The Right Must Unite, Somehow.

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From the far left to the far right, in Britain, France, Denmark, Austria and Greece, euroscepticism is not merely “on the rise”; it has triumphed.

In Britain, Nigel Farage MEP hailed a political earthquake, the greatest result seen in over one hundred years, while in France Marine le Pen’s Front National won a historic victory, polling 25% of votes cast.

As eurosceptics across the continent celebrate, their merriments signal the start of a severe political headache for the EU juggernaut and its supporters………..

Read the rest here on www.Breitbart.com

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Would be President of Europe – “We need a European Army”

Juncker
Over the course of the next four days citizens of 28 European Union member states will turn out to vote, albeit in disappointing numbers , to decide who will become the next 751 Members of the European Parliament.

Polls suggest that many across the UK are unaware that these elections are taking place and apathy is rife; just 34.5% of Brits cast their vote in the last round of Euros, but the coinciding of local elections and UKIP fever may combine to cause a revival of interest in the UK, particularly among those who tend not to vote at all.

However, if relatively few are engaged in the political process, a veritable smidgen of the voting populace will be aware that, under the Lisbon Treaty, one of the first tasks of the incoming Parliament will be to elect a new President of the European Commission, Europarl’s all-powerful executive body.

The choice for this post must “take account” of election results, meaning that to an extent voters have a say in electing the most powerful man in Europe, but the process is typically complicated. Primarily, “taking account” is a characteristically woolly term; the Lisbon Treaty states that the proposal for the next President will come from the European Council using a qualified majority vote and taking into account the results of tomorrow’s elections. Each of the main EP-wide parties have chosen a candidate and whichever group wins will expect their candidate to get the top job. However, heads of state are under no obligation to pick any of these candidates and once their selection has been made this could then be blocked by the parliament. We could see a fight breakout between the European Parliament and the European Council over who will run the European Commission, the body with the real power.

The issue of Europe’s President has barely seen a mention in the British press. One might speculate that this is because Cameron broke his “cast-iron guarantee”, Labour oversaw the signing of the Lisbon Treaty and it all reveals a little too much of the immense power held by the Commission juxtaposed with the irrelevance of the MEPs we will elect.

But we should take notice and the press have a duty to enlighten the British public.

Not once today have I seen reported that one of the leading candidates, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European People’s Party (EPP) that used to house the British Conservatives, last night argued in favour of a European Army. In last night’s televised debate with the European Socialist (PES) candidate, Martin Schulz, the EU’s Common Defence and Security Policy (CSDP) was discussed.

Juncker jumped on the subject, claiming that if the EU had a policy of common defence procurement “between €21 billion and €60 billion could be saved, billions which could be much better invested in schools and hospitals.” He openly stated his belief in the need for a “European army”, citing Putin’s movements.

Aside from the obvious criticism of a Eurosceptic – that this money would be better “invested” back in the pockets of European taxpayers – the prospect of a European Army is out there and supported by the man who is likely to become the most powerful man in Europe.

Why is this not being reported in the UK? Is the Croydon omnishambles or the one-fingered salute by a UKIP candidate of greater national importance?

I think not.

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Thursday’s Local Elections

This Thursday those of us who have registered to vote will have a chance to elect our MEPs and – more importantly – in 161 councils in England and 11 in Northern Ireland local elections will also take place.

The meteoric rise of UKIP in the polls – an unfathomable 61% in the Eastern Region this week – and the consequent media shark attacks have somewhat detracted from the somewhat less glamorous local elections. But, local politics, dull as they may be, matter in a far more visceral way. Want to provoke emotion? Try a land dispute, planning row, refuse collection, parking or potholes. Outside of Westminster it is these sorts of issues that raise the bloody, not the CAP or obscure Directives.

In recent weeks, UKIP have entirely stolen the political headlines, for good or ill. Politicians from across the spectrum are cashing in on the UKIP cow, grappling desperately to take back the headlines , yet still UKIP are set for a landmark win on Thursday as the battle for the next gaggle of MEPs reaches its finale.

