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Thursday, March 13, 2014 

Farage the traduced?

Owen Jones, bless his little cotton socks, thinks it's deeply unfair for poor old Nigel Farage to be subject to such slander as the allegation from former UKIPs MEP Nikki Sinclaire that as well as paying his wife out of EU taxpayers' money, his (former?) mistress Annabelle Fuller is also employed courtesy of the public purse.  Jones might have something of a point if this was an allegation being made purely by a newspaper, therefore bringing into question exactly where it had come from and why it's being pushed now, but as it came from the floor at Strasbourg you can't exactly blame the press in this instance from following it up.  Abuse of the EU parliament's equivalent of privilege or not, as well as there being plenty of reasons to doubt Sinclaire, the media would have covered any similar allegations made in such circumstances against a major politician, unless it was completely unbelievable and/or quick to find false.

Add in the misuse of expenses angle and there wasn't any reason not to cover it, although let's be honest, it's not a front page story as the Sun and Mail decided.  Jones goes to say that it is permissible if the allegation is an example of hypocrisy, which as we know has been used in the past to justify a multitude of irrelevancies coming to light.  This said, much as the private life of a politician should be irrelevant to how they do their job as long as it isn't having a direct impact on their ability to do so, as potential abuse of expenses is involved in this instance, and as Farage scaremongered completely irresponsibly last year over the lifting of controls on Romanians and Bulgarians last year, I'm finding it really hard to have much sympathy for him.  As UKIP has also opposed gay marriage for no other reason than the fact Cameron supported it, in spite of being a supposed libertarian party, there arguably is a case for holding those against equality to account when it comes to their views on the sanctity of the institution.

Jones also insists that such tactics, if there are indeed such tactics, won't work.  This is questionable: much as the UKIPs make it something of a badge of honour that they try and destroy the EU from the inside, as we saw with the Westminster expenses scandal genuine fraud or abuse does cause outrage.  It might be in this case that the allegations are transparently false, but along with the rest of the current press against the UKIPs, it could well have an effect.  It has to remembered that UKIP essentially is Farage: when he stepped down as leader the party faltered dramatically.  It's also more that UKIP is less a political party and more a feeling, where Europe and immigration collide with general discontent at modern life.  Unpicking that isn't easy, and even if UKIP does collapse post-2015, if say it fails to win a Westminster seat, someone or something is likely to take its place.

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