I think I’ve finally rumbled Ukip’s cunning plan. I’ve been puzzled by all those seemingly stupid and bigoted pronouncements we’ve been hearing from Ukip activists. Surely anyone with any common sense would keep quiet about such views.
But now the strategy seems obvious. These so-called “renegades” are picking up votes from the BNP, and from those for whom the overt racism of that party was unappealing but who are happy to have someone who promises to curb the flow of alien invaders who are driving down wages and stealing their jobs.
At the same time, Nigel Farage works overtime to cultivate the beer-tippling, fag-smoking man-of-the-people image while also taking care to retain his no-nonsense, anti-regulation, anti-EU city-slicker credentials that appeal to the ultra-Conservative, Thatcherite fringe among Tory voters. It’s a winning combination.
And there was me thinking that these Ukippers were just a load of mean-spirited bigots pining for the days when Britain was a proud nation not afraid to stand alone and take on all comers. How wrong can you be?
Francis Kirkham, Crediton, Devon
Every second day brings fresh evidence of the racist ugliness at the heart of Ukip. Yet, confronted with the outrage over the remarks of William Henwood, Andre Lampitt and others, Nigel Farage briskly dismisses “a few bad apples” and “Walter Mittys” before bleating about establishment-led witchhunts, with not an apology to be heard to the many offended by the rancid, simple-minded opinions of his associates.
How is such inquisition so unacceptable? As a warrior righteously fighting the cynicism of the political classes, surely Mr Farage will agree it’s only proper to hold up to scrutiny all who aspire to public office. In the case of Ukip, such examination is doubly important, since the party’s vetting procedures clearly can’t distinguish outspoken, arguably misguided yet essentially decent individuals from the objectionable bigots who appear more and more to comprise the party’s rump.
It is worrying that national support for the party is rising, despite – or, even more depressingly, because of – the obnoxious views of so many of its advocates.
Richard Butterworth, St Day, Cornwall
The claim repeatedly made by Ukip that most of our laws are made by the EU treats legislation such as the Financial Services Act or the Same-Sex Marriage Act as equivalent to a regulation on the sale of cabbages. If legislation is assessed in this way, why not throw in every local authority bylaw?
The significance of laws does not depend on the quantity of words used, but on what the words say. To pretend otherwise is nonsense.
John Eekelaar, Oxford
The attempt to brand Ukip as racist has not decreased support for the party. The probable reason for this is that most people who agree with Ukip know that they are not themselves racist and therefore see through the smears.
Robert Edwards, Hornchurch, Essex
Don't blame churches for 'archaic' blight
I read with dismay your article (26 April) on chancel repair liability (CRL). This was variously described as “parishes enforcing archaic laws”, “an evil and unfair liability” and “a blight on housing”.
CRL is a side-effect of Henry VIII asset-stripping the monasteries. The monasteries had previously had responsibility for ensuring that certain church chancels were kept wind- and water-tight. The King cannily ensured that those who received the stolen monastic land also took on the CRL.
Almost 500 years on, some of those lands are still in the hands of the original families. CRL has been a known fact of life for generations. However where fields have been subdivided, and houses built, then the CRL passes on to the new owners. Purchasers’ solicitors are supposed to be able to identify such liabilities. If a purchaser does not trust the solicitor to get it right, it is possible to purchase insurance against an unsuspected liability being discovered.
CRL is not new; nothing has changed since Henry VIII’s day. The only new factor is that parishes have been required to register CRL or lose it when the land is next sold.
In law, CRL is a charity asset. A church council which fails to register CRL has in effect given this asset away. In the worst case, church council members could be held personally liable for the loss which the church has suffered.
If you want to blame someone for the present situation, then I would suggest a list that includes a rapacious monarch, incompetent solicitors, and a government which wants national heritage preserved but is unwilling to pay for it. But don’t blame church councils; they are doing an outstanding job in the teeth of unjustified vituperation.
The Venerable Paddy Benson, Archdeacon of Hereford
Gove’s botched free-school crusade
The dismissal by Elizabeth Truss, the schools minister, of your article about the scandal of free-school places (letter, 29 April) smacks of desperation, as it seems to rely on the assertion that free schools are “wildly popular” with parents.
They aren’t wildly popular with Ofsted though. The failure rate of new free schools is running at three times the national average. In addition, some 79 per cent of state schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, yet only 68 per cent of free schools reach that standard.
Free schools are a very expensive ideological experiment introduced by the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, based on the Swedish model. It is obvious that the Swedish model is failing badly and children’s education is being put at risk both in Sweden and in the UK.
I fear that the writing is on the wall for this botched crusade and after the May elections Mr Gove will be moved on. He will leave behind a disjointed and largely unaccountable system.
Simon G Gosden, Rayleigh, Essex
Elizabeth Truss’s abuse of statistics is a cause for regret, at the least.
She says: “24,000 are attending free schools”. This from a school population of over 6 million represents less than 0.4 per cent. She then states that the DfE is devoting 28 per cent of the department’s capital expenditure to the schools educating 99.6 per cent of children and 8 per cent to schools educating less than 0.4 per cent. Extraordinarily, she states that as if it was a positive.
From my experience of working in the Department for Education, I would assume that the figures have not come from its professional statisticians, or, if they have, Elizabeth Truss has been very selective in the statistics provided to her that she has chosen to use.
It is more likely that her “special advisers” have provided the figures and obvious slant – if this is the case then she needs to get rid of them if she wants to do her job properly.
Roy Hicks, Bristol
Was this ever a truly Christian country?
So now, according to Lord (Rowan) Williams, this is a post-Christian country. But there is still that attempt to lead us back to Christianity, as we are told that we are still affected by the legacy of Christian influence.
Any study of our history makes it hard to claim that this was ever a truly Christian country. It may, for some time, have been a church-attending country, in the days when one man owned one or more villages, and the peasants had to go to church or risk losing their cottages and livelihood. Even in my lifetime I knew someone who was forced to make this choice.
The Industrial Revolution began the decline of this system, but it was a very long time dying. The result is what we see today. As science and technology progress, the country can only move further away from religion.
Whether that is good or bad will long be debated.
Bill Fletcher, Cirencester, Gloucestershire
Helen Clutton (letter, 29 April) asks what is the “Cornish way of life”.
Some years ago, a regular pub customer of mine was bemoaning the dire economic state of his home county, and he firmly believed that the Cornish should revert to their traditional industry, for which they were well known.
When I asked what it was he replied: “Smuggling.”
Pete Henderson, Worthing, West Sussex
Three generations, one wedding dress
Reading your fashion article on bridal dresses (28 April) I was once more amazed at what women will pay for a one-day outfit.
My mother was married in 1945 in a dress costing £9 and 10 shillings. I wore it for my wedding in 1988 and my niece looked very fashionably retro in it for hers in 2009.
Mary Evans, Reading