Political party donation figures for the last quarter of 2016 are out:
Conservative and Unionist Party – £3,610,983
Liberal Democrats – £1,972,904
Labour Party – £1,970,055
Green Party – £46,228
Co-operative Party – 39,750
UK Independence Party (UKIP) – £33,228
Women’s Equality Party – £30,000
The Lib Dems have had a fantastic quarter, narrowly beating Labour to take their place as the second best-funded party over the period. UKIP are struggling – they took just three grand more than the Women’s Equality Party. The LibDems are cashing in on being anti-Brexit, they just got a million quid donation from Greg Nasmyth. Guido hears they have secured another major donation from a Blairite former Labour donor which we can expect to see in the next Electoral Commission figures…
“The Telegraph has become the Farage-graph”, declares ConHome this morning, as the paper puts yet another pro-Nigel, pro-Arron Banks story on its front page. The number of pro-Farage stories featuring on Telegraph front pages over the last few months has been notably disproportionate considering the relative size and significance of UKIP, and the fact Nige isn’t leader anymore. Added to that are Telegraph “Breakfast with Farage” events, not to mention op-ed after op-ed by Nigel. The new obsession is going down badly in the more liberal, metropolitan newsroom.
At a recent staff meeting, one brave journalist raised their hand and spoke about the recent Farage-centric coverage. The Barclays may like UKIP and they may host parties for Farage at the Ritz they mused, Telegraph readers however tend to be old Tories who don’t care much for the ‘Kippers. The concern in the newsroom is that the paper is running so many puff pieces for Farage and Banks because Banks is trying to buy the paper. Rumours have been circulating for months that Banks has been putting together a consortium of Brexit-backing donors to stump up the £250 million asking price – rumoured possible backers doing the rounds include Malcolm Pearson, David Stevens, Stuart Wheeler, Peter Cruddas and Michael Ashcroft. Asked if this was a possibility, Telegraph editor Chris Evans avoided the question and told his staff to follow the news. The prospect of a Banks-backed takeover has become the subject of gallows humour in the newsroom, though surely – without a lot of help – Arron just doesn’t have enough money?
Asked if he would back Douglas Carswell or Arron Banks in Clacton, Nigel Farage replied: “it doesn’t take much working out“. Farage was twisting the fish knife at a hurriedly called Fishing For Leave press conference this morning, attacking “posh boy” Carswell:
“He should have gone in 2015, he’s been sabotaging… We’ve got a new leader of UKIP who needs to be given a chance… If the MP is doing you harm, you’d be better off without him… Quite why Douglas joined the party when he disagrees with the policies I don’t know. “
Farage denied he was the party’s “backseat” leader and joked the infighting in UKIP is “almost as bad as in the Labour Party.” Around 30 hacks were lured hook, line and sinker on the promise of a Farage appearance, only to hear Owen Paterson lengthily outline the future of British fishing after Brexit. An important issue to be sure, not a big draw for the media crowd in SW1…
Meanwhile Michael Heaver, Farage’s former spokesman, says of Carswell’s “infiltration” of the party: “Forget U.K.I.P, it was more K.G.B“. Carswell has been summoned by Paul Nuttall to meet UKIP’s chairman this afternoon…
UPDATE: Fightin’ talk from Arron Banks: “We will have a high street shop in Clacton, professional agent appointed soon and I will be rolling my sleeves up.”
UPDATE II: Team Carswell say he is “supremely relaxed”.
UPDATE III: To which Banks’ sidekick Andy Wigmore responds: “Bollox [sic] old wonky jaw is toast”.
The UKIP feuding continues. Last week Arron demanded Nuttall made him UKIP’s party chairman or he will not donate any more money – a hostile take over offer rejected by Patrick O’Flynn. Last night he said he will stand against UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell. Presumably for his new political movement…
The trigger for this is that Carswell is alleged by Banks to have blocked a knighthood for Nigel Farage. Carswell says on the contrary he spoke to the government Chief Whip Gavin Williamson – who holds considerable sway with the honours committee – in support of a knighhood for Nigel. Carswell joked in an email to Lord Pearson that maybe they should set their sights lower and aim for an OBE next time. This has enraged Farage and Banks who see it as more evidence that Carswell is a cuckoo in the UKIP nest – they are urging Nuttall to sack Carswell. As usual UKIP are fighting among themselves instead of their opponents…
Any rational observer might think that UKIP would be better off marshalling its limited resources towards winning another seat, not undermining UKIP’s 3,437 slim majority over the Tories in Clacton. Nuttall, who stood on a unity ticket, knows this…
“Where’s the car?” Nuttall searching for his getaway car after disappointing Stoke by-election result pic.twitter.com/9s7VxnVb6K
— Jessica Elgot (@jessicaelgot) February 24, 2017
Exasperated ‘Kipper Lisa Duffy cried: “Where the hell’s the car? Where the f**k’s the car?” as Nuttall made a hasty getaway last night. Taxi…
Douglas Carswell all but concedes Stoke:
“I think the most likely outcome is that Labour will win… Stoke is not even in our top 50 target seats.”
Kippers on the ground do not sound particularly confident. Result by 3am…
It is wet and windy up in Stoke and Copeland and by 4 a.m. on Friday morning one of several possible scenarios will be playing out. Guido takes you through your by-election scenarios…
Labour win, UKIP second, Tories third
If Gareth Snell holds Stoke for Labour then the man who once called Jeremy Corbyn an “IRA supporting friend of Hamas” will, ironically, have helped save Jez. He will have won a seat that has always been safely Labour. Defeat will see Paul Nuttall face criticism from UKIP’s Faragists – remember Farage last week piled on the pressure by saying Nuttall had to win. Jez will be safe…
Labour win, Tories second, UKIP third
If the Tories come ahead of UKIP then the Faragists will actively move against a humiliated Nuttall. Hillsborough, rightly or wrongly, will have damaged him beyond repair. UKIP could have their sixth change of leader in under two years.
