As Zelo Street regulars will know, the motley convocation of saloon bar propper-uppers otherwise known as UKIP has been on shaky financial ground for some time now. The European Parliament money that so many of its MEPs creatively diverted to their own advantage has dried up, the membership is shrinking fast, and becoming embroiled in Jane Collins’ libel loss has the potential to finish the party off.
Now it is no longer a mere potential: Mr Justice Warby has ordered that UKIP must pay its share of the libel costs “accrued between March 2015 and June 2015, and costs from the assessment hearing”. These have been estimated at £175,000. And that money must be stumped up within the next fourteen days - unless the party appeals.
The problem there is that mounting an appeal will most likely end up just adding a bit more to the bill the Kippers already face. And, as the Guardian has put it with some measure of understatement, “The party’s finances are thought to be in a perilous condition”. The BBC has explained “The interim payment order comes days after the party's leader, Gerard Batten, issued a plea for cash for the party, saying £100,000 must be raised by the end of March”. That, I understand, is in addition to the £175,000 in costs.
Who is to blame for this mess? As with most of UKIP’s misfortunes, the problem is entirely self-inflicted. The libel action could, and should, have been settled far earlier, but those in charge deliberately delayed settling for political advantage. This has been confirmed in a statement on behalf of the three Labour MPs who Ms Collins libelled.
“Ukip used the unfounded allegations by Jane Collins for political advantage. At the highest level Ukip knew Jane Collins’ case was ‘hopeless’ but blocked any settlement in our favour before the 2015 general election because they believed it would win them votes”. Settlement could have been had for a fraction of the bill now faced by UKIP and Ms Collins (the total bill is now around £600,000). It’s their own fault.
The Kippers may not even be able to field candidates in upcoming local elections. The Guardian again: “Nominations to stand in local elections close on 6 April. The law is not clear whether a party facing insolvency is allowed to put forward candidates, and many former Ukip councillors have either returned to one of the main parties or have become independents. It will lose its MEPs in 2019, after the UK leaves the EU. If it fails to contest English local elections, Ukip will be reduced to a rump of six Welsh assembly members”.
Even former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage doesn’t hold out much hope, as Sky News has told. “The truth is UKIP is facing a real, real battle just to survive” he told his LBC audience. But as one source also told, “UKIP has no money and the idiots who got UKIP into this mess take no responsibility”. Those “idiots” include Farage, who won’t be taking any responsibility at all. Because Nige wants to be where the money is at, and that certainly isn’t UKIP. So he won’t hang around to help.
This time, it really does look like the end. Just rejoice at that news.