ICM were the most accurate pollsters in 2010.
This could shift the narrative this week…
Nigel Farage has chosen that well-known required reading for Labour voters in the North, the Telegraph, to make his “appeal to Britons” thinking of voting for Ed. Farage says “we no longer have a capitalism that works for all”, claiming “instead, we have corporatism, lavishing attention on big corporations while ignoring the little man”. On the NHS, Farage says he wants to “make it work for those who need it”, and on welfare: “we’d toss out ideas like the bedroom tax”. He even lifts the Labour leader’s slogan, vowing UKIP will put “the cost of living crisis” “at the heart of its campaign”. UKIP sources insist “this is a pro-popular capitalism speech, the capitalism of Maggie, not Blair”.
There is plenty of good stuff on MP Recall, the mansion tax and the EU, creating “a Britain that is more than just a star on someone else’s flag”. But this ain’t the UKIP of two years ago…
Nigel Farage’s trip to Rotherham to talk about the town’s child abuse scandal ended up with him being barricaded inside an office as police protected him from loony SWP protesters outside. Given the sensitive subject and the fact the cops had to be called perhaps Labour’s Rotherham MP Sarah Champion could have used a better choice of words:
She didn’t back down on the Daily Politics either:
UKIP are a close second behind Champion in the polls…
UPDATE: Champion has deleted the tweet.
Was it the prospect of having to sit next to Gorgeous George for an hour too much for UKIP’s Suzanne Evans?
Alas not. Guido is told that Suzanne is unwell after working late last night and decided to pull out. UKIP offered Steven Woolfe as a replacement but Question Time decided they wanted a woman instead. Which at least saves Galloway from having to debate Woolfe, who is part-Jewish and pro-Israeli…
Grant Shapps’ speech this morning bashing Labour’s “month of chaos” descended into a Q&A about Amjad Bashir. Asked by Guido about Amjad’s links with Respect, the Tory chairman insisted “I welcome anybody, regardless of where they’ve been in the past… with the exception of extreme parties”. Presumably George Galloway’s loony left mob aren’t “extreme”.
Shapps wouldn’t be drawn on how he feels about Bashir telling the Tories he had never had anything to do with Respect, telling Guido “Mr Bashir will no doubt answer any of your questions”. Despite “Mr Bashir”, as Shapps repeatedly called him, revealing the Tories had banned him from speaking to the press. As a third question came in Shapps protested “I can’t believe cynical hacks are believing this stuff. It’s pretty desperate”, insisting “yes”, it has still been a “successful” defection. Tempting fate with the Sundays sniffing around…
It’s all kicking off in Thurrock, as Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price’s partner boiled over and shouted “bollocks” at a UKIP councillor last night. Smug Tory councillor Mark Coxshall was condemned by UKIP as a “twerp” and ordered to “calm down” by the chair. Feeling the heat from defending his other half’s 92 majority under threat from UKIP candidate Tim Aker?
Guido has spoken with Amjad Bashir by telephone this afternoon to ask him for a response to the slew of stories that have emerged about him over the last 48 hours. An extremely nervous sounding MEP refused to comment, pleading that he had been gagged his new party:
“I’m not allowed to give a statement. They have all the answers”.
When Guido asked if he had ever been a member of Respect, he hung up.
Yesterday a Conservative Party spokesman contacted Guido to directly ask him to clarify that Bashir “denied he’s ever had anything to do with Respect”. Today that line has shifted to silence. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Tories were misled by Bashir in this regard.
First thing this morning Guido contacted the CCHQ to ask which of these allegations Bashir now denied:
A full working day later and they have refused to comment. Instead, Bashir’s Twitter account has mysteriously been deactivated and he has been banned from the airwaves. Is the Prime Minister still ‘delighted’ by the defection?
Yet more evidence emerges today that the Tories’ star defector Amjad Bashir has serious questions to answer regarding his honesty around his company’s employment of illegal workers. Legal documents seen by Guido accuse Bashir of lying in a Press Complaints Commission complaint about last year’s Times story alleging he had employed seven illegal immigrants in his Zouk restaurant in Manchester.
The Times reported Bashir resigned as a director of Zouk Ltd three days after it was raided by immigration officials. Bashir denied this, complaining to the PCC that he had left a month before the raid.
However, Companies House documents show that nothing was filed to confirm any resignation until after the raid. An internal investigation by UKIP’s lawyers carried out last July found “Mr Bashir had put in the resignation 3 days after the raid but back-dated it to a month earlier”.
The UKIP legal advice then states: “without any credible evidence to substantiate the position of Mr Bashir, on the approval of the party secretary, counsel withdrew the Press Complaint”. They concluded – six months before he defected – that:
“It is counsel’s view that Mr Bashir has put forward a false account of the incident to minimise his involvement in any wrongdoing and pushing it forward so publicly was both brazen and irresponsible when thinking of the Party’s reputation at large.”
So Bashir’s counsel withdrew his complaint when they realised he wasn’t telling the truth. Something that UKIP sat on for months. Remember when the Tories claimed they vetted him and found he was fine?