As excitable Sky journalists rush to tell us of ‘UKIPs first MP’, Douglas Carswell, I thought I’d take a look at the ‘forgotten man’ – who really was UKIPs first MP, for a brief period. Bob Spink.
Funny how nobody wants to mention him today.
Back in 2008, a grateful Nigel Farage welcomed Dr Bob Spink into his open arms after he crossed the floor in the House of Commons. UKIP were delighted – their first defection.
Dr Spink was the Conservative MP for Castle Point in Essex, another of the string of semi-abandoned seaside towns on the Essex coast inhabited by retired electricians and plumbers who had made it their life’s work to save up for the ultimate working class retirement home – only to find themselves abandoned by the politicians and metro-man media. Those rows of seaside villas and semi derelict fairgrounds, once the height of aspiration, had become a hot bed of disaffection with ‘the way life was going’ – and now harboured a disillusioned electorate attracted to the UKIP siren call of ‘nobody cares about us’.
There is some confusion as to whether Bob Spink ever truly became a ‘UKIP’ man – true he was issued with a party membership card, but there are claims that he neglected to pay the accompanying membership fees, therefore was never contractually a member.
UKIP spokesman Tim Worstall said Dr Spink was still on the books. “He has been issued a membership card, but he’s never actually paid for membership. He’s still on our books as a member.”
Let’s hope somebody has remembered to tap Douglas Carswell up for his membership fee, and not just sent him a membership card.
The Conservatives objected to him sitting as a UKIP MP on the grounds that there was no ‘UKIP party whip’ – rather ironical considering that he had ignored the Conservative Party whip for years, and would probably have done the same had there been a UKIP whip.
As I say, I don’t take a party whip I just do what is right and I don’t give a damn about party hacks tearing their hair out. I could be wrong on any issue of course, but I am totally open and honest and my own man. There are a number of UKIP policies I would not support and I hope that goes for all your readers. Anyone who blindly follows a set of politicians without question needs their head examined.
The Conservative Party were disgruntled over the manner of his leaving, and issued a press release making dark claims about an affair with the wife of the local Conservative Party chairman – this harked back to an earlier claim (2005) made in the Mail on Sunday in respect of which Bob Spink had already received substantial damages. Second time round, The Times, the Sun, the Evening Standard and the Daily Telegraph all repeated the allegation.
After switching sides Mr Spink received undisclosed damages – he now says it was £47,500 – from five national newspapers and the Conservative party over false allegations of an affair with a female former councillor. The councillor also received compensation from the Tory party.
It all helped to repay the £2,051.38 he had over-claimed on his expenses, if not his UKIP membership fee. Incidentally it was Douglas Carswell who tabled the Early Day Motion that so annoyed Michael Martin, then Speaker of the House: “That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker and calls for him to step down; notes that Mr Speaker has failed to provide leadership in matters relating to Honourable Members’ expenses…” The expenses were later published – and Douglas Carswell had to cough up £2,159.00 – slightly more than Bob Spink…
Bob Spink was down but not out – until he lost his seat altogether in the 2010 Election. He went on to form the ‘Independent Save Our Green Belt party‘. A worthy cause indeed.
Dr Spink said: “Green belt is an issue very close to my heart and I know it’s important to many residents”.
Green Belt certainly was an issue close to his heart – and remembering that he was not a man ‘to take the party whip’ – not even when he had formed the party and was effectively whipping himself…
It will come as no surprise to find that the ‘Independent Save Our Green Belt party’ was not altogether successful in the Canvey Island area – indeed, 18 acres of Green Belt has been in the cross hairs of the Redrow building consortium for some time as a suitable site on which to build 156 new homes on.
Spink has renounced his ‘green’ credentials and instead has been acting as a consultant to developer Redrow to advise on a planning application to build 250 new homes on Green Belt land in his former constituency. To make matters worse, Spink’s home is located in the centre of the proposed development and together with a consortium of residents has been offered a sum considerably in excess of the market value of his home by Redrow should the application prove successful.
A brief four weeks ago, Bob Spink was happily announcing that he had rejoined UKIP. Nigel Farage had this to say of Bob:
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “I am delighted to welcome the hard-working and deeply principled Bob Spink as UKIP’s first Member of Parliament”.
Well, that is what he said in 2008 – he hasn’t mentioned that Bob Spink has rejoined the party.
Anybody checked if he’s paid his membership fee this time round? I would ask him, but his Twitter feed is padlocked…
UKIP are pretending they’ve never heard of him.
We have our first UKIP MP. To further paraphrase Margaret Thatcher’s words after the Falklands War:
“Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our force of activists.”
The last word goes to Bob:
Bob Spink, former Member of the UK Parliament, said:
“I’m not a politician. I’m not up for election anymore so I can speak honestly.” (BBC Radio 4 interview, September 6, 2014)