UKIP, party of the people?

In 2011 the Public Prosecutor of Bielefeld in Germany asked the European Parliament to waive immunity from prosecution for Elmar Brok MEP.  The authorities in Bielefeld wanted to bring a criminal action against Brok for failure to report to the tax authorities a €5,000 (£4,300) fee paid to him for giving a speech by HypoVereinsbank Group, a large Munich-based bank owned by Italy’s Unicredit.

The committee on legal affairs at the European Parliament refused point blank, instead deciding that politicians such as the left wing EU fanatic Brok must have immunity from prosecution for crimes such as tax evasion.  It’s one of the many perks the ‘elite’ treats itself to – considering themselves to be above the law, the rules only applying to the little people.

So it was with interest that in recent days another immunity case concerning a sitting MEP has come to the fore.  It so happens that the Chief Prosecutor of Lyon in France opened a case, also in 2011, and asked the European Parliament to waive immunity from prosecution for Marine Le Pen MEP.  The authorities in Lyon want to bring a criminal action against Le Pen for comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France.

The committee on legal affairs at the European Parliament has agreed with the request, recommending that the right wing Le Pen be stripped of immunity forthwith.  The perk, it seems, only extends to the favoured sons of the EU who travel the world at our expense – including Downing Street – preaching the EU gospel and challenging any opponents to the vision of a a single political entity for the whole of Europe.

But there is another interesting angle to this story concerning our very own UKIP.  It transpires that UKIP voted in favour of Le Pen keeping immunity from prosecution.  This was gleefully seized upon by Labour MEPs, one of whom – the fragrant Arlene McCarthy MEP – took to the Public Service Europe website to ‘expose’ UKIP’s hypocrisy.

Regardless of McCarthy’s opportunism there is a real issue here for UKIP.  How can UKIP declare in all good conscience that is opposes the mainstream political stitch up here and across the EU, yet vote in favour of keeping a group of citizens above the law and out of the reach of prosecutors when accused of criminality?

It is not only hypocrisy, as charged by McCarthy, it is outrageous and plain wrong.  For those who think UKIP represents a challenge to the political class, this should act as a wake up call that under Nigel Farage the party simply aspires to break into the political class for its own ends.  If UKIP doesn’t believe in equality under the law then it cannot claim to be working in the interests of ordinary people.

22 Responses to “UKIP, party of the people?”

  1. 1 YesBut 09/07/2013 at 3:28 pm

    How did UKIP MEPs vote in the case of Brok?

    It might be that UKIP think that the charges against Le Pen are politically motivated and that she has no case to answer in a country (France) that should value free speech. You know, Voltaire and all that.

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 09/07/2013 at 3:45 pm

    You either believe in equality under the law, or you don’t. It’s a principle, not something you can cherry pick as a political tool when it suits you.

  3. 3 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 3:53 pm

    “If UKIP doesn’t believe in equality under the law then it cannot claim to be working in the interests of ordinary people.”

    Yes, it can, if it believes that they are defending a political ally from a maliciously contrived and politically-based prosecution.

    Your argument was Hannan’s too, but ‘ordinary people’ who lean rightward will not be discomfited by their negative vote on the issue. In fact, I think you would be hard pressed to find many of those same people agree that her statement amounted to (or should legally be) criminal acts. They will have more sympathy with practical solutions over idealistic ones to throw to the wolves those who the political class have created laws specially to ensnare.

    Your argument goes downhill from there.

    This action was in the face of an overwhelming attempt by the progressive liberal class in the EU and in the Élysée Palace to prosecute Mme Le Pen (and perhaps thereby remove her right to stand again as an MEP) and so therefore can well be described as a ‘challenge to the political class’.

    More generally though, I tend to feel that UKIP are not the challenger the country needs, but they may well play a role as a waystation on that journey, that unbuckles the tribal voting tendencies of the population and God willing, deal a fatal blow to the Conservatives.

    As for your use of the adjective ‘fragrant’, one hope you meant it in the sense of odorous.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 09/07/2013 at 3:57 pm

    Dykeward, so the rules only apply until they are inconvenient then? Let me know which rules we ordinary people can dispense with when it suits us. The take it to the ordinary people and ask if they share your view that politicians can break the rules when it is expedient for their interests.

  5. 5 Furor Teutonicus 09/07/2013 at 3:59 pm

    XX It is ironic that the party that campaigns on a daily basis to stop what it calls European interference in the United Kingdom feels that it is acceptable to vote to prevent a country from democratically pursuing criminal charges against one of its citizens. (From the Public Service Europe website) XX

    No. Because those criminal charges were detrimental to the free right of opinion and speech. (Remember the “Human rights act”, or whatever this liberal piece of noncence is called?)

    Stealing from the tax payer, or any other institution, is TOTALY different!

  6. 6 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 4:10 pm

    There comes a point when fair minded men (and women) will agree that certain laws have crossed a cultural line, creating a soft despotic situation within a country. This itself imperils the rule of law and equality before the law.

    I think the everyman type, above, that we are here using as our theoretical standard, can quite easily make a distinction between the types of political or speech crime that Mme Le Pen is to be charged with and other types of crimes that have more longevity in statute (or customary law), such as murder or theft.

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 09/07/2013 at 4:26 pm

    But Dykeward, this isn’t about whether the prosecution of Le Pen is politically motivated or infringes free speech. That is a matter for the French.

    This is about whether it can ever be right that the group of people who make most of our laws should be able to exempt themselves from being held to account in the way every other person can he held to account.

    There is no grey area here and there should be no exceptions. UKIP should feel free to yell from the rooftops about the possible injustice here – but they should never have voted to maintain immunity from prosecution in the way they did.

  8. 8 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 4:51 pm

    UKIP, have no obligation under French law and the laws of the EU in this area supercede the laws of France, hence the request to remove Mme Le Pen’s immunity.

    There are sometimes good reasons why politicