How UKIP managed to lose 45% of their MEPs

UKIP-MEPs-collage-2

UKIP’s farcical national conference and the subsequent forced resignation of Godfrey Bloom this week have brought cheer to the party’s opponents, across the political spectrum. Mr Bloom – the most ‘colourful’ character in a technicolour party – managed an unprecedented series of gaffes in the space of a single, tumultuous day. He began with the now infamous ‘sluts’ comment and ended by hitting a journalist on live TV when asked about the party’s ‘all white’ conference brochure. A tearful Nigel Farage later took to the stage to declare that his erstwhile flatmate had single-handedly “ruined our conference”. Rarely has so much bad publicity been awarded to so many by so few.

But Mr Bloom’s departure from UKIP’s delegation in Brussels and Strasbourg (he remains a party member, apparently) is far from an isolated incident. In fact, he is now the sixth UKIP MEP (out of 13) to either leave or be kicked out since the European elections in 2009. He follows Nikki Sinclaire (expelled), David Campbell-Bannerman (defected to the Tories), Mike Nattrass (de-selected and then resigned), Trevor Coleman (quit UKIP’s European grouping) and Marta Andreasen (defected to the Tories).

This means the party has lost almost half of their original MEPs since 2009. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, losing one MEP may seem a misfortune, but to lose six seems like carelessness.  It is small consolation that UKIP have in the meantime gained one Tory defector (the climate- and LGBT-sceptic Roger Helmer MEP). Only the BNP have done worse, having lost 50% of their MEPs (one out of two) since 2009.

The irony of all this is that most voters (and even other MEPs) don’t have a clue who UKIP’s MEPs are. They are rarely seen in the influential parliamentary committee meetings where EU legislation is shaped, to the extent (as Fiona Hall MEP memorably noted in Glasgow) that UKIP’s leader is known in the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg as ‘Mr Mirage’. Indeed the independent VoteWatch Europe website found that UKIP have the worst attendance, voting and work performance of any political party from any EU country.

The challenge is in getting the message out to voters: that backing UKIP means throwing away Britain’s influence. Luckily, Mr Bloom’s escapades have just helped to make our job as campaigners a little easier.

* Giles Goodall is a Lib Dem European Parliamentary Candidate for South East England.

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48 Comments

  • Great article. This need to be promoted much more. A vote for UKIP is a wasted vote.

  • “The irony of all this is that most voters (and even other MEPs) don’t have a clue who UKIP’s MEPs are.”

    That may be true, but its also true of all the other LibLabCon anonymous MEPs!

    “Fiona Hall MEP memorably noted in Glasgow) that UKIP’s leader is known in the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg as ‘Mr Mirage’” – Fiona who?

  • Great graphic and astute, well-informed article. Giles would be a real credit to our team in the European Parliament.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Sep '13 - 6:21pm

    ” Indeed the independent VoteWatch Europe website found that UKIP have the worst attendance, voting and work performance of any political party from any EU country.”

    And what about their expenses?

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/31008/ukip-meps-repay-37000-after-breaking-expenses-rules/

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/may/24/mps-expenses-ukip-nigel-farage

  • Steve Cheney 26th Sep '13 - 6:39pm

    Excellent. I’m hoping more people will wake up to how important the European Parliamentary elections are this time around instead of letting a handful of kooks decide that we should be barely-represented by a shower of inveterate freeloaders and bigots.

  • SmokedKipper 26th Sep '13 - 7:59pm

    Ah, yes. In UKIP we’re all very worried about our collapsed poll ratings, declining party membership and poor prospects  in the European Elections. Our messages are clearly don’t have mass appeal.

    Oh. No, wait… that’s not UKIP at all, is it? Silly me! Which party am I thinking of?

  • The chap who joined the Tories is called David Bannerman. Campbell is (so he told me when I debated against him) a second name, not part of his surname. He is not a descendent of the former Prime Minister (who had no children) and adopted the Bannerman part of his surname as part of the condition for receiving a large bequest from an uncle of his wife.

  • And of course, the Lib Dems are afraid of an EU referendum because the UK might benefit from saving £55 million per day, and the added bonus of losing 100% of UK MEP’s.
    If only we had a REAL democracy and a REAL referendum?

