As if to underscore the internal war that is now raging within UKIP, whatever Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers may like to pretend, the candidate selection process for South Basildon and East Thurrock was thrown into chaos yesterday after Kerry Smith, the Nick Griffin lookalike who had been selected only three days earlier, threw in the towel.
Squeaky reselection finger up the bum time
Smith had previously been deselected by the Kippers; why that should have been was explained by a leaked recording of a phone call which, by no coincidence at all, was given to the Mail On Sunday, a paper that is enthusiastically shilling for the Tories while putting the boot into UKIP. Here, Smith made a number of racist and homophobic statements, as well as smearing his own party leader.
UKIP’s LGBTQ group was dismissed as “f***ing disgusting old pooftahs”, there was talk of “shooting peasants”, a woman of Chinese origin was referred to as a “chinky”, and the party’s immigration spokesman called “a f***ing carpetbagger and an arsehole”. Then Smith smeared Farage over the appointment of one Kipper over another, but sadly had no evidence to back up his claim.
At first, the story was spun in Smith’s favour, with Patrick “Lunchime” O’Flynn, now inexplicably elevated to an MEP, explaining that Smith’s remarks had been made “some time ago while he was on sedatives”. Yes, a big boy did it and ran away. UKIP immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe said candidates “were ‘ordinary people’ who did not have the media training that their political rivals had”.
Yes, with some decent training, they could turn out some real racists and homophobic bigots. And there have been hours of harmless fun – in other words, not involving UKIP members – speculating what medication might have been behind the twentieth Century’s most prominent dictators and tyrants. Meanwhile, the focus is shifting to who might have sent the recording to the MoS.
The Kipper's public image nightmare
Former Tory MP Neil Hamilton – and the formidable Christine – are considered prime suspects, and the man who lost the Tories’ third-safest seat in 1997 appears keen on any chance of a return to Parliament, but if he had been such an accomplished plotter, he might not have made such a hash of defending Tatton against the sleaze allegations – and the presence of Martin Bell.
If Hamilton was behind the MoS’ story, expect it all to unravel in short order. In any case, whoever wants him to stand as a UKIP candidate next May, the baggage of his “brown envelope” association with Mohamed “you can call me Al” Fayed, and his failed legal action against the Guardian which led to the paper denouncing him as “A liar and a cheat” are never going to go away.
Meanwhile UKIP is riven with infighting. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving crowd.