Monday, June 23

Tom Wise twist - plucky porker arrested in fraud investigation

It seems that the plucky porker Tom Wise has had a busy weekend with coppers from Bedfordshire police arresting him on suspicion of fraud.

It'll be interesting to see how UKIP respond. Back in October last year, their head of press criticised UKIPwatch for writing a piece on Mr Wise, accusing us of "unsubstantiated mud", while Bob Feal Martinez (who also appears to have a soft spot for this blog) took a swipe and defended Wise's integrity. Now that the press are baying for Wise's blood, UKIP have changed their tune and are frantically trying to disown Wise. But it won't wash, Tom Wise was (along with jailbird and convicted fraudster Ashley Mote) elected as a UKIP MEP in 2004. Even now, UKIP are still more than happy to take membership subs from him. It's unclear how UKIP are going to spin their way out of these scandals at the next European elections, their best bet is presumably to hope that nobody notices.

UKIPwatch also noticed that Wise was released on police bail. Wonder whether the ubiquitous Wise will, true to money-grabbing form, try and put his bail on expenses?

Thursday, June 19

Get real Gawain!

UKIPwatcher's eyes were drawn to this piece in the Irish Independent by Fionnan Sheahan on the eurosceptics who helped campaign for a 'No' vote in last week's referendum in Ireland on the Lisbon Treaty. It's good fun, knockabout stuff. However, not for a certain Mr Towler, who took umbrage at Sheahan's description of UKIP as "the golf club version of the BNP". Pretty accurate, although UKIPwatch thinks they're more like the BNP with posh voices. Mr Towler was probably also offended by Sheahan's reminder that Alistair McConnachie, the five-time UKIP candidate and former national executive member, endorsed David Irving's denial of the Holocaust.

Nonetheless, UKIPwatcher has some time for Mr Towler, who despite questionable political beliefs is an eloquent blogger. However, his claim that UKIP is a party with a "love of liberty" is, not to put too fine a point on it, more than a little rich. Last week, Bob Spink, whose dishonourable defection from the Tories means that UKIP have an MP until the next general election, voted to increase the length of time that terror suspects can be banged up without trial to 42 days. UKIPs refusal to vote in favour of a European Parliament report on combating female genital mutilation and hardline anti-immigration stance might also be considered by some to be at odds with claims to be a "party of liberty". To be blunt, Gawain Towler may be a libertarian, but his party certainly ain't.

Besides, if Gawain really thinks that UKIP is closest to the Irish Progressive Democrats (the party of former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox) then he really does needs his head examining.

Wednesday, June 18

UKIP party democracy and more on the neverending Tom Wise saga

With wearisome predictability, the extended car crash that is the Tom Wise saga has taken a fresh twist. Len Baynes, the chairman and founder of the Fenland and Cambridge branches of UKIP has resigned, leaving a parting shot that UKIP has been taken over by "career opportunists".

UKIPwatch was particularly amused to read Baynes' questions about Farage's approach to party democracy:

"(Nigel) is treating the party as his own personal property. The branches as such get no support whatsoever and I was surprised when asked to attend an NEC meeting to explain the worries of my members that I was not allowed to speak."

Hmmm - this would be the same Nigel Farage that is so fond of lecturing EU politicians that they are undemocratic and don't listen to the people? Funny that.

Moreover, anyone who needing reminding that UKIP couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery should read this as, pouring another can of petrol onto the already smouldering fire, Baynes contradicted the standard UKIP line that Tom Wise is no longer a UKIP MEP - "in 2008 he met with all the top politicians of the Channel Islands along with UKIP MEP Roger Knapman and was indeed described by the press as a UKIP MEP. He has also had his membership of UKIP renewed in March 2008, a year after the whip was withdrawn. I find this baffling and can get no reason or comments from anyone."

So Wise is a UKIP MEP? Well, not according to this statement by Nige Farage.

All of which begs the question: if Wise is still a member of UKIP, will he be standing for re-election next year on the UKIP ticket?

Tuesday, June 17

New allegations of IND-DEM assistance scandal

UKIPwatcher was intrigued to receive some information from a fellow conspirator to the effect that the Parliament's Secretary General Harald Römer has apparently launched an investigation into the funding of at least 5 UKIP/EU Democrat staff members. An investigation has also been launched into the alleged plans to pay veteran eurosceptic campaigner Jens Peter Bonde to subsidise his future work for the EU Democrats.

This issue has cropped up a few times before in a similar vein. One of the open secrets in the European Parliament is that UKIP uses money from the IND-DEM group to pay its party staff. Mike Nattrass's assistant Denis Brookes took his former boss to an employment tribunal last year alleging that he was being paid using IND-DEM money when he was actually a UKIP regional organiser, although the case was eventually thrown out.

UKIP MEP deadweight Derek Clark has also weighed in. In a letter to that great bastion of Europhilia the Sunday Telegraph, Deadweight said:

My employment of two staff at our party head office in Devon is perfectly legitimate.

Any assistant of an MEP is required to assist the MEP with all aspects of his or her duties, including political activities as an MEP, so as to enhance the work of the MEP. By helping to promote the party and by raising public awareness of our aims, those working in our head office enhance the role of all our MEPs wherever they are, including me.

That is what I said live on the BBC’s political hour last Sunday. I change not one word of that but perhaps I had better quote a long standing EU civil servant.

I refer to The Secretary General of our political group in the European Parliament, Herman Verheirstraeten, who says:-

“The internal rules of the parliaments don’t tell us anything about what is the exact task of a parliamentary assistant. The policy of the parliament is clear; do everything, inform people, make sure they come out to vote, make sure the political parties, the national parliaments are aware of what is happening in Europe. That is their real political duty. This is why I am convinced that the parliament would rather applaud the fact you have people working in your national state under your instructions and promote your work, exchange ideas with the party, coordinate the work of the other UKIP MEPs and inform the members as well as the UK public not just the East Midlands. It should be added to this particular case, that UKIP is a party that has his core interest in what is happening in Europe, unlike the others who have other core business. That is one more reason to welcome the fact that you do what should be done, and that is invest in contact with the party and the public”.

I trust that you can accept the word of such an experienced and unbiased EU official as Herman Verheirstraeten. I find it rather sad that a paper with the reputation of the Sunday Telegraph should allow itself to publish misleading articles based upon ill informed comment.

(It's fascinating that Clark describes the General Secretary of the IND-DEM group (headed by UKIP who seek to destroy the EU) as an "unbiased EU official" - he's clearly been taking spinning advice from UKIP press maestro - but we'll leave this for another time.)

Anyway, watch this space because something is clearly afoot. It may be that another UKIP assistance allowance scandal is about to blow.

Has Ashley Mote got a new job?

The new EU Commissioner for Justice was cross-examined in the European Parliament yesterday, with his appointment prompting a furious denunciation in a UKIP press release.

However, the quote from Deadweight Derek Clark made UKIPwatch do a double-take: "this gentleman was convicted of fraud and embezzlement of public funds….and would have received a substantial prison sentence….he failed to declare this situation before taking office". What the hell?!? When did former UKIP MEP Ashley Mote become an EU Commissioner?