As UKIP sponge up the MEP votes haemorrhaged by other parties, there is likely to be a profound effect on the results of the locals, too. The event of European Elections coinciding with local elections has repeatedly pushed up turnout in the past. Turnout is typically around 35% for local elections, falling to just 24% in 1999 when the Europeans did not coincide.

District councils, London borough councils, Metropolitan councils, unitary councils and NI district councils spanning Kingston-upon-Thames to Kingston-upon-Hull and further; local people will get a chance to decide who sets their council tax, runs their local services and more.

Undoubtedly, UKIP’s rise in the polls will ensure the Party a better stab at picking up council seats across the country than if the Euro elections and consequent media feeding frenzy were not simultaneously raging. I’ve argued for a long time that if UKIP wants to win seats at next year’s General Election it must echo the actions of the Liberal Democrats and build up solid bases at local government level, consisting of Cllrs taking their position seriously, showing a UKIP vote is more than just two fingers to the perceived political establishment.

The results coming through late Thursday night and through Friday will be of particular interest. My predictions are an increase in UKIP seats country wide but also a rise in Independents. A tick for UKIP on the Euro ballot paper does not imply an automatic tick on the local. Anecdotally, I have a friend who has voted (postal) for UKIP (Euro), a Lib Dem and an Independent candidate (local) – but getting disgruntled people to the ballot box is half the battle and will significantly up UKIP’s chances of translating consistently high poll ratings into votes. The media have tried their very hardest, but UKIP support continues to soar ahead of Thursday; it would appear that, for Farage, all publicity is good publicity.

I will be on Sky News with Adam Boulton from about 12am – 5am as the local results trickle in.

As a final thought; I ran in the Surrey local elections last year, losing to the incumbent Conservative by just 0.8% of the share of vote (43 votes). I would love to have seen what might have happened if the Euros had coincided.

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Generation Rent and the Consumer Rights Bill

The populist and catchy line reads “Fancy being £500 richer next time you move home? Get your MP to ban letting agent fees.” Generation Rent are teaming up with Labour to fight rogue letting agents.

Led by former Labour PPC Alex Hilton, Generation Rent lobbies on behalf of private renters for decent and affordable homes. So far, so sensible.

Their latest campaign, a fairly slick one at that, is aiming to ban the vast majority of letting agents’ fees by lobbying MPs to vote in favour of a Labour Party amendment on the Consumer Rights Bill. This campaign follows a so far unsuccessful petition – just 58 signatures – calling for a mandatory national register of landlords; an embarrassingly ill-thought out piece of unnecessary bureaucracy that I hope dies like a fish in a desert.

Fortunately, the amendment was voted down by a majority of 53 (281 to 228) after the Coalition fell in to line. In my opinion, this is a good thing and here is why.

Red Ed’s leftward lurch staggers on and now it is landlords and letting agents under fire; Labour have set out plans for drastic reforms to the rental sector that include capping rent increases once a tenancy has been agreed, introducing three-year tenancies as standard and stopping letting agencies from charging tenants simply for the signing of a rental agreement.

In essence, this is yet another attempt by Labour to woo voters by promising to magic away the costs of life by interfering with markets and private companies. Like Labour’s promise to freeze energy prices, this carrot would have fallen, grated at the altar of reality; the costs will be transferred elsewhere, more likely than not to the landlords. As a landlord, I am inclined to vote against renters’ Christmas.

For the first time since we started taking note, the number of private renters has surpassed those in social housing, standing at around nine million across the UK. There is no doubt that letting agents’ fees are deeply unpopular, with landlords as well as renters. Private renters can pay charges covering administration, the mandatory professional inventory, references, guarantors, deposit protection, maintenance charges and credit checks. On average these total around £150 although anecdotal evidence suggests costs can reach far higher. This is a lot of money to most people and, in my opinion, extortion. The practice of charging renters for running credit checks and constructing an inventory does make sense, both require time and action, but in reality letting agents are charging renters to undertake the admin that is an integral part of their job. It is worse for landlords; a few months ago I had reason to ask a tenant of mine to vacate with the standard three months’ notice period (a Section 21). I was charged £75 for the privilege of sending a letter. This is, of course, in addition to the hefty percentage letting agents take out of each month’s rent cheque for “managing” the property before it reaches the landlord at all.

