The UKIP leadership contest, multi-millionaire donors and the Tory connection

When old duffer and reactionary, Lord Malcolm Pearson of Rannoch was elected leader of UKIP in November of last year, most people thought, “Who”? Pearson, a former Tory peer, courted controversy when he invited the racist Geert Wilders to show his film, Fitna, to the House of Lords.  When pressed on their choice of film-viewing, UKIP explained that this was all about ‘free speech’ and to hell with all this ‘political correctness’. The fact that Wilders film was a blatant piece of xenophobic sensationalism was neither here nor there.

I knew that Pearson wouldn’t last long. He didn’t seem to have a clue about running a party. In his television appearances, he came across as a relic of imperial Britain… unlike the suave and smarmy Nigel Farage who ostensibly quit as leader to concentrate on trying to unseat John Bercow. Farage ended up in hospital after crashing a light aircraft in the environs of Buckingham while trying to make a final plea to voters to abandon the Tories. It was hopeless; the people of Buckingham weren’t impressed with UKIP or Farage’s stunts and returned Bercow to the speaker’s chair.

For all of UKIP’s denials, they are a party of assorted cranks and racists. This article from the Evening Standard tells the story of a UKIP parliamentary candidate who was suspended from the party over racist remarks he made. He was then reinstated weeks later.

The blog UKIPwatch claims that there is a network of multi-millionaire donors who pump money into the party and their associated think-tanks.

It has now been revealed that one of the Eurosceptic’s biggest financial backers is a publicity-shy Swiss-born banker who funds a network of obscure eurosceptic groups, including one run by UKIP leader Lord Pearson. Little known outside the City, Henry Angest has funnelled vast amounts of money to Eurosceptics, according to an Observer investigation.

The Observer has established that he donates to Global Britain, a thinktank run by Pearson, which attacks the “project of European union… as a bad idea, like slavery, communism and high-rise flats”. In 2008, a year after Pearson quit the Tories to join UKIP, Flowidea’s accounts show it donated £10,000 to Global Britain. Filings at the Electoral Commission reveal Global Britain gave £80,000 to UKIP in 2009.

What is interesting is that the same donors also contribute to the Tory party. Henry Angest

has also given almost £7m to the Tories in loans and donations over the past nine years. The fact the Tories are being bankrolled to such an extent by a fiercely eurosceptic UKIP-sympathising City grandee threatens to embarrass David Cameron, who has tried to cast off his party’s image as virulently anti-Brussels.

That’s interesting, so UKIP share donors with the Tory Party? This is revealing given the fact that Cameron has done his utmost to distance the Euroscepticism of the  Conservatives from the wild-eyed Euroscepticism of UKIP.

But Angest’s support for Pearson’s anti-Brussels thinktank suggests one of the Tories’ most powerful backers does not share Cameron’s belief that Ukip members are “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. Pearson yesterday confirmed Angest had donated money to his thinktank. “Henry is a fine egg,” he said. “It’s a shame he’s giving money to the wrong party.”

Curious.

But is there a real quantifiable difference between the more extreme Tory Eurosceptics and UKIP? Quite probably not. Both parties want out of Europe and both parties like to wear their libertarian (sic) credentials on their sleeve.

The day Pearson resigned, Mad Dan offered this hagiography,

In fact, the merest glance at Malcolm’s CV would have revealed a more rounded picture. Malcolm Pearson is a brilliant businessman. His wealth was his own, honestly acquired (though he has given much of it away to various campaigns and charities), and his title was a working peerage, one of Margaret Thatcher’s last appointments.

A “brilliant  businessman” who gave lots of money to charidee…aw, bless his wee  cotton socks!

He is also searingly honest. The BBC seemed taken aback by his admission, in his resignation statement, that “I am not much good at party politics, which I do not enjoy”. It is certainly true that, during the recent election campaign, Malcolm gave one spectacularly bad interview, in which he seemed to be unfamiliar with the contents of the UKIP manifesto (though, to be strictly fair, the passage being quoted at him wasn’t from the manifesto, but from a separate policy document).

So you’re saying that he wasn’t au fait with his own party’s  manifesto or seemed unaware of his own party’s policies? That isn’t much good if you’re supposed to be the leader of a political party.

Anyway, let’s have a look at that interview,

Maybe Farage knew that Pearson was going to make a cock up of things and that his befuddled leadership would pave the way for his return –  in much the same way that John Swinney cocked up his spell as leader of the SNP and opened the door for Alex Salmond’s return in 2004. They were both caretakers.

Today, Hannan’s attention-seeking headline is “The BBC officially regards Eurosceptics as mad”. Hmmm, right, whatever next? He cites a piece of ‘research’ conducted by Pearson’s own think-tank, Global Britain, whose directors consist of 3 former Tories-turned-UKIPers and one former Labour Lord who now sits as an “Independent Labour” peer.  So no ‘bias’ there then? To be honest this doesn’t prove an official BBC policy of bias against Europhobes one way or the other.  But if the video that I have inserted into this blog is anything to go by, is it any wonder that the general public perception of Eurosceptics and, in particular, Pearson and the rest of UKIP, is one of fanaticism?

Farage is likely to become leader of UKIP for the second time. In a party that lacks identifiable characters, his face is the one that is recognized as the face of UKIP. One thing is for certain, fraternal relations between certain sections of the Conservative Party and UKIP will remain forever cordial. After all, they do share the same donors.

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