on both Five and BBC1

Green Party candidates for the West Midlands in the European elections to be held on Thursday 4th June 2009:

1. Felicity Norman

Lead candidate for the West Midlands region in the European Elections to be held in June 2009.

Felicity Norman has a wealth of experience through travelling widely, living and working in many different parts of the world. Her work has included agriculture and teaching. She is married with two daughters and lives with her family on a smallholding in Herefordshire, where she teaches part time.

I am delighted to have been selected as the Green Party’s lead candidate for the West Midlands in the 2009 European elections, and look forward to putting forward Green policies and ideas wherever possible. Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert have done a wonderful job in Brussels and Strasburg for the past few years, together with their Green colleagues from other European countries, in promoting the Green agenda, and I look forward to joining them. I am especially interested in food, farming and rural affairs and will be campaigning hard for agricultural policy reform: boosting organic farming, small family farms, allotments, support for local food, no GMOs, and better animal welfare standards. Although I am a supporter of the EU, I am very critical of many of its activities. I shall be working with other Greens to make the EU more open and accountable, less beaurocratic and centralised, and far greener. I will be campaigning for a Europe that puts people before profit, protects workers and minorities, and challenges poverty, discrimination and injustice both here and in the wider world. I want to see a Europe that takes seriously the dangers posed by Climate Change and Peak Oil, as well as other threats to the environment, and works for truly sustainable solutions; a Europe where justice and sustainability underpin all aspects of political decision making.”

2. Peter Tinsley

Peter is a management consultant, retired NHS manager and lives in Selly Park, Birmingham. He is a member of the Selly Oak Strategic Partnership representing voluntary and community organisations and has been a member of the city-wide partnership.

Peter is particularly interested in developing a Green perspective on Foreign Affairs and Defence within Europe. He has been a member of the party since 1990 and is currently the Elections Officer for the West Midlands.

3. Chris Williams

Chris, aged 25, is one of the youngest Green Party candidates at the European elections. Graduating in Biochemistry at Oxford University three years ago, Chris has since spent a year travelling from Morocco to Cape Town and the past two years working for an environmental campaigning charity. Passionate about social justice, he now works full time promoting Green politics.

Chris lives in Solihull where he recently coordinated the campaign to elect the first Green Party Councillor on to Solihull Council. The difference that makes is already being felt. He will spend the next year campaigining on Green politics in the West Midlands region.

4. Ian Davison

Ian Davison grew up in Cambridge and went to Cambridge University to study Natural Sciences. In 1984, while studying for a PhD in psychology, he joined the Green Party and he was involved in starting and running a university green group.

Ian then trained as a teacher and taught in state secondary schools for 14 years with a variety of roles including head of science and senior teacher. Currently he is a research fellow at the University of Birmingham. He mainly conducts research in postgraduate medical education.

Ian lives in Leamington Spa with his partner for the last 23 years. Their two children attend local state schools.

5. Vicky Dunn

Vicky Dunn is 31 years old, has lived in Kidderminster for four years and has been an environmental and peace activist for the last ten years. Vicky has a PhD in environmental chemistry and has worked as an environmental business advisor, helping West Midlands businesses save money and resources. She has also worked as a local authority health and sustainability officer.

Vicky recognises that Europe has driven forward the environmental agenda on waste, producer responsibility and carbon trading but also recognises that people see European decision making as remote, and there is much scope to devolve its power.

6. Dave Wall

David was born and brought up in Birmingham, leaving the West Midlands for five years to science at University then teach for a year in Turkey before returning to Birmingham for a brief stay before moving to Lichfield in Staffordshire.

Dave has had a fragmented work history which included computer programming, science teaching, and NHS Administration.  He has experience of Trade union work as District Secretary of his Union whilst working for the West Midlands Regional Health Authority.

Dave has been actively involved in Voluntary and Church activities, having been an elected member of the Board of Management of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, and also elected to the Lichfield Diocesan Synod.  He is actively involved with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust as a Trustee.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIaqH84Yvzc

Read The Sentinel article here.

Over to you, what do you want to see during the Euro Election campaign? Should we be in Europe at all? Are You pro or anti  Europe?………….

Source: BBC