UKIP ranters should calm down

UKIP's band of frequent letter writers just won't give up, but I make this promise. If they can prove to me that civil servants in the European Commission in Brussels drew the boundaries of England's regions, then I will retract everything I said two weeks ago.

UKIP's band of frequent letter writers just won't give up, but I make this promise. If they can prove to me that civil servants in the European Commission in Brussels drew the boundaries of England's regions, then I will retract everything I said two weeks ago.

The unpalatable truth for these UKIP supporters is they while the concept of regions is European in origin, the East of England is the creation of the current Blair government, working on boundaries devised for another purpose by John Major's Tories.

I have nothing against the principle of devolving powers to an elected regional government, as long as the boundaries are redrawn into units of common interest such as historic East Anglia. And I repeat my assertion that no-one sitting in Brussels would ever have created a South East region stretching north south from Milton Keynes to the Isle of Wight and then east to Kent.

Our regions are based on the Edward Heath Tory government's vision of English local government, which swept away centuries' old counties and created new ones. Just look at the Yorkshire and Humber region - it excludes the Middlesbrough area which was always in the North Riding of Yorkshire until its enforced inclusion in artificial Cleveland county but includes Scunthorpe, which until 1974 was part of Lincolnshire being forced into artificial Humberside.


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The vandalism of England - and Scottish and Welsh counties - is down to a decision of the 1970-74 Conservative government. Perhaps that's what the UKIP ranters - most of whom are disillusioned Tories - can't stomach. The party they probably voted for in 1970 altered Britain's county map irrevocably - and for good measure took us into that strange land they hate so much known as “Europe.”

UKIP last week laid bare its place on the political spectrum by ordering a policy review as it makes a direct pitch to right-of-centre voters who it believes have been “abandoned” by the Conservatives under David Cameron.

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While opposition to British membership of the European Union remains at the heart of UKIP policies, party leader Roger Knapman - a one time Tory MP - pledged it would focus more on issues like education, immigration and trade.

Mr Knapman said UKIP would be looking initially at five policies - education, international trade, immigration, tax and devolution. “The traditional parties have left voters with a Hobson's choice between New Labour and Blue Labour: authoritarian, centralised visions of a Britain would choose to live in.”

While this may be a very clever sound bite mocking David Cameron, there's a fatal flaw in Mr Knapman's plans. After 12 years of Labour government, I suspect any “traditional” Tories still alive would rather see Mr Cameron in Downing Street than risk a fourth-term of Labour rule under Scotsman Gordon Brown which voting UKIP and splitting the Conservative vote would bring about.

And having written that, I now look forward to another torrent of hysterical, abusive letters from UKIP supporters similar to two weeks ago, which bear all the hallmarks of an orchestrated campaign designed to shout down anyone who does not share their beliefs.

READ more about UKIP in Dines' Days - log on to www.eadt.co.uk/blogs

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