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A lovely English scene, with no Danish message

Off the Record
Behind the scenes at County Hall with political editor Paul Francis, Regional Press Awards UK’s weekly newspaper journalist of the year

• So, how did UKIP leader Nigel Farage relax before the drama of the European election count on Sunday? He went and watched Kent playing Worcester at the Tunbridge Wells cricket festival, of course.

“Lunch was great, cricket was nice, it was a very English scene. I thoroughly enjoyed myself”

he said. And how did UKIP do in Tunbridge Wells? Er, it was the only place in Kent where the party did not top the poll.

• When he did eventually arrive at Southampton, he spent most of the time surrounded by a media scrum, including camera crews and reporters from around the world.

“Do you have a message for Denmark?”

he was asked at one point, rather bizarrely. Farage took it all in his stride but when it came to having to make a trip to the gents, insisted that he be left alone.

• In keeping with UKIP’s tradition of having candidates who like to speak their mind, Janice Atkinson – who got into a spot of bother with a one-fingered gesture to opponents during the campaign – delivered an uncompromising Thatcherite victory speech. Her mantra once in Brussels would be:

“No and no and no. I promise you we will vote against everything, because whatever they propose is wrong.”

• Will he won’t he? The UKIP leader came as close to confirming he would stand somewhere in Kent at the next general election when he replied to the inevitable question by saying

“it will be somewhere in the south east by the seaside”.

• Kent crime commissioner Ann Barnes has protested about being the victim of “mischievous editing” by makers of a documentary about her year in the role. Clips of the programme, being broadcast this week, show her being rather vague about what her job involves. Still, there is some better news: she is the most-followed of any crime commissioner on Twitter and has a Klout score of 60. That’s a measure of her “influence” apparently. Barack Obama has a score of 99 – we presume the outspoken PCC and her industrious team will not be satisified until she is on 100.

• The Liberal Democrats went into political freefall in the European election losing all but one of their MEPs. The survivor was the good-natured Catherine Bearder, who now represents probably the smallest political grouping in Brussels. Her reaction to the result?


she declared on Twitter.

• Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulOnPolitics for all Kent’s political news and gossip.

Herne Bay Gazette, May 29th 2014

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