Farage admits there are some UKIP candidates "we'd rather not have"

After expelling a former BNP activist, the UKIP leader says the party lacks the resources to properly vet all of its local election candidates.

Nigel Farage is one of the most assured media performers in British politics, so it's worth noting a rare slip by the UKIP leader. After the party was forced to expel a county council candidate who turned out to be a former BNP activist, Farage admitted on The World At One that it lacked the resources to properly vet all of the 1,734 candidates it is standing in next Thursday's elections. 

He told the programme:

When it comes to the general election and the European elections we have put in place a very rigorous testing procedure ... I'll be honest with you, we don't have the party apparatus to fully vet 1,700 people.

Farage said that UKIP made all of its candidates sign a declaration form stating that they had never been a member of the BNP, but then added:

I have no doubt that among these 1,700 one or two will have slipped through the net that we'd rather not have had.

It is hard to think of a greater gift to UKIP's political opponents. By voting for the party are you inadvertently supporting a racist or a fascist? Don't ask Nigel Farage, he can't tell you. 

Update: With impeccable timing, here's one candidate who appears to have "slipped through the net". Anna-Marie Crampton, who is standing for the party in Crowborough, East Sussex and was photographed with Farage two weeks ago, wrote on the website Secrets of The Fed that the Second World War was began by "Zionist jews" as part of a masterplan to create the state of Israel. She said:

The Second World Wide War was engineered by the Zionist jews and financed by the banksters to make the general public all over the world to feel so guilty and outraged by the Holocaust that a treaty would be signed to create the State of Israel as we know it today.

Another comment, posted two months ago, read: 

The Rothschilds are Zionists..there is a difference between Jews and Zionists. These Psychopaths hide behind and use the Jews.

It was thanks to them that 6 million Jews were murdered in the War (along with 26 million Russians!).

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he "didn't have the party apparatus to fully vet 1,700 people." Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.