Ukip has suspended its four Southend councillors… because they disowned the party’s Parliamentary candidate.
The anti-EU party has confirmed that James Moyies, Tino Callaghan, Lawrence Davies, and Lee Burling, have had their party membership suspended.
An email to all four of them says they cannot leaflet, campaign, and canvass under the Ukip banner, and must not wear any clothing that bears the anti-EU propaganda.
All four will also not be allowed in Ukip branch meetings or AGMs.
The decision was taken after the group voted unanimously to kick out Parliamentary candidate Floyd Waterworth from their group on Southend Council.
Steve Crowther, Ukip’s national chairman, said: “UKIP has suspended Cllrs James Moyies, Tino Callaghan, Lawrence Davies and Lee Burling from Party activities, following their expulsion of Cllr Floyd Waterworth from their Group.
“The Party considers that the expulsion was unnecessarily damaging to Mr Waterworth’s campaign as the UKIP candidate for Southend East & Rochford. Mr Waterworth has the Party’s full backing as the candidate, and will now be able to focus all his efforts on winning the election in May.”
Ukip refused to confirm whether the suspensions are indefinite or not, or whether the group would be allowed to identify as Ukip councillors at Southend Council.
As group leader, councillor Moyies was able to expel councillor Waterworth under Local Government Act legislation, but Ukip says this action was at odds with its policy.
Councillor Waterworth, who is vying for Southend East and Rochford in May, said:
Cllr Waterworth, UKIPs Parliamentary Candidate for Rochford and Southend East, said: “I knew nothing of this decision before it was made. It came as a total surprise to me.
“I believe, as does the National Party Chairman, that the Group failed to conduct the exclusion according to the rules and natural justice. To expel someone without their knowledge of, or participation in, the process, is not proper.
“The action was guaranteed to ensure negative publicity. That is not acceptable to the Party.
“However, our campaigning in the constituency is going well. Private polls show we are ahead of the Tories now.”
Exclusive: Ukip’s chief spokesman on communities describes the party as “pretty amateur” and condemns its “ridiculous” lack of policies
One of the UK Independence Party’s most senior politicians has defected to the Conservatives in a major blow to Nigel Farage’s general election campaign.
Amjad Bashir, a Ukip MEP and the party’s leading Asian figure, told The Telegraph that Ukip had become a “party of ruthless self-interest” that was incapable of delivering a referendum on membership of the European Union.
In a damning broadside against his former colleagues, he described Ukip as “pretty amateur” and condemned its “ridiculous” lack of policies. He said the party was “delusional” about its chances of winning seats in May.
On Saturday night Ukip suspended Mr Bashir for alleged financial and employment irregularities.
A Ukip spokesman said evidence obtained by the party in its investigations would be sent to the police.
But Mr Bashir described the move as a “desperate attempt” by Ukip to limit the damage of his defection.
He said: “On Friday I met David Cameron and applied to join the Conservative Party. It is clear Ukip’s action today is a desperate attempt to spoil this and is without any foundation.
“The issues raised in my notice of suspension are historic and well known to the party. Indeed, on one of them, Nigel Farage has publicly defended me over it.”
A Ukip source said the party had learned that Mr Bashir was defecting at midday on Saturday. Ukip issued a notice to Mr Bashir suspending him at about 5pm.
Mr Bashir, a Muslim and Ukip’s chief spokesman on communities, said he had decided to defect because only the Conservatives were in a position to control immigration and give voters a say over whether the UK should remain in Europe.
His departure will hurt Mr Farage, who had been planning to energise his election campaign with a round of set-piece media appearances today. Instead, the Ukip leader is now having to deal with the loss of his most prominent figure from an ethnic minority background.
David Cameron said he was “absolutely delighted” to welcome Mr Bashir into the Tory fold and urged voters who have supported Ukip to “come back” to the Conservatives at the general election.
