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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Was Farage the victim of internal dirty tricks in South Thanet?

Just how toxic is the on-going civil war within UKIP? Well, if the Guardian is to be believed it extends to senior members actively sabotaging the election campaigns of their colleagues.

The paper says senior members of UKIP have accused the party’s only MP of helping the Conservatives defeat Nigel Farage in South Thanet in last year's general election. UKIP’s main donor, Arron Banks, has written to Kent police with the allegation that Douglas Carswell, the Ukip MP for Clacton, helped the Tory campaign retain the seat. his letter details allegations that Carswell downloaded Ukip data for South Thanet and passed it to the Conservatives, enabling them to do “push polling” of key voters.

Push polling is when an apparently unbiased telephone survey spreads negative rumours about a candidate.

The Guardian says that Carswell defected to Ukip from the Tories in 2014 but has had a fraught relationship with both Banks and Farage:

According to the letter, Carswell was granted access to the Ukip database but then only accessed the South Thanet data.

A letter sent to the police by Precision Risk & Intelligence, where Banks is chief executive, claims that “we have evidence of excessive spending by the Conservatives and secretive dealings between them and a senior Ukip representative to collude against Mr Farage”.

Responding to the accusations, Carswell said: “There is no basis in these claims whatsoever. We should just be relieved that those responsible for the disastrous campaign in South Thanet were not responsible for the successful referendum campaign.”

It may be that any unauthorised use of the Ukip database would be a breach of data protection laws.

The letter also claims that the information was passed to a call centre in New Malden, Surrey, and was then used to target voters in South Thanet. The call centre in Surrey has close links to the Conservative party.

Kent police are investigating allegations of improper election spending by the Tories in South Thanet, a highly marginal seat at last year’s election. They were recently granted a further 12 months to investigate electoral spending in the constituency after a judge concluded that the inquiry could lead to the result “being declared void”.

It is not just Wales where respective members of UKIP cannot stand the sight on one another.
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