  • Julian Tisi 26th Sep '13 - 9:37pm

    Great article. I hope we really stick it to UKIP and their Tory apologists in the Euro elections. About time these guys were exposed to a bit of scrutiny.

  • A nice touch, the picture of the younger Nigel Farage, long before the fags and the booze did for his looks. Come on. Nigel’s performance at the Westminster Conference Centre was tragicomic. It was like John Cleese strutting round Minehead ranting at anyone who would listen only to sink in the mud of the Bristol Channel. The faithful loved it, but to me it was a second rate music hall act. Nigel says he was a difficult teenager. I think he’s also a difficult adult. We have to get the message across that not only is UKIP socially authoritarian and free market fundamentalist, its leadership is seriously whacky.

  • Lots of you are saying great article but the facts are simply wrong – it did not start with Bloom hitting Crick, it started with Bloom’s slut joke at a fringe meeting. The conference brochure moment happened later (engineered by Crick) and was not all white only the front cover was, and there was good reason for that since it showed all their winning councellors from the local elections.
    Once I see an article try to misrepresent the facts I know the rest of it is propaganda, it reflects poorly on the LibDems, we should be better than that!

  • Sesenco – “Nigel says he was a difficult teenager. I think he’s also a difficult adult. We have to get the message across that not only is UKIP socially authoritarian and free market fundamentalist, its leadership is seriously whacky.”

    Just get the message across about policy differences, rather than rebrand the Lib Dems as the conformist bully party. Is there any evidence that the public want smooth talkers like David Miliband anyway? Certainly most of the public is not like that themselves.

  • jedibeeftrix 27th Sep '13 - 8:15am

    i smell desperation.

  • Gladstone's Grandson 27th Sep '13 - 10:10am

    Ukip’s MEPs are a lazy gang of freeloaders – but is that the best basis on which to attack them? We need to ask ourselves why people vote for Ukip MEPs in the first place, and it’s generally not because they want to see the EU working more effectively. We also need to remember that we’ve only lost a very tiny percentage of our 2010 vote to Ukip – Ukip’s voters, by and large, are not and were never Lib Dem sympathisers.

    The role of a Ukip MEP isn’t to make sure the European Parliament functions properly and does useful things – they don’t believe in it as an institution so why should they want to participate fully? You could, I suppose, argue that they shouldn’t take their seats and turn up at all (a la Sinn Fein’s MPs).

    I think our party’s message on Europe is absolutely the right one – instead of worrying too much about Ukip, let’s concentrate on being the only party to make a positive case for remaining within the EU in a time of economic uncertainty, for working from within the EU to reform it to better reflect British interests, for working to complete the single market and for protecting the hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country that are dependent in some way on our EU membership (140,000 in my North East England region).

  • @John Becker – that’s desperate … Giles got the order (although not the facts) of two events the wrong way around, which (as @Simon Shaw points out) makes no material difference to the wider point he’s making.

  • peter tyzack 27th Sep '13 - 11:48am

    Devo who?

  • nuclear cockroach 27th Sep '13 - 12:10pm

    @jedib

    “i smell desperation.”

    You smell desperate? Is this a cryptic clue? Poss. to your true political allegiance? LOL

  • nuclear cockroach 27th Sep '13 - 12:18pm

    Personally, I hope that UKIP do well in 2015, simply so that they mess up the Conservatives. As for 2014, what’s the point? The news media in this country has no wish to hold – or allow – a genuine discourse on European matters, so we might as well send only UKIP MEP’s to the European Parliament. Such frothing ignorance and irredeemable xenophobic prejudice is all we deserve to represent us as a nation.

