Wednesday, October 29

Farage on Enoch Powell, his MEPs and the shame of only earning £60,000 per year

UKIPwatch had a bit of fun reading Nigel Farage's shameless interview with Iain Dale in the new Total Politics magazine.

In it, Nigel claims that "we are a non-racist, non-sectarian, pro-libertarian outfit. We are so far away from the image of the authoritarian right on issue after issue." But, this is simply not true and Nigel does rather spoil it at the end of the interview by admitting that his political hero is the 'mad prophet' Enoch Powell of 'rivers of blood' notoriety, whose anti-immigrant and anti-foreigner rhetoric inspired both Monday Club Toryism and the National Front in the 1970s and, latterly, the BNP.

Besides, you only have to spend an evening with a UKIP MEP/official or check out the party faithful on the Democracy Forum to see that they are, with a few honourable exceptions, a collection of hang 'em and flog 'em, right-wing authoritarians and assorted lunatics and conspiracy theorists. If you called Tory defector, and now UKIPs sole MP, Bob Spink a libertarian, he'd punch you in the jaw.

Farage also reveals his contempt for his own MEPs, admitting that "you attract a few people you would rather not have had" and, in a thinly veiled reference to convicted benefit fraudster Ashley Mote MEP and the alleged expense abuses by Tom Wise MEP, "part of the weakness of being a small, grassroots based party (is that) a con man can come along and con people".

More astonishing chutzpah can be found in his claim that "there is no preferential treatment for existing MEPs or party officers." Funny then that Gregg Beaman, a UKIP stalwart in the North-West who topped the members ballot to claim the No 1 spot on the UKIP list in the region was swiftly forced to stand down in favour of new party chairman Paul Nuttall, who, lest we forget, was personally appointed by Farage without the agreement of the UKIP NEC. No favouritism for your cronies, Nigel? Come off it!

It's also good to see that Nigel Farage's commitment to public service knows no bounds. On being asked "have you ever thought: why am I doing this" Nige replies "every month when I get my bank statement". Is he really saying that £60,000, plus expenses, not forgetting the £25,000 Farage pays his wife to work as his secretary, is not enough to live on?

It all rather smacks of Godfrey Bloom's remark upon hearing that his parliamentary salary would be just under £60,000 that "I can't possibly live off that"! If Farage is really claiming that MEPs, particularly those that do as little work as UKIP MEPs, deserve to be paid more, then he needs his head examining.

Tuesday, October 21

Justice as malignant Mote loses bid to charge legal costs to the taxpayer

The long running saga of disgraced former UKIP MEP Ashley Mote's attempt to avoid justice for multiple counts of benefit fraud may finally have come to an end. Mote used every single procedural trick imaginable to block and delay his prosecution. With criminal proceedings against him beginning just before his election in May 2004, he was able to delay until finally being sentenced in September 2007.

What is galling is that Mr. Mote, having served his time (albeit just 3 months out of a 9 month prison sentence) and returned to Parliament, sought to overturn the Parliament's decision to waive his immunity, challenging the legality of the decision and suing for the Parliament to pay all costs. It was unquestionably the right thing to do when the European Parliament took the overwhelming decision in 2005 to waive his immunity, in order to allow criminal prosecution for multiple benefit fraud to be brought against him. Happily, the European Court of First Instance slapped down his case this month. Publishing their decision on Wednesday last week, the judges dismissed the case as "inadmissible" and "unfounded."

But it is the hypocrisy and the desperation of Mote's newest ploy to evade both the voter and the law that is most shocking. Having spent years decrying the 'supposed' wastefulness of the Parliament's budget (which incidentally costs the individual taxpayer a mere £4.46 yearly, as opposed to £11.40 for the Commons), Mr. Mote sought to burden the taxpayer with upwards of £70,000 in legal costs. This comes on top of the £65,000 he defrauded from the taxpayer in benefits. Pots, kettles and dark colours spring to mind.

Furthermore, 4 years in office have seen a large portion of his time divided between prison and fighting his case. The voter, needless to say, hasn't had much of a look in. Indeed this latest episode smacks of a last desperate attempt to shore up what tatters of credibility he thinks he (but probably doesn't) has left. Given Mr. Mote's record, (and the recent rumours that he is trying to stand for the BNP in the South-East) he can't be looking forward to the voters' verdict on his work in the upcoming European elections. Voters in the South East were deceived in 2004 and have had their good faith abused since. It must be comforting to know that the malignant Mr. Mote will be given the boot in a little over 8 months time.

Monday, October 13

Is Farage set for another UKIP purge?

The barking mad members of Democracy Forum continue to be a delight to UKIPwatch, with a series of conspiracy theories having been posted over the last few weeks. This one claims that Nigel Farage is set to change UKIP's internal party rules in order to expel a number of senior officials and two MEPs - London's Gerard Batten and Roger Knapman from the South-West.

Given the astonishing (though understandable) lack of respect that Farage has for his party's members, this theory should not be dismissed out of hand. Many on the list have been openly critical of Farage and both Piers Merchant and Gregg Beaman were shabbily treated after the recent MEP candidate selection, with Beaman forced to stand down after topping the list in the North-West. As for the MEPs, Knapman is retiring next year and Gerard Batten will struggle to retain his seat, if his dismal showing in this year's London Mayoral election is anything to go by. But expelling two more MEPs would mean that UKIP would have lost exactly half its MEPs elected in 2004 within one parliamentary term. Can it really be true?