Could even the UK Independence Party be bribed in this way? Of course not, you might say. Well, unfortunately it's a little more complicated. The last few weeks have seen rumours that a new pan-European political party would be formed, with the UK Independence Party (or at any rate UKIP MEPs) being invited to join. I have been hoping that these rumours were untrue. But an e-mail has been sent to UKIP MEPs by a lady called Sharon Bonici and, if I have read it correctly, it is a clear-cut invitation to participate in the development of a pan-European political party. I understand that it has been sent to UKIP MEPs. Indeed, the e-mail says that Mr. Godfrey Bloom has "confirmed" that he does wish to participate in the new pan-European political party, to be known as "the European Alliance".
I stand open to correction (and would in fact like to be wrong), but my interpretation of the Bonici e-mail is that extra money will be made available to the MEPs of national parties - not necessarily to their salaries, of course - who decide to belong to the European Alliance. Perhaps Ms. Bonici - to whom I suppose this e-mail will be forwarded - might like to repudiate that suggestion, if it is untrue.
For myself, I would like to reiterate what I have said throughout the 2010 election campaign for the leadership of the UK Independence Party, that
2. I intend to finance from my own resources (up to £100,000 a year) a London-based office which is to concentrate on the organization of UKIP political campaigning in the UK, and
3. The centre of gravity of the UK Independence Party must be in the UK.
At the Torquay party conference in September I supported the motion, proposed by Steph McWilliam, that the party membership must be consuulted on the question of UKIP's involvement in a pan-European political party. As is well-known in party circles, Nigel Farage opposed the motion. The motion was in fact carried overwhelmingly. In my view, the party membership must be consulted on a possible development of this kind, which is basic to the purpose and definition of the UK Independence Party, and even in fact to its very name.
Gerard Batten MEP has sent me an e-mail to say that he will respect and abide by the Torquay conference motion.
I hope that all three other candidates in the current leadership election will confirm that they will abide by the Torquay conference vote on this subject and, more generally, will respect the principle of party democracy.
Memo on an e-mail from Sharon Bonici to interested individuals (including UKIP MEPs) about a new pan-European party, to be called “the European Alliance I have highlighted key passages of the e-mail in red. Note that the e-mail refers to:
1. The proposed new party, to be called “the European Alliance”, without clarifying whether – for example – existing Eurosceptic parties, such as the UK Independence Party, are to keep their present names in future elections.
2. The alleged urgency of making a decision about participation in such a pan-European party. (To whom and what are the “paper work” to be handed in? The question is basic.)
3. “European funds” being made “available to us”. (From whom are such funds coming? The European Parliament? Assume that the funds come from the European Parliament. Then – in the event that UKIP MEPs were to participate in “the European Alliance” – their activities would be funded by the European Parliament, an institution avowedly central to the project of European integration.)
4. The possibility of the “consent” of party members, the meaning of which is (to me at least) unclear, but may intended as a fig-leaf to pacify those UKIP members who at the 2010 Torquay party conference voted overwhelmingly that the issue of pan-European parties must be decided by the party membership.
5. Godfrey Bloom, as already confirming his wish to participate in the European Alliance project. (Mr. Bloom is said to be “EFD”, not “UKIP”. EFD stands, of course, for “Europe of Freedom and Democracy”, the existing pan-European grouping to which a majority of UKIP MEPs are attached.)
6. A closing line, in which the European Parliament is acknowledged as having the power “to approve the new Alliance”. This is – almost certainly – the power to approve the Alliance, meaning the power to approve the Alliance in order to establish the Alliance’s eligibility for various monies from the European Parliament because it meets certain criteria of pan-European-ness.
These notes prepared by Tim Congdon on 27th October, 2010.