Wednesday, October 28

UKIPs famous five leadership candidates

The race for the UKIP leadership is officially on. Nigel Farage has not taken his colleague Nikki Sinclaire's request to put party before ego and continue as leader, so the party faces a leadership contest at a time when it is desperately searching the coffers for £750,000 to pay off its legal costs and to pay back its illegal donations, and just six months before a general election.

The five candidates are a deeply uninspiring bunch and precious few Britons will have heard of any of them. Farage may have had an ego the size of Scotland, but he was a slick and skilled media performer and always ensured that the ukip punched above their weight on programmes like the BBC's Question Time.

There will be a handful of decidedly low-key hustings events over the next three weeks, with ballot papers to be returned by November 26th.

The candidates are as follows:

Gerard Batten MEP
Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Mike Nattrass MEP
Nikki Sinclaire MEP
Alan Wood

Of these, Alan Wood is a UKIP councillor in Wiltshire, and Lord Pearson is a loony former Tory peer who is close mates of Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders and has called for Ukip to make "the threat of radical Islam the major focus" of its election strategy. Don't forget though that the ukip is a "non-racist party". Yeah, right.

So to the MEPs who are standing. Batten and Mike Nattrass are two of the least impressive members of UKIPs MEP delegation. In 2008, Batten was UKIPs candidate to be Mayor of London, finishing 6th, and managing a paltry 2% of the vote. He even finished behind the independent Christian Alliance candidate.

Nattrass, meanwhile, is not only a virtual unknown outside ukip circles, but also belies ukip's attempts to describe itself as a "non-racist" libertarian party.

Before joining ukip, Nattrass was a member of the New Britain Party, a party which had close and longstanding links to 'Rhodesian' (sic) organisations promoting racial separatism and South African apartheid such as the Springbok and Empire Loyalist Clubs, was highly anti-immigration and campaigned for the return of capital punishment. New Britain was described as an "avowedly racist party" by The Observer newspaper in May 2001. Nattrass stood as the New Britain Party candidate in the 1994 Dudley by-election, winning a spectacular 146 votes. With this past, it is difficult to see how ukip supporters could justify having Mike Nattrass as leader while still maintaining their mantra as a "non-racist" party.

What is perhaps most significant are the candidates who are not standing. UKIPwatch is surprised that neither party chairman Paul Nuttall or David Bannerman are standing, both of whom have excellent campaigning records and are popular within the party ranks.

All of which leaves Nikki Sinclaire, a newly elected MEP. Sinclaire is the first openly gay Ukip parliamentarian and has rapidly established herself as one of the more politically astute and media-savvy Ukip MEPs. Despite her inexperience, if Ukip members have any sense then she should win. The other parties will, if they are interested enough to follow the leadership contest of a party as tiny as the Ukip, be hoping that Nattrass, Wood or Pearson claims the prize.

UKIP face financial meltdown after court ruling

Little old UKIP sure picked the wrong fight when they decided to take on the Electoral Commission. The party's long running legal dispute with the Electoral Commission seems to have reached an unhappy conclusion: UKIP have been ordered by the Court of Appeal to pay back the £363,000 they received in donations from Alan Bown in 2005, and also to pay legal costs. This decision now appears to have been confirmed, with the party denied the right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The party faces a bill of £750,000 - a fair chunk of cash for either the Tories or Labour to find, but an enormous sum for a party with well under 20,000 members.

Retired bookmaker Mr Bown has been one of UKIPs biggest (and most loyal) donors for a number of years. But the case rests on the fact that, at the time these particular donations were made, Mr Bown was not registered to vote in the UK and so the Electoral Commission followed the letter of the law and declared the donations to be inadmissible. It demanded that the money be paid back.

