Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip in Europe? They’ll just grab the money and run, warns party founder

 

Now that UKIP has a huge contingent of 24 MEPs, what can we expect them to contribute to the European Parliament? Nothing, according to Ukip’s disenchanted founder, Alan Sked. “They don’t do anything constructive there, they just go there to take the money, the expenses and get pensions…They don’t articulate policies, they are hardly ever there,” said Professor Sked. He launched Ukip in 1993, but left in 1997 after his creation had become “a magnet for bigots.”

His scathing interview was broadcast – of all the possible outlets – on Russia Today. Fine thanks Nigel Farage gets for singling out the “brilliant” Vladimir Putin as the world statesmen he admires most.

Repeat of the tweet

The Tory MP Michael Fabricant has form. After last week’s incident, in which he tweeted that he might like to punch my colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the throat, oblivious to the nastiness that such a comment dredges up from parts of the internet, a reader has pointed out that in his early days as an MP, in June 1998, Fabricant told the Commons that “the way to improve job opportunities for black people and other ethnic minorities in London and elsewhere is to instil in them a work ethic”.

The words tumble out while the brain is asleep.

Northern exposure

It is good that George Osborne has turned his thoughts to the north of England and is advocating that cities north of The Wash should be linked by high speed rail. Perhaps they could lay the tracks along those “large uninhabited and desolate areas” that Osborne’s father in law, Lord Howell, mentioned when he was explaining why fracking should take place only up north, not in the beautiful, inhabited south.

There is an intriguing back story in the Osborne family, not on his side but on that of his wife, Frances. Anyone who has read Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love will remember a character in society known as The Bolter for her habit of fleeing from one marriage to the next. It has been often said, though not proven, that the character was based on a real life serial divorcee named Lady Idina Sackville, whose granddaughter married Lord Howell and so became the Chancellor’s mother in law. Hence the title of Frances Osborne’s book, The Bolter, about the skeleton in her family closet. There was a copy on sale at the weekend in the £1 bin of a London second hand bookshop. Undervalued, surely.

A star-crossed leader

For almost a generation, it has been a cliché that Denis Healey was the best leader the Labour Party never had. The old bruiser himself, now 96 years old, could be heard to say that Labour might have won the catastrophic election of 1983 if its MPs had only had the sense to elect him as their leader.

But when The Independent on Sunday recently included Lord Healey in a list of Ten Best Prime Ministers the Country never had, there was an unexpected response from his 65 year old son, Tim.

“My father would have made a rubbish prime minister,” Tim Healey reckons. “He was not clubbable enough, never bothered to nurture a coterie of supporters, and, suffering fools not gladly he could privately be very diminishing about people who were in his own camp. Dad’s supreme confidence in his own judgements meant that he lacked the simpler chairman-like skill of listening to other people."

His father, he says, was very comfortable working with the like-minded Jim Callaghan, but when Callaghan was due to retire, he remembers his father saying: “They’re talking about me as possibly the next prime minister. It’s ridiculous.” Asked why, he would only repeat: “It’s ridiculous.”

As a child of the 1960s, Tim Healy attributes his father’s unchairmanlike qualities to his being a Virgo.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable