Monday, November 30

Who is Lord Pearson and what does he stand for?

In a week in which UKIP has attacked European Council President Herman Van Rompuy for being "unelected", they have chosen an unelected peer, rather than one of their elected MEPs, to lead them. Malcolm Everard MacLaren Pearson, Baron Pearson of Rannoch was elected leader of UKIP with 47.7% of the vote, followed by Gerard Batten MEP with 25.8%. Nikki Sinclaire MEP with 12.2%, Mike Nattrass MEP with 11.0% and and Alan Wood 3.2% .

So who is Lord Pearson and what does he stand for?

According to wikipedia he was born in 1942 in Devizes and educated at Eton. He is chairman of the Pearson Webb Springbett (PWS) Group of reinsurance brokers, which he founded in 1964 and was made a life peer by Mrs Thatcher in 1990, sitting as a Conservative until he was expelled by them in 2004, joining UKIP in 2007. He is also the co-founder of an pro-globalised free trade think-tank, Global Britain. Pearson has been married three times: to Francesca Frua de Angeli in 1965, with whom he had one daughter and whom he divorced in 1970; to the Hon. Mary Charteris in 1977, with whom he had two daughters and whom he divorced in 1995; and to Caroline St Vincent Rose in 1997.

But beyond this, It seems he is not just eurosceptic, but a climate sceptic, an opponent of all muslims, anti-gay and a strong supporter of reversing the ban on cruel forms of hunting. Oh, and there is a little matter of his parliamentary expense claims.

His voting record in the House of Lords, according to "They Work for You" is that he has:

Voted strongly against the hunting ban. votes, speeches
Voted very strongly against equal gay rights. votes, speeches
Voted a mixture of for and against laws to stop climate change. votes, speeches

On Europe, from his own website, his personal manifesto says:

"What of my political philosophy? I am essentially interested in conserving the British constitution against all who threaten it, most particularly from those 'Traitors within the Gate', the British politicians who have betrayed their own people."

"My ambition is for UKIP to do well enough in the General Election to trigger a revolutionary realignment of British politics. In place of our current ‘one party state’, with all the older parties blindly deferring to the EU, we desperately need a new and genuine Opposition."

"UKIP policies should be short and incisive and targeted to emphasise what can only be achieved by leaving the EU. They should also be selected to embarrass the old parties by showing how their political correctitude has left them out of touch with the basic common sense of real people. Examples abound: Their refusal to entrust us with education vouchers or to insist on work permits for foreigners; their failure to maintain our borders and their appeasement of militant Islam."

But it is not just the EU that he hates, it is government in general: "We don't need these monkeys in Westminster," he said bluntly on getting the UKIP leadership. "And we've had enough of Brussels too. We're going to change it." (BBC website article Friday, 27 November 2009).

On climate change, denial is an attitude common to many eurosceptics (for instance BNP's Nick Griffin, UKIP's Godfrey Bloom, the Conservatives' Roger Helmer), all of whom claim that it is an exaggerated conspiracy by the political elite to screw more money out of the taxpayer.

On islam, in the words of the New Statesman blog: "We have blogged before about the odious Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the UKIPer and front-runner for the leadership of that EU-obsessed party. But is Europe its only obsession? The Telegraph's Ed West says that "Lord Pearson told me that, if elected, he will make the threat of radical Islam the major focus" of the UK Independence Party.

It is not "violent Islam" that exercises him; it is the presence of Muslims -- all Muslims! -- in Britain. And I'm sure I don't need to tell you that his alarmist and ill-informed predictions about the Muslim birthrate, and the demonising and dehumanising language ("breeding ten times faster than us"; "resist their demands"), mirror the language employed by the far right about the Jews in the 1920s and 1930s."

In February 2009, he invited Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders to show the anti-Islam film Fitna before the House of Lords. However, Wilders was prevented from entering the UK on the instructions of the Home Secretary. In response, Pearson and Cox accused the Government of "appeasing" militant Islam.

On hunting, he is a supporter of the pro-field sports and conservation Countryside Alliance, serving as chairman of its deerstalking committee.

