Nigel Farage is guilty of gross hypocrisy over UKIP election posters, former deputy leader Craig Mackinlay tells Paul Nizinskyj, as well as being the primary reason so many ‘kippers seem to leave.
There’s perhaps a poetic significance that UKIP’s ‘celebrity lifestyle’ poster – featuring a suited man in a limo under the slogan “Your daily grind…funds his celebrity lifestyle” – doesn’t explicitly identify its mystery subject.
The inference is, of course, that the ‘suit’ is one of the army of faceless eurocrats of Brussels raking in the cash from hard-up Brits’ taxes – the European flag and the note that the UK “pays £55 million a day to the EU and its Eurocrats” is a bit of a giveaway – but with his Brussels paycheque and £2 million expenses he could just as well be Nigel Farage, says his former deputy Craig Mackinlay.
“One of their posters has a eurocrat in a limousine saying you’re paying for his celebrity lifestyle but that could easily be Nigel sitting there,” he says. “It doesn’t sit well and I think they come out very badly from it.” This of course follows former British Army head Lord Dannatt denouncing a UKIP poster with a burning Union Flag as ‘disrespectful’ and BBC politics editor Nick Robinson expertly pinning down the party leader over a poster warning of immigrants taking British jobs – despite employing his own German wife.
“I think he did very badly there,” Mackinlay adds. “He looked very uncomfortable and didn’t perform very well at all. I think it comes down to the fact he’s not a very canny political operator. He looks like one but I don’t think he really thinks things through. He’s really failed on this one and it’s going to haunt him for some time to come.”
Mackinlay, who is a sitting Kent councillor and ran as Tory PCC candidate for the county, adds this lack of judgement has plagued the party for years through Farage’s ‘flavour of the month’ appointments. “They’ve managed to lose quite a lot of their MEPs who were elected last time but all these people are ones Nigel brought in saying they’re marvellous and the new shiny thing,” he laughs. “People like Ashley Mote, who was elected in 2004 but only did a year with us before he had to do a year in prison for benefit fraud. He’s a very poor judge of character at times, very poor, and you think, where is your sense in all this?”
The list goes on and on, of course, and he notes Mote’s replacement, Marta Andreasen, was also brought into the fold by Farage – but she too defected to the Tories last year branding him ‘Stalinist’ and ‘anti-women.’ One of Mackinlay’s replacements, David Campbell Bannerman, was also brought in by Farage, he says, but himself defected to the Tories in 2011 citing – yep, you guessed it – being unable to work with Nigel. For Mackinlay, though, Farage’s pitiful character judgement was sending the party down a route it was never meant to go – another surprisingly common complaint – and he himself decided to defect nine years ago.
He is now a Conservative councillor in Kent contested the county’s PCC elections in 2012 – missing out to former local Kent Police Authority chaiman Ann Barnes (the one who hired a 17-year-old ‘Youth PCC’ on £15,000 a year who made homophobic and racist comments on Twitter). “When it got to the point of having two MEPs in prison for fraud,” he says, “I thought, this is way off what I thought this party was going to be. Some very good people got sick of it in the end and couldn’t see where it was going – MEPs seemed to be doing it for a living rather than what we thought it was about.”
But like founder Alan Sked, Mackinlay is somewhat implicated in creating the Farage monster – which in the ironies of ironies now risks scuppering the country’s only chance at an In-Out referendum by potentially costing the Conservatives a majority in 2015. After Sked handed control of the party to him, Mackinlay says he considered disbanding it, but decided to hold a leadership election instead.
“After the 1997 election, it was on its arse,” he says. “I could’ve packed it all up but I kept it going, which is funny when you see where it is now. Without UKIP I don’t think we’d even be discussing a referendum but I’m very worried and would be extremely displeased if they end up bringing in a Labour government and scuppering this referendum, as seems possible. Extremely displeased.”