The vast majority of landlords (88%, myself included) rent out less than three properties with 72% renting out just one; we are not talking about a few huge, evil corporations sucking the life blood of vulnerable people, although Generation Rent’s position is clear: “a major contributor (to the cost of living crisis).. is the high cost of rents…. (this is) money that would otherwise support diverse sectors of the UK economy (but) is being hoarded by landlords.” I’m sorry – hoarded? Landlords no more “hoard” their rental income than a banker, doctor or retail worker hoards their incomes; I use it to live, pay other landlords, participate in the economy, pay taxes etc. The campaign would have more gravitas if it could keep its rhetoric a little less, well, Communist. Alex Hilton is no Henry George.

The Generation Rent campaign, backed by Stella Creasy MP, tries to appeal to free marketeers:

“By banning letting agent fees to tenants, less money will go to agents, that’s true. But landlords should expect lower costs and a better service as the effects play out. And more professional agents will be of benefit to tenants beyond the absence of exploitative fees. In fact, if this were implemented quickly and the market effects on agents flowed through quickly, that could radically undermine the case for mandatory licensing of letting agents.

This is such a classic market solution to a social problem that I’m surprised it’s not Conservative policy.”

But they do not substantiate their points.

Why should landlords expect lower costs and a better service because letting agents are banned from imposing hidden costs on their tenants? Letting agents are not required to tell landlords what charges they impose or when. The Labour proposals will make life substantially more difficult for landlords, the mandatory 3 year rental contracts in particular. No landlord wants to undergo the hassle and expense of kicking out tenants which is undoubtedly unsettling for the renters and their dependents but three years is a long time, situations change. It is the nature of the beast.

Renters do not have a monopoly on letting agents’ fees; most landlords resent that 10% siphoned off each month just as their tenants would rather not pay every time they move house. But, we live in such a service driven economy, the recruitment industry serves as a prime example, that a niche has been created. Ideally, the rise of Zoopla, Rightmove and other property portals will see an increase in one-to-one, landlord-to-tenant, exchange. It isn’t difficult to google and print a Short Hold Tenancy Agreement but, as mentioned, most landlords own just 1-3 properties and most likely work too. The legalities and confusion make outsourcing to an agent tempting.

Unless we want to see letting agencies across the country going into administration, further stagnating the housing and rental markets, we need to accept that these costs, that form a large part of some agencies’ revenue, will be displaced rather than disappear despite the best intentions of Labour and Generation Rent. More likely than not these costs will be transferred to the landlords, the subject for another rant (I’m aware this is turning into an essay). Fewer agencies will reduce options for renters, entrenching monopolies and cementing renters’ woes.

We seriously need to get the housing market moving and that includes the rental sector too. Imposing arbitrary three-year rental contract is madness; what if the landlord wants to sell the property or live there themselves? Problem tenants are as prevalent as problem letting agents and renters already have a plethora of rights and regulations at their disposal. Of course there are shocking cases of abuses of power and negligence by both landlords and letting agents but Labour and Generation Rent’s proposals are certainly not the answer; rather than professing to believe in the markets, let the market do its jobs Word of mouth travels far; shame the bad agencies and use the protections that consumers already possess. Far more importantly is the market dysfunction we see because there are far higher levels of demand than there is a supply of housing to meet this demand. In the case of housing, demand is so high as to price those on modest and even average earnings out, placing further pressure on the taxpayer to pick up the bill. We desperately need to build more houses.

If Generation Rent and politicians across the spectrum are truly concerned for renters they should focus on increasing the housing supply. We need to build more and relaxing planning regulations, encouraging renovations of brown field sites through tax breaks and continuation of schemes such as “Help to Buy” would be a solid start.

