'There's no such thing as bad publicity'
Phineas T. Barnum, 19th century American showman and circus owner
As someone working in PR, who is well aware of this phrase, I had to think twice whether I really wanted to give Ukip even a minute of my time. But sometimes enough is enough.
I understand that not every Member of Parliament understands how the EU works or can make an educated guess about how house prices will develop. But then I also believe that you don’t need a degree in European law to understand the concept of “freedom of movement” or an economics degree to understand the basics of how the (EU common) market works. Yet somehow the run-up to the Rochester & Strood by-election showed that some MPs have, let’s say, unconventional views on both.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, said on 17 November 2014: "The danger is if you vote Ukip, the value of your house will go down." His evidence? A “report” by Conservative strategists that notes how house prices stagnated in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham after the BNP won a number of council seats in 2006 and middle class families moved out, while values in surrounding areas surged. Unsurprisingly, property market analysts immediately came out saying that there is no evidence for the claim.
So what’s Ukip’s response? Correct, say something even more absurd. According to the Guardian, on 18 November 2014, Mark Reckless, the newly elected MP for Rochester & Strood, said that Polish plumbers and other EU migrants could be asked to leave Britain if his party were in government. One day later, a party spokesman said that, “It is absolutely not our policy to round up EU migrants and put them on a boat at Dover and send them back to wherever they came from.” This would be even more amusing if it wasn’t for the fact that these are the elected representatives ruling over us.
Joseph de Maistre’s “Every nation has the government it deserves” springs to mind…..
P.S. In early November, the BBC published a helpful Q&A on “freedom of movement” - available here.