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Metro Mayor: Are you stepping up UKIP?

Metro Mayor: Are you stepping up UKIP?

🕔05.Jan 2017

There are four months to go to the first mayoral election in the West Midlands and we can expect the campaign to move up a gear in the coming days, including official campaign launches. If you’re really not interested in the contest and the issues, I suggest you look away from the Chamberlain Files for the first third of 2017.

We might expect one of those launches to be for the UKIP candidate. According to our colleague on the Birmingham Post and Mail, Jonathan Walker, Pete Durnell is to be their man.

This came as news to the Chamberlain Files which had not be made aware of the selection – or even whether UKIP would field a candidate. On reading Jon’s piece, we checked the UKIP West Midlands news page. Nothing. Literally nothing, about anything, other than a press officer contact.

We looked up the man in question on Twitter. There he was, with a bio stating he is “Chairman UKIP Sandwell, UKIP Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for the West Mids area 2016.”

But nothing on him being the UKIP mayoral candidate, either on his timeline or his bio. On his blog site, he says:

I would describe myself as a Libertarian, and a strong advocate of Direct Democracy…

As we understand it, including drawing on comments from former UKIP leadership candidate and regional MEP Bill Etheridge, UKIP is against not only directly elected mayors but also combined authorities. But getting a handle on official UKIP policy can be tricky at the best of times.

UKIP are, of course, entitled to be against mayors and the West Midlands Combined Authority and still field a candidate. But it would be really helpful to know what they would do if Mr Durnell is elected.

But here’s where we take exception. Keith Rowe, who stood in the Northfield parliamentary election in 2015, tweeted our post on the mayoral candidates and employment just before Christmas.

For good measure, Keith submitted a comment to the post:

Your article regarding the candidates for the new Mayor completely ignores (and not for the first time) the UKIP candidate. This gives a clear impression of bias in your reporting. If you need to be put in contact with relevant people or require a comment or article please contact me. If not I can only assume that this is a deliberate political angle from the editors.

We’re grateful for the promotion on social media, naturally. But given no one, still to this day, has told us about UKIP’s candidate and there appears no information available online, it is a little rich to be criticised for ignoring them.

We pride ourselves on political intelligence, but we are not psychic Keith.

We will do everything we can to highlight the mayoral election. We will feature all candidates, but it helps to be informed by the parties and campaign teams.

By the way, Keith, we are not a regular media organisation and certainly not a public service broadcaster. As a blog site, we have every right to publish biased opinions if we wish, as long as we stay within the law. But, as it happens, we seek to be fair and impartial, particularly in respect of the mayoral candidates.

UKIP had a good year in 2016, if we ignore the small matter of its messy leadership contests. As I set out on this site before the vote, I intended to (and did) cast to Remain in the EU and found many Leave arguments to be misjudged. But Leave won – and much of the credit for having a Referendum and winning it has to go to UKIP’s Nigel Farage.

But it’s 2017 and this is a vote to select a Mayor of the West Midlands. I’m tired of the anti-establishment, the media/elite have got it in for us and stop the world I want to get off and go back to the 1950’s routine.

I happen to believe we already have four good candidates – James Burn, Beverley Nielsen, Siôn Simon, Andy Street – who are in the election for the right reasons and each have something to offer.

If UKIP are in the contest – even if they are to campaign against the office and the WMCA – I suggest it engages professionally and puts in place at least a basic media and campaign operation. Leave the social media rants to others and tell us what you are standing for and what you intend to do.

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