Shock and awe: 10 years of UKIP scandals. More than a decade of UKIP’s most unbelievable misdeeds.
Celebrate good times, come on! It may be hard to believe it, but today is the 21st anniversary of the creation of UKIP. My, hasn’t it grown?
Despite being centuries younger than the other main parties in Britain, UKIP has contributed more than its fair share of improper behaviour, dubious conduct and contemptuous observations to political debate.
But let us not forget that political scandals are an essential part of the political sphere – engaging and enraging the public, stimulating important debate, and lending a bit of excitement to the world of policy making. The world would be a poorer place without a bit of skulduggery and political brouhaha.
But while traditional political parties tend to stagger their output of provocative activities, and even make a play of occasionally being embarrassed about what their representatives may have done or said, UKIP doesn’t play by these rules. The Eurosceptic party’s short history has been defined by an almost continuous stream of conflicting and incendiary messages.
Indeed, the party seems to thrive on causing commotion. Every reprehensible incident seems to further cement UKIP’s place in its supporters’ hearts, while thoroughly agitating political rivals and journalists alike.
With just nine months to go until the next general election, a surge in support for UKIP is a real threat to the main political parties.
As UKIP turns 21, we take a look back at some of the party’s most scandalous moments in the limelight. It’s not pretty. Neither the Tories nor Labour can really compare to UKIP’s propensity to prompt outrage. And as UKIP leader Nigel Farage said of the party’s success at the European elections, “you ain’t seen nothing yet”, it’s a chilling thought.
2004 – supporting men’s rights and cleaning behind the fridge
In the first of a series of outlandish comments during his time as UKIP MEP for Yorkshire, Godfrey Bloom passed judgement on gender equality and employment rights. At a women’s rights committee meeting in Strasbourg, Bloom said: “If you’re a small business, you’d be a lunatic to hire a woman of child bearing age. If you want to have a baby, you hand in your resignation and free up a job for another young lady.” He then cryptically added that “women should spend more time cleaning behind the refrigerator.” He later claimed he’d only joined the committee in order to “promote men’s rights” and “Yorkshire women, who always have dinner on the table when you get home”.
2005 – Silk cuts loose, and organ harvesting
Tanned television chat-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk was elected as a UKIP MEP in the 2004 European Elections. But by the end of the year he’d had enough. In January 2005 he announced his resignation from the party, and denounced members as “bloody right-wing fascist nutters”, before going on to set up right-wing, anti-immigrant “vanity project” Veritas.
After Kilroy-Silk’s demise, UKIP were soon back in the news for the wrong reasons. Party member and potential electoral candidate John Houston was suspended by UKIP after he said to Scottish newspapers that criminally insane people should be killed and their organs harvested and made available for “law-abiding members of the community”. He also advocated a “resurrection of the British Empire”, as well as special camps for people with facial disfigurements. After his expulsion from the party, Houston said that he thought UKIP had “over-reacted”.
2006 – Cameron hits out
Four years before becoming Prime Minister, the leader of the Conservative party, David Cameron, lashed out at UKIP on LBC Radio in 2006, slamming the party, saying “Ukip is sort of a bunch of … fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists mostly.”
Cameron refused to withdraw the comments despite Nigel Farage demanding an apology, and later said: “I was making a general point that they are the ‘stop the world I want to get off’ party”. His sentiment was echoed eight years later by former Prime Minister Tony Blair.
2007 – BNP donations
Farage photographed in an unfortunate position during the 2013 party conference
Despite the party denying any links with extreme organisations, in 2007 it emerged that top UKIP official David Abbott, who served on the party’s ruling national executive committee, had made donations to the American Friends of BNP, which was described by critics as “a white supremacist group”. Abbott had also attended a meeting and on another occasion a dinner with Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP.
Farage admitted he knew about the donations. “We are not thrilled with this but he was living in the States at the time and was perhaps somewhat naive about the UK political situation,” he said.
2009 – UKIP and Amanda Knox
Of all of the bizarre stories UKIP has generated, this surely takes the crown for sheer foolishness. In August 2009, Wales Online reported that UKIP’s Merthyr Tydfil councillor Adam Brown had run an online poll that posed the question that had occurred to nobody else. It read: “Amanda Knox? Would you…?”
Brown initially said: “It was an example of ‘laddish’ behaviour on a football message board over two years ago,” but when it was pointed out that the comments were only two months old, Brown unsurprisingly said he wanted to revise his statement. Brown had also previously been convicted of disorderly conduct at a Cardiff City football match in 2000 and was banned from every football ground in the UK. He stood down the following year over a general election leaflet printing bill he didn’t want to pay.
2010 – Damp rags and an attack on the monarchy
“You have the charisma of a damp rag”, begins Nigel Farage’s unnecessarily unpleasant attack on European President Herman Von Rompuy, and he then continues a bizarre rant in which he describes Von Rompuy’s native Belgium as a “non-country”.
