Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tearing things up

The BBC has always been seen as a political football by MPs - and now some Tories, frit by UKIP, believe there's mileage in getting rid of the licence fee as a vote-winning election issue.

Andrew Bridgen, who led MPs demanding de-criminalisation of licence fee non-payment, has let it be known to Sajid Javid and the Sunday Express that the Charter Review should proceed with a view to funding Auntie by subscription. The de-criminalisation review won't report until after the General Election.

The Sunday Express (two thirds of its readership said they would vote UKIP when last polled) claims "up to 50" MPs support this latest move. More significantly, it says the idea has won the backing of Rebecca Harris, MP for Castle Point (Canvey and Benfleet) who entered parliament at the same time as Bridgen, and has recently been anointed as a party vice-chairman by Grant Shapps. From Twitter, you'd guess Rebecca was onside.

Rebecca's constituency is in the top ten of UKIP targets. There's no overall control on the local council, where the Tories remain the
biggest party, but lost five seats to UKIP in the most recent elections. Analysis of this year's Euro-election shows Castlepoint cast twice as many votes for UKIP as for Conservatives.  In September, Bob Spink, first elected as Tory for the seat in 1992, who's been through Damascene conversions to UKIP and Independent Save Our Green Belt, announced he was back with UKIP, though with no intention to stand again.

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