Wednesday, September 29

Britain should be able to negotiate its own Trade Policy

In an interview this morning for Radio 4's Today Programme, Nigel Farage MEP confirmed his belief that Britain does not need Europe for trade. He thinks that as the UK is the fourth largest economy in the world, that it should negotiate its own trade policies and have its own voice at the World Trade Organisation, which would help the Third World more than protectionist Europe.

His arguments are reiterated in the 2001 UKIP manifesto.

In the same interview, Farage claimed that 50 years of peace in Europe was due to NATO and not the European Union. But then UKIP believe that the integrity of NATO is being undermined bu the EU's new defence arrangements.

Source: BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Wednesday September 29th 2004,

Apology demanded from UKIP deputy for Chechnya remarks

THE deputy leader of the UK Independence Party faced calls for a public apology yesterday after suggesting Britain in Europe was similar to Chechnya under Russian rule.

Michael Nattrass, West Midlands MEP, stunned a Cardiff audience by saying Britons, like Chechen rebels, might have to fight their way out of Europe.

His comments come just weeks after hundreds of children were killed and hundreds more injured after Chechen rebels lay siege to a school in Beslan, southern Russia.

Mr Nattrass made his comments during an Institute of Citizenship Conference in Cardiff, held to debate the European Constitution.

He said, "In the same way as Chechnya is forced to be a part of Russia, we are forced to be a part of Europe. I hope we won't have to fight our way like them but I suspect we will have to fight our way out."

Among the audience was Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, of the Labour branch of the pro-EU Britain in Europe group.

Mr Bryant said the comments were at best nonsense and at worst offensive to the victims of Beslan.

He said, "If Mr Nattrass cannot see how offensive this is after what happened in Beslan, then he has no right to be a politician.

"Sadly I fear that the debate over Europe is likely to be polluted by just this type of nonsense. He should apologise immediately."

Mr Nattrass was unavailable for comment last night.

But a UKIP spokesman said, "We have long said that any situation where a country is forced to belong to a group against the will of its people there is a potential for violence as people try to get control of their nation back.

"UKIP is and remains committed to a democratic solution to bring about our withdrawal from the European Union."


Friday, September 24

Bloom: "Do I sound like a Millwall fan?"

According to the European Voice this week, Godfrey Bloom "reckons the politically crowd in Strasbourg is out to trip him up..."

Bloom blamed a group of Conservative MEPs for sending him flying as he left the gents toilet during a drinking session in Strasbourg, it says in the European Voice. UKIP colleague, Nigel farage, had to restrain Bloom from searching for the perpetrator.

Although Bloom has confirmed that the incident took place, he asked: "Do I sound like a Millwall supporter?" claiming he had no intention of using violence.

Source: European Voice 23rd - 29th September 2004

Thursday, September 23

Kilroy-Silk challenges travellers

Robert Kilroy-Silk has confronted travellers who sawed through a fence and occupied a cricket pitch.The East Midlands MEP walked on to the land off Sandhurst Road, Bulwell, followed by a camera crew making a film about him.

The ex-TV presenter, who was sacked by the BBC after making controversial comments in a newspaper column, spoke to them about the damage they had caused to the field.

He said: ''Nobody should be allowed to do this, and the law needs to change to protect the local community."Up to 15 caravans plus cars and vans arrived at the playing field last Thursday, churning up turf just laid thanks to a £40,000 grant from the city council.

Women the MEP spoke to said they were sorry and the mess was embarrassing. One, called Mary-Joyce, said: "We wouldn't be here if a site was provided for us."

Fellow MEP Phillip Whitehead was not impressed with Mr Kilroy-Silk's stunt. He said: "I assume his actions have less to do with his minimal attendance as an MEP and more to do with his ambition to leave us for Westminster."


Wednesday, September 22

Kilroy-Silk accuses Howard of plagiarising policies

UKIP MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk has accused the Conservatives of plagiarising his policies after Tory Leader Michael Howard called for upper limits on immigration.

"We made the policy announcement two weeks ago saying we would limit immigration to 100,000 and that we would have a points system where people would be selected on the basis of their skills and their aptitudes and ability and their ability to integrate into British society and make a contribution.

"He is saying virtually the same thing. He is plagiarising it, " Mr Kilroy-Silk told BBC radio.

UKIP also wants to pull out of the Geneva Convention on Human Rights to'deal more effectively with asylum seekers'.

Conservative party co-chairman Dr Liam Fox has reportedly warned the Tories need to strengthen their stance on immigration to woo back voters who defected to UKIP at the European elections.