But questions about his expenses are potentially the most embarrassing for UKIP (especially after two of their former MEPs have already been in jail). According to the Daily Telegraph website, he has made substantial expense claims as a peer. According to the Telegraph:

"The new leader of the UK Independence Party, Lord Pearson, claimed more than £100,000in publicly-funded expenses on the basis that his £3.7 million house in London was his second home while also owning in a 12,000-acre estate with servants in Scotland. He has told the Parliamentary authorities that his estate beside Loch Rannoch, Perthshire, is his “main home”. This enabled him to claim about £100,000 in taxpayer-funded overnight subsistence allowances (“for the purpose of attending sittings of the House”) between April 2001 and June 2007 for staying at his town house in Victoria, one mile away from Parliament in central London, where he had no mortgage to pay.

After selling the flat for £3.7 million In June 2007, Lord Pearson moved to another London flat two miles away in Kennington. He paid £1.2 million for the flat, again without a mortgage. He then claimed another £15,000 in allowances on the basis of his overnight stays there.

Lord Pearson has repeatedly declared in official company documents that his London home was his “usual residential address”.

His London house was also given as the address to which applicants wishing to work as a housekeeper or gardener at the Scottish estate should send their CVs, in an advert placed by Lady Pearson in The Scottish Farmer in January this year.

Lords rules state: “Members whose main residence is within Greater London cannot claim night subsistence.”

As well as claiming £115,683 for overnight subsistence, since 2001 Lord Pearson has claimed £56,685 in “day subsistence” allowances. Peers can claim £86.50 a day for meals, drinks and taxis while working in Westminster, with no need for receipts.

The peer – who was paid £40,000 a year for his remaining City work until being elected UKIP leader – also claimed £48,471 in travel expenses – including £10,064 for the cost of flying between Scotland and London in the last two recorded years alone."

"He said: “My (main) home is in Scotland. I spend almost exactly half the year there.” He said he had cited the London home as his “usual” address in company documents “for convenience” in dealing with business correspondence".

Yet, it is Lord Pearson who warned that the MPs' expenses scandal exposed a “growing gulf between the political class and the British people”.

A newly emerged controversy is about his alleged offer to make a deal with the Conservatives: 'UKIP faces resignations over offer to disband if Tories held EU referendum’ (Times, 30 Nov. p10).
UKIP faces a ‘wave of resignations’ amid grassroots fury over the revelation that its new leader offered to stand down candidates at the next election and disband the party if the Tories agreed to hold a referendum on EU membership. Lord Pearson faces a rocky start to his leadership after it was reported that he proposed a deal to the Tory leader in the Lords. Nikki Sinclaire MEP said that she was being called by outraged members threatening to resign. Gerald Batten said: ‘I am appalled they can offer to sell the party down the river to the Tories — it is a betrayal of the members, and we will probably see a wave of resignations over this. If he had run in the leadership election telling people that is what he had done, he would have come bottom. The membership do not want it and it has caused outrage."

But is he completely mad? Some comments on the blogosphere might lead one to wonder. For instance: "Pearson underwent a profound religious experience in 1977, and has undertaken to raise his banner for the Light in the Manichaean battle between good and evil, and would join battle in the name of Good with the baleful malignity of Ahriman and Lucifer, the twin evils of Euro-Federalism and Jihadist Islam. For Pearson it's about a morality so fundamental that all else is spume."

Interesting times!


Sunday, November 22

The mental health of UKIP activists with their obsessive hatred of anything and everything to do with the EU is highlighted by the BBC report of their leadership hustings in Peterborough.

Tellingly, the BBC reporter notes that “every conversation seems eventually to land up in Brussels and its evils”.

He speaks of “hard core political activists whose every moment seems dominated by the threat of a European super state.”

The activists are, it seems, mostly “in their late middle age, but there is a smattering of younger types, dressed twenty years too old for their age”

The BBC reports that “none of the candidates are household names”, but that “whoever wins this contest will have a highly committed bunch of believers” to pursue their policies which one of their activists admits is about “fishing in the same pond as the BNP".


Friday, November 20

Here we go again!

Daniel Foggo (The Times, page 15) reports on yet another UKIP MEP fraud inquiry.