Here’s the excruciating video:
In a strange twist to the Von Rompuy tale, UKIP.org is actually selling tea towels with cartoon pictures of the European President beneath the heading “Genuine Belgian damp rag Herman Von Rompuy”, and is even available signed by Nigel Farage himself. Yours for £10 + £1.50 for postage and packaging. If that’s not a scandal, we don’t know what is.
Other hilarious UKIP paraphernalia includes a cigarette lighter emblazoned with the words “I’d rather quit the EU”. Clearly ripe ground for a metaphor about the long-term health of the nation…
The 2010 general election didn’t go well for UKIP’s former London chairman Paul Wiffen, who put himself up to contest the parliamentary seat in Ilford South. Unfortunately for Wiffen, he was made to “step down” by the party after making racist comments about the Queen. Yes, the Queen of England. In a Facebook post, Wiffen wrote a response to an American contact which was apparently about the benefits of having a monarchy: “If you want one so bad, you can have the German b*tch who has just handed our sovereignty to Europe without a murmur!”
His baffling remarks came just days after he posted a rant on a social care website message board, which referred to “Muslim nutters” and “Romanian gypsies who beat their wives and children”.
He lost his London chairmanship and said he was standing aside in Ilford South.
2011 – condoning lion hunting
UKIP made a spectacular assault on good taste in 2011, angering conservationists and sane people everywhere, when it was revealed that the party was planning to auction off a lion skin and head at its annual gala dinner. The party was criticised for “condoning lion trophy hunting”. Chris MacSween, of Kent-based charity Lion Aid, said: “UKIP has not only accepted this trophy in as an auction item, but now they want to earn money from it.”
2012 – compulsory abortion for Down’s syndrome
In 2012 the party swiftly moved to suspend party member Geoffrey Clarke, who called for compulsory abortion for babies with Down’s syndrome. He called for the NHS to review “compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Down’s, spina bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family”. He also suggested “legalising euthanasia and giving free euthanasia advice to all folk over 80”.
A party spokesman described Clarke’s views as “abhorrent”, and said: “We would like to apologise to anyone who has suffered distress as a result of this matter.”
2013 – Bloom II and Farage’s school years
Having spent a few years sparking fringe controversies, Godfrey Bloom made 2013 his year to shine. In September came his infamous comments on stopping aid being sent to “bongo bongo land”, and he followed this up by heckling a panel debate on politics which he said was “full of sl*ts”.
He rounded off his uncouth behaviour by assaulting Telegraph journalist Michael Crick, who had asked Bloom why there were no black people on UKIP’s conference brochure. Bloom attacked Crick, saying: “You disgust me, get out of my way. Appalling man. Racist. You, sir, are a racist.” And then Bloom hit Crick over the head with the brochure. Here’s the awful video:
2013 was also the year Nigel Farage’s antics at school caught up with him, after a letter detailing a teacher’s concerns over his appointment as a prefect was published by Channel 4. In it teachers are quoted as describing him as “fascist”, “racist”, and “neo-fascist”, as well as the claim that “Farage and others had marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler-youth songs.” Farage defended himself saying, “of course I said some ridiculous things, not necessarily racist things. It depends how you define it.”
“I don’t know any Hitler Youth songs in English or German,” he added.
2014 – UKIP carnival and the death penalty
The UKIP Carnival in Croydon goes wrong
With unpleasant behaviour clearly being no obstacle to success for the party, UKIP has not disappointed the scandal-loving public so far this year.
We’ve had a UKIP councillor claiming gay marriage was to blame for flooding; the founder of the party saying that a vote for UKIP would be for “incompetent charlatans”; and also the media circus that was the catastrophic failure of the Croydon “UKIP carnival”, at which a steel band, booked under false pretences refused to play when they realised it would be at a UKIP event.
In May we saw the expulsion of party member Dave Small, who said that African migrants were “scroungers”, and that people including Sir Elton John and Claire Balding were “perverts”.
In July former UKIP MEP Nikki Sinclair was charged with money laundering during her time in office, and over August we have seen a torrent of scandals pour from the party.
First of all, the party moved to defend Bill Etheridge, a current MEP, after he recommended that people imitate Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s oratory style. Etheridge said the dictator “achieved a great deal”.
A couple of days after this scandal, and 50 years since the state last condemned a prisoner to death by hanging, current UKIP MEP Louise Bours stole the limelight by calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty.
If that wasn’t enough for one month, another of the party’s MEPs, Janice Atkinson, found herself in hot water after being caught on a recording describing a Thai constituent as “a ting tong from somewhere”, which, let us not forget, is completely racist.
Madness. Next stopping at a constituency near you.
From London Loves Business . 03.09.14. Report by By Harry Cockburn.