Mr Kilroy-Silk accused Mr Howard of promoting the same policies because 'his chairman Liam Fox is telling him he has got to steal UKIP's clothes because we are stealing their votes. He is actually parroting virtually what I said last week.

"I made a speech last night about Turkey and the government's policy of it wanting to join the EU and I presume Michael Howard will make a speech on Turkey next week.

"The MEP said the reaction from his East Midlands' constituents to UKIP's policies was very positive. "They all feel the same.

"They are fed up with the old political parties. I can't see them - given an opportunity to vote for a party that tells the truth, that is honest and straight-talking - I can't see them going back to Labour and I certainly can't see them going back to the Conservatives.

"They regard the Conservatives as losers." Dr Fox admitted that reports of his warning on the Tories' immigration stance were 'selective' but 'accurate'.

"This is a real problem. I notice about some of the language about 'lurch to the right'. This is an issue which concerns a very great number of people in this country and they don't think in left and right the way Westminster commentators do."

Firm immigration controls were essential for management of race relations, management of public services and national security, he said.

"This isn't trying to shore up our core vote. This is rather to reach into areas where we need new votes, the inner cities, the ethnic communities, because they more than anyone else know we can preserve good community relations only by getting the system properly under control."

If the side effect was to deliver more votes for the Conservatives, that would be welcome, he said.

Source: Gallery News, Wednesday September 22nd 2004

Wednesday, September 15

What exactly do UKIP MEPs do...? (part two)

Even less than before, it appears. The minutes of the European Parliament on 14 September 2004 inform us that Derek Clark will be replaced on the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) by a Swedish member of the Independence and Democracy group, Hélène Goudin.

Kilroy to campaign in Hartlepool

UKIP proudly announced today (in a press release that is, bizarrely, dated as Saturday 18 September) that Robert Kilroy-Silk is "taking time off from his Parliamentary duties to travel 250 miles from his home in Buckinghamshire to talk to electors in Hartlepool."

For an MEP who is not a member of any committee of the Parliament, and who vowed to visit Brussels and Strasbourg only when it was "necessary and important", can he really afford to take any more time off...?


Monday, September 13

UKIP in-fighting continues

Paul Sykes, the millionaire backer of UKIP, has now called on the party to make Robert Kilroy-Silk its leader, according to BBC News. The position of Roger Knapman MEP, the party's current leader, has been under constant threat since Kilroy became a candidate and leading personality in the European elections and helped deliver twelve MEPs for the party.

Kilroy claims that he already has funding to fight for a Westminster seat in the East Midlands (after party in-fighting and the suggestion that he may upstage Knapman were blamed for his failure to get the nomination for the Hartlepool by-election). Kilroy also made the assertion that the party had the funds to fight 44 key marginals at the next general election. He said: "I have personally been promised all the money I need to fight every marginal seat in the country. We have the money to set up offices, agents, campaigns when I decide to press the button" (emphasis added).

Gallery News, the internet politics press service, asked Nigel Farage MEP if this language meant that Kilroy was de facto party leader - Farage replied that "[Kilroy] has only been a member of the party for four months [...] Robert is Robert. He is who he is, what he is. It isn't a problem."

So little a problem, in fact, that UKIP was forced to release a statement backing Roger Knapman. The party's parliamentary whip, Jeffrey Titford MEP, said: "We wish to make it crystal clear that Roger Knapman is the Leader of the UK Independence Party and he still has more than two years of his period of office to run. This Party owes a great debt to Roger for the excellent Leadership he has shown in the last two years. He has led us to our greatest ever electoral success in June this year and we look forward to his continued Leadership.

“Any further press speculation is pointless and malicious. No single individual will decide who will lead this Party. We are a democratic Party and it is for the members to decide who our next Leader will be but there is no vacancy for the foreseeable future”.

However, it seems that one single individual with deep pockets will have a greater role in the decision than the other party members...


What exactly do UKIP MEPs do...?

As previously noted, UKIP MEPs are not renowned for their attendance at the European Parliament.

Despite claims by Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP that UKIP will be present in Brussels and Strasbourg when it is "important and necessary", it seems that this does not include meetings of the European Parliament committees.

Kilroy-Silk, along with party leader Roger Knapman, have no position on any of the Parliament's twenty committees or two subcommittees, despite the committees being widely regarded as the place where the detailed work of the Parliament is carried out and where individual members can play a crucial role in changing legislation.

Surely Kilroy should be standing up for important and necessary British interests at this stage... or is he happy simply to shout from the sidelines...?

