Lord Pearson as a Tory party whip and Griffin v. Maloney

UKIP have got themselves into a right pickle recently, poor things! It emerged last week that their new leader Lord Pearson a number of months ago made a somewhat controversial offer to the Conservative party. Pearson allegedly (The Times, 30 November, UKIP’s planned deal with Tories causes outrage in anti-Europe party) approached Lord Strathclyde, the leader of the Tories in the House of Lords, with an offer to disband the party and withdraw all UKIP candidates if the Tories agreed to hold a referendum on EU membership. Lord Strathclyde himself has confirmed that the meeting with Pearson, who is in fact a former Tory, took place.

Although Nigel Farage has since changed the story slightly saying that the offer only included withdrawing all candidates, this is still a pretty hefty political gamble. It has understandably triggered an outcry from the UKIP party grassroots and a wave of resignations only three days after Pearson took office. Glenys Kinnock in the House of Lords described it as a “rather original approach to leadership”. It would appear that Pearson is trying to turn UKIP into a Tory party whip, a tool for making his former Conservative colleagues behave, as it were.

UKIP has high hopes for the next general election. Pearson, who became leader when Nigel Farage stepped down in order to contest John Bercow’s parliamentary seat in Buckinghamshire, has stated that he hopes to win 50 seats from the Tories, force a hung parliament and “a realignment in British politics”. A strategy not wholly unfamiliar to Liberal Democrats!

On a related topic, under their new leadership UKIP have announced that they intend to “shore up” their right flank against the BNP, by which is presumably meant being racist, anti-immigrant and especially anti-Muslim. Although he did not entirely succeed, Nigel Farage attempted to keep the party focused on the EU issue, and I think he was personally sincere in his wish to distance it from the BNP. His successor seems to have dropped those scruples.

So with the BNP competition in mind they have put up a (literally!) ‘heavyweight’ candidate in Barking to run against Nick Griffin: Frank Maloney, the boxing promoter. Maloney was also UKIP’s mayoral candidate back in 2004, when Simon Hughes was our candidate. Maloney managed to successfully fight off a number of other UKIP members in the race to be the Barking candidate, including Paul Wiffen the London party chairman and the 2009 leadership contender Winston McKenzie. As someone who manages no less than five world champion boxers, he may well give Griffin a run for his money.

Maloney is a controversial choice, as during his mayoral campaign he famously declared that he did not want to campaign in Camden as there were “too many gays”, explaining that “I don’t want to campaign around gays, I don’t think they do a lot for society … what I have a problem with is them openly flaunting their sexuality”. So they are going to be prominently anti-gay too, it seems.

Griffin and co are said to be furious that UKIP have dared put a candidate up in Barking, citing that this will split the nationalist vote, cost Griffin a seat at Westminster and is “detrimental to the national interest”. Perhaps the BNP will now put a candidate up against Nigel Farage in Bucks in retaliation?

It’s very amusing to see the extremist brothers at each other’s throats. One to watch, to be sure!

Editor’s note: in the original text of this article published on 9th December, it was suggested that Paul Wiffen was “one of the people threatening to resign due to the Pearsongate scandal”. Though Mr Wiffen has publicly expressed unhappiness with Lord Peasron’s decision, we are happy to accept that Mr Wiffen has never threatened to resign, and to apologise for the error.

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  • You means Baroness Ludford. The ‘Sarah’ isn’t appropriate here.

  • Weird responses. @Keith – I’m sure the lady knows her own name. It’s fairly well known that it’s Sarah. Is there something wrong with being called Sarah? @Michael Heaver – ‘totally non-racist’ – yeah right.

  • Grammar Police 9th Dec '09 - 6:06pm

    Michael, I think you should look at the opinion polls. UKIP did well at the 2004 Euro elections and came nowhere in the 2005 GE. You did well in the 2009 Euro elections, but you’ll have a minimal effect on the 2010 GE. Indeed, if your leaders get their own way, you won’t even be running any candidates at all!

  • Michael was Norwich North a sign of things to come or a flashin the pan? Glenn Tingle didn’t exaclt get a stunning result when he stood in the district council by-election in Wroxham two months latter.

  • Unless I’m going blind Sarah Ludford is not mentioned in the story anyway,
    As usual Farage is full of bluster. UKIP are not going to win a single seat at the next general election, let alone 50. However, Michael Heaver is right to point out that they have a potential appeal to a significant section of the population (though I’m not sure that there are many Gladstonian Liberals around these days!), and it seems clear to me that they do pose a serious threat in the longer term to the coalition that is the Conservative Party. A by-election in a favourable seat a couple of years into a Conservative government as devoid of ideas as the next one looks to being could well see a splintering of the Conservative vote and, if they had a decent candidate, a UKIP victory. That could lead to mass defections of councillors and local activists and a serious weakening of the Conservative Party in areas where, even during the disastrous years of the 90s, they managed to keep the flag flying.

  • Ironically Griffin was a boxing blue at Cambridge

  • OK, I’m going blind.

  • A Gladstonian Liberal writes :

    Michael Heaver,

    If you think the GOM would have supported UKIP you have a very sketchy grasp of history. Try reading a good biography of the man.

  • Gladstonian Liberal? If you think that UKIP is the heir of Gladstone, you really need to look at history. Gladstone was a determined internationalist with a keen interest in other countries and european co-operation.

  • The satire of having an unelected Lord as the leader of UKIP, allegedly dedicated to fighting unelected bureaucrats in Brussels is marvellous.

    The great thing about Liberalism is that evolves – as a Liberal, Gladstone would not have wanted people to pursue Gladstonian Liberalism 120 years past it sell by date. Nationalism on the other hand is entirely regressive.

    United Kingdom Independence Party – based on the idea that countries should remain sovereign – believes in a pan-British super state covering England, Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, and Guernsey.

    English Democrats – much the same as UKIP except without the Scotland, Wales and North Ireland bit
    SNP – Much the same as UKIP accept even more small minded
    Plaid Cymru – Sort of Nationalism without conviction
    Wessex Regionalist – there was no referendum on the merger with Mercia.
    Mebyon Kernow not to be confused with the other Cornish Nationalist Party who split from Mebyon Kernow in 1975.
    The Cornish National Liberation Army was a militant Cornish nationalist organisation that has threatened to carry out acts of vandalism and arson against commercial targets that it considers to be ‘English’.
    The Peoples Popular Front for the Liberation of Cornwall – splitters
    Keep Bodmin people out of Penzance – you can bet it’s out there.

  • Peter Laubach 10th Dec '09 - 1:35pm

    “The Libdems are given a huge platform by the media” – MH.
    I WISH!!!!!!
    Howeve, I’m all in favour of UKIP – there must be seats where they will take enough votes from ” Call-me-Dave “‘s candidates to enable us to win/keep the seat!

  • Stephen Gash 10th Dec '09 - 7:48pm

    Liberal Democrats. Never has a party been more misnamed.

    Was it the Liberal Democrats that produced a phoney Plaid Cymru website during Welsh Assembly elections?

    Isn’t it the Liberal Democrats that is helping Labour force regions upon the English despite fierce opposition to them?

    You accuse the English Democrats of small-mindedness, but the Lib Dems are not big minded-enough to actually give the English what they want or to give them a referendum on how they want England to be governed.

    The Lib Dems believe in local government provided that government is local to Brussels.

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