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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Scotsman Letter (2 days running) - UKIP in Referendum "Debate"

    I am gratified, not to say astonished, that the Scotsman have published a letter from me today. 2 days running is unprecedented.

      Lesley Riddoch says Perspective (12th May) that "debates are being cancelled or abandoned because Better Together won't supply speakers". If so this is disgraceful. Also unnecessary.
     Better Together have always refused to work together with UKIP. However UKIP has not returned the disfavour and our current leader Arthur "Misty" Thackeray was the organiser of UKIP's campaign before his elevation. I am certain that he would make every attempt to produce a speaker where a debate is wanted.
     I personally regard open public debate of every political issue as a necessary and perhaps sufficient condition for democracy and assume the effective BBC ban on UKIP in the referendum debate means they do to.
     In 2012 I had the honour, along with our then leader Mike Scott-Hayward of debating in Glasgow City Chambers for No. Despite having only a few minutes preparation (the other parties had, at the last moment, found prior engagements)  we won easily. Partly by the expedient of mentioning a prior Green assertion that "nobody should vote Yes in the expectation of any economic growth in the next 10 years" which their partners had not disputed.
     The opposition were left complaining how unfair it was that they had to face us when had been expecting only the usual suspects.
     The exclusion of UKIP from the referendum "debate" has meant that a number of the clearest arguments against have gone unmade - those relating to the EU.
       Losing the opt-outs Britain has would mean losing our share of the rebate (nearly £1 bn); losing the opt outs from the social chapter would cost us 170,000 jobs; signing the Shengen agreement on immigration means border posts at Gretna; new members have to promise to someday join the euro. The SNP, uniquely among nominally separatist parties worldwide, deny us even a referendum on whether we want this union.
    Apart from the harm the Better Together campaign and the gatekeepers of the media have done to the No campaign, the Scottish people have, so far, been denied a genuine 2 sided debate on the issue. That can still change.
Neil Craig
Prospective UKIP Glasgow candidate
Ref - The Glasgow City Chambers debate
    That is as good as I could ever have wanted. Not edited - check; party affiliation - check; dig at the other parties - check; pushing my own hobbyhorse of the importance of open debate - check; significant pressure to get us elbowing our way into the debate - check; moderating attempt by mention of both sides in current division - check; bit of humour - check; getting to modestly imply I am a capable public speaker - check; getting to call the BBC totalitarian censors - check; putting forward a range of anti-separation and anti-EU arguments that have barely been mentioned - check; getting to use the word "censorship" in print to describe the censorship endemic to our politics - check.

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Now that the Herald group have come out openly in favour of independence, do you think that the Scotsman will take the plunge and openly support UKIP, - or is that too far for somebody who might still wish to be called "mainstream"?
I think that would be very optimistic but printing a letter from somebody in UKIP 2 days running (there is also one from Malcolm Parkin today supporting UKIP and most of the comments they published on the meeting were on our side) is a sign that they are making space for us. On the other hand the initial report of the meeting was negative.

Where things may break is if UKIP beat the Tories well in the EU election. That would make us, at least in terms of that election, Scotland's 3rd party. At that point what exactly is the purpose of the Scottish Conservatives? We could see supporting media & other organisations, donors & even MSPs, as well as voters, crossing.

I "caught" UKIP's election broadcast last night and there appeared to be little that your opponents could describe in the obnoxious ways that have polluted many blogs.
The bias demonstrated by the state owned BBC in particular is not consistent with democracy (& also illegal under their Charter duty of "balance"). If Putin were doing it the BBC would be loud in saying so.

However the fact that the attacks made are smears and innuendo suggests they cannot find anything in our policies to oppose. This is supported by the attacks on Godfrey Bloom for his "bongo bongo land" remark where, to denounce him it was necessary to explain some of his criticism of "aid" & to the BBC's surprise, found both public and experts broadly agreed with him.
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