Members of the European Parliament receive money for a number of different purposes. One of these is for "Information and Communication" - a budget line known as "4000". This is a tidy sum, currently 60,000 euros per annum. There are restrictions on how this can be spent, but it can fund research projects, websites, public meetings, newspapers and leaflets, and a whole lot more. These are all things that an MEP will be very interested in, as these are the means by which they communicate with the electorate, and with the press.
MEPs who do not sit in political groups exercise a great deal of control over this budget. Inside the groups it is different, with the money being allocated to each national delegation, which then decides how much an individual MEP can spend. In the EPP, for example, the British Conservatives could spend 10% of their own budget, whilst in the Socialist group, Labour MEPs had to negotiate hard for their money, but between 10 - 30% was the norm. In the Ind Dem group, during the last parliament, it was 25%.
But the money on the table is more than it was in the last parliament - a lot more.
In the new group in which UKIP sits, MEPs are allowed exactly 0%.
The whole sum, all 780,000 euros per annum, is in the control of one man. Guess who that might be.... correct, it is Nigel Farage.
As one Tory MEP asked: "Are they mad to accept that? Are they scared to stand up to him?"
The answer, clearly, is "Yes".
UKIP members might ask, at the end of the year, "What was the 780 grand spent on, Nigel?" They won't get an answer, of course.