Monday 29 September 2014

12 significant Tory-UKIP defectors

Tory MP Mark Reckless chose the eve of the Tory party conference to carry out his headline grabbing defection to UKIP. Just a month before another Tory from the extreme-right Eurosceptic fringe of the party Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP. These are just two of the latest and most high profile of a long sequence of defections from the Tories to UKIP.

In this article I'm going to look at twelve significant Tory-UKIP defectors.

Nigel Farage

The UKIP party leader Nigel Farage clearly assumes the majority of people are stupid enough to fall for his jovial pint-swilling "man of the people" act. I mean how gullible would you have to be to believe that a privately educated former Tory party activist and commodities trader in the City of London is the kind of guy to stand up against the wealthy establishment in order to defend the interests of ordinary people?

perhaps it is a little unfair to judge Farage only by his establishment background, because the left-wing firebrand Tony Benn also came from an establishment background and nobody could ever accuse him of being a Tory. Of all the many many things that Farage has said and done to actually prove that he's still a Tory at heart is the way he lionises Margaret Thatcher and declares himself and UKIP to be the heirs to Thatcherism. A man can hardly declare that he is the only politician "keeping the flame of Thatcherism alive" without looking like a Tory in a purple tie.

Stuart Wheeler

Many might imagine that Nigel Farage is the driving force behind UKIP, but he's just the charismatic front-man. The guy who is really running the show is the Eton educated UKIP party treasurer Stuart Wheeler. Wheeler made his fortune setting up the spread betting firm IG Index in the 1970s. Until 2011 he was a Tory party supporter, so much so that the £5 million donation he made to the Tories in 2001 to bankroll their General Election campaign is still the single largest political donation in British political history.

Wheeler has gone from bankrolling the Tory party to bankrolling UKIP, and he's brought a large network of other former Tory party donors with him. UKIP is bankrolled by former Tory party donors to such an extent that 90% of their donations now come from the people who used to bankroll the Tory party!

Neil Hamilton

The Tory MP for Tatton Neil Hamilton became a political joke after he was caught up in the cash for questions scandal in 1994. Despite having the fourth strongest Tory majority in the whole country Hamilton was easily defeated by the anti-corruption campaigner Martin Bell at the 1997 General Election. Subsequently Neil and his wife Christine were given numerous opportunities to keep themselves in the limelight on shows like Have I got News for You and The Weakest Link.

In 2011 Nigel Farage handed Neil Hamilton his ticket back into politics by supporting his bid to join the UKIP National Executive Committee. By 2014 Hamilton had worked his way up to deputy Chairman of the party and campaign director for the 2014 European Elections.

Back in the 1990s I found it infuriating that several TV shows allowed this guy to blatantly cash in on the corruption allegations against him, but it's even more infuriating that UKIP have welcomed him back into the world of politics with open arms.

William Legge

Eton educated William Legge (or "The 10th Earl of Dartmouth" to use his establishment title) was a Tory member of the unelected House of Lords from 1999 to 2007. In 2009 he was elected as a UKIP MEP for the South West region, which I suppose is actually better than simply being appointed to the bloated anti-democratic shambles that is the House of Lords. The point still stands that he's one of the many former Tories now wearing the purple and yellow of UKIP.

Roger Helmer

Roger Helmer is another Tory MEP to have defected to UKIP. He was originally elected a Conservative MEP in 1999, but defected to UKIP in 2012. Many people have taken offence at Helmer's bigotry (claiming that rape victims "share a part of the responsibility", comparing gay equality with bigotry and incest, claiming that homophobia is a meaningless word ...) and his climate change denialism, however I'm much more concerned about his links to a foreign right-wing corporate pressure group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

ALEC is a profoundly disturbing organisation that writes corporate friendly "model legislation" which is then turned into state law by ALEC friendly legislators. Laws written by, or heavily influenced by ALEC include the classification of environmental protest activities as "terrorism", further privatisation of the US education system, deregulation of the US energy and telecommunications markets, support for the private prison-industrial complex and the appalling "stand your ground" murderers' charter.

Helmer was appointed as an Adam Smith Scholar by ALEC in 2005 and served on the ALEC International Relations Task Force. It seems extremely odd that someone with such strong links with an organisation intent on rewriting the law in the US and abroad in order to suit corporate interests, would want to join a party that endlessly harps on about protecting British sovereignty. The only way it makes any sense is if the endlessly repeated UKIP concerns about British sovereignty are just a smokescreen to obscure an extremely right-wing pro-corporate agenda.

Janice Atkinson

Janice Atkinson sprung into the public consciousness when she decided to verbally abuse some Green Party activists and was photographed making obscene gestures at them during the 2014 European election campaign. Despite this loutish behaviour she was still elected as a UKIP MEP for the South East.

Before Janice Atkinson defected to UKIP in 2011 she was a failed Tory. She was a press officer for the Tory party during their disastrous 2005 General Election campaign and in 2010 she was a failed Tory parliamentary candidate in the West Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen. It was the failure of politicians like Janice Atkinson to win back seats that were lost to Labour in 1997 that prevented the Tories from forming a majority government in 2010.

Even though she is clearly an obnoxious individual, it is difficult not to admire her opportunism. She was clearly failing to get anywhere within the Tory party, so she made the decision to jump ship and get herself on the gravy train of European parliamentary expenses with UKIP instead.

