Saturday, 29 July 2017

Fruitcakes and Brexit

Ukip has become such a joke these days that its economic spokesperson Patrick O'Flynn has resigned for the second time.

And to think these clowns helped push the country towards the looming economic disaster formerly known as 'Brexit'.  


Patrick O’Flynn quits as Ukip spokesman with blast at party's ‘Thatcherite’ direction

By Agnes Chambre - Politics Home

A top Ukip MEP has quit his key role because of the "Thatcherite" direction the party is heading in. 
Ukip former economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn - Credit: PA Images

Patrick O'Flynn said he standing down as economics spokesman with immediate effect.

The former journalist said his position had become untenable because all of the candidates vying to the Ukip leader disagree with his approach.

In a blog on his website, Mr O'Flynn said said he has always argued for Ukip to be "at the common sense centre of politics" rather than right-wing.

He said: "It is clear to me that UKIP’s activist base wishes to go in a more libertarian, shrink-the-state and Thatcherite direction when it comes to economic policy.

“Every leadership candidate I have heard appears to disagree with me about our economic approach. So rather than hanging around to obstruct a new leader, I have decided to make way now.

“I will concentrate instead on campaigning for the best possible Brexit during my remaining time as an MEP.

“I do feel it is a regrettable that the more centrist approach argued for by the likes of me and Suzanne Evans is falling by the wayside in UKIP. But I also acknowledge that shrink-the-state libertarianism is more deeply embedded within the DNA of the party than I had appreciated."

The leadership election was triggered after Paul Nuttall quit when the party’s support collapse in June’s general election.

Candidates who have declared they will be standing include John Rees-Evans who last year drew criticism after he claimed a homosexual donkey raped his horse, and Mike Hookem who allegedly punched fellow MEP Steven Woolfe.

It is the second time Mr O'Flynn has stood down from his role as Ukip's economic spokesman.

He first resigned following the 2015 general election, claiming Nigel Farage had become “snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive” because he was surrounded with a “poisonous” inner circle.

Fruitcakes and Loonies (11/01/15)

Hugo Rifkind is one of the few journalists who 'gets after' Ukip on a regular basis with a mixture of sarcasm, good humour and political insight.  

If you ask me, the fruitcakes and loonies who populate Ukip get an easy ride because most of their political opponents get angry and fulminate against the the 'bams' instead of ridiculing and making fun of the Ukippers at every opportunity.

And as Hugo Rifkind points out, the opportunities for making mischief come along just about every other day.    

Listen to why Ukip is a joke. It’s not funny

By Hugo Rifkind - The Times

The whole farrago of egos, spats, strops and incompetence provides undeniable evidence the party is out of control

Why can’t Ukip get a grip? What the hell is wrong with them? Forget whether their core message is nice or nasty (it’s nasty) or, for a moment, whether their policies are invariably cynical and borderline dishonest (they are). Consider the party on the base but vital level of “whether or not they have their s*** together”. And you will conclude — surely can only conclude — that they really, really don’t.

One day, you mark my words, Nigel Farage will write one hell of an autobiography. In it, the best and most jaw-dropping bits will not be about whatever goes on to happen in the future; whether his party continues to soar, or drops like a reactionary rock. No, they’ll simply be about the internal party man-management of the past few years. The egos, spats, strops and incompetences, bubbling away beneath the surface. My God. Imagine being in charge of HR for Ukip. Like an endless episode of The Office but everybody is David Brent.

On Planet Nigel, it’s been quite a week. Sure, all parties have their blips but they don’t normally manage to pack quite so many of them into so short a time. So many, in fact, that editorialising them into a couple of wry yet informative paragraphs has proved beyond me. So instead, you’re getting a list. And sure, we start pretty small. But trust me, it builds.

1 Farage goes on the radio and criticises “ostentatious breastfeeding”. It is his preference that, when a mother in a restaurant wishes to feed her baby, she should remove herself to the broom cupboard and put a bucket over her head. Or something.

