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Saturday, April 26, 2014

UKIP sink further into mire but voters do not notice

Two reports in the Guardian indicate that they seem to have really got the bit between their teeth at the moment with regards to the various question marks and controversies surrounding UKIP.

In the first one they report that Nigel Farage has performed a major u-turn on an offer he made to allow an independent audit of his spending of European parliamentary allowances by denying that he ever accepted the suggestion.

They say that in an interview with the Guardian, the Ukip leader claimed that it would be wrong for him to be singled out for a spending audit as it would put him in a different position to every other British MEP. He added that it was not the case that a fortnight ago he said he was happy to have his expenses independently audited, telling the Guardian: "I said if every other British MEP wants to, then I would."

This nonsense is soon put to bed though by the Liberal Democrats MEP, Chris Davies who told the paper that almost all Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MEPs commission professional accountants to audit or certify the spending of their allowances:

The audit published on MEP websites is required by all three political parties and goes beyond what is required by the European parliament.

Davies said Farage should stop changing his position.

"He has variously claimed that his receipts have been lost or that he hasn't had the time to complete his expenses. He will not account for many tens of thousands of pounds of public money given to him for office expenses over the years.

"Like the overwhelming majority of British MEPs I publish independently audited accounts for my general expenditure allowance spending. I have done this for many years and will continue to do so."

So what is stopping Farage doing the same? It is time he embraced this sort of accountability and transparency instead of (ironically) hiding behind European rules.

The second article is an opinion piece asking why it is that no-one is hastening UKIP's demise:

It has taken too long to confront methods. Which other party seeking mainstream votes would be allowed to simply laugh off association with extreme rightwingers, racists and anti-semites? Those with whom Farage beds down in Europe. Which other party would be able to evade real responsibility for its representatives? Think David Silvester, the Ukip councillor who attributed the winter floods to gay marriage. Lampitt – who starred in the party's broadcast for the European elections – gave us the second scandal of the week. Another who appeared in the broadcast, depicted as an ordinary voter, had already been unmasked as a party administrator.

Consider the poster campaign, with its central claim – that 26 million Europeans actively seek jobs in Britain – rooted in falsehood. Without the exemption from the advertising code of conduct that is enjoyed by political adverts, the party would have been forced to withdraw it. We rely on politicians to observe ethical codes of honour as to advertised fact, and to argue among themselves about interpretation. But with an eye on the main chance, ethics and honour mean little to Ukip.

The party thrives in a swamp created by others, but that swamp has now become so thick and fetid that we cannot quickly drain it. We cannot raise the alarm with any degree of success, even when the party misleads or offends common decency, because both politics and the media lack the credibility to be listened to by the public.

The author has a point. UKIP is a mess of contradictions and popularist nonsense but their critics and opponents have no credibility with the public because they have lost touch with what people think and want and as aa result UKIP get away with it. That is a worrying judgement on our democracy.
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