The Prime Minister said that Mr Bashir’s move proved the election was not a “beauty contest” but a straight choice between a competent Conservative government and the “chaos” of Labour under Ed Miliband.
His defection represents a coup for the Tories as the general election campaign enters its final 100 days this week.
Mr Bashir had been one of Ukip’s leading lights even before he was elected to the European Parliament last May as MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. He had been described as Mr Farage’s “secret weapon”.
As a Pakistani immigrant, he was regularly deployed by spin doctors as evidence that Ukip is not racist, after a succession of activists and candidates made derogatory comments about Muslims and ethnic minorities.
Mr Bashir’s defection will ignite the contest between the Conservatives and Ukip for the votes of Eurosceptics on the Right. It will be particularly welcome for the Tories, after they lost two MPs — Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell — to Ukip last year.
In an article for The Telegraph, Mr Bashir says: “After almost three years as a party member, I realise that Ukip is more concerned with furthering its own interests as a political party than delivering for the British people.
“I’ve seen Ukip both at home, and abroad, and I’m sorry to say they’re pretty amateur. In the European Parliament, some of their MEPs think it’s acceptable to shout and fool around.”
He adds: “They think they’ll sweep up dozens of seats in May, but that’s delusional. What they are in very real danger of doing, however, is making a big enough dent in the Conservative vote to let Labour in.”
Mr Cameron told The Telegraph during a meeting with Mr Bashir that he understood why voters had supported Ukip in the past, when the Coalition had taken some unpopular decisions.
“I understand why some people have drifted away to Ukip,” Mr Cameron said. “I want to genuinely win those people back by saying look, we are the only party that can offer the strong immigration control this country needs; we are the only party that can deliver that referendum that the British people deserve.
“And crucially, this general election is not a by-election, it’s not a beauty contest, it is not a chance to send a message or make a statement, it is about choosing a government of the United Kingdom.”
Mr Cameron said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Amjad has decided to leave Ukip and join the Conservative Party. His story is inspiring. It’s another sign that in this great country of ours you can come to Britain without very much and you can be a member of the European Parliament, an MP, sit in the Cabinet. I think it’s an inspiring story and one I’m very proud to have sitting as a Conservative.”
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said broadcasters’ new format of two television election debates with seven parties followed by one with just himself and Mr Miliband showed “I was right to say you needed all the minor parties involved”. He said he would “have a good look” at the latest proposals.
Ukip was facing further embarrassment over comments made by the party’s secretary and member of its national executive council, Matthew Richardson, who claimed the party should stand up for “bigots”, according to the Sunday Times.
Mr Richardson allegedly told a meeting last month: “I’ve said before, people talk about Ukip being bigots. There are hundreds of thousands of bigots in the United Kingdom and they deserve representation.”
Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir, who was suspended by the party for “extremely serious” issues, has defected to the Conservative party.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “absolutely delighted” at the Yorkshire and Humber MEP’s decision.
Ukip MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended pending investigations into “extremely serious” issues including unanswered financial and employment questions, a party spokesman said.
The spokesman added: “The UK Independence Party has a zero-tolerance policy and takes the matters at hand extremely seriously. The allegations against Mr Bashir are of a grave nature and we will be forwarding our evidence obtained so far to the police.
UKIP will not tolerate anyone abusing their positions in the party, as we have a firm commitment to differing ourselves from the existing political classes.”
Two UKIP parliamentary candidates have put their names to a motion of no confidence in Winston McKenzie standing for the party at the General Election in May.
Gaffe-prone McKenzie, the “Chump from the Dump”, was suspended as chairman of the Lambeth and Croydon North UKIP branch last week, and the entire branch’s activities suspended while an investigation is conducted into the local party’s affairs.
Paul Oakley, from UKIP’s London regional office, distributed an email to Lambeth and Croydon North members late last Wednesday ordering them not to speak to the media. This email followed a meeting of members, organised by Coulsdon parking campaigner Peter Morgan, who was suspended from his UKIP membership by McKenzie last month.