In 2007, Westminster magistrate's court found that although the ukip were guilty of failing to take "all reasonable steps" to establish that Bown was on the electoral roll, the error had been accidental and that UKIP should forfeit £18,481 on the donation. Rather than hold his hands up, admit the mistake and promise not to repeat it, Nigel Farage threw his toys out of the pram and accused the Electoral Commission of political bias and of being a puppet of the political establishment. Having had its integrity unfairly impugned, the Electoral Commission went to the Court of Appeal, demanding that the monies be paid back in full. Last week, the Court of Appeal found against Ukip, with Judge Sir Paul Kennedy stating that:

"Parliament having decided that the test of acceptability of a donation from an individual should be whether that individual was registered in an electoral register, it seems to me to be irrelevant whether an impermissible donor is or is not making a foreign donation"

UKIP has estimated that its total bill – including paying back the illegal donations and its massive legal costs – will amount to £750,000. This is money that UKIP simply has not got. In other words, Nigel Farage’s ego has financially bankrupted UKIP. Good job for him that he's pre-empted any possible moves to remove his as leader by resigning to stand as an 'anti-sleaze' candidate (now, then, no laughing at the back!) against Tory Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

Predictably, UKIP are furiously arguing that the penalty is disproportionate. Bown is a legitimate businessman who had previously made large donations to the party but had, temporarily, slipped off the electoral register. A clerical error and a demonstration of the sort of rank incompetence that UKIP is famous for, but surely not a crime to merit such a stiff punishment.

As far as UKIPwatch is concerned, UKIP should never have allowed themselves to get in such a mess. The Electoral Commission is, in legal terms, completely correct. Ukip had taken money from an impermissible donor. Had UKIP admitted their mistake an amicable solution could certainly have been found. Instead, Farage's ego took over and they had to portray themselves as poor, embattled UKIP, fighting the political establishment.

Aside from the fairness of the outcome, one fact remains: UKIP will have to find £750,000, and fast. With a party of about 16,000 members, that's one hell of an expensive whip-round. Still, a quick look at the Electoral Commission's website shows that UKIPs MEPs have been funding the party for years. It's time for Godfrey Bloom (who always claims to be loaded), Stuart Agnew (apparently described by Farage as "thick as shit but he has money", and Farage himself to put their hands in their pockets and bail the party out.

Monday, October 12

Godders Bloom in "Paki" race row

UKIPwatch's favourite purveyor of casual racism, Godfrey Bloom, has again hit the headlines after treating Radio 2 listeners to his unique approach to race relations. Godders, who famously described the Archbishop of York, John Semtamu, as "as black as Newgate's knocker", told listeners that being called a "Paki" was no different to being called a "Brummie".
It's not a surprise to hear that Bloom thinks this, but the fact is they are not the same. Calling some a "Paki" is no different to calling someone a "nigger".

Maybe Godfrey should have a discussion with the Rev Arun Arora of St Mark's Church in Harrogate, the heart of his Yorkshire constituency who has penned this excellent piece in today's Yorkshire Post. Perhaps then this witless, offensive cretin would realise that using a term which dismisses any part of someone's personality and reduces them to their skin colour, is not funny or endearing, but poisonous, degrading and offensive.

Still, on a lighter note, we've found three great adjectives that sum up Godders nicely. Although he might attack the BNP's Andrew Brons extremist politics, Bloom's are no different. Poisonous, degrading and offensive.

Wednesday, October 7

Irish Europe Minister - "Farage secured big "Yes" vote for Lisbon Treaty"

Congratulations are due to UKIP for their brilliantly successful campaign for a "Yes" vote in the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty - according to Ireland's Europe Minister Dick Roche. Having poured resources in terms of cash (through its so-called political group, which consists of UKIP, the xenophobic Northern League and a few other barm-pots) and staff, UKIP, in their own little way persuaded over 67% of the Irish people to vote in favour of the Treaty.

Pin-striped wonder Nigel Farage thought that he could match his chum Declan Ganley in masterminding a "No" campaign. As UKIPwatch reported a couple of weeks ago, Ganley told him to get stuffed and then, last Friday, so did the Irish people.

