The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has made some significant electoral advances since the 2010 General Election, when they secured 3.1% of the popular vote. Not only did the party go on to win the 2014 Elections to the European Parliament with 24 MEPs elected on 26.6% of the vote, but they currently have 430 councillors across 76 local councils, and recently secured their first elected MPs to Westminster following Conservative defections and victory in two volitional by-elections. At the time of writing they are regularly scoring between 12-15% in opinion polls. Christians are deeply divided about the party’s perceived ‘undercurrents’ of racism, nationalism and isolationism which, some aver, put them beyond the pale of religious respectability. But despite episcopal denunciations(1), the party is attracting Christians from across the denominations, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church(2). Continue reading →
David Lidington’s letter to Conservative Party members on ‘reform in Europe’ tells us not very much about almost nothing at all. It is measured, upbeat and polite, but that is the essential optimism and generous disposition of the man himself. The only interesting glimpse it offered into current thinking was confirmation of his ignorance of the Maastricht Treaty. Perhaps, like Kenneth Clarke, he hasn’t bothered to read it.
The Europe Minister wrote: ‘I’m sure [members] will be pleased to know that in their Subsidiarity Review, the Dutch Government proposed a new principle: ‘at European level only when necessary, at national level whenever possible’.’
It isn’t clear if this ‘new principle’ is untrodden ground to the Dutch Government or to David Lidington: I hope the former, if only because I expect the Europe Minister to be rather more informed and better advised. Whichever it is, that such chicanery can be sent out to loyal, intelligent and discerning Conservatives in the hope of fobbing them (indeed, us) off with frivolous sloganeering only serves to perpetuate the epistemic distance between the parliamentary and voluntary wings of the party. Continue reading →