Hilton is not entirely off the mark in suggesting that people are not forced into food banks by the price of food but by the cost of housing, but direct intervention will not make costs go away, it will reroute them back at the renter or shift them on to the landlord. If Generation Rent are serious about tackling the “cost of living crisis” – letting their Labour credentials slip out there – they should focus on their campaign to tackle fuel poverty. There are an estimated 7 million people currently in fuel poverty, many of whom are in the private rented sector. GR are a member of the Energy Bill Revolution that aims to target energy efficiency; this is not a bad start, but if we are concerned about reducing households’ costs in the immediate term, a certain way to do so would be to cut Green taxes. Green taxes add an estimated 11% to the average household’s yearly energy bills, rising to 15-21% for businesses, an impact that is expected to increase to 23-26% by 2020. As in every sector of public life, whether it be energy, fuel or VAT, tax cuts are the answer, not government intervention. Limit the state and let the market weed out the rogue letting agents; either way, leave the poor sodding landlords alone. We’re taxed enough already.

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Mail on Sunday

I’m setting this out because despite the support and guidance of Paul Cahalan at the Mail on Sunday and others, I do not have editorial control over the piece in today’s Mail on Sunday regarding Roger Helmer MEP. I know I will receive a lot of criticism for speaking out so here is an official statement. I was not paid by the Mail.

For any questions or media enquiries please email/twitter DM me or contact Charlotte Young at charlotte@bloom-management.co.uk

The Mail, understandably, want to sell papers and therefore the reasons for which I have spoken out and the themes that I wish to focus on may be lost in translation. Primarily, I am concerned with the pervading culture of sexism, sexual harassment and bullying within politics; the horrific way I was treated by a man who could have been allowed to snooze away into obscurity in Brussels yet has now thrust himself centre stage, professing to be an elder statesman and a morally sound prospective parliamentary candidate; and perhaps most importantly, how being young and female reduces one’s chances of being listened to and treated with basic humanity because nobody focuses on your arguments – if what you say is controversial or ruffles feathers you will be labelled promiscuous, naïve and stupid, in my case disloyal and then, for good measure, promiscuous once more.

The response to my Helmer piece will, I fear, be sadly predictable. I will undoubtedly have words such as “bitter” and “naïve” thrown at me, but the discourse will quickly stoop to “bimbo”, “slut” and worse. The Helmer camp threatened me with exactly this last year when it was thought that I might speak out; but, of course, the lack of a paper trail means it didn’t happen. Rather than address the issues I am raising, the UKIP loyalists, Roger and assorted Twitter trolls will attack me via ad hominem sexual rumours or claims that I made it all up. I’m sick of it, frankly. An additional X chromosome and refusal to live as a submissive, unassuming wallflower should not render it open season for personal, sexual insults. It is always the first criticism levied against women in the public eye, often without facts or even good reason. This has to stop but it won’t.

I will probably be accused of bitterness because I fell at the last hurdle in the fight for those few, precious, winnable MEP seats. I will openly admit that the rejection stung but not because my arrogance led me to believe I deserved otherwise; I’m 26 and have been within the political “bubble” for all of my adult life. It stung because I applied after strong suggestions from within the UKIP higher echelons that I might be successful and, frankly, I could have put the £500 fee we all had to pay to far better use. Holidays, clothes, paying off some of my excessive (post three degrees) student debt. But I digress. If I was doing this out of bitterness I would have spoken out last year when the Euro list was announced. I didn’t, despite. I didn’t want to revisit the panic attacks, the abuse or the fear that I am now inviting, but there are a lot of young girls who go through experiences like mine and I probably have a thicker skin. For that reason, and for the simple notion that the people of Newark should know what they’re dealing with, I feel I have to speak out even if it would be easier to stay quiet and let sleeping dogs lie.

Among the inevitable attacks I am likely to face over the coming week the one notable absence will be a critique of my work. When Roger bullied me into resigning under threats that I would be cut off from UKIP and my name muddied further than it already is (hollow laugh) I was given a few reasons for my enforced dismissal. Primarily, the rumour mill had turned on me and this was a problem for Roger. I have never had an inappropriate relationship with an MEP; I have never slept around and the insidious rumours about my personal life tended to involve people I had never met, but even had any of it been true, it would hardly be grounds for dismissal. Indeed, in any other industry it would have been illegal. There was one minor work issue mentioned; I had suggested that his other bag carrier, a very talented multilingual young woman who I hold in very high regard might be better placed to deal with an admin matter than me. Again, grounds for dismissal? Non. The final work related issue he could think of was that I was AWOL at the UKIP conference of the previous weekend. Yes, Roger, I was. I was delivering a very well received speech and assisting a few new converts with a Telegraph journalist, producing rather cracking coverage.

