Ukip’s tilt to the left upsets traditionalists

Tensions are growing in the UK Independence Party’s ranks as it prepares to announce populist policies that target Labour voters but move the party further away from its libertarian roots.

Ukip insiders have told the Financial Times that the policies will be unveiled in the coming weeks to combat the party’s reputation as “more Tory than the Tories”. They include ringfencing the National Health Service budget, raising the income tax threshold for lower earners and opposing a new runway at Heathrow.

The party is currently on around 16 points in the polls, but insiders believe they have maximised support among former Tory voters and are now trying to woo disaffected Labour supporters, especially in the north.

Matthew Goodwin an academic at Nottingham University who has studied Ukip’s rise, said: “Ukip voters are closer to Labour than they are to the Tories in their economic views. They are very receptive to ideas like clamping down on bankers’ bonuses.”

The shift from the party’s roots as a small-government, pro-enterprise organisation is leading to what senior officials are calling “the battle between the uber-libertarians and the blue-collar Kippers”.

One person involved in the discussions said: “The blue-collar Kippers have won the main battles, but there are still a number of uber-libertarians around, particularly among the younger activists.” The person added: “A lot of those people have never had to fend for themselves, and have survived off trust funds from Mum and Dad.”

Bill Etheridge, a Ukip MEP for the Midlands, said: “You get some people who don’t understand what it is like to be struggling . . . You can have all the principles you like but there is a difference between theory you dream up over dinner in London and dealing with real life in the Black Country”.

David Campbell-Bannerman, Ukip’s former deputy leader, described the view of many of the old guard: “[Mr Farage] is bringing in new people who have never been involved with Ukip before, he is just not going to listen to them for long.”

Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, will soon begin releasing details of the party’s 2015 manifesto, having disowned its 2010 document — which included ideas such as a flat 31 per cent rate of income tax, requiring taxi drivers to wear uniforms and repainting trains in “traditional colours” — as “drivel”.

People involved in the process say Ukip is trying to appeal to a much wider cross-section of people than in 2010, while avoiding the accusations it faced at the last election of wanting to spend far more than it raised in tax.

Officials have told the FT that the party will renege on its 2010 commitment to spend 40 per cent more on the military, choosing a more modest inflation-linked rise. It will also attempt to save money by scrapping the HS2 high-speed rail line.

More unusual ideas are also being thrown around at Ukip headquarters. Andrew Reid, the party treasurer, told the FT he would like to see foreigners banned from buying houses worth under £400,000 unless they intended to live in them, to help solve the UK’s housing crisis.

Ukip will have its manifesto vetted by a third-party economics think-tank, which it has not yet named but which it says will give its promises more credibility.

One of the biggest policy battles has been over the NHS. Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s economic spokesman, has described the health service as the “number one” thing that voters care about and has won a push to make sure the party promises not to cut or privatise it.

That victory may be shortlived however. One senior Ukip official told the FT: “This is the position for now. It will probably change after the election.”

Steven Woolfe, the party’s migration spokesman, meanwhile, has floated the idea of renationalising the railways in an interview with the New Statesman magazine.

Mr O’Flynn’s position in the party has come under increasing scrutiny. A report on the rightwing Breitbart website, whose former managing editor Raheem Kassam has become an adviser to Mr Farage, described Mr O’Flynn as a “standard bearer for the left” and said there has been an attempt to oust him from the party.

Mr O’Flynn’s supporters say he has seen off that threat, but his ideas have generated anger among senior party figures, especially his suggestion of a higher rate of VAT for luxury goods, which became known as the “WAG tax”.

Mr O’Flynn unveiled the luxury goods tax in his conference speech but was quickly overruled by Mr Farage, whom insiders say was furious about the policy.

Mark Wallace, who has written a series of pieces about Ukip’s rise for the ConservativeHome website, said: “Ukip has always had more than its fair share of infighting and purges.

“The ‘all things to all men’ strategy adds in new tensions between very different ideological groups — from economic leftwingers to free market libertarians.”

Financial Times


Hitler praised as ‘magnetic and forceful speaker’ by Ukip MEP

Bill Etheridge

Bill Etheridge

Ukip MEP Bill Etheridge has been caught in a race-row once again after praising Adolf Hitler for his “magnetic and forceful” qualities as a public speaker to a roomful of prospective party candidates.

Mr Etheridge referenced the Nazi leader’s behaviour during his speeches at the Nuremberg rallies while training young Ukip members planning on standing for council or parliamentary elections, according to the Mail on Sunday.

