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


Is O’Flynn Finished? Knives Out For Senior UKIP Man.

Patrick O'Flynn

The knives are out for a leading UKIP spokesman if certain sections of the right wing press are to be believed.

Patrick O’Flynn MEP, one time Daily Express political hack and now UKIP economics spokesman has made large numbers of enemies during his short spell in the Eurosceptic party.

The hard right within UKIP (there are quite a few) want to return to the days of Margaret Thatcher, with low taxes along with slashing benefits to the very core.

O’Flynn upset this section of the party after he revealed at the UKIP conference in September that he wanted to raise income tax and introduce a luxury tax, the latter horrified UKIP leader Nigel Farage and he quickly distanced himself from the speech.

At the chairman’s conference dinner, O’Flynn was openly mocked by large sections of those present, much to the obvious embarrassment of O’Flynn and amusement of Farage.

Since then, senior members of UKIP have attempted to have O’Flynn removed from his post, labelling him a “pinko” with several letters being penned to the poisonous party chairman Steve Crowther, calling for his dismissal.

Is O’Flynn finished? Let’s hope so….

Hope not Hate

Nigel Farage aide disrupts interview amid racism and expenses claims

Nigel Farage aide disrupts interview amid racism and expenses claims

farage 4

Ukip’s director of communications tried to haul the party’s leader, Nigel Farage, off a radio interview on Friday lunchtime after he came under sustained attack over his attitudes to immigrants and his expenses.

Farage was being interviewed by one of his long-term critics on LBC when Patrick O’Flynn intervened to say the interview had run over its agreed time. The interview had lasted just over 20 minutes.

The Ukip leader was accused of “reverse-ferretting” by the interviewer, James O’Brien, over a promise to have his expenses independently audited – an offer Ukip made on the BBC’s Today programme and subsequently withdrew in a Guardian interview, saying he would not be subject to a stricter audit than other MEPs.

When it was pointed out that other MEPs – including those from the Labour party – had their expenses audited O’Flynn intervened, surprising even Farage.

Asked about other MEPs’ auditing arrangement, Farage said: “What they have is an auditor to make sure they spend the money in accordance with the rules. There are no expenses. There are fixed-rate allowances that I have spent in accordance with the rules.”

Pressed to say if he would agree to the same audit, he said: “We will make a decision en masse. I am very suspicious of the word audit used in that context.” He made no commitment to an audit of his previous allowances.

Farage was also asked why he said he felt discomfort when travelling on a train and not hearing the English language. He insisted he had not said he objected, but that he did not feel comfortable.

O’Brien asked if he objected to the fact that his wife and his children could speak German, and replied that they could also speak English, adding he “had a distinct feeling English was not the language of choice” of those people that he heard on a train. He added he did not think his wife spoke German on a train.

Farage was also challenged about his claim that there were schools in east London where a majority of pupils did not speak English,” with the interviewer asserting such surveys only showed whether English was the child’s first language.

O’Brien pointed out his own bilingual children would be qualified as non-English speakers on this definition. Farage agreed the definition might need reworking.

O’Brien then asked about Farage’s claim that people would feel uncomfortable if a group of Romanian men moved in next door, pressing him to say whether he “would feel the same about a group of German children”.

Farage replied: “I think you know the difference. We want an immigration policy that is not just based on controlling not just quantity but quality”.

He added: “I am making one very simple point in this election. We cannot have any form of managed migration into Britain and remain a member of the European Union because we have an open door to nearly half a billion people.

“We would be far better off if the policy that did not discriminate against doctors from New Zealand or engineers from India in favour of anybody regardless of background and skills coming from southern and eastern Europe and that is the great debate.”

Explaining his claim that Romanians were more likely to be criminals, he said: “We have a problem; unfortunately, those communist countries which I visited and I’ve seen the real poverty that people live in.

“We talk about exclusion in society … go and see, since the fall in communism, what has happened to the Roma communities in those countries; they don’t get jobs, they’ve got nowhere to live and they have been forced, in many cases, to a life of crime.

“And what has happened to that open door? It has been an open invitation to the traffickers and the Metropolitan police have produced their statistics and they’re eye-watering and I’m saying let’s get a grip on it.”

Farage accepted there were “idiots” in his party after news of more Islamophobic comments made by Ukip candidates.

“Firstly, people saying silly things; yes of course we’ve had more of it than we’d have liked, but what is going on in the other parties? Nobody ever does ask them? I’m perfectly happy to have a debate about our idiots and people who are offensive.

The Guardian

Face of UKIP is EU immigrant

EU Policy at Work' billboard coming to you soon was posted on twitter by UKIP Economics Spokesman Steven Woolfe Photo: @Steven_Woolfe

EU Policy at Work’ billboard coming to you soon was posted on twitter by UKIP Economics Spokesman Steven Woolfe Photo: @Steven_Woolfe

Nigel Farage faces embarrassment over his plans to radically curb migration from Europe after it emerged one of the actors in a Ukip billboard is an Irish immigrant.