Should Labour lose to UKIP, the PLP will be mutinous. Corbyn’s office will blame Tony Blair’s Brexit speech, accusing him of a deliberate act of sabotage. Corbyn will face huge pressure from the left to hand over to Rebecca Long-Bailey or Clive Lewis. Moderates will demand his resignation and discuss another leadership challenge. UKIP will have its second MP, Nuttall becoming a loud Brexiter in the Commons and a credible new voice for working class voters. UKIP will be on the verge of a mainstream tipping point…
Should the Tories come from nowhere to win, Corbyn could be toast. The realisation of a Tory one party state and a Scotland-style wipeout of Labour across England will dawn on the Corbynistas. Even Jezza’s closest allies will tell him his time is up. 25 year-old Jack Brereton will be the youngest Tory MP.
Tory victory in Copeland means Corbyn will face renewed calls to quit from Labour moderates. Owen Jones types will air further doubts about the Corbyn project. Eyes will be on Long-Bailey and Lewis. There will be talk of a summer leadership challenge. Corbyn’s views on the nuclear industry will have been key. Theresa May’s approach to Brexit will be emboldened. A Tory win is already priced in, this will not be a shock to SW1…
Labour victory against the odds means Corbyn is safe, or safer if Labour has lost Stoke. Fighting dirty on the NHS will have worked. Talk of a Tory takeover of Northern seats will be deemed premature. An ardent Remainer will have won in a big Leave constituency. May’s awkward visit, in which she failed to answer questions on local NHS services, will be a major embarrassment for Number 10.
You are kidding.
Stay with Guido for coverage during the day and through the night…
Paul Nuttall has publicly condemned Arron Banks for his Hillsborough comments and dismissed UKIP’s main donor as a non-party member. Remember Banks is a Faragista – and Faragistas do not get on with Nuttall. This is going to get very messy if Nuttall performs badly on Thursday…
Long standing ovation for Nuttall after he addresses the week’s events at the UKIP spring conference…
UPDATE: Emotional scenes via Reuters:
The Tories are releasing this attack video on Paul Nuttall this afternoon. Giving Labour a helping hand in Stoke to save Jez?
Farage tells UKIP’s spring conference that victory in Stoke is fundamental to the party’s future. No pressure…
Arron Banks is suing Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council, which accused him of serving as a “key pro-Russian actor in the UK”. He’s unhappy with their report “The Kremlin’s Trojans”, which describes Banks and Leave.EU / Grassroots Out as having links with “pro-Russian figures”, namely UKIP and George Galloway. Banks says the report accuses him of being a “Russian agent” who is “clandestinely working for Russia”. Guido has had a quick read – the bit specifically about Banks doesn’t seem to make those claims, though the introduction does talk about “Trojan horses” working for the Kremlin. Banks is also suing 3 British MPs though his spinner says he cannot name them for legal reasons. Remember Banks himself wound the rumours up by claiming a “KGB man” took him to the Russian Embassy. Expect they will settle quickly…
Paul Nuttall’s press officer offered her resignation over the “close personal friends” claim she is said to have written on his website in 2012. Yet that was not the only time Nuttall’s name was associated with those words. In August 2011 the BBC quoted him making the same claim – apparently taken from his press release:
So twice Nuttall’s team wrote statements claiming he had “close personal friends” at Hillsborough, and one of them was published by the BBC. And Nuttall says he knew nothing about it…
— Radio City News (@RadioCityNews) February 14, 2017
Paul Nuttall’s press officer Lynda Roughley dives on the grenade and takes the rap for the incorrect Hillsborough website claim:
“I am entirely responsible for the website post regarding Paul’s comments about having ‘close friends’ who died at Hillsborough. Paul is a man of great integrity and would not say something he knew to be untrue. It’s me who has made this mistake, and one I feel absolutely terrible about. I am frankly mortified at the distress this issue has caused Paul and may have caused to anyone involved with the Hillsborough tragedy. I have today offered my resignation, I could not be more sorry.”
Enough to stop it cutting through to voters?
Publicity-loving Labour MEP Seb Dance last week stirred up a full-blown internal investigation into claims that pro-Brexit group Labour Leave made improper payments to UKIP during the EU referendum campaign. Such payments would be in breach of Labour’s rulebook. The party’s largest donor and Labour Leave founder millionaire John Mills was caught up in the story, with Dance calling for him to be thrown out of the party.
“I am satisfied that the money was transferred for the purposes of meeting shared costs for joint referendum events that had been paid for by UKIP. This has been reported as such by Labour Leave in your spending return to the Electoral Commission. In addition, the Commission advised you to report this payment as a “donation” for regulatory purposes. There is no indication that the money has, or will be, used for any other purposes.”
Last night Nick Clegg gave a talk at UCL where he was asked by a student what he thought the future of UKIP would be now Britain had voted to leave the EU. He said: “There’s a permanent role for UKIP in Britain and this may surprise you but that’s the way it should be”. He was deadly serious about this point, that he wanted UKIP to last:
“UKIP should play a continued role as a voice for those who don’t like the modern world… It is a travesty that 4 million people voted for UKIP at the last election and all they got was Douglas Carswell. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t agree with anything they stand for.”
He also claimed, with a sense of sadness, that “Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, runs our country now.”
Can’t think why he hates Dacre…
UKIP MEP Jane Collins has been ordered to pay over £160,000 to the three Rotherham Labour MPs she libelled about the town’s child abuse scandal. The MPs had wanted £150,000 each, though a court today ruled Collins must may £54,000 to Kevin Barron, John Healey and Sarah Champion.[…] Read the rest