  • Alex Macfie 27th Sep '13 - 1:32pm

    @Devo’s comment is sadly so true; I suspect that the UKIP MEPs are the better known ones among the general public, partly because of the antics of some of them, but also because they’re the only ones the media ever pay attention to.
    @Gladstone’s Grandson: I don’t fully agree with your analysis. Yes, people vote for UKIP in European elections because they have bought into the “Europe is evil” message the UKIP peddles. But the fact that UKIP MEPs generally don’t participate fully in the work of the European Parliament still matters. The parallel with Sinn Fein isn’t a good one — I don’t think UKIP is linked to any terrorist movement! A better parallel is with SNP. But SNP MPs do participate fully in the work of the Parliament at Westminster, even if ultimately they believe that they ought not to be part of it. If I were a Eurosceptical voter, I think I would still want my MEPs to stand up and work within the parliament to which they are being sent, accepting the present reality that we are in the EU and that what happens there does affect us. I would want Eurosceptical MEPs positively making the case in the European Parliament for a looser EU, while also representing the interests of the voters who elected them in all matters on which the EP legislates. I would not want representatives who treat the role as a sinecure. At least Sinn Fein’s absence from the UK Parliament is a principled gesture. You can’t say that of UKIP MEPs.
    So I think it is important to get the message across that UKIP MEPs do not do anything useful as elected representatives, while our MEPs are the ones who actually do work and get things done. And we should give specific examples of EU legislation that our MEPs have helped shape, and how our intervention has benefitted their voters and how it makes the law more liberal. While I agree that UKIP voters aren’t generally natural Lib Dem voters, there may well be a section of the UKIP voters who dislike the EU because of all the bad stuff they read about it, but don’t realise that in order to make it different they have to vote for people who work at changing the laws. The “message on Europe” that you refer to is indeed the right one — for national elections. It is not the right one for European elections, because whether the UK (or any other EU member) stays in or leaves the EU is not a subject that is part of MEPs competence. Rather, our message should be that voting for a Lib Dem MEP makes a difference to how the EU works; voting UKIP does not.

  • Alex Macfie 27th Sep '13 - 1:49pm

    @nuclear cockroach: I do not agree with your nihilistic attitude to 2014. The news media may well ignore us, but the fact is that Lib Dem MEPs do get things done in the body to which they are elected. But not only that, how would it look for us if we were to lose most or all of our MEPs next year. Losing representation in a legsliature for which the whole country votes and where our representatives are free to put forward the undiluted Lib Dem message unbridled by Coalition politics. It would come to haunt us in 2015, because the other main parties would taunt us with the fact.
    No, Lib Dems must fight the Euro election seriously; we cannot afford to let the UK media’s wilful ignorance of European politics go unchallenged.

  • Michael Parsons 27th Sep '13 - 3:12pm

    Of course, LibDem voters might feel they have lost their entire leadership to policies somewhat to the right of Thatcher?That at least is a matterof concern, because the last thing supporters expected was the increased financialisation of education, NHS, the Royal Mail, £billions handed cheaply to decriminalised bankers etc. etc. Presumably UKIP voters couldn’t care less whether their MEP’s turn up or not, and expect no good to come from any MEP’s anyway? A pack of apparently obvious circus clowns might be just the ticket – who knows?

  • Hmm. What proportion of the present Lib Dem Parliamentary Party will be retained in 2015? What proportion of the Lib Dem MEPs will be held on to in 2014? Not because of crass individual stupidity (as per UKIP) but due to political flatlining.

  • @Michael Parsons: Those are matters of domestic policy, implemented in coalition with the Conservatives. Lib Dem MEPs are not in coalition with the Conservatives. That is why the Lib Dem Euro election campaign needs to be about what our MEPs have done and would do, and openly challenge attempts to steer the debate to irrelevant domestic policy.

  • Michael Parsons 28th Sep '13 - 11:14am

    Absolutely: I am just suggesting that loss of credibility doesn’t matter that much for UKIP MEP’s re: EU Parliament, because presumably UKIP don’t think it’ s credible in th first place. Loss of credibility for LibDems under Clegg is a burning issue, because we believed in the manifesto comitments and thought they mattered. And for the public who voted for that, and did not expect to be treatede to Clegg’s False Flag politics in the name of “coalition”- politics that have unleashed the socially destructive Tory spirit with a vegeance, and squandered further £billions of public resources on decriminalised bankers. – resources which were our pensions (already partly looted by Brown), our hospitals, childrens’ education and future! Not to mention the concurrent loss of privacy and growth of warmongering in a UK that has turned into Obama’s poodle.

  • I referred to this on Facebook and the Ukip trolls got REALLY upset. Brilliant!

  • You can try and put down UKIP as much as you like but the general public are seeing the effects of our membership of the EU on a street level and it is drastically changing their lives for the worse.

    The three parties that hop in and out of power promise to change things then once they get in do nothing of the sort. You can see them with their recent promises/policies, labour – energy prices, Lib Dems – free meals, Tories – morgtage plans/marriage allowance, that they just try to buy the public come election time. I’m sure it will work for the imported people who are just here for the cash but people who care about the country don’t trust them.