The destitute builder in the party’s latest advert is believed by party officials to be a Dubliner named Dave O’Rourke, a Ukip spokesman confirmed.

Mr O’Rourke is seen sitting on a pavement with a beggar’s cup. The text carries the caption: “EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour”.

The poster was launched by Mr Farage in Sheffield earlier this week, where he said he would like to see immigration cut to 30-50,000 people a year. Britain will no longer be subject to European “open-door” immigration but instead install a restrict work permit scheme, he said.

Mr O’Rourke is from Dublin and has lived in the UK for ten years, according to an online profile. He describes himself as “hard working”. Under Ukip proposals he would not be able to move to Britain unless he should show he was “highly skilled”.

Many British-born actors struggle to find well-paid work due to high levels of competition within the industry.

It is the second time this week Ukip have faced questions over whether they practice what they preach in calling for an immigration policy that would see far fewer foreigners working in Britain.

Immigration is “good for big business and rich people” because it creates plentiful cheap labour, at the expense of the native working class, Mr Farage claims.

On Tuesday Mr Farage defended his decision to employ his wife, Kirsten, as his £25,000 a year secretary who is paid through European Parliament expenses.

She is German, but Mr Farage denied she was “taking” a British worker’s job, saying he knows of no Briton who could work the late hours that she does.

That claim was undermined after a job advertisement, posted as a stunt by a recruitment firm, for the role of his PA attracted hundreds of applications from UK nationals within hours.

Mr Farage added: “That is a very different situation to the mass of hundreds of thousands of people coming in and flooding the lower ends of the labour market.”

Patrick O’Flynn, Ukip’s director of communications, said any criticism of the poster was “Tory party humbug”.

“The vast majority of people used in political poster campaigns are actors. It is totally standard practice. It is nonsense for the Conservative Party to try and depict this as anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

That position, however, appears to contradict comments by Nigel Farage after it emerged another person featured in a Ukip poster was a party employee.

Lizzy Vaid appears in the party’s manifesto as a voter from Devon, but she is in fact Ukip’s events manager and an assistant to Mr Farage, who lives with his press officer Alexandra Phillips.

Mr Farage defended her inclusion in the brochure because she is a “sincere” supporter of the party rather than an actor.

“What could be more sincere in literature than somebody who joined the party subsequently got a job in the party rather than an actress or a member of the public?” Mr Farage told the Telegraph. “It’s the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard in my life. Most broadcasts for most parties use actors. We use Ukippers.”

Separately, the party announced it would not be taking action against David Challice, the party’s Communications Manager, who has suggested that “cash-strapped Moslems” should have multiple wives in order to gain more benefits and described Greeks as “vile”.

The comments were a joke, a party spokesman said. “UKIP is not a party that believes in public debate and conversation being stifled by an obsession with political correctness. So the threshold for which the mere expression of opinion merits disciplinary action should be set high.”

He added: “There are quite legitimate public concerns about the interaction of the benefits system with men who have multiple wives.”

The Telegraph

Farage should open his books to salvage credibility, says former sleaze watchdog

farage 6

Nigel Farage must throw open his books to an independent auditor if he is to remain a “credible” politician, the former head of Westminster’s sleaze watchdog has said.

The Ukip leader is under pressure to explain what happened to almost £60,000 in EU funds which The Times revealed he said that he spent on a West Sussex office given to him rent-free.

This week Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office, is expected to decide whether it will pursue a full investigation into the Ukip leader after a former senior party official made an official complaint.

Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 2003 to 2007, said that Mr Farage must open his books to explain what happened to the money. “I’m sure if he wants to be a credible European candidate in future he should be accountable in that way,” he said. Referring to Mr Farage’s comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week when the MEP said that he would be open to allowing an independent auditor to inspect accounts “if that would settle the argument”, Sir Alistair said: “I think he should keep to his public statement and we can all be satisfied that there’s detailed information to back up his claims that the money has been used appropriately.

He said it was “ridiculous” for Mr Farage to claim that he was being unfairly picked out for questions about his use of allowances. “I just don’t think that’s a tenable argument,” he said. “In the end its public money — whether it’s European money or UK public money it doesn’t really matter. It all comes from taxpayers’ taxes and therefore whoever uses that money has to be accountable for guaranteeing to the public its being used in an appropriate fashion to fulfil your public duties.”

Under EU rules, MEPs receive ¤4,299 a month to pay for an office and expenses incurred in carrying out constituency work in their home country. The money is paid into an MEP’s personal bank account with no requirement to provide the European Parliament with receipts or a breakdown to show it has been spent within the rules.