Parliamentary Assistants have no HR support, no recourse. You can lose your job without warning. The institutions pile burdensome, stifling regulations on to small businesses yet the MEPs vote time and time again to deny that basic right to job security to their own employees. As I found out, the second you’re out of favour you’re out of Brussels. This cannot be allowed to continue; hypocrisy aside, MEPs owe a certain duty of care to their young staff members many of whom, like me, uproot their lives and move to a country where they do not speak the native language(s), leaving jobs, PhDs, friends and family behind.

I am usually the last person to whine about mistreatment; I chose to work in politics and I chose to put myself under scrutiny. I have also recently chosen to not work in politics anymore and therefore will understand why some keyboard warriors might label me an attention seeking, anti-UKIP pain in the arse. Granted, I could have let this go, but I haven’t spoken out for personal gain. I was not paid by the Mail and I stand to receive little but abuse for reaching above the parapet. I’m not writing this to hurt UKIP, a party I have found to have many talented members and supporters and many policies I agree with – quite the reverse, I believe both they and the people of Newark deserve better. It is my belief that Roger’s attitudes not only towards women but against gay people and victims of rape make him completely unfit to represent any section of modern Britain that I recognise. To quote the man, “homosexuality is not a valid lifestyle worthy of mutual respect”; “homosexual behaviour is abnormal and undesirable”; “if two men have the right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings?” Do we want this sort of person in parliament? No. There is a wealth of talent within UKIP and allowing people like Helmer to hold high and visible positions can only damage not only that party’s future, but further tarnish and corrupt faith in our democracy and continue to condemn parliamentary workers – particularly young women – to a noxious, controlling culture of sexual bullying and degrading treatment. If Roger Helmer becomes UKIP’s first MP, I believe he alone will ensure that he is the last.

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The Kerfuffle with The Indy, UKIP and Immigration

— UPDATE —

I’ve checked and I am still a member, disproving claims I flounced, resigning, from the Party when not selected for the Euro lists.

Will an apology be forthcoming? I doubt it.

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I am loath to use this website until I regain control and can change the design but it shall have to do for now.

I would like to use this space to clarify a few points about comments I made yesterday on a panel debate for London Live. Partly to put across my version of events and partly because I want to step away from twitter for the evening.

1. I did not choose to take part in an interview with the Independent. Emily Dugan, their Social Affairs Correspondent, was on the panel with me to discuss the rising cost of living in London. That is how we met, not through me seeking media attention in a ‘newspaper’ hostile to UKIP.

2. I made the conscious decision around a year ago to move away from professional politics and retrain in psychology, with the aim of pursuing a career in mental health. I still take part in tv/radio/panel debates but no longer under the UKIP banner. This is simply because a) I do not want to be affiliated with any political party; and b) I am not an official party spokesperson, so claiming to speak for UKIP would, I believe, be wrong. This is why I asked for my tag-line to be changed on London Live; not because I have performed a spectacular volte face and rejected UKIP.

3. The Indy called me after the London Live show and pushed me to clarify my position. I asked Emily to let it go and tried to explain what I have written above. Perhaps naively, I thought that if I explained that I want to slip out of politics quietly and be in a position where I may speak for myself, not for my party, the journalist might respect my wishes. Of course, I was wrong.

4. On immigration. I have never hidden my stance on immigration. I understand that for many across the country it is a key issue and that it is one through which UKIP is gaining a great deal of support.

Personally, I joined UKIP because I believe in low taxes, national sovereignty, grammar schools and a sensible energy policy. UKIP want a points based immigration system; for as long as we remain a part of the EU, I agree. However, I do not like the way UKIP has chosen to focus on immigration and was uncomfortable with the scare mongering about Bulgarians and Romanians that we witnessed in the latter part of last year.

5. There is a piece in – you guessed it – The Independent this evening, ostensibly penned by Nigel Farage. It is claimed that I resigned my membership when I was not selected for the European lists. Of all the vitriolic emails, twitter threats, personal attacks and misrepresentation that I have been subject to over the past 24 hours, this is the one that riles.