The full list of committee membership is as follows:
Nigel Farage: International Trade (member); Fisheries (substitute)
Gerard Batten: Foreign Affairs (substitute); Security and Defence (member)
Godfrey Bloom: Internal Market and Consumer Protection (member); Women's Rights and Gender Equality (substitute)
Graham Booth: Regional Development (member)
Derek Clark: Employment and Social Affairs (member); Internal Market and Consumer Protection (member)
Robert Kilroy Silk: neither a member nor a substitute on any committee
Roger Knapman:
neither a member nor a substitute on any committee
Michael Natrass: Transport and Tourism (member)
Jeffrey Titford: Agriculture (member); Budgetary Control (member)
John Whittaker: Economic and Monetary Affairs (member)
Tom Wise: Culture and Education (member)

This leaves UKIP with no voice in major legislative committees such as the Committee on the Enviroment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and the Committee on Legal Affairs... surely the most appropriate fora to put the brakes on what Nigel Farage called "regulation, more regulation and even more regulation"...?


Friday, September 10

Kilroy Silk: We have the cash to fight marginals

Kilroy-Silk revealed that UKIP will have as much money as they need in order to fight at least 44 marginal seats. They also promise not to stand against any candidate who supports withdrawal from Europe.

He told a Press Gallery lunch today: " I have personally been promised all the money I need to fight every marginal seat in thecountry. We have the money to set up offices, agents, campaigns when I decide to press the button."

However, Kilroy-Silk refused to divulge the source of the funding, though Paul Sykes, a Yorkshire businessman, was the key donor in the European elections in June.

Gallery News, Thursday 9th September 2004

Wednesday, September 8

UKIP... backing Britain?

On 24 August, UKIP took the extraordinary decision to back the Paris bid for the 2012 Olympic Games - despite London's candidature.

The party's two London assembly members unfurled a pro-Paris banner at City Hall, headquarters of Ken Livingstone, London's mayor.

Damian Hockney, UKIP London assembly member, said London bid organisers were "suffering from delusion on an Olympian scale" by claiming the cost of being host city would be £3bn. Athens' games had gone over budget, the Olympics were playing to empty seats, and tourism in Greece had dropped, he added.

Mr Hockney denied he was unpatriotic, saying an Olympics-free London would save the country from billions of pounds of debt. As for Paris, "the French will make it work and make a thumping great profit out of it".

True to form, UKIP also demanded a referendum on the issue, with a switch in its support to London conditional on the approval of Londoners.

Ken Livingstone, a vocal supporter of London's bid, dismissed UKIP's protest as a stunt. "Some people will obviously say and do anything to get two minutes on the television," Livingstone said in a statement.

"Polls show 70 percent of Londoners are right behind our Olympic bid and the new investment, transport, jobs and housing it will bring to London,"he said.

UKIP's support for Paris was swiftly brushed off by senior executives of the French bid, who made an official complaint about UKIP's unauthorised use of the Paris logo and the Olympic rings.

Sources: Financial Times, 24 August 2004; The Evening Standard, 25 August 2004; Reuters News, 24 August 2004.

UKIP founder: party lacks "intellectual content"

In an interview with the Chatshow Network on 1 July, the founder of UKIP, Dr Alan Sked, turned on his former colleagues.

In the interview, Dr Sked states that:

  • "Elements of the leadership and membership are infected by xenophobia and racism";
  • UKIP's success in the European Parliament elections was due to the media being "manipulated by Dick Morris and Max Clifford";
  • the three UKIP MEPs from 1999 to 2004 (Nigel Farage, Graham Booth and Jeffrey Titford, all of whom were re-elected in June) "had done nothing, were never heard of";
  • UKIP has been "driven by internal disputes over the past five years";
  • UKIP's policy and campaigning has "no intellectual content".

Dr Sked led the party until 1999 and left UKIP shortly afterwards due to concerns about extremism in the organisation.


Tuesday, September 7

Fighting fraud?

In an article written on 21 May for the UKIP website, Ashley Mote, who won a seat for UKIP in the European elections, stated that "Fraud and corruption in the European Union are out of control and the Brussels bureaucrats have proved themselves incapable of putting their own house in order."

Unfortunately, despite now being in Brussels in fight these problems and show the 'Brussels bureaucrats' his own capabilities, Mr Mote decided to leave a meeting of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control committee, held on 31 August and 1 September, before a representative of the EU's anti-fraud office, OLAF, started a one-hour presentation of the organisation's report. This was in spite of being told by the committee chair when the report would be presented and that he would have the opportunity to ask questions about fraud and corruption at this time.

UKIP's other representative on the committee, Jeffrey Titford, did not make an appearance at the meeting.