    UKIP have their polices and show integrity by not changing them when the political weather changes. They also show that they care about the future of our people. That’s why people in increasing numbers trust them.

    Poll rating don’t mean a thing. It’s votes that count and in the most recent by-election in Sevenoaks UKIP got 35.7% of the vote.

    Maybe stick to policies and not try to smear and people will respect you more for it. Articles like this don’t help your image they just make you look desperate.

  • John Becker 29th Sep '13 - 4:45pm

    @Simon Shaw @Stuart
    The reason it is propaganda is the article misrepresented the facts to make it fit with an agenda:
    1) The author of the article did not check his “facts”, instead he made up an order of events, anyone with a couple of minutes work could of found out what happened but the author obviously did not think getting it right was important
    2) The brochure was not all white

    Do you endorse articles with such errors? It seems so especially if it fits with your agenda.

    All I am saying is get the facts right and report them, no need to make things up or misrepresent things, it only reflects badly on the author and the party.

  • @John Becker: “2) The brochure was not all white”

    That’s so; the colours purple and yellow were much in evidence. As for the faces, they too showed a surprising range; aside from one monochrome photo in dingy grey (I didn’t realise it was possible to get monochrome photos nowadays, but perhaps this one was taken 40 or 50 years ago) the remainder of the faces run the gamut from Pallid Marmalade to Apoplectic Pink. Quite a palette.

  • @Simon Shaw

    UKIP surprised even themselves in the local elections which says to me they are more popular than the polls suggest. I don’t really see how accurate polls of a few thousand inflated up to national levels can be.

    Probably best we wait and see what happens in 2014.

  • @Simon Shaw

    Also I have just noticed on the questioning of those polls that UKIP are not even suggested as an initial answer.

    This says to me that polls are biased towards the 3 other parties and for UKIP to regularly poll above Lib Dems with this disadvantage must be very bad news for you.

  • SmokedKipper 30th Sep '13 - 4:56pm

    @Simon Shaw: “UKIP poll ratings appear to be very much on a downward trend.”

    Heh! Well, let’s see shall we? 2014 is likely to be a great year for us.

  • Giles Goodall 1st Oct '13 - 3:30pm

    @SmokedKipper: “2014 is likely to be a great year for us.”

    It probably won’t help that much if you maintain the pace at which you are currently losing/kicking out your MEPs and councillors…

  • David White 2nd Oct '13 - 2:55pm

    To paraphrase the great WS Gilbert, ‘The Blooms that flower in the spring, tra la…bring…a summer of roses and wine…’ And all the wine is enjoyed in the fleshpots of Brussels and Strasbourg – courtesy of British taxpayers.

    No, please don’t get me wrong, I’m pro-EU. But I’m not pro-MEPs who just turn-up, collect the exes, get p+ssed, don’t vote, go home. OK?

    The sad truth is that, in the forthcoming elections, we’ll probably lose MEPs, while the extremist but useless UKIP wins even more free booze and truffles. Ah well…

  • David White 2nd Oct '13 - 2:56pm

    PS: Bloom is a frightful person – yet the local Yorks and Humber folk will continue to vote for such sub-humans.

  • John Becker 4th Oct '13 - 1:46am

    @David-1 @Simon Shaw

    All LibDem MPs are white, does that mean LibDems are racist? Of course not, so why would different standards be applied against UKIP regarding the brochure, unless it is propaganda?

    I guess you don’t care as long as the mud sticks, but as a result you show your true colours.

  • If I was a Lib Dem, I too would be looking for revenge from the party who has not only displaced mine, but had also caused three of my candidates to lose their deposits in by elections.

    The Lib dems have lost more than their share of MPs through misconduct , therefore I suggest that if they want to continue to be a party of coalition they would achieve more seeking to promote their minor achievements than slinging mud at another political party.

    The only people who knock their competitors are those who are afraid of them!

  • Will the last person in the Lib Dems (Clegg?) repost this corker 🙂

  • I am sorry if I have the wrong end of the stick but you say 45% UKIP loss of MEPS should it have counter balance what percentage has LibDem lost MEPs in 2014. Not sure I would celebrate unless you really feel it will help regain the party voters, I fear that those who abanded you will see the comment as disrespect of their choice and democratic right to think they prefer the policy.

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