A closer look at 10 of the UK’s new representatives in Brussels is shocking, even by UKIP’s standards.
It seems almost intuitive that the election of 24 UKIP MEPs is a regression from Britain’s tolerant and progressive values. However, a closer look at 10 of the UK’s new representatives in Brussels is shocking, even by UKIP’s standards.
Janice Atkinson (South East England)
Made famous by the photo above of her arguing the finer points of policy with anti-racism campaigners, Janice Atkinson left the Conservative Party in 2011 due to what she perceived as David Cameron’s support for Europe and lack of support for the bankers in the City.
Career highlights to date have included being caught incorrectly claiming to have attended a grammar school, describing feminism as “outdated and sexist”, and calling for protesters who “call our supporters fascists, hurl other abuse or any physical assault” to be arrested (this was prior to the photo being taken).
Atkinson was also the author of a 2013 report for UKIP that proposed long-term benefit claimants receiving plastic cards instead of money that would not be able to pay for alcohol, tobacco or satellite television. This would not apply to all people on benefits, just “those who have an addiction and those who choose a lifestyle on benefits”.
Jill Seymour is the newly elected UKIP MEP for the West Midlands. Seymour’s husband last year donated an undisclosed amount of money for a UKIP rally in Telford billed at the time as UKIP’s biggest ever public meeting. Seymour herself compared the donation to the “cost of a car”. In light of rumours of UKIP charging cash for MEP seats, this seems more than a little suspicious.
Bill Etheridge (West Midlands)
Bill Etheridge, ex-Conservative party candidate, left the party after he and his wife posed with Golliwogs and paraded the photos on their Facebook pages. After joining UKIP, Etheridge published a book in 2011 entitled Britain – A Post Political Correctness Society, once again featuring Golliwogs, this time on the front cover.
Amjad Bashir (Yorks and the Humber)
Last June, UKIP’s spokesperson for small business, Amjad Bashir, had his restaurant raided and seven people were arrested on immigration violations. He resigned as director but has kept his shares and the fine has yet to be paid. He has been criticised as hypocritical due to his tough line on immigration whilst employing what are potentially illegal immigrants.
David Coburn (Scotland)
In 1993 David Coburn closed down the Lexicon English school. Not only did he leave students in the lurch by keeping the pre-paid tuition fees, Coburn has gone on to demonise immigrants despite capitalising on immigration in the past. According to the election broadcast, unlike his fellow Scottish MEPs who all have residences in Scotland, Coburn lives in Kensington, one of the most expensive postcodes in the UK.
Patrick O’Flynn (East of England)
Although he only publicly joined UKIP in June of 2013, Patrick O’Flynn was long an ally of the party in his previous job as chief political commentator for the Daily Express, helping convince the paper to become the first in Britain to advocate leaving the EU. It was in this capacity that O’Flynn made some of his most inflammatory statements, such as “the leaders of British Islam still don’t appreciate the degree to which their behaviour is despised by the majority of the public”.
Despite his incessant complaints that the media and politicians enjoy too cosy a relationship, O’Flynn still clearly enjoys close ties with the Express, saying this week “I shall always regard the Daily Express as the media wing of the Better Off Out movement”.
Tim Aker (East of England)
Appointed UKIP’s Head of Policy in June 2013, Tim Aker first started working for the party in 2009. After Nigel Farage came under fire for dismissing UKIP’s 2010 manifesto as “quasi-academic ramblings and random thoughts”, despite signing his name to it, Aker came to his defence. “The previous head of policy put together a manifesto that was almost 500 pages of junk,” said Aker, perhaps forgetting that he used to be an adviser to that head of policy, and in fact served on the policy team responsible for producing the “junk”.
Mike Hookem (Yorks and the Humber)
Not only has Mike Hookem been handing out business cards with independence misspelled, but he has been threatening fellow UKIP candidate, Samuel Fletcher, for expressing his right to free speech. After Godfrey Bloom resigned as a UKIP candidate, Fletcher celebrated the decision and criticised Bloom’s past controversial statements. In reaction to this, Hookem said that he wanted Fletcher to “consider your (Fletcher’s) future in the party”. Furthermore, the day after being elected, Hookem said on BBC Radio Sheffield that he didn’t plan on attending any debates in the European Parliament.
Margot Parker (East Midlands)
Margot Parker has stood in multiple elections for UKIP since 2010, finally winning a position after the recent European election. As well as being an MEP, Parker is currently UKIP’s unemployment spokesperson and was formerly a candidate for Libertas. Though clearly a long-term Eurosceptic, this does raise questions about Parker’s other business, specifically that of being the director of Eurocom-Consult, a lobbying group based in Brussels offering “advice and information on EU legislation”.
Diane James (South East England)
Seen as one of the new faces of UKIP, and by some as a potential successor to Nigel Farage, Diane James has been a high profile member of the party for a relatively long time; she was selected to represent the party in the 2013 Eastleigh by-election. This caused controversy amongst some members of the party, as when local councillor James had not sat as a UKIP representative, but as an independent. Nonetheless she went on to place second with 28 per cent of the vote. This was despite her rather predictably speaking on the campaign trail of “not just…pressure on service from immigration but also, and I have to say it, the crime associated with Romanians”.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.