I was never quite sure why Nigel Farage put Neil Hamilton in such a prominent role for his party? So news that Mr Hamilton is claiming a dirty tricks campaign stopped him from being selected as a parliamentary candidate in Essex does not fill me with great surprise.
But, I will say one thing in Hamilton’s defence from the outset. Neil, and more specifically his formidable wife Christine Hamilton, are political survivors. Not only have they successfully fought against obscurity in the wilderness for many years, they are good in front of a camera and have even attained that illustrious title of ‘celebrity’ (albeit minor) through reality TV appearances. But despite this public profile, even Nigel Farage must have realised Neil Hamilton has more baggage than Heathrow Terminal 5.
Although sometimes unrealistically applied, this question is still put to propsective parliamentary candidates of any party. ‘Is there anything in your background that will embarrass the party should it come to light?’
"Farage must have realised Hamilton has more baggage than Heathrow Terminal 5."
Farage has no excuses on the latest embarrassment to his party that damages his efforts to put UKIP, as an organized political party, on a credible footing.
Whoever put Hamilton on a candidate list didn’t even need to ask that question. There are no skeletons in Hamilton’s closet, the skeletons are in plain sight; the closet is totally empty.
For those who don’t know, in 1994, Mr Hamilton was embroiled in the ‘Cash for Questions’ scandal under John Major’s government.
He was accused, with one other, by the Guardian Newspaper of taking money and accepting gifts from the then owner of Harrods Mohamed Al Fayed to make sure certain questions were asked in the House of Commons. Mr Hamilton had to resign as a Minister and attempted, unsuccessfully, to sue both the newspaper and Mr Al Fayed for libel.
Mr Hamilton’s motivations may be a genuine belief in UKIP’s cause and that we would be better off out of the EU. He may even be good company over a pint. But there is no doubt that Nigel Farage should have been tougher from the start. Farage has misjudged the mood of the country if he thinks that the people of Essex, or anywhere else, would vote for someone who once lost their seat to an independent candidate who campaigned solely against them on an anti-sleaze ticket.