Andy McSmith's Diary: Ukip now has a ‘front bench’ – just don’t try to sit on it

 

Did you know that Ukip has something called a “front bench”? Well, it has – and over the past two days, Nigel Farage has been conducting what his people grandly call a “reshuffle” to overcome the idea he runs the whole show single-handedly, and to give the party a more modern finish.

Amjad Bashir, the former Ukip business spokesman who was fined for employing illegal immigrants, has been moved: he is now Communitiies spokesman. Godfrey Bloom, who thought that it is a woman’s job to clean behind the fridge, is even further out: a party member still, but no longer an MEP.

Steven Woolfe, who lasted just five months as Ukip’s economic spokesman, during which his best known policy idea was to abolish the state pension, has moved sideways, to be spokesman on immigration and financial affairs. His place in the key job has been taken by the former Daily Express columnist Patrick O’Flynn. Diane James, who performed well as Ukip’s candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, takes over home affairs and justice.

So just when you were thinking that Ukip was led by Nigel Farage and no one else, he is part of a team of 12 men and five women. This is New Ukip.

But what does the term “front bench” mean? Conservative and Labour ministers and shadow ministers are called the “front bench” because that is where they sit when they are in Parliament. But as yet Ukip has no MPs. Its “front-bench”MEPs are not going to get front-row seats in the EU Parliament. It might just as well be called a park bench.

Calm down, dear!

Joan Johnson, who chairs Ukip’s Bolton branch, wanted their Bolton councillor, Paul Richardson, to apologise for posting the following message on Facebook after last week’s Government reshuffle: “Cameron promotes more women to the Cabinet. Well, they can take it in turns to make the tea. Only joking!” That is evidently not going to happen. Ukip’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, told The Bolton News: “I’m not going to say Joan has overreacted – I just think people need to take a joke.”

Better the devil you know

A 70-year-old Conservative councillor from Stroud, Elizabeth Peters, has agreed to go on a racial awareness course that will cost her £150 after repeating a turn of phrase that was in common use when she was young. She does, however, feel a bit hard done by, because there are things people say these days that she does not like, such as the expression “the devil’s in the detail”. No one who says that is made to go on a £150 eternal damnation awareness course. Times have changed.

Finally facing our Waterloo?

The job of restoring some old murals in the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords is proceeding so slowly that it is not certain whether the depiction of the Battle of Waterloo will have been restored by the time the 200th anniversary of that victory comes around next year. But now that these faded art works are coming back into view, Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, has spotted that all the battle scenes depict the British fighting the French. This, he suggested, “seems a little mean because we have fought most nations in the world”. He wants Parliament to commission a new mural representing a more recent conflict. Nothing too modern – this is the House of Lords we are talking about here: he suggested the Battle of Jutland, or Amiens, both of which were almost a century ago.

Order of Business

The House of Commons has begun the long summer break, and so this Diary will take a break, too. Back in the autumn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Super BowlAfter Katy Perry madness it's back to The Independent's live coverage of Super Bowl 49!
News
See what Twitter had to say about the first half of the Super Bowl
News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch