Recently I noted that the motley collection of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP might be only days away from seeing their party end for good: their embattled leader Henry Bolton has justified ignoring the vote of no confidence in his stewardship, claiming that the Kippers cannot afford another leadership election. Several of its MEPs have had their salaries stopped after being caught fiddling expenses.
Jane Collins - may have killed her own party stone dead
So the trick of using European Parliament paycheques to bankroll the party is no longer an option. The Mail claimed that “Ukip’s most recent accounts show that it was £380,630 in debt even before last year’s surprise general election”. The party failed to field candidates in scores of seats across England and Wales at that election. In Stoke-on-Trent Central, where Paul Nuttall had contested the 2017 by-election, they lost their deposit.
And now has come news of a body blow sufficient to kill UKIP stone dead - the aftermath of MEP Jane Collins’ failed defence of a libel action brought against her by three Labour MPs. She had accused Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion of knowing about grooming gangs in Rotherham and deliberately doing nothing about it. They had, she told the Kippers’ 2014 conference, acted out of “political correctness”.
Now has come news, first in the Murdoch Sun, which means it might not be reliable, and then in the Times, which should be, that UKIP agreed to pay Ms Collins’ legal costs. The problem is that the party could be having to stump up the three MPs’ costs as well, and that would set them back around £650,000. The Sun claims that the Kippers have around half that amount on hand. But the party also has significant outstanding debts.
So UKIP is fighting the case, with the Times telling “Next week the party is due in court, where it will challenge demands that it pay the costs for a slander and libel case brought against one of its senior politicians … Jane Collins, 55, Ukip MEP for the Yorkshire and Humber region, was successfully sued by three Labour MPs who she had accused in 2014 of ignoring child sex abuse”. They put the legal bill at £670,000.
The paper also makes a significant understatement: “Money is tight for the anti-EU party, according to insiders, after a tumultuous 18 months during which it has had four leaders and been deserted by many donors and hordes of members”. The money tap has been turned off. The Euro-money tap has also run dry. That is why Nigel “Thirsty” Farage wants no more to do with UKIP: it is no longer where the money is at.
On top of the prospect of impending bankruptcy, Bolton is a laughing stock and making UKIP less credible the longer he stays as leader. The alternatives - Bill “Mr Viagra” Etheridge, Adolf von Batten, John Rees Evans of “Gay donkey ate my nomination papers” infamy and others - are less credible still. As the electorate realises that they were sold a dead pup with Brexit, nobody is going to care about the Kippers any more.
UKIP might last until the court case next week. If that decides the party has to stump up the £650,000, it won’t last any longer. Just rejoice at that news.