Mike Nattrass is now being investigated by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud watchdog over how he has used his Parliamentary expenses. Nattrass was elected to represent the West Midlands in the European Parliament in 2004 and the inquiry focuses on whether he paid Denis Brookes, then supposedly his parliamentary assistant, through the public purse while he was in fact working as UKIP's Regional Organiser.

It also seems that Nattrass has misunderstood the very strict Parliamentary rule that an MEP cannot be his/her own paying agent for salaries to staff. It would seem that since 2004 until earlier this year, the staff salaries allowances were put through “the business account of Nattrass Giles, a chartered surveyors in Birmingham which he founded nearly 30 years ago.”

Nattrass claims that although he was a signatory to the account, all the administration was carried out by another partner in the firm. He also claims that Parliamentary officials said it was OK for him to use his Birmingham company.

It seems all UKIPwatcher’s posts at the moment are about MEPs, elected to represent UKIP, either getting jail sentences for fraud or being investigated for fraud. How many more are there?


Thursday, November 12

Hands in the till.....

Tom (not so) Wise now has the dubious honour of becoming the first British politician to spend time behind bars for fiddling his expenses. Today is his first full day at Her Majesty’s pleasure. He is not the only one first elected as a UKIP MEP in 2004 to fall foul of the law. Ashley Mote got off with a 9 month prison sentence for benefit fraud. Mote had claimed £32,000 in income support and a further £35,000 in housing benefit. Neither were allowed to remain in UKIP.

Wise was given a two year prison sentence for embezzling funds from the public purse for his own use. Seems he made good use of it too: the police found that he had spent blown £3,500 of taxpayers’ cash on 19 cases of fine wine — along with £1,000 of his own money, he used £6,800 to clear credit card bills and then squandered £6,400 on a second-hand Peugeot 206.

UKIPwatcher finds it interesting though that Wise had maintained his "innocent" plea all along and only changed his plea just before Farage was due to give evidence against Wise at the trial. What was Nigel going to say? Wise obviously thought it better to cop for a couple of years than have Nigel's knowledge made public. Anyone know what NF was going to say?

Ah, now UKIPwatcher understands why Paul Nuttall didn’t stand for Leader of the party but it is still somewhat confusing. Just exactly does Paul Nuttall want?

First, he wanted to be an MEP, or so he told us when he chose to stand for the European Parliament. Now he wants to be an MP and fight for Joe Benton’s Bootle seat in Sefton, Merseyside. In order to do this he is standing down as Chair of UKIP. In an interview he has given to the Wirral Globe he says: "It gives me the chance to concentrate on fighting for the Bootle seat."

He goes on to say "The North West is a large area and I want to concentrate on giving my time and effort to all my constituents."

Just what is it he is going to concentrate on? Is he going to do his job and represent the citizens of the North West in the European Parliament or is he going to spend his time in Bootle, joining his pal Nigel in a quest for a Westminster seat? Someone should warn the good people of Bootle!

In the meantime, Farage is backing Lord Pearson for the job of Leader, saying “things will be tricky” if one of the other candidates win. Ballot papers are to be returned by 26th November.


Tuesday, November 10

Didn't anyone tell Nikki?

In an astonishing display of either ignorance or denial, Nikki Sinclaire (wannabe Leader of UKIP), said on Radio 5 that “Ashley Mote was not a UKIP MEP”. She then repeated “Ashley Mote was never ever a UKIP MEP”. UKIPwatcher nearly fell of the chair! Elected as one of UKIP's top two candidates in the South East region in 2004, Mote was only chucked out of UKIP when the fraud charges were in the media, after the election. Even Farage, his fellow candidate in the South East, doesn't deny Mote was a UKIP member.

These amazing (and ridiculous) statements were made in response to Richard Corbett saying on the same programme that “Ashley Mote was elected as UKIP”. She declared this statement by Corbett as “blatantly untrue” (For good measure, she went on to claim that the Conservative Party is a “Euro-federalist party”, which will be news to most people!).

UKIPwatcher can fully understand the embarrassment of being associated with Mote, and indeed others, but to blatantly try to rewrite history and deny he ever represented UKIP is bit much.