Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Mote’

UKIP Is Not the Answer

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 18th May, 2009

Ashley MoteMany Conservative and Labour canvassers were reportedly given a hard time over the weekend, as voters turned on them their anger against MPs and Ministers who have been abusing Parliament’s allowances system. The latest opinion polls confirm what Tory activists have been hearing on the doorstep: that many of their traditional supporters are considering voting for UKIP on 4 June. But to do so would be shooting themselves in the foot, as the record of some  leading UKIP politicians is even worse than that of some prominent Conservative and Labour figures. One of the 12 UKIP MEPs elected in 2004, Ashley Mote, was sent to prison in 2007 for benefit fraud, while another, Tom Wise,  is currently on bail facing charges of alleged expenses fraud and money laundering. Both of these gentlemen became ‘independent’ MEPs following their downfall. The most famous member of the 2004 UKIP intake, Robert Kilroy-Silk, went off to found his own party.  The attendance record of some of the remaining UKIP MEPs has been appalling, but that hasn’t stopped them milking the system.

Tom WiseEven more serious, in many ways, is the fact that UKIP’s policies are deeply damaging for Britain’s interests. Withdrawing from the EU, as UKIP wants, would mean that, like Norway, the UK would have to abide by EU rules, but have no say in their formulation. This would marginalise this country and alienate all our current European partners. Voting UKIP as a protest against mainstream political parties would mean that even more taxpayers’ money would be wasted funding MEPs who have no intention of participating constructively in the European Parliament, producing the exact opposite of what voters might hope to achieve. While the electorate’s anger and confusion at present are understandable, UKIP is not the answer.

(photos: Ashley Mote and Tom Wise)

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Tory Leader’s Whoops-a-Daisy Moment

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 5th June, 2008

The leader of the British Conservatives in the European Parliament, Giles Chichester, has resigned, after informing an alarmed Central Office that he would not be able to justify by 4pm tomorrow apparently paying nearly half a million pounds of pounds of his expenses to a company of which he is a director. The company, founded by his father, the round-the-wolrd yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester, is said to have received £445,000 from EU taxpayers’ money since 1996 ‘in connection with secretarial and assistant services for the European Parliament, constituency and committee work’ for the MEP. Mr Chichester has admitted this flaw in his financial arrangements, but has dismissed it as a ‘whoops-a-daisy moment’. The irony is that David Cameron recently gave him the job of drawing up a code of conduct for Tory MEPs’ expenses.

Once again, Chris Davies, the LibDem MEP for the North West, has been calling for a tightening up of the European Parliament’s rules, and he is understandably frustrated that many continental MEPs, not least from Italy and Greece, are determined to keep as much in the dark as possible. However, there will be changes for the better next year, in time for the 2009 Euro-parliamentary elections, thanks to new rules and I will be campaigning hard for full transparency.

One party which will be particularly pleased with today’s Tory clip-up, however, is UKIP. A little bird tells me that yet another of their MEPs will no longer be sitting with them as from today, not to follow his former colleague Ashley Mote into prison, but to join Robert Kilroy-Silk into the political wilderness. Watch this space! 

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