UKIP’s Chatham & Aylesford candidate has been accused of sharing Islamophobic posts

UKIP
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Nicole Bushill, UKIP’s candidate for Chatham & Aylesford in next month’s general election, has been spreading Islamophobic material, according to a campaign group.

Hope Not Hate have today named three UKIP candidates who they have found to be spreading hate material online.

The post highlights five posts Bushill has “shared” on Facebook, including a post railing against an “Islamic halal tax” on Easter eggs:

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and other popular brands:

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The Chatham & Aylesford candidate also turned her sights on Subway:

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and sought to claim that “Islamophobia” doesn’t actually exist:

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It’s not all negativity, though. The UKIP hopeful had some positive words about controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders:

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It’s not exactly clear what “war” it is “we” may just win, but given the results in Holland and France, somehow I don’t think “we’re” winning it…

After Hope Not Hate‘s revelations, I took a look at Bushill’s Twitter feed – and didn’t have to delve too far before finding an extraordinary attack on Islam:

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DON’T PANIC! we’re not Islamic

Somehow I can’t imagine she’d be too popular if she put that slogan on an election leaflet!

Bushill has been approached for a comment.

Medway UKIP’s Deputy Leader resigns from Council

Mark Reckless and Catriona Brown-Reckless
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The Deputy Leader of the UKIP Group on Medway Council, Catriona Brown-Reckless, has resigned.

In perhaps the most unsurprising political news of the year (so far), the former Strood South councillor has stepped aside, prompting a by-election later this year.

Brown-Reckless is the wife of former Rochester & Strood MP Mark Reckless, who was elected to the Welsh Assembly in May, and local commentators have been speculating over the timing of her impending departure.

The resignation leaves the total number of UKIP councillors in Medway at 2. Brown-Reckless’ ward colleague Mark Joy resigned the UKIP whip shortly after his election last year and now sits as an independent.

Until last May, Strood South had been closely fought between Labour and the Conservatives. Two Conservative and one Labour councillor were elected in 2003, with the Tories winning the third seat in 2007. Labour regained a seat in 2011, before both they and the Conservatives lost a seat to UKIP in 2015.

A by-election looks likely to be held on 10 November, which could be a close contest between UKIP, the Conservatives and Labour. Candidates will be announced closer to the date.

Candidates and results will appear on Medway Elects as they are announced.

I’m supporting Henry Bolton for Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (but my second preference candidate may surprise you)

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The candidates have been announced, the election is underway, and I am today officially endorsing Henry Bolton OBE to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent. For the first time in any election, I am also endorsing a second preference candidate – and regular readers may be somewhat surprised by where that second “X” will be going.

Henry Bolton OBEHenry Bolton OBE is UKIP’s candidate for the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election taking place on 5 May – and I would encourage each and every one of you to lend him your vote.

The full list of candidates to appear on the ballot paper has been published, and I have updated the 2016 Kent PCC Election page on Medway Elects with the same. Of those standing, I believe Mr Bolton is the best choice for Kent.

Given the fact that I left UKIP around eight months ago, some readers may be surprised that I am endorsing a UKIP candidate, but, for me, the Police and Crime Commissioner role is not about party politics; it is about electing somebody with the necessary skill and experience to manage Kent Police so that they work in the most effective way for us, the people of Kent.

For all her faults, Ann Barnes had racked up many years on the Kent Police Authority before the PCC superceded that body, and that direct experience with the police stood her in good stead. Despite being a walking PR disaster (especially in the early days), there is no denying her results; for Kent Police to receive the best HMIC rating out of 43 police areas is a remarkable achievement, and must be congratulated.

On paper, the Conservative Party candidate appears to be a career politician. Since studying Public Policy, Government and Management at the University of Birmingham, Matthew Scott has been a local councillor and currently works as a Parliamentary Manager in Westminster. You can read the biography on his website and make up your own mind, but, to me, it seems Mr Scott’s credentials stem from liaising with the police from the outside, rather than any direct experience of the running or day-to-day affairs of the Force. Whilst not wishing to unfairly undermine his own skills and experience (which I am sure are many), if Mr Scott is the most experienced candidate the Conservative Party can put forward for Kent PCC, then one must wonder about the credentials of those who didn’t make the cut.

