Christine Hamilton lined up to become Ukip MEP
I hereby predict that in the European elections in 2014 Christine Hamilton will be elected an MEP for Ukip. And her husband Neil, the former Tory minister whose lost his Tatton seat to Martin Bell in 1997 over the cash-for-questions affair, could well become a Ukip MEP as well.
Most likely is that one or maybe both will stand in the area where they now live, the south west. Such rumours have been floating round Ukip for months now.
It’s no secret that the Ukip leader Nigel Farage is planning a purge of many, if not most, of the party’s existing 11 MEPs. He feels that too many of his MEPs up to now have oddballs and eccentrics, too old, often lazy, sometimes corrupt. He thinks his MEPs don’t project the right kind of modern, serious image that will appeal to young people and those who’ve never voted for Ukip before. And Mr Farage also thinks he hasn’t got enough prominent women in his party.
In practice, Nigel Farage will decide who will and won’t appear on the Ukip party lists for 2014, and crucially whether they occupy one of the top spots. Holding first place on a Ukip list, and in some regions second place as well, will pretty much guarantee election under the party list system used for the European elections. In effect, Farage has the power to make somebody an MEP.
Farage is also a greater admirer of the Hamiltons, who have reinvented themselves as media celebrities since Neil Hamilton’s disgrace almost 20 years ago. Since resigning from the Conservative party they have become very active members of Ukip, and werely highly visible at the party conference in September. And Neil Hamilton was out campaigning for the party in Rotherham a few days ago. Nigel Farage believes that Christine Hamilton in particular has star quality and charisma, and that she would be a great electoral asset.
Nigel Farage certainly wouldn’t deny the possibility of them becoming MEPs when I put the suggestion to him this morning. Indeed he seemed to get quite excited about the idea of the Hamiltons standing for Ukip in 2014.
Nor did Neil Hamilton try to scotch the suggestion when I put it to him a few weeks ago.
Follow Michael Crick on Twitter via @MichaelLCrick