The West Midlands MEP – who has written a book celebrating “golliwogs” – called on candidates to look to a “hateful figure who achieved a great deal” during his talk.

“Look back to the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history.

“When Hitler gave speeches, and many of the famous ones were at rallies, at the start he walks, back and forth, looked at people – there was silence, he waited minutes just looking out at people, fixing them with his gaze,” he said.

“They were looking back and he would do it for a while. And then they were so desperate for him to start, when he started speaking they were hanging on every word,” he said, adding: “I’m not saying direct copy – pick up little moments”.

No stranger to controversy, Mr Etheridge defected to Ukip after claiming that his “right to express his views” were being stifled by the Conservative party.

He and his wife had left the Tories after they were summoned to a disciplinary committee and suspended after a colleague complained about pictures on Mr Etheridge’s Facebook page showing him posing with a “golliwog” doll.

He later wrote a book celebrating the controversial children’s toys, using them as an example in his argument about “political correctness”.

The Ukip training session was described by Labour MP Mike Gapes as ‘unbelievable’.

He said: “I thought nothing could surprise me any more, but this just goes to show that Farage has completely failed to clean up his party.

“One of his MEPs training young candidates to speak like Hitler? Simply unbelievable.”

Ukip has repeatedly faced public outcry following offensive or controversial comments by its members. Last year Godfrey Bloom resigned following a string of incidents including joking that the party’s female activists were “sluts”, while earlier this year William Henwood, an Enfield council candidate, suggested comedian Lenny Henry should leave Britain to live in a “black country”.

Party leader Nigel Farage, who is expected to run for Parliament in the next election, has not commented on the most recent incident.

Instead Mr Etheridge released a statement responding to the criticism surrounding his speech. He said: “I was talking about a whole range of public speakers and the techniques they used. I also mentioned Tony Blair.

“At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else. I was merely discussing public speaking and the techniques used down the years.

“Hitler and the Nazis were monsters and I am angry that I am even being asked questions about whether we would wish to be linked with them. Yet another cheap shot to deal with from the media.”

The Independent

‘Mo Farah isn’t British’ and ‘mosques should be knocked down’:

Ukip’s attempts to purge the party of members with controversial views have suffered a fresh setback after it emerged two council candidates have questioned whether Mo Farah is British and called for Islam to be banned.

Nigel Farage has spent the week insisting his party is not racist, and yesterday suspended two members for links to far-right groups.

But fresh comments have emerged from candidates in local elections on May 22 which cause further embarrassment to the party.

David Wycherley, a Ukip council candidate for Walsall, caused controversy with remarks about Mo Farah

David Wycherley, a Ukip council candidate for Walsall, caused controversy with remarks about Mo Farah


A UKIP council candidate queried whether Mo Farah was qualified to race for Team GB when he was an ‘African from Somalia’.

The jibe – made by David Wycherley, a Ukip council candidate for Walsall – came just hours after the runner seized the gold medal for the 10,000 metres at the 2012 London Games

The athlete, who grew up in London after fleeing his war-torn country – became a double Olympic champion for Team GB.

But Mr Wycherley queried whether he could be British, asking his Facebook friends to explain ‘how Mo Farah, an African from Somalia who trains in America, has won a Gold medal for Great Britain’.

In another Facebook post, Mr Wycherley, who is standing for the Rushall-Shelfield ward, joked about ‘starving Africans’ while complaining about his water bill.

It also emerged last night that Jackie Garnett, a Ukip candidate for the Royston South Ward in Oldham, suggested that the UK should ‘ban Islam and knock down all the mosques’ in a Facebook post.

A UKIP spokesman said that the party would investigate their posts, adding: ‘Ukip is a non-racist, non-sectarian party and all candidates and members are expected to uphold these values.

‘Where evidence is produced about individuals, it will be considered at the earliest opportunity by the national executive committee as part of an established disciplinary procedure.’

The row came just as another candidate, William Henwood who suggested comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a ‘black country’, quit his party membership.

Mr Henry had said there should be more people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the creative industries.

In response, Mr Henwood had told the BBC: ‘If black people come to this country and don’t like mixing with white people why are they here? If he (Henry) wants a lot of blacks around go and live in a black country.’

Ukip said that Mr Henwood’s remarks about Mr Henry ‘caused enormous offence and UKIP MEP candidate for the West Midlands Bill Etheridge spoke for many in the party with his strong condemnation’.

Ukip also suspended two unnamed members after it emerged that one had been a BNP member from 2005 until 2010 and another had given money to the English Defence League (EDL).

A Ukip source insisted that the men had a right to appeal which is why their identities were being kept secret.

