2.09 am The Boss on EU Referendum takes a characteristically robust line. UKIP, he says, has lost a golden opportunity in Rotherham. He knows the area and its problems better than I do but I beg leave to doubt that UKIP ever had the slightest chance of winning a seat, even with the "child snatching" scandal. He does, however, answer a question, at least partly, that I have been asking: who on earth are these children and why are they being fostered here?
2.01 am Labour holds Croydon North with 64.4 per cent of the vote cast (turn-out 26.4 per cent), with Conservatives getting 16.8 per cent and UKIP 5.6 per cent. That would be Winston McKenzie.
1.47 am Labour holds Middlesbrough with details still unknown. The BBC says that "Labour's Andy McDonald won with 10,201 votes to UKIP's 1,990". Nothing between those two? Apparently not.Well, well, we are getting some strange results tonight. Turn-out 26 per cent.
UPDATE: Labour holds Rotherham on a 33.8 per cent. UKIP is second, so it is their day and the BNP comes third so it is their day as well. The myth of the unstoppable UKIP will now continue.
Could this be UKIP's day? asked Harry Wallop in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, the day of three by-elections. Well, it might; then again in might not but that does not matter. UKIP and the media, whether they are on their side like Ed West (who really ought to find out that the party was not founded by Conservatives) or against them like Matthew d'Ancona, will repeat that the party is forging ahead, is unstoppable, is about to change British politics.
In fact, it did rather poorly in the last round of by-elections, except in Corby where it finally managed a third position on a decent turn-out of 44.8 per cent. In Manchester Central, on a turn-out of 18.2 per cent they came fourth, though very close behind the Tories, and losing their deposit. In Cardiff and South Penarth on a turn-out of 25.65 per cent they came fifth but saved their deposit. As far as the ridiculous PCC elections, where the turn-out across the country averaged at 15 per cent, UKIP did not manage to win a single one. Yet the story lives on: UKIP is on its way to forming a government. If not that, then, at least, on its way to changing the political scene in Britain. Well, all right, they might finally push the Lib-Dims into fourth place more permanently.
As the BBC says, UKIP is hoping to ride the tide of indignation over the outrageous decision by Rotherham council to take away three fostered children from a couple because they are members of that party, the argument being that as the party opposes mass immigration from the EU and as these children are from an East European immigrant background, the fostering was inappropriate as they might just have a bad time. Or not, as there is no evidence that they were treated with anything but great care and affection.
As so often it is the soi-disant Marxist Brendan O'Neill who gave the best analysis of the appalling situation in which the state and its minions have taken upon themselves to decide what kind of life-style, political attitude or religious feeling is acceptable in a foster parent despite the fact that fostering is badly needed. Next step will be when these people will extend the same attitude to birth parents.
Matthew d'Ancona, the soi-disant conservative on the other hand, is so appalled by what he perceives UKIP to be (a somewhat idiotic and outdated view based on no knowledge whatsoever) that he actually thinks the Rotherham social workers had a point. The world has gone mad.
Meanwhile there were stories of Michael Fabricant presenting a report that urged the Conservative leaders to do a deal with UKIP at the next election, which was angrily repudiated by both David Cameron and Nigel Farage and the completely ridiculous story of allegedly eight Tory MPs considering defection to UKIP. Though the headline went round the media like wildfire, the story amounted to very little. Stuart Wheeler, UKIP's treasurer had been courting eight possible defectors and taking them out to lunch. They (whoever they are) did not approach him - he approached them.
The funniest of all stories was that of Winston McKenzie, UKIP candidate in Croydon North and, apparently, the party's spokesman on culture pronouncing on same-sex adoption. It was akin to child abuse, he announced, blithely disregarding the kind of row that might create in the present over-heated political atmosphere. UKIP smartly distanced itself from this statement and, coincidentally, a number of party members who happen to be gay, have made statements on their feelings of comfortableness within its confines.
My own reaction, I am afraid, was hysterical laughter. I have known Winston for some years and he has never been anything but a source of entertainment or embarrassment, depending on whether he happened to be, theoretically, on the same side of the political divide as oneself.
To say that he has had a chequered political career is to make an understatement of stupendous proportions. As someone asked me today: do UKIP not check up on their candidates? In this case, checking up would be remarkably easy. I approached a "senior member" of UKIP though not by length of membership and asked him about the whole mess. What kind of an idiot, said I reasonably and tactfully, makes Winston McKenzie culture spokesman? Well, I was told, we thought he could speak on sport, having been a boxer (not a very successful one but let that pass) and we followed the government's divisions. They have culture in there with sport and media. But why, continued I in my measured and tactful way. It's not like you are about to form a government. For some reason that brought the conversation to an end.