Steve Uncles is the only 2012 candidate making a return appearance. As the English Democrats’ candidate, Mr Uncles achieved a remarkable 5.3% of the vote, only being beaten into last place by independent Dai Liyanage, who attracted 3.7%. This time round, Mr Uncles is awaiting trial for an alleged election offence dating back to April 2013 – and even (successfully) applied to have his trial postponed until after this election. Whilst I am a firm believer in the principle of being innocent until proven guilty, what must it say of a man when he is more concerned with chasing elected office than clearing his name? I will let readers decide the answer to that question themselves.

David Naghi, the Liberal Democrat candidate, represents East Ward on Maidstone Borough Council. Otherwise, I honestly know very little about his experience or credentials for this role. Indeed, despite being on the Statement of Persons Nominated, at the time of going to pixel, he was not listed on the Lib Dem website’s PCC candidates page. Equally, I’m sorry to say that I know very little about the independent candidate Gurvinder Sandher, besides being the Director of the Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Of the six candidates on the ballot paper, that leaves Medway Councillor Tris Osborne, who is standing for the Labour Party, and Henry Bolton OBE. Both have frontline policing experience, but, in my opinion, Mr Bolton’s background makes him the best-suited candidate for the job. That said, I am not completely dismissing Tris as a possible PCC, as you will see later on in this article.

For the first time, I am heading into an election without being constrained by membership of a political party, so I am free to publicly support whoever I wish. I have decided to be so open about endorsing the UKIP candidate, despite no longer being a member of that party, partly because of his experience, but also because UKIP’s stated policy is that their PCCs should be answerable to the needs of the people who elect them, and not to a national party whip. That independence is crucial in such a key role.

Henry Bolton has spent 21 years in the military, as an infantry and intelligence officer with the British Army. Upon leaving the Army, Mr Bolton spent six years as a civilian police officer with Thames Valley Police, before being seconded to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office by the European Union as Security and Defence Planner for Georgia, Libya, Ukraine, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

You can read Mr Bolton’s full biography for yourselves (if you can forgive the website looking like something from the early 2000s – no one is perfect, after all!), but of particular note are his work as the Head of the International Police in Croatia, leading “a number of international diplomatic missions to help various governments to reform their police, border guard and other security services” and assisting “governments in building cross-governmental, multi-agency coordination and strategies to enhance national security and the rule of law”. He was awarded the OBE in 2013 for “Services to International Security”.

If ever there were a candidate for whom the role of PCC was created, it must surely be Henry Bolton. If the voters of Kent wish to repeat the 2012 result and elect a candidate on the strength of their skills and experience, rather than their party, then, on 5 May, they should mark one of their crosses next to Henry Bolton and ensure that their next Police and Crime Commissioner is a man with the experience to get the job done, and get it done right.

Don’t lose your second vote

Don’t forget that you have two votes in the PCC election and can support a first- and a second-choice candidate. If no candidate has more than 50% of the vote after all first-choice votes have been counted, then all but the two highest-polling candidates are eliminated and any second-choice votes from those ballot papers will be added to the remaining two candidates. In the 2012 election, Ann Barnes, the ultimate victor, attained 46.8% of first-choice votes and won thanks to favourable second-choice votes.

Tris OsborneI will be casting my second vote for the Labour Party candidate Tris Osborne. Again, this is not because I have suddenly started supporting Labour (far from it), but because he is local (to Medway) and also has front-line experience in policing as a former Special Constable. He is very approachable and I believe he would be a strong voice for both Kent residents and Kent Police.

Medway Messenger: Friday, 4 March 2016

Letters
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I left the Conservative Party in 2013 for a number of reasons, but my principal reason for joining Ukip was to campaign for the right of the British people to have their say on continued membership of the European Union.