He added that their links to the other parties had been uncovered by vetting procedures, adding: ‘We will be redoubling our efforts. It’s a tiny minority and we have to keep working hard to make sure the whole party’s reputation is not contaminated.’

Nigel Farage has banned anyone from taking up Ukip membership if they have links to the two extremist parties. The Ukip leader last night revealed he suspected that his party had been infiltrated and that ‘one or two people have joined Ukip with the intention of perhaps not doing it any good’.

‘I’m investigating that, looking at that as we speak,’ he told the BBC.

He has previously resisted sacking MEPs and councillors over controversial remarks.

Jackie Garnett

Roger Helmer, a UKIP MEP, yesterday was forced on the defensive after saying people had as much right to dislike homosexuality as they did certain types of tea.

The politician, who has previously suggested people could have their sexuality ‘turned’ by psychiatrists, was asked by the Sun newspaper whether he stood by remarks that he found same sex relationships ‘distasteful if not viscerally repugnant’.

He said: ‘Different people have different tastes. You may tell me you don’t like Earl Grey tea. That may be a minority view but you are entitled not to like it if you don’t like it.’

The Mail

UKIP councillor quits in Redditch over gay marriage

Martin Jenkins

Martin Jenkins

A UKIP county councillor representing Redditch has resigned from his post after calling his former party’s policy on gay marriage “disgusting”.

Martin Jenkins was elected to Redditch Arrow Valley East on Worcestershire County Council in May last year but has now stepped down from the position saying the UK Independence Party is “on the wrong side of history and needs to move into the 21st century”.

“As a libertarian I am a firm believer in freedom and true equality,” said Mr Jenkins.

“Instead of seizing the chance to support gay marriage, the party are using EU laws as a reason for not supporting it. So, as the party whose fundamental principle is to take the UK out of the European Union, UKIP is using a scenario that would not exist if it were in power as a reason for not supporting same sex marriage.

“This seems a huge contradiction on their part and it would appear UKIP simply do not support gay marriage, full stop.”

UKIP supports civil partnerships but opposes legalisation of same-sex marriage because of concerns that a law change could mean faith groups and places of worship would be forced to perform same-sex marriages.

“If UKIP made its policy clear that it does not support gay marriage in its current form, whilst we are a member of the EU, but it would support gay marriage under a new set of rules outside of the EU, then the party would have my continued support,” added Mt Jenkins.

He also said that an increasing number of public meetings taking place at a time when he was at work meant he found it difficult to represent his constituents.

UKIP enjoyed a surge in the local county council elections in May, 2013 winning four seats in Worcestershire.

Less than 12 months later the party is doing less well in the county as only one of the councillors is still in office. As well as Martin Jenkins’ resignation, Eric Kitson, ex-councillor for Stourport-on-Severn, resigned after admitting sharing offensive material about Muslims on Facebook and Tony Barker, representing St Marys in Kidderminster, died only a month after taking office.

This leaves only Stuart Cross, representing Redditch South, as a standing UKIP councillor in Worcestershire.

Bill Etheridge, west midlands regional organiser of UKIP, told the Advertiser he was disappointed with Mr Jenkins’ decision.

“The party has been firm on the issue since before Mr Jenkins stood for election. We are not saying we are in favour of gay marriage, we are saying that the moment has passed in time and we are moving on. We allow individual members to have their view and have no prejudice against gay people whatsoever,” he added.

A spokesperson from Worcestershire County Council said that it anticipates a by-election to fill the vacant seat will be held on the same day as the European and Redditch Council elections on May 22.

Redditch Advertiser

UKIP Recruit Is Former BNP Man

Dudley UKIP Organiser Bill Etheridge (left) with new recruit Steve Daniels

Dudley UKIP Organiser Bill Etheridge (left) with new recruit Steve Daniels

Dudley UKIP announced in their local newspaper that a former Labour Party branch chairman has defected to the Euro sceptic party.

Steve Daniels has been selected to stand for UKIP in the coming local elections in the Netherton ward where he hopes to win a seat on Dudley Council.

Daniels said: “I have decided to accept the invitation to join UKIP because their values match mine”.

We wonder which values Daniels refers to as we can reveal the new UKIP recruit appeared on the leaked BNP membership list.

The local Labour Party in the area discovered his far right links and launched an investigation but Daniels left the party before the investigation had concluded.

Daniels in his defence claims that the Steve Daniels that appears on the leaked list is not him and is in fact his son who was living with him at the time.

UKIP Halesowen and Dudley chairman Dean Perks said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Steve to UKIP. ”

I bet…

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