While UKIP’s new leader Paul Nuttall has been an increasingly elusive presence in and around the Stoke on Trent Central constituency that he is supposed to be contesting in next week’s by-election, the “Bad Bootle Meff” has had no problem turning up at his party’s conference in Bolton, taking out a king-size onion, and pretending to be tearful about all those close friends that he didn’t lose in the Hillsborough stadium disaster.
Squeaky political suicide finger up the bum time
As the Liverpool Echo reported, “The Bootle -born UKIP leader became visibly emotional at his party's spring conference in Bolton - where he managed to dodge reporters' questions and was bundled out a side door” before observing “he then launched into a defiant rant against the ‘lies’ and ‘smear campaign’ that suggested he wasn't at the 1989 tragedy, storming: ‘I will not allow them to break me’”.
That’s a quite staggeringly obvious attempt at deflection. And it has already failed, because while Nuttall was playing the victim, and claiming that all the dishonesty he has been dealing in over the recent past was someone else’s fault, his predecessor Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, aided and abetted by the joke newspaper that is the Express, had committed the gaffe that has sunk better politicians than both of them.
Nige had chosen of his own free will - although whether it was the ale talking is always possible in his case - to address the fact that Nuttall had never lent his support to the various groups representing the Hillsborough families, as well as not having confirmed a statement on the fatal crush to the Police. Farage declared that in fact Nuttall had tried to identify with those groups, but the Labour Party had thwarted his approaches.
Errr, are Nige just pulled the trigger an' all
Nige’s allegations could not have been made more clearly: “The former Ukip leader claimed the left-wing party had brought the issue to the forefront before the by-election to smear the Bootle native in a desperate ploy to retain their seat in Stoke-on-Trent Central … When quizzed by the Express.co.uk if he thought Labour were to blame, he said: ‘Oh yes. For years the Labour party have tried to keep him out of the whole Hillsborough debate purely for party political reasons’”. Really? Do dig yourself a little deeper.
“‘He has tried in the past to join the various groups and he has literally been excluded from them … I think they picked on an issue with which they thought they could divert him from the by-election and it’s obviously something he feels very passionate about’ … [Farage] added he did not know if the top of the Labour party had issued a directive to discredit Mr Nuttall”. In other words, he’s lying through his teeth.
You do not, repeat do not, repeat DO NOT use the Hillsborough families to score cheap political points, and you most certainly do not insult them and the memory of the 96 - ask Esther McVey. So it was that the folks at The Skwawkbox got feedback from Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Families Support Group. She was scathing.
“They’ve said what?! We have never, ever - and I mean ever - heard from Paul Nuttall. We’re not a group he could ‘join’ anyway - you have to have lost a family member at Hillsborough. So clearly Mr Farage has no idea what he’s talking about and we will not have him casting aspersions on us or our families”. Dead right.
And it got worse for Mr Thirsty and the Bad Bootle Meff when Kenny Derbyshire, chairman of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, had his say: “Paul Nuttall and Nigel Farage are talking absolute nonsense. We have never heard from him, not even once and if they’re trying to claim they’ve been blocked from joining us they’re just trying to cover up one lie with another. How dare he - we’ve never thought much of him and this just confirms our opinion”. We knew Farage was an inveterate liar. Now he’s gone beyond the pale.
Nigel Farage might think his “shooting from the hip, telling it like it is, pretend man of the people” schtick will win him and his party support. It won’t. This time he and Nuttall have fouled up royally. Lying about the Hillsborough disaster was bad enough. Blaming someone else was worse. But getting a pal to slag off the victims’ families by pretending that they were in hock to another political party - OH DEAR.
Nigel Farage lied to the rescue of Paul Nuttall. And in doing so, he probably ended both their political careers. We should be thankful for small mercies.