In an exclusive for the Times Lord Pearson, the newly elected leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), said that UKIP had approached the Conservative Party with an offer. This was that, if the Tories pledged to hold a referendum and give its politicians a free vote on whether to accept the Lisbon Treaty or not, UKIP would disband and its members stand down. After their successes at the European Elections Lord Pearson said he approached the Conservative leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, on behalf of Nigel Farage with the offer. Both Mr Farage and Lord Strathclyde have confirmed this.They did not though receive an answer. This off-hand and dismissive treatment has angered UKIP, which now plans to wrest 50 seats from the Tories and therefore force a hung parliament and try to realign British politics.
Nigel Farage, the grudgingly admired and flamboyant recent leader of UKIP, has relinquished the leadership so he can concentrate solely on his campaign to be elected to Westminster at the next general election. He is contesting the seat presently held by the Speaker, John Bercow. There are also moves to put a heavyweight figure up to oppose the BNP leader Nick Griffin in his seat At present UKIP has 13 MEPs but no MPs.
UKIP has a lot of lessons to learn. Last night on Channel 4 News Lord Pearson was quizzed about his comments whilst in the US that Muslims were ‘breeding like rabbits’. He said that what he said was wrong and that he had been jet-lagged. He also stated that he was not an effective politician further clarifying this as meaning that he was not a career politico and wanted to bring real people back into politics.
This may sound nice and homey, but the reality is that whenever a political foe feels under pressure from UKIP this will be trotted out as ‘you have been stated on record as …. ‘
Lord Pearson was also embroiled in controversy when he invited the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders into the House of Lords to show his film about Islam called ‘Fitna’. Wilders was on this occasion prevented from entering the country so the showing did not take place.
As the election approaches UKIP may find they have a few successes, but many people may think a vote for them is a wasted vote. There is also the dawning realisation that we will need a very strong government to take us out of this recession and address the burgeoning public debt. People may also come to realise that a hung parliament would not be able to deliver the harsh medicine required.
Another Eurosceptic group, the small and fledgling UK Libertarian Party are meeting today in Bristol to elect their new leader. The current leader, Ian Parker-Joseph, is standing down. This party are part of the Albion Alliance that has extended an olive branch to UKIP and disaffected Tories to try and force a vote on the depth of UK involvement in the EU.