Nigel, not being the sort of chap who takes such a resounding defeat lying down, responded by lecturing the Irish on democracy, comparing their referendum to elections in Zimbabwe, and adding, in supercilious fashion that:

"I fear that you'll look back in Ireland on this day and you'll realise that it marked the beginning of the end of your relatively brief period of independence as a nation".

Ireland's Europe Minister, Dick Roche, responded by giving Nige both barrels, saying that UKIPs maestro had no understanding of the Irish psyche and adding that UKIPs intervention in the referendum campaign had been "hugely beneficial because people were asking: What in the name of God is UKIP doing in this country telling us what to do".

Anyways, back to the drawing board for UKIP, because the Irish referendum, combined with this report that Czech President Vaclav Klaus will sign the Treaty before Christmas, means that their Lisbon Treaty goose is almost certainly cooked.

Oafish Bloom banned by the FSA

The marvellous buffoon that is Godfrey Bloom likes to think of himself as something of a financial expert. It has even been alleged that several of the assistants he pays using his parliamentary allowance, actually work for one of the companies he is associated with (although UKIP could not possibly comment). However, his knowledge, wit and expertise did not go down too well with Lord Adair Turner, director of the Financial Services Authority, at a Mansion House speaker last week.

Lord Turner gave a detailed and carefully prepared speech about lessons to be learnt from the financial crisis. Good old Godders gave Lord Turner a piece of his (small) mind.

The unctuous Bloom (presumably having enjoyed a fine dinner) thus became the first person in living memory to heckle a Mansion House speaker and, consequently, has been banned by the Lord Mayor's office. In a stiffly worded note to UKIP, the Lord Mayor's office said:
"Mr Bloom will not be receiving any further invitations to Mansion House events nor will be welcome at the Brussels Annual reception….at which Lord Turner is the keynote speaker". Ouch:

Needless to say, the oafish Bloom (who, were he fifty years younger and did not affect a bowler hat, would make a high-class football hooligan) was not prepared to take this affront to his dignity lying down. In his words:

"Being censored by the silent sycophants is hardly a punishment is hardly a punishment. Lord Adair heads the failed FSA, and denounces the City. I denounce him".

Touché. Or perhaps I should say touchy!

Monday, October 5

UKIP internal warfare as Sinclaire goes after Farage

As U-kippers cry over their cornflakes, following the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (which saw the treaty endorsed by over 67% of the vote), U-kippers are also facing up to the open warfare of a leadership campaign. Lest we forget, UKIPs most presentable face, Nigel Farage, resigned as party leader last month at UKIPs annual 'conference' in Southport, forcing a fresh contest just over three years after he was elected as leader. UKIPwatcher may despise Farage's politics, but there's no denying that he is a fine media performer (indeed, UKIPs only one).

Farage's decision to resign in order to fight House of Commons Speaker John Bercow's Buckingham constituency, has left a lot of devastated young U-kippers who feel betrayed. Now more petrol has been poured onto the fire by newly elected MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who has written this open letter to Farage begging him not to stand down

Sinclaire has already caused problems for Farage, publicly expressing her unhappiness at the assortment of racists, xenophobes and other fruit-cakes that make up UKIPs new group in the European Parliament. This letter, which by calling on Farage to "honour your pledge to the UKIP members - who elected you for a four-year term - to see out that commitment" adding that "the last thing the party needs now is a couple of months navel gazing", is a barely coded attack on the pin-striped wonder.

Still, impassioned though the letter may be, good grammatically, it ain't - "I respectively suggest" - shurely shome mishtake! Sinclaire has already put her name forward as a candidate to replace Farage, and this letter, which heaps gushing praise on Farage, whilst also implying dereliction of duty on his part by deserting UKIP, is a canny piece of work.

So, if Farage backs down on his commitment he looks weak, if he ignores Sinclaire's letter she shores up a lot of votes as the UKIP unity candidate and greatly undermines him. Smart work. Maybe UKIPs class of 2009 are not quite as dumb as their predecessors!