A VERY interesting article taken from the EU Reporter. Is Farage taking his fellow UKIPPERS for a ride? Can we expect our Nigel to seek pastures new?
There will be more to follow so keep watching this space!
The clear statement by UKIP leader Nigel Farage that most Conservatives share his party’s view on Europe may go some way to explaining recent events in the European Parliament that have been puzzling observers.
To understand the full implications of this statement, it is necessary to be aware of the close relationship between Nigel Farage and Conservative right-winger Daniel Hannan.
Both men dine regularly together in Brussels and Dan Hannan, as he is known, has in the past been a guest at UKIP dinners and party events in Strasbourg. The Tory has regularly lauded UKIP in his Telegraph blog, and as recently as July he attacked the BBC for its anti-UKIP bias.
Embittered pro-Europeans in the new European Consevative and Reformist Group in the European Parliament freely describe Dan Hannan as "UKIP in all but name".
The key question is: to what extent does the Conservative leadership in London share Dan Hannan’s views? The answer appears apparent from the European perspective.
William Hague, as Conservative Shadow Foreign Minister, and Conservative leader David Cameron solidly backed withdrawal from the European People’s Party (EPP) to which the Conservative MEPs were attached in the last parliament. A significant number of the 26 MEPs returned in the June election, including, it is said, Timothy Kirkhope, openly favoured remaining in the EPP.
A right-wing grouping within the party, commonly known as ‘The H Block’, which before the June elections proposed withdrawal from the EPP, has since successfully forced its agenda on those MEPs who advocated remaining.
In order to form their multi-national parliamentary group, which has a fragile influence on parliamentary business, the Conservatives allied themselves to the Polish Law and Justice Party led by Michael Kaminski, a former member of the vehemently racist National Revival Party (NOP). Mr Kaminski has spent years reinventing his image, to distance himself from allegations of far-right tendencies. In an interview with the Polish press in October 2005, Kaminski stated:
"I have to change my image...I know that I am seen as aggressive and radical".
Conservative loyalist and former Conservative leader in the European Parliament Edward McMillan-Scott made a stand against his new group's composition by opposing Kaminski for the post of European Parliament Vice President.
On June 25, the day after McMillan-Scott told an ECR meeting that he was not comfortable with Kaminski’s background, someone by the username 'Strasbourg' amended the Wikipedia page on Kaminski to remove the reference to the Polish MEP’s membership of the notorious National Revival Party.
British delegation leader, now Deputy Leader of the group, Timothy Kirkhope, withdrew the Conservative whip from McMillan-Scott on instructions from Conservative Central Office in London. Kirkhope had, however, been overheard in a corridor of the European Parliament assuring McMillan-Scott that he was the ECR candidate for Vice President of the European Parliament.
In a brutal letter to McMillan-Scott, distributed to party chairmen in the MEP’s constituency, and published on the website ConservativeHome, shadow foreign minister William Hague appears to reflect views expressed in a vicious article published by the Daily Telegraph, of which Dan Hannan is an executive and columnist.
According to one source, the MEP has consulted lawyers. Depending on the outcome, Mr Hague could find his legs metaphorically cut from under him. It is hard to believe that Dan Hannan was not aware or even actively behind the Telegraph article although the Telegraph executive may well be able to say he knew nothing of it.
But the suspicion will remain that McMillan-Scott, who dared to challenge Hannan’s political friend Kaminski, is being made an scapegoat in order to dissuade a number of his pro-European colleagues from defecting back to the EPP, which, according to our sources, is a real possibility.
In his blog Dan Hannan has heaped praise on Michael Kaminski with whom he has been a close political friend for many years. Hannan has also recently praised Enoch Powell on a US talk show, and stated on British television, when asked why he did not join UKIP because of his views on Europe, that the Conservatives will soon be in government, and thus will allow him to achieve his aims.
UKIP campaign on absolute withdrawal from the EU. In August 2008, writing in the Telegraph, Hannan stated “The question is not whether UKIP is on to something: it plainly is. The question, rather, is whether the Conservative party can establish such ownership of the independence agenda…”
While these events were unfolding, UKIP Leader Nigel Farage was marshalling his UKIP members into a parliamentary group, Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), including the Danish People's Party, declared by a Danish court in 2003 to be a "racist party".
The group, some of whose members take extreme views also includes the Lega Nord. A leading member, Matteo Salvini, called for racial segregation on Milan's trains and buses earlier this year. Salvini, formerly an MEP in the last parliament’s Independence and Democracy group (IND/DEM), which included UKIP, was subsequently forced to resign from the Italian parliament.
Salvini has now returned to the European Parliament and is currently an MEP sitting in the EFD alongside UKIP.
With the Conservatives' new European Conservative and Reform Group (ECR) led by Michael Kaminski, who denies being an extremist but who has himself acknowledged the need to reform his image, the concept of coincidence is now being stretched.
That most of the Conservative Eurosceptics in the European Parliament hold ambitions to win Westminster seats is an accepted fact in Brussels. Most say they plan to move on. Former 'H-Block' MEP Chris Heaton Harris did not stand in this year's European elections because he has been nominated for a safe seat.
Now Nigel Farage has resigned the UKIP leadership to concentrate on winning Buckinghamshire from the current and controversial Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, whom he described on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme as "not a Conservative but very close to New Labour". His additional comment that "most Conservatives share UKIP's views" may be particularly significant in assessing his chances of winning Buckinghamshire.
Normally one would speculate that he could not do so if actively opposed by the Conservative leadership. So thereby lies another question; since he has a 13,000 majority. Will Conservative voters being encouraged to support the UKIP candidate?
Opposing the Speaker and breaking with a Commons tradition is something that might well be imagined coming up as a topic at one of Hannan and Farage’s regular meals at the Porto Fino opposite the European Parliament in Brussels.
According to our sources, H-Block members defend Michal Kaminski saying that “people change”. They also say privately that political attitudes in Poland are “25 years behind us”.
The most pressing question facing the electorate now must be: just who exactly is in charge of Conservative Party policy and where is it going?
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