Tories wake up to Ukip threat

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the chancellor’s keynote speech on Europe last night, and his warning that Britain’s market economy could be imperilled by an unholy alliance between Labour and Ukip, reflects the Conservative Party’s sense of urgency ahead of today’s European and local elections in which the Tories expect to suffer significant losses.

THE Chancellor’s keynote speech on Europe last night, and his warning that Britain’s market economy could be imperilled by an unholy alliance between Labour and Ukip, reflects the Conservative Party’s sense of urgency ahead of today’s European and local elections in which the Tories expect to suffer significant losses.

George Osborne is right to be concerned. The vagaries of Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, and its disproportionate number of urban seats, favours Labour to such an extent that Ed Miliband will only need 35 per cent of the vote to become Prime Minister in next May. Contrast this with the Tories, who would need the support of about 43 per cent of voters if the Conservatives are to secure an outright majority.

Despite their recent revival, one that has coincided with the welcome upturn in the economy, the Tories are still struggling to win over sufficient voters in the Yorkshire battleground seats or amongst ethnic minority voters. And then there is the Ukip factor. At present support for Nigel Farage’s party amongst Eurosceptics is at such a level that it could, in fact, lead to a pro-European Labour administration – the complete opposite of its intentions – because of the splintering of the centre-right vote.

This was the thinking behind Mr Osborne’s speech in which he warned that Labour’s state interventionism, coupled with Ukip’s “pull up the drawbridge” dogma, will lead Britain into an economic decline that will adversely affect 
the poor more so than the rich.

The Chancellor’s logic is sound – the Tories are the only party that can deliver a referendum on the EU membership – but the problem is that speeches by Conservative politicians only seem to entrench the views of Ukip supporters. It is a dilemma that is likely to haunt the party still further as the ballot papers are counted.

Evil beyond belief

Sentence must be served in full

FOR callous exploitation of the elderly and vulnerable, it would be hard to beat the ruthless targeting of a stroke-bound victim by Leeds conwoman Leanne Mitchell.

Mitchell, who already had four previous convictions for burglary, gained access to the 68-year-old’s flat and informed him that she was a police officer.

Claiming that she was investigating inappropriate behaviour involving children on computers, the pensioner immediately agreed that she could examine his own computer in order to confirm it did not contain any offending material.

Instead Mitchell took his wallet from the living room table. When she was

spotted doing so she told her victim she needed to check to see if his bank

card had been used to pay for any indecent images, noting down his PIN number from a notice board.

In court, Mitchell claimed that she had no recollection of what had happened because of the drugs that she had taken.

This, of course, is utter nonsense. This was a calculated crime during which Mitchell knew exactly what she was doing at every wicked turn.

Such offences highlight the risks that face those vulnerable older people who live alone, particularly those who have little or no contact with others from one day to the next and are therefore susceptible to those who have no compunction about preying on them. In such instances, it is imperative that the courts send out a strong message that such crime is treated seriously.

Yet Mitchell’s four-year sentence raises the prospect of her being free in just two years. Is that really an adequate deterrent?

A warm welcome

Yorkshire is the best of British

AFTER Harrogate was named as the happiest place to live in Britain, a fitting riposte to those southerners who think it is grim up North, it comes as no surprise that the North Yorkshire spa town’s reputation for warm hospitality has now been recognised by the latest TripAdvisor awards.

This is the perfect precursor to a year to remember in Harrogate’s history when it hosts the Tour de France in July just days before the Great Yorkshire Show.

Yet it is also significant that York, Scarborough and Bridlington are also recognised. It means that this county is the only region in the UK to have four locations listed in TripAdvisor’s top 10 and highlights, once again, the importance of the promotional work undertaken by Welcome to Yorkshire. The challenge now is ensuring that Yorkshire continues to offer the warmest of welcomes to all. After all, this county’s hospitality remains one of its greatest assets.