The email from Oakley, seen by Inside Croydon, said:
“No member is to approach any press or media outlet about the branch suspension and if contacted is to refuse to comment.
“Posting on social media about this matter is similarly unacceptable. Failure to comply with this will be considered a disciplinary offence.”
The unauthorised meeting at Morgan’s house – apparently UKIP High Command is totalitarian enough to determine who may or may not meet at someone’s home – discussed a number of moves to unseat McKenzie, both as a local party official and as the parliamentary candidate for UKIP in Croydon North in the General Election.
The group has also been critical of Marianne Bowness, the ex-wife of Tory peer Lord Bowness and the treasurer of the suspended UKIP branch.
A number of motions critical of both McKenzie and Marianne Bowness have been discussed, as members have become angry about the treatment of committee member Peter Kirby, who was removed from office and then expelled from the branch by McKenzie. One of the motions calls on McKenzie to step aside as UKIP parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, and asked for the party’s national executive to remove him if he refuses to do so.
These motions were all signed by several members, and more than just a couple of “disruptive characters” and troublemakers, as McKenzie has claimed. Significantly, the signatories included Bruce Machan and Ace Nnorom. Machan is UKIP’s parliamentary candidate in Streatham, while Nnorom will be standing in Vauxhall.
Today, Nnorom, a former Labour Party activist, confirmed that he had signed the various motions, including that of no confidence in McKenzie as an election candidate.
Nnorom told Inside Croydon:
“It was an email written by a member and my name was used because I said I will support the outcome of the meeting. There has not yet been any meeting for this vote to take place.
“Members just have disagreements on certain issues, that is all. And these issues can be resolved amicably.”
Nnorom denied that he had been instructed not to speak to the media “by anyone”. He also said that he has a “good working relationship with every member of the branch, including Winston”.
“The problem within UKIP’s Lambeth and North Croydon has been taken out of all proportion. This matter was a simple internal issue concerning the branch, which should have been resolved amicably by all and sundry.
“I supported the outcome of a meeting held to discuss matters related to financial dealings within the branch but the meeting came out with a proposal of vote of no confidence. Now, the party leaders are seeking to resolve all issues related to Lambeth and North Croydon.”
Party general secretary to stand aside as a result of negative publicity caused by candidate Natasha Bolter’s claims
Roger Bird, the Ukip general secretary, has been cleared by an inquiry of sexually harassing the aspiring parliamentary candidate Natasha Bolter.
But Bird has agreed with Ukip to stand down early as general secretary following what the party described as unfortunate publicity after Bolter accused him of having invited her back to his London club on the day of her initial interview to become a parliamentary candidate.
Ukip will hope the inquiry’s swift conclusion will draw a line under the episode, which contributed to a difficult few weeks for the party after its victory in the Rochester and Strood byelection.
Bird was suspended as the Ukip general secretary earlier this month after Bolter claimed that he had sexually harassed her during her attempt to become the party’s candidate in the target seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock. But Bird released 10 text messages from Bolter to prove his claim that they had been in a brief consensual relationship this autumn. Ukip said the independent inquiry had accepted Bird’s explanation. A spokesman said: “Ukip has concluded its inquiry into allegations regarding its general secretary, Roger Bird. The inquiry was conducted by an independent HR consultancy, to ensure that these serious allegations were fully, impartially and carefully investigated.
“As a result of the investigation, the party accepts Mr Bird’s statement that the personal relationship between him and Ms Bolter was consensual and found no evidence to support the allegation of sexual harassment. In addition, the party is satisfied that Mr Bird’s actions did not compromise the integrity of its candidate selection process, and indeed that the circumstances of the case underline the robust nature of the party’s assessment, approval and candidate-vetting system.”
But it said the party had mutually agreed that he would stand down as general secretary. “Given the unfortunate publicity stimulated by media speculation, it has been mutually agreed to bring Mr Bird’s fixed-term contract of employment to an earlier conclusion. The party would like to thank Mr Bird for his contribution and valued service over the past five months.”
Bird said: “I am very glad that the party has investigated and dismissed the allegations of sexual harassment and any impropriety regarding the selection of Ms Bolter as a candidate. I wish Ukip every success in the election campaign. I remain a member and keen supporter of the party and I will continue to make every effort to help our candidates to victory in May.”
The episode contributed to a difficult end to 2014 for Ukip after its most successful year: it won a national poll for the first time – the European parliamentary elections – before capturing two Westminster seats in the Clacton and the Rochester and Strood byelections. The success was quickly overshadowed by the battle for the Ukip nomination in South Basildon and East Thurrock.
Kerry Smith, the eventual candidate, was forced to stand down after the Mail on Sunday published details from a taped telephone call in which he spoke of “poofters” and referred to a Chinese woman as “chinky”.
Smith was selected for the seat after Neil Hamilton, the former Tory MP at the heart of the cash-for-questions scandal in the mid-1990s, abandoned his run after details of his expenses were published.
Natasha Bolter had by then withdrawn from the contest after claiming that she had been harassed by Bird. But questions were raised about her account and over her claims to have studied, as Bird did, at Oxford. The university said it had no record of her as a student.
Ukip has suspended one of its branches, including a senior figure in the party, during an investigation but have refused to comment on what they will investigate.
Winston McKenzie, the party’s Commonwealth spokesman, has been stripped of the local role as chairman of the Lambeth and North Croydon branch, a spokesman said, along with the rest of the branch.
Ukip declined to say what the investigation will look into or why it was launched but the suspension comes after a letter of no confidence in Mr McKenzie was backed by a number of members, according to the Croydon Advertiser.
The Lambeth and North Croydon branch of Ukip has been suspended, along with its officers, pending the outcome of an internal inquiry into its activities.
Winston McKenzie remains our PPC.
We don’t comment on internal investigations.
– Ukip spokesman
Mr McKenzie has regularly hit the headlines for his outspoken views, including describing placing children for adoption with same-sex couples as “unhealthy” and “tantamount to child abuse.”
During a Ukip carnival held in Croydon earlier this year that quickly descended into chaos, he described the area as “unsafe and a dump.”
During his political career he has been a member of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the now defunct Veritas party as well founding his own group, the Unity Party.
I had ‘consensual relationship’ with former Ukip candidate, Natasha Bolter, says Roger Bird
The suspended general secretary of Ukip, Roger Bird, has fought back in the battle to save his career amid claims that he sexually harassed Natasha Bolter, who until this week was a prominent female member of the party.
Bird released 10 text messages that he claimed he had received from Bolter between September and November this year. These, he said proved that they had been in a consensual relationship.
Claims by Bolter, a former Labour supporter who addressed Ukip’s autumn conference, that Bird had sexually harassed her prompted his suspension from the party as she simultaneously resigned and ruled herself out of the running as Ukip’s parliamentary candidate for South Basildon, in Essex.
The text messages released by Bird include one saying “I am really missing u bird…” and another saying “I love u bird and wish u let me look after u. Hope u feel better xx” Bird told Channel 4’s political editor Michael Crick: “Natasha Bolter and I were in a consensual relationship between 18 September and 2 November, well after her admission to the list of approved candidates. “She was keen on me and I was keen on her. I have got emails and texts to show we had a relationship and I will be presenting these to the inquiry. In any relationship there are some texts of an intimate nature.”
However, Bolter denied on BBC2’s Newsnight that she had ever slept with Bird. She said: “If I would have slept with him, I would of probably had an easier time than I have had in Ukip. But … I joined a party and then I was thrown to the wolves.” In an interview conducted before details of her text exchanges had been released she said they “were not of an intimate nature.” She said she did send texts in which she put xx at the end – saying “that is a girl thing to do but I don’t think that is particularly intimate”.
She contended Bird had asked her to sleep with him but “when I said no, nothing happened. I think he was a gentleman. I never felt scared of him I just felt pressured that if I did the right thing my career would go further and faster. If I had slept with him I would probably have had an easier time in Ukip.”
She said her decision to raise her concerns was taken even though “it might ruin her career and her life”.
Ukip leaders were understood to have urged her as late as Sunday night to remain in the race to become a parliamentary candidate. The former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton, once in line to be Ukip candidate for Boston and Skegness, is now in a strong position to win the party’s Basildon nomination at hustings on Wednesday evening.
Hamilton pulled out of the Boston race a month ago, leaving the nomination to be taken by a local candidate.
Bolter told the Times that Bird, who was involved in vetting candidates, made unwanted advances to her on the day she was interviewed after taking her to the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.
She claimed that on a second occasion he called her for a meeting and bought her an expensive dress to wear to the same club, before telling her that she “now looked like a girl who could get in a taxi”.
She told the newspaper that he made further unwanted advances after a meal, which she again rejected.
After this incident, Bolter claims to have received anonymous emails saying she had slept with Bird and was “bullying” her, at which point she made a complaint to party officials.
Bird claims the two had a sexual relationship, which Bolter denies. Bird told the BBC: “We were in a relationship briefly, but that relationship developed well after she had been admitted to the approved candidates list, so her selection was not connected to this.”
He added: “Natasha Bolter’s candidate assessment was conducted entirely within the rules, as the party has already verified. Subsequent to that, Natasha Bolter and I were in a consensual relationship. I am not the head of candidates and I do not dictate which candidates get selected for which seats, nor would I try to, although I have advised and helped a number of candidates over the course of my years in the party.
“The party quite rightly has a duty to investigate complaints of a potentially serious nature and I feel they have acted entirely properly in doing that … It is important that the party has instigated a formal process and I hope that will soon be brought to a conclusion.”
Ukip released a statement saying Bird had been suspended but declined to go into details. It said: “Shortly after a claim came to light about the conduct of Mr Bird with regard to candidate selection, Ukip took action swiftly and decisively, including steps involving external human resources consultants, as well as following due process and the party’s constitution to the letter.
“ Unfortunately, Ukip has had to suspend Mr Bird pending a full investigation into allegations made against him. The party has acted swiftly and decisively and will not tolerate impropriety of any kind amongst its staff.”
The party said it had received a report from HR consultants at the weekend and acted quickly thereafter. The party’s disciplinary committee will decide before Christmas on what action to take.
Within Ukip’s membership there is a concern, but also some suspicion that a former Labour party member has joined the party recently only to make such serious claims so soon. Bolter was a high-profile recruit from the Tower Hamlets Labour party and made a star appearance at the party’s autumn conference, where she was introduced by Bird as a fellow Oxford PPE graduate.
She said then: “Ukip is a fair party, respecting all nationalities and genders. We are an equal party. We have women at centre-stage, just look how many MEPs we have. The women in Ukip have flourished equally alongside our male counterparts. We are seen for our intelligence and aptitude. We are seen for our hard graft. We are respected for our contribution. I want to be a candidate for Ukip and I want to campaign to win but I want to be selected on merit.”
She has now told the Times that she encountered racism in every Ukip branch she visited, as well as regular sexism.
Bird previously held the role of chairman of Ukip in south-east England and was selected last month as a parliamentary candidate for the seat of Cities of London and Westminster.
The party has recently been under scrutiny over the way some local candidates have been deselected, potentially to make way for bigger names. Bird was involved in at least one of these controversies, when he told the Portsmouth News that the removal of Douglas Denny in Portsmouth South was a “routine event”.
His LinkedIn page says he has been general secretary of the party since July and was previously a finance director and auditor.