I did not resign my membership when I was not selected. Around six months afterwards I flirted with the idea of leaving the Party and decided not to. The two are not connected.

Frankly, I am baffled as to why anybody – let alone a series of national newspapers – would care about what I have to say, particularly given I have repeatedly confirmed that I am (or perhaps was?) a member and intend to vote for UKIP in the coming elections.

Politically, I am a nobody. I am not standing for election, I do not hold political office and I am not in the employ of any political party. The events of the past 24 hours, and I have no doubt it will roll on some more, have reminded me why I am seeking to work in a different field. It is also a prime example of why we do not see enough women in politics.

Thanks for reading.

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Contact details

For any press/other enquiries: 07788 241 442
Email: alexandraswann88@gmail

Or contact my agent: Media Intelligence People

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Election result – Farnham North

After a long, hard fought campaign I lost out to the incumbent, Tory Cllr Denise Le Gal, by 43 votes and just 1% share of the vote.

The full Farnham North results were as follows:

Conservative: Denise Le Gal: 1,005 votes, 32% share of vote
UKIP: Alexandra Swann: 962 votes, 31% share of vote
Independent: 575 votes, 18% share
Liberal Democrat: 349, 11% share
Labour: 231, 7% share

Of course this was terribly disappointing but also a huge step for UKIP. We did not stand a candidate in this division in 2009 so to come so close can only be considered an achievement. Unfortunately, UKIP does not yet have the fire power or financial resources to defeat the Conservative party machine, especially in Tory heartland of Surrey.

Thank you so very much to everyone who voted, my brilliant agent Cllr Elliot Nichols, the South West Surrey UKIP committee (with a special mention to Hugo Alexander), Winston McKenzie, Sam Mayhew and everyone else who came out to help. Now we need to concentrate on the Euro elections next year and the Waverley Borough elections in 2015 (along with the General, of course).

Across Surrey UKIP gained 3 county Councillors and came second in many others.

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Election Campaign – Farnham North division – 4 days to go!

UKIP: the Conservatives call us the party of angry old white men. I think not!

I am currently running in the Surrey County Council elections as the UKIP candidate for the Farnham North division.

The campaign has been long but truly inspiring; UKIP does not have the man power or financial resources of the Conservatives – especially in this area – but seeing my local branch rally and witnessing first hand the changing feeling on the door step has been quite something.

In the past month we have had two stalls on Farnham’s main street, The Borough, to boost UKIP’s presence in this formerly true blue area; the response to our leaflets has been tremendous and our thanks go to for allowing us to set up outside.

One of the greatest things about UKIP’s surge is seeing people who have never before voted or cared for politics getting involved, engaging and in some cases becoming politically active.

Today we went canvassing with Winston McKenzie, his agent Marianne and my agent Elliot, up to the Sandy Hill council estate in Farnham North. A young lady who lives on the estate – and who has never voted before – has been so inspired by UKIP that today we had her out wearing a purple rosette, knocking on doors, convincing her friends we are worth giving a shot. Even if I lose on Thursday, this alone will make the campaign and exhaustion worth it.

Surrey is known as a very affluent area but, like everywhere, there are pockets such as Sandy Hill where many people face real problems – whether it be housing, social services or not having anyone to sit down and explain changes to certain benefits – and I heard one particularly heart breaking story this afternoon. Over a serious problem faced by a young lady for the past four years, the Conservative incumbent has done nothing to help, our MP isn’t listening and the lady needed someone to stand up for her, to listen and to fight her corner; I want to be that person – not for the allowances and free iPad/blackberry offered to every Surrey councillor – but because local politics is about making small differences in the lives of local people.

Tomorrow we have the Irish Times coming to Farnham to see my campaign in action; after having French and Italian media here last week I doubt this little market town has had so much outside attention for years!

Thanks for taking the time to read. I will update tomorrow evening.

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Another Tory Cllr joins UKIP

Which I think makes three new Cllrs in Surrey alone this week.

Cllr Elliot Nichols, who is in fact my local borough councillor, joined the light side yesterday. Like a good Tory he had the decency to talk to his former colleagues first.

Are we a threat? Of course we are.

I do not envy him going to tonight’s council meeting!

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