UKIP MEP Nigel Farage was on BBC Radio Five in this morning, campaigning for an EU referendum.
He said (23:00-24:00):
“Fifty one per cent of Labour voters do not want the European Union, but nearly 100%, sadly, of Labour politicians have been bought, and they love the money, and they love the status that Brussels has given them…
“New Labour loves the money.”
For Farage to complain about financial impropriety by other parties beggars belief.
UKIP and its MEPs have repeatedly shown themselves to be some of the most corrupt members of the entire British political establishment.
Firstly, there was the saga of MEP Tom Wise. Wise was sentenced to two years in jail in 2009 for massive expenses fraud.
Although he had been outed twice before, first in 2005 and again in 2007, the straw that broke the camel’s back appears to have been a sting made by the News of the World in that year (no longer online, for obvious reasons) in which he said:
“At the end of the day I made £2,000 this week. I don’t know what an MEP’s job is. No one’s ever given me a job description. I’ve no idea what an MEP should or shouldn’t do. So you make it up as you go along.
“Yes, I am milking the system, in as much as I’m overpaid for the amount of expenses I’ve had. But the system is ‘Ignore what it’s cost you, this is what we pay you!’ I clean up the profit. I’ve spent whatever-it-was pounds tonight and I’ll still make a humungous profit. Thank you very much!”
The actual funds that brought him down were from his secretarial allowance; although he was given £3,000 a month to pay his secretary, her wage was only £500 a month, with the rest being spent “in support of his own interests”. From November 2004 to October 2005 he claimed £39,100 from the fund set aside for MEPs’ assistants, and paid Lindsay Jenkins just £13,555.
Nigel Farage attempted to wash his hands of Wise at the time, saying:
“When he came to Brussels in 2004, I put a code down, that I asked them all to obey by. He refused to do so. He then, when he was found out, lied to me, and for that reason I took the whip away from him.
“You know, in every party, in every company, there are bad apples, the question is how do you deal with them, and in UKIP we’ve been absolutely ruthless.”
Which raises the question of why he acted in 2009 when the fraud was first exposed in 2005. At least he was quicker in 2004, when pretty much the same thing happened with MEP Ashley Mote, who was convicted for stealing £65,000 in benefit fraud. In that case, the party dropped him a few days after the election, meaning they’d only waited three months before taking action.
Part of the reason for Farage’s slowness to action may be that he himself is not squeaky clean.
The Observer reported in 2009:
During a debate about Europe at the Foreign Press Association, Farage was asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999.
“It is a vast sum,” Farage said. “I don’t know what the total amount is but – oh lor – it must be pushing £2 million.”
Farage may be against the EU, but he is certainly not against taking their money – must we consider him to be tainted by it as well?
• As election kicks off, UKIP finds itself mired in sleaze – Shamik Das, April 6th 2010
• UKIP MEP threatens to silence press over fraud investigation – Shamik Das, November 24th 2009
• “Absolutely ruthless” UKIP chief took four years to dismiss jailed MEP – Shamik Das, November 12th 2009
• Euro fraud police turn up heat on UKIP – Shamik Das, November 10th 2009
• Ex-UKIP MEP guilty of £36,000 fraud – Shamik Das, November 6th 2009