Criticising the “incredible” arrangement, Sir Alistair said it was a “monstrously loose and ineffective system”.

He added: “It’s a wanton waste of public money that you can allow someone to claim without providing receipts. If you think in the UK system at one time you could only claim up to £250 with receipts and they’ve even stopped that now.”

Sir Alistair said the European Parliament’s system was wide open to abuse.

Ukip also faces questions over nearly £300,000 that was paid out from Mr Farage’s local branch in 2004 and 2005 as unexplained “other costs”, when even payments for as little as £496 on communications were itemised.

Six former officials and whistleblowers have come forward to allege that they were silenced, ignored or forced out of the party after questioning its use of EU funds and donations. Ukip has described their claims as “historical”, derriding them as “very unimpressive people” who the party had weeded out.

The remarks by the former standards chief came as it emerged that Neil Hamilton had been demoted from his role as Ukip’s campaigns director.

The former Tory minister caused a headache for Mr Farage at his party’s conference when the Ukip leader was confronted over the ex-MP’s involvement in the cash-for-questions scandal.

He insisted that Mr Hamilton was merely the “backroom boy”, but Mr Hamilton contradicted him. “I haven’t been in the backroom today, have I?” he asked reporters after coming off the podium.

The decision to axe Mr Hamilton from the campaign role suggests that Ukip is sensitive to suggestions of impropriety, despite attacking last week’s Times reports as a smear campaign.

The former Tory has been replaced by the party’s new director of communications, Patrick O’Flynn.

The negative headlines appear to have done little to damage Mr Farage. A poll by Survation for The Mail on Sunday, showed the party topping a Westminster constituency for the first time. The survey of 506 voters in Eastleigh, where the party came second in last year’s by-election, put Ukip in first place on 32 per cent.

The Times

UKIP’s New Director of Communications Patrick O’Flynn: In His Own Words

Patrick O'Flynn

Patrick O’Flynn

UKIP have just announced the appointment of a new Director of Communications, the Daily Express journalist Patrick O’Flynn.

O’Flynn is currently the Chief Political Commentator for The Daily Express and will leave the newspaper next month to take up the position with the xenophobic party, with a run up to UKIP’s campaign for the 2014 European and UK local elections.

The journalist is also standing for UKIP in the European elections as the lead MEP candidate in the East of England constituency and was controversially selected above sitting MEP Stuart Agnew.

Party Chairman Steve Crowther claimed that O’Flynn was ” already a deeply valued part of the UKIP team”

Deeply Valued ?

If that is the case O’ Flynn’s appointment shows the true direction that UKIP is heading in.

The Express journalist regularly uses his newspaper column to spew his particular brand of Islamophobia.

Here are just a few quotes from UKIP’s new Director of Communications.

July 4, 2007

” Before long I can see the old East End becoming an almost exclusively Muslim district in which others fear to tread”

Tue, November 13, 2007

” It was British Muslims who committed mass murder on July 7, 2005.”

” How about the systematic electoral fraud that disfigures democracy in many of Britain’s new Asian ghettos? ”

Tue, December 4, 2007

” Increasingly people are concluding that Britain and Islam have fundamentally incompatible cultures and never the twain shall meet.”

Tue, January 8, 2008

” If we allow the uncontrolled expansion of non-integrated British Islam the character of our nation will be destroyed forever. To inflict the Muslim call to prayer on everyone with a Mosque in their area will have but one result – more so-called “white flight” out of urban areas and the creation of more Islamic ghettos.”

” To ordinary British ears the wail of the Mosque is not just an unwelcome racket, but an alien and threatening sound”

February 12, 2008:

” Why should we trust Britain’s Muslims? ”

” The vast majority of us seem not to feel like that about British Muslims. We feel that this is a troublesome minority with a record of disrupting our national life and ostentatiously refusing to fit in with the overall culture.”

” Muslims may feel they are being singled out for harsh treatment, but in fact the British public is being perfectly fair and sensible in a post-September 11 world.”

” The leaders of British Islam still don’t appreciate the degree to which their behaviour is despised by the majority of the public.”

” Consider which of these statements best reflects your own view:

a) Britain would be a better country if there were more Muslims living here.

b) There is the right number of Muslims in Britain to serve the country’s interests.

c) It would be preferable if Britain did not have a large Muslim population at all.

Got an answer yet? I bet it wasn’t A.”

” On an economic level, the impact of Britain’s Muslims is massively negative. Research shows Muslim communities are typified by heavy levels of welfare dependency and low levels of wealth creation.”

” On a wider cultural basis, the impact of Islam on this country is also strongly negative in the eyes of the public.”

“Muslim urban ghettos have also reintroduced electoral fraud as a regular feature of British political life.”

Hope not Hate