Friday, 15 May 2015


Nigel Farage has been subject to a farrago of controversies in his time, with his latest perhaps the most dangerous yet, as Chris Hope reports on today's front page that he "clings to Ukip leadership as former allies call for his resignation".

The Ukip leader has tried to put on a brave face, rubbishing "the idea of a coup" and musing that the "one or two" senior kippers who wanted to be leader "will be sadly disappointed" by the party's ruling executive asking him to stay on instead. Farage didn't pretend all was well when asked by ITV News later on if he had lost the confidence of his party, replying: "Big time".

Tensions have come to the fore, just days after Ukip won 3.8 million votes at the general election, after Farage's "unresignation". A row with Douglas Carswell, Ukip's only MP, over Short money followed, and then senior MEP Patrick O'Flynn attacked Farage, labelling him "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive". It wasn't the Ukip leader's fault though, he insisted, but his advisers, who he said were "poisonous influences" and should be sacked. 

This spat has revealed two distinct Ukip factions, the modernising "Carswellians" and the uber-loyalist "Faragites". Ben Riley-Smith has rounded up who is in which camp. Farage has had to bow to pressure, with two of his senior advisers leaving the party. He also declared on Question Time that Ukip will not take the £650,000 a year it is entitled to take to fund its parliamentary operations, in a big win for Douglas Carswell, who wanted to do just that. The debate over what to do with the money led to days of awkward headlines, with Ukip sources initially insisting "the Short Money is ours" and that Carswell was trying to get himself sacked, so Farage had to shut down the argument quickly. 

In response to O'Flynn's attack, Farage's aides swiftly told the Spectator that he was suffering from "personal problems". Raheem Kassam, Farage's outgoing chief of staff, couldn't help repeating this slur and calling on O'Flynn to resign on Sky News last night, in a rather graceless bid to draw a line under the matter. He repeated his call for O'Flynn to go this morning, adding that Douglas Carswell should also leave, chucking a molotov cocktail - not water - onto the embers of this row. 

Kassam's boss remains safe, although an MEP claimed that officials had attempted to force them to sign a letter pledging support to Farage. Ukip HQ was busy yesterday firing out supportive statements from pro-Farage donors and party grandees. The General of the "People's Army" has faced down some mutinous lieutenants, but he marches on a wounded man. 



Nicola Sturgeon has warned David Cameron that his response to the "message Scotland has sent" in electing 56 SNP MPs could set the timetable for another independence referendum, Auslan Cramb reports. The First Minister, addressing the Scottish Parliament on the outcome of the election, suggested a second vote could be hastened if the new UK Government failed to meet SNP demands. 

Meanwhile, David Cameron has warned Nicola Sturgeon that she must "respect" his role as Prime Minister as he travels to Scotland for his first showdown talks with the SNP leader following the general election. I've also been looking at how the Conservatives aim to keep the Nationalists happy, and the nation united


During a live broadcast about insults being levelled at Nigel Farage by his own party, a BBC journalist has accidentally added one of his own. The corporation's assistant political editor, Norman Smith, was reporting the internal row engulfing Ukip when he slipped up when he repeated campaign leader Patrick O'Flynn's accusation that Farage is turning Ukip into a "personality cult". You can watch what happened here.


Philip Hammond has signalled that Britain will not insist on major treaty change during negotiations over the country's future relationship with Europe. The Foreign Secretary told the Financial Times that treaty change was not "in itself" a political goal for the British government, adding: "For the vast majority of the British people the important thing is where we end up, the outcome."


Yvette Cooper has denied that Labour spent too much in the run-up to the financial crisis, as she launched her campaign to be the party's leader, Emily Gosden reports. This comes after Liz Kendall, a Blairite who was first to enter the Labour leadership race, on Wednesday admitted that spending levels were too high in the Blair and Brown years. Meanwhile, Labour's shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has launched her leadership bid with an article on MailOnline.


Unite Union boss Len McCluskey has blamed Labour's election defeat on the party's Scottish leader, Jim Murphy, and called on him to resign, the Guardian reports. McCluskey said Murphy's leadership of Scottish Labour had made the Tory victory a certainty because it allowed Conservatives to play "the anti-Scottish card" in the closing stages, and provoke a backlash amongst English voters.


The BBC has been attacked for the "disgusting " views of one of its most senior journalists after he compared hate preacher Anjem Choudary to Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill, Tom Whitehead reports. Mark Easton, the corporation's Home Editor, criticised Government plans to clamp down on fanatics and said extreme views were needed "to challenge very established values".


Millions more homes should have solar panels on their roofs, the new energy secretary has suggested, vowing to "unleash a new solar revolution" across Britain, Emily Gosden reports. Amber Rudd, the former climate change minister, was promoted to lead the energy department in this week's reshuffle, in a move that was welcomed by many green groups.


Jim O'Neill, Goldman Sachs's former chief economist, will help lead Government plans to devolve more power, Peter Spence reports. He will become commercial secretary for city devolution and infrastructure at the Treasury, and receive a peerage. The role is unpaid.


@FiFiSymsUKIP, with it's one MP, is managing both to implode and have a backbench rebellion. Happy Days.


From The Telegraph

Fraser Nelson - This feud between Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell could tear Ukip apart

David Campbell-Bannerman - Nigel Farage should focus on winning the EU referendum, not leading Ukip

From elsewhere

Andrew Pierce - Monstrous egos, pure venom and the battle ripping Ukip apart  

Andrew Marr - Why the pundits got it wrong - and what the parties should do next


Labour's 'election period' opens in the contest to decide its next leader and deputy leader

Andy Coulson's perjury trial in relation to the Tommy Sheridan case is to begin in Glasgow

Prime Minister David Cameron meets Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland