• Though politics is a rough old game, even seasoned practitioners can be surprised by its spasms of brutality.
Pledges count for nothing; friendships disappear; years of good work are wiped out in an instant. Roger Lord has been active in politics for more than 40 years – initially with the Conservatives, since 1997 with Ukip. Today the man who was the Ukip candidate for Clacton – until ruthlessly supplanted by the defecting Douglas Carswell – bowed out from politics. First he quit his Ukip seat on Essex county council. Then, denied the chance to save his candidacy by challenging Carswell in an internal party process, he prepared to resign from Ukip altogether. He had no illusions. Ukip never was the sanest ship. But poor Roger: he expected better.
• The first he knew of it, Lord tells us, was seeing Carswell and Nigel Farage announce their coup on TV. He had met Farage days earlier. “He had the chance to tell me then. He could have taken me to one side.” For they had been through much: the dark days in the 90s, when he and Nigel and others sat in a small room and discussed whether to carry on with Ukip. “I always liked Nigel,” he says. “But I have always known he had a terrible weakness as a judge of character. I feel I had been part of Ukip’s success in a quiet way. To be treated as something someone has just picked up on their shoe is extraordinary.” He isn’t bitter, he says. He’ll enjoy life away from politics. But he warns other Ukip candidates facing Eurosceptic Tories to watch their backs. “All their good work could be dumped to let a Conservative sceptic in.” As to assurances from Farage, “take them with a pinch of salt. He hasn’t much conscience. He sees an opportunity and he takes it. He surrounds himself with false friends and yes men.” Seems to work for him. Jilted of Clacton disagrees. “That isn’t the way to success,” he says. And his epitaph: “I wouldn’t roll over and I didn’t go quietly.”
• Still, Farage’s star continues its rise, as does that of former Guardianista Natalie Bennett. She has been returned as leader of the Green party. Thus the future is assured; and with her consolidated grip on power she should be able to silence the grumblers at this weekend’s party conference in Birmingham. Some think there is too much focus on her parliamentary ambitions in Holborn and St Pancras. Others gripe there is too little transparency. One bugbear is the deal the party has offered the new campaigns director, Chris Luffingham. He’s a top operator, but what damage to the coffers? This the tweeted lament from malcontents: “Discontent from members that exec report going to conference reveals no details of paid coordinators’ salaries/contracts, etc.” Could be a lively few days at Aston University.
• Rewind to the turn of the year, when the ability of Romanians and Bulgarians to work in Britain translated into terrifying headlines predicting the mass arrival of almost every able-bodied citizen from Bucharest and Sofia. MigrationWatch predicted Romanian and Bulgarian immigration might add between 30,000 and 70,000 to the UK population each year for five years. The Tory MP Philip Hollobone, now talked up as a potential recruit for the acquisitive Farage, went further, saying the number of Romanians and Bulgarians could triple to 425,000 in two years. And as one would expect, the Daily Mail fuelled the fire. Only now, via its clarifications and corrections column, does it reflect. “An article on December 31 about Romanian immigration quoted politician Ion Prioteasa saying passengers from his region would double this year. Mr Prioteasa has made clear that he was referring to all destinations, not just the UK.” And “while Wizz Air accepts that it has introduced more flights during 2014, it denies that they had doubled in number at the time of the article”. There’s more. “We are happy to clarify that a Romanian quoted asking about child benefits on a website was already working here.” Still, as rabble-rousing, it worked just fine.
• Finally, Channel 4’s cable offshoot More4 continues its mission to explain. For your enlightenment, at 11.30pm next Friday: Chopped Off: The Man Who Lost His Penis. “The story of John Wayne Bobbitt, whose wife sliced off his penis.” And immediately after, at 12.35am: The Perfect Penis. Don’t we have the very best TV in the world.
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