Bill Etheridge

Bill Etheridge is another of the crop of Tory party failures to have joined UKIP before the 2014 European elections. Prospective Tory party councilors Bill and his wife Star resigned from the party after having been suspended for posting pictures of themselves holding golliwog dolls on social media.

Nigel Farage was given reason to regret welcoming Etheridge into the UKIP fold when he decided to advise a UKIP youth conference that they should try to imitate the speaking style of Adolf Hitler!

Bill Etheridge is clearly a man with an appalling lack of self-awareness. After the Daily Telegraph reported his Hitler comments, he had the cheek to criticise their coverage as "tasteless" and "disgusting" as if advising the UKIP youth to strut around like a bunch of little Hitlers is perfectly acceptable.

Another indicator of his appalling lack of self-awareness is a sneering Facebook attack on the Tory party for their feeble "vote UKIP get Labour" propaganda campaign. His riposte is that "if you vote UKIP, you get UKIP". It seems that he has completely forgotten his political past, otherwise he might have said "Vote UKIP, get Tory rejects like me".

Nathan Gill

Yet another embarrassing addition to the UKIP fold as a result of the 2014 European elections is the former Tory party activist Nathan Gill. Shortly after he was elected as the UKIP MEP for Wales it was revealed that until 2008 he had run a home care company in Hull that had mainly employed Polish and Phillipino immigrants on poverty wages, many of them living in bunkhouse accommodation. Gill didn't close his immigrant reliant business because of any new found opposition to immigration, the business went bankrupt with debts of £116,000.

The appalling hypocrisy of going from an employer who pays such low wages that they are forced to rely upon dozens and dozens of immigrant workers living in bunkhouse accomodation, to standing as a candidate for an anti-immigration party is undeniable.

Aside from the fact that he seems to be a perfectly inappropriate candidate for an anti-immigration party, another question must surely be why UKIP couldn't find any better candidates in the whole of Wales than a man with no real business experience apart from driving his company into bankruptcy, despite cutting costs by exploiting cheap foreign labour?
Amjad Bashir

Amjad Bashir is yet another long-term Tory party activist turned UKIP MEP. He explained that his main reasons for joining UKIP are to remove the UK from the EU, his opposition to gay equality and his desire to dramatically cut down on immigration.

The hypocrisy and self-interest of a Pakistani born immigrant joining UKIP and making statements like "we now have to seriously restrict immigration" is appalling. He's one of the beneficiaries of immigration into the UK from the former colonies, now he wants to kick away the ladder to stop others coming and benefiting in the same way that he has.
Douglas Carswell

Despite his propensity for expenses scamming (flipping his second home, getting the taxpayer to pay for all manner of expensive furniture and subsidise his food bills) and his climate change denialism, Charterhouse educated Douglas Carswell was a darling of the Tory party, attracting glowing praise from the Telegraph, the Spectator and the Tory blogger Guido Fawkes. Despite all of the praise, Carswell's main political achievement within the Tory party seems to have been the ridiculous campaign to politicise the police by introducing elected PCCs, a policy which resulted in the lowest electoral turnouts since universal suffrage!

In August 2014 Carswell defected to UKIP claiming that David Cameron was not doing enough to deliver change. 
Mark Reckless

Of all of the new crop of Tory MPs in 2010 Mark Reckless was one of the least notable. In fact, hardly anyone had even heard of him until he decided to follow Douglas Carswell's lead and defect to UKIP. His decision to announce his defection at the UKIP conference, and just a couple of days before the Tory party conference seemed premeditated to create the maximum possible publicity.

Before he defected to UKIP a few of the only notable things he did were joining five other Tories to vote against the tripling of "aspiration taxes" for university students, excusing the fact that he missed a parliamentary vote by claiming that he was too drunk and laying into Douglas Carswell for defecting to UKIP!

David Silvester

The eleven other people mentioned in this article have all defected from the Tory party and achieved important positions within UKIP (party leader, deputy chairman, MEP, party treasurer, candidate MPs ...) however it is important not to forget the dozens and dozens of Tory party councilors to have defected to UKIP too.

Until 2013 David Silvester was a Tory councilor in Henley-on-Thames, but then he decided to defect to UKIP. He hit the headlines in 2014 when he decided to blame the Somerset Floods on the introduction of gay equality legislation (in my view one of the very few decent things the Tory led government has actually done).

UKIP initially tried to defend Silvester's absurd comments by saying they were just his own personal opinion, however Nigel Farage went on to say that it was "incredibly damaging" when "defectors" from the Conservative Party join Ukip and say "appalling and outrageous things". If Farage is really so concerned about defectors from the Tory party damaging the reputation of his party, one has to wonder why he continues to allow extremists from the far-right fringe of the Tory party to flood into his party through the door that he is holding open for them?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Fish and Ivory - UKIP's appalling EU voting record
Tony Benn and the neoliberal orthodoxy
Floods, humanitarian aid and the far-right fringe

12 things you should know about the 2014 European elections
The "unpatriotic left" fallacy 
Who is to blame for the economic crisis?
Why 73% of UKIP supporters should actually vote Green
They're not "tuition fees. they're a tax on aspiration
Paul Nuttall's disappearing NHS comments
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

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