Now I am genuinely undecided over which way to cast my vote. I have always believed that the EU is too bureaucratic and unashamedly undemocratic – and the European reaction to the Prime Minister’s meagre renegotiation suggests a firm opposition to meaningful reform.

The EU affects our lives in so many ways, some good and some bad, which is precisely why I wanted everyone in this country to have the first right to decide on this issue since 1975.

It saddens me to see that the opening shots in the referendum battle (from both sides) have been more about scaremongering than promoting facts and sensible debate. If voters are to make an informed choice on June 23, then we need to see less rhetoric and more reality from both camps.

It would be a shame if the final result was tainted because remain and leave campaigners could not leave their dogma to one side to promote reasonable debate on an issue which is, frankly, much more important than their own egos.

Alan Collins
Goudhurst Road, Gillingham

Yes, Farage has the support of UKIP voters, but that wasn’t Carswell’s point

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UKIP have countered Douglas Carswell’s opinion that the party may not be able to move beyond its base with Nigel Farage at the helm by claiming that voters are satisfied with the leader.

The Member of Parliament for Clacton, and UKIP’s only representative in the House of Commons despite winning four million votes in May’s general election, said in an interview with BBC Essex (see tweet, below) that, while it wasn’t for him to decide who the leader was, “we all need to think very carefully as to whether or not we can build beyond the base that we’ve now got”.

Whilst affirming his commitment to UKIP, Carswell took issue with the party’s response to the resounding loss in the Oldham West and Royton by-election earlier this month.

Let’s not do what we did the day after the Oldham by-election and blame the voter, let’s not pretend it’s all due to postal ballots. You know they had postal ballots here in Clacton too and I don’t remember anyone blaming postal ballots then.

If you are in the business of doing democracy for a living you need to accept the democratic verdict, and the punter didn’t take what we had to offer.

Carswell also added that without a change of direction, “you can come second and you can carry on coming second and you can be an ‘also ran”.

The party’s chairman, Steve Crowther, responded to the MP’s criticism by claiming that the majority of UKIP voters are satisfied with Nigel Farage, while the party leader himself hit back saying “he has been saying this privately for some months,” insisting that the party is very united. Members, elected representatives and supporters of the party have also taken to defending Farage on social media.

Others, however, have agreed with their MP’s opinion or, at least, defended his right to express it.

The point that many of those UKIP supporters fiercely firing off angry tweets have missed is that Douglas Carswell was only stating an opinion, formed from many years’ experience in politics, and himself admitted that it was not up to him to decide who the leader of the party should be.

Any party which seeks to be credible must accept that mature and sensible debate as to the leadership and direction of that party is an integral ingredient in democratic discourse. Angrily shouting down your party’s only MP, even if only on social media, because you disagree with him or you think that his views may hinder your electoral success, is only ever seen on the outside as as an attempt to quash internal debate – and, ultimately, supports the assertion that the party is only looking to appease its core support, rather than build itself into a credible, winning force.

UKIP is too often seen as a one-man band, even referred to openly as “Nigel’s party”, which betrays the numerous talented politicians and coveted “People’s Army” which provide the backbone of the party. To many within UKIP, Farage is seen as an almost Godly figure, whilst to many outside the party, he is seen as incredibly divisive. It is easy to see why someone might think it difficult to move the party from being “also-rans” to “winners” with a polarising leader at the helm.

That said, I do not wish to see either Farage or UKIP tarnished by current events – there is, after all, a referendum looming which, I believe, would not be taking place had it not been for Farage and UKIP. However, sooner or later the party must face up to the fact that it needs an internal debate as to who can take the party forward and how. Only the party membership can decide whether that is Farage or someone new, but, either way, they must realise that there is more to politics than their own wishes. Yes, Farage is popular and has many, many fans (myself included), but having fans among the converted will not necessarily result in winning elections and being able to put your policies into practice.

Until then, supporters must realise that there are differing opinions within the party – and respect when they are expressed, even if they do not agree with them. The new politics promised by UKIP cannot be seen in publicly insulting and attempting to drown out any voice of dissent – especially when it comes from the only voice representing their four million voters in the House of Commons.