DONCASTER, United Kingdom – It is perhaps an awkward thing for me to write given my role in supporting Nigel Farage at the last general election, but it is unavoidable given the major flash points that have occurred at UKIP’s conference today. Those who were wishing the party’s internal tensions had melted away may be disappointed as Farage loyalists and ‘NEWkip’.
But things aren’t perhaps what they seem, especially if you’ve read about the issue in any of the establishment media today. Two points to note:
THE ARRON BANKS vs. DOUGLAS CARSWELL BUST UP
There’s no love lost between these two, it’s true. Douglas has always disliked Banks for being a hardline, immigration-centric Eurosceptic. He’s also been scathing about Douglas’s friends in the Conservative Party such as Daniel Hannan MEP.
Banks was quoted today as having said “Whoever Ukip decide to endorse [for the referendum campaign], it will be hard for the electoral commission to say no to that and Carswell will either have to leave or do the same … If it comes to the crunch, the whip will be removed from him or something else will happen.”
Carswell and Banks allegedly clashed in a corridor, with the MP for Clacton asking the £1m donor why he was threatening to have him deselected. Banks is reported to have simply replied, “Stay classy, San Diego” – a reference to the film Anchorman.
But Mr Carswell is said to be fuming about the incident, and shouted across the hall at Banks, “You can’t deselect me.”
Carswell was then seen working his way around the press room briefing against Mr. Banks – a tactic he is well acquainted with.
Which brings us onto the next incident…
NIGEL SAID DOUGLAS HAS LOYALTIES TO HIS TORY MATES
As I understand, he did indeed say that. But it wasn’t supposed to be a jab at the MP. Nigel was reflecting at the time on the pace of the European referendum campaign from the ‘Out’ side, and remarked that Douglas may have been frustrated with the pace that some of his old colleagues who remain friends are operating.
This has of course resulted in a number of journalists furiously tweeting, writing copy, and reporting the comments on broadcast outlets without establishing context.
The truth is Nigel was actually sympathising with Douglas, understanding his position of being caught between old friends in the slow-paced, big-C Conservative Party ‘out’ movement, and the fast pace of the Banks-led Eurosceptic campaign.
So before you go believing all you read today, remember this… the establishment press is here to cause and fuel tensions. As far as I’m aware, Nigel meant Douglas no harm at all. Though the same probably can’t be said for Mr Banks, who is keen for the Clacton MP to fall in line behind his party, instead of trying to take it in a new direction.