2 On the same day, Farage misses a fundraising event in Wales and blames mass immigration from eastern Europe for clogging up the M4. What with the M4, as everyone knows, being full of men called Wlokek driving pony-drawn carts full of chickens and pigs.

3 Natasha Bolter, paraded at the last Ukip conference as a 35-year-old, attractive, ethnic minority, Wadham-College-Oxford PPE graduate, Labour-turned-Ukip comprehensive teacher, mother of five (wow) quits the party, despite being on the verge of selection for the winnable seat of South Basildon. She does this, she says, because Roger Bird — who is the general secretary, and thus has power over her ambitions — has propositioned her repeatedly. Bird is suspended.

4 Bird publishes a cache of intimate text messages he received from Bolter, which suggest a) she was actually quite into him, and b) senior figures in Ukip are remarkably blithe about revealing intimate text messages.

5 Enter Neil Hamilton, Ukip’s deputy chairman, and now the favourite (post-Bolter bolt) to be selected as Ukip candidate in South Basildon. Because that’s who you want if you plan to usher in a new era in British politics, isn’t it? Neil Hamilton. Yes.

6 Exit Neil Hamilton again, furiously, after somebody else in Ukip leaks details of a bitter expenses fight he is having with the party, apparently in part over whether he’s allowed to claim the rent he says he paid for staying in his wife’s flat. Which, formidable as she famously is, seems unorthodox.

7 Enter Oxford University, tersely requesting that people stop reporting that Natasha Bolter was at Wadham College or has a degree in PPE, because she doesn’t. Gradually, it emerges that Ukip probably should have realised this before they paraded her at conference, as her own CV reportedly spelt it “Wadam”. Oh, and she’s 39, not 35, and didn’t defect from the Labour party but was in fact only in it for eight months before getting kicked out for not paying her dues. And, at least according to The Daily Telegraph, might not be a teacher.

Hell, I’m running out of space. But I could go on. I could outline the way that the whole drunken barn-dance in South Basildon, which began with the incumbent Kerry Smith being deselected in preparation for the arrival of a “high profile candidate”, has now ended, after all that, with . . . Smith being selected again.

And all this, do note, long after the party apparently took steps to overhaul its headquarters in the summer because, and get this, it used to be chaotic. As this paper reported a fortnight ago, an internal report declared the offices to be suffering from “a lack of cleanliness, silliness and lack of organisation and lack of people in offices”. On one wall there was a picture of Nigel Farage, surrounded by love hearts. On the other, a sign saying “c*** of the week”, on which they’d stick whichever journalist Ukip currently hated most. Please God let it, at least once, have been me.

This week does not make me gloat. Well, maybe a bit. Yet however mad and dysfunctional Ukip becomes; however many Walter Mittys and worse it equips with deposits and rosettes, and however much its senior brass shudders at breasts when it can’t touch them and leers at them when it thinks it can; however much the whole organisation displays all the efficiency and dignity of wounded cats inside a drawstring sack, people will vote for them, anyway. For Ukip is an idea.

This is what makes it no joke, when Ukip is a joke. Already, it’s not funny. This is a party that is forever telling us about the malign influence Europe holds over us. Yet it now adds to that by supplying MEPs who have, off the top of my head, posed with golliwog dolls, derided the leader of the Scottish Conservatives as “a fat lesbian” and spelt “independence” wrong on their own business cards.

Europe, though is only a taste. Visiting the Ukip conference earlier this year, Janice Turner reported that a grand total of three people put themselves forward for the three parliamentary seats that make up Doncaster. So they all got one. Is this happening all across the country? Just how many alumni of Wadam College, Oxford, are there? Does anybody know?

I worry about the idea of Ukip. It is a manifestation of the populist far right, and I’d rather Britain didn’t have one of those. Lately, though, I’m starting to worry less about it being evil, and more about it just being . . . rubbish. Hapless. Returning MPs is the start of a process, not the end. Looking back over the past week, you can only wonder what chaotic debacles these people will unleash upon us when they actually have something important to do. Who is flying this aeroplane? Anyone?