Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Neil Hamilton celebrates becoming a member of the Welsh Assembly by launching a coup

Two decades after his career was ended in a bribery scandal, the controversial right-winger is back with a vengeance.

By Media Mole

Even from its burrow, your mole has heard that whatever the result of the EU referendum next month Ukip is planning to rebrand itself more as an anti-establishment party than a collective of Europe-obsessed golf club bores.

Which is why it was always strange that one of the party’s top candidates for the Welsh Assembly – duly elected last Thursday – was Neil Hamilton. Yes, that’s the same Neil Hamilton who in the mid-1990s as a Conservative MP was caught up in a cash-for-questions scandal involving asking parliamentary questions on behalf of Mohamed Al-Fayed. The same Neil Hamilton who 19 years ago was thrown out by the voters of Tatton, a hugely safe Tory seat, in favour of the independent candidate Martin Bell.

So, how have the seven new Ukip members of the Welsh Assembly dealt with the fact that a “liar and a cheat is among their number? They made him leader, of course. Yes, despite Welsh Ukip already having in the form of Nathan Gill MEP a leader, appointed by Nigel Farage, Hamilton challenged him this afternoon to be the leader of the Ukip members of the Welsh Assembly. And won. The man who launched a £10m libel suit against the Guardian and then walked away. He won. He is the leader of the Ukip contingent in the Welsh Assembly. Neil Hamilton. Two decades after his career was ended. Neil Hamilton. Anti-establishment, eh?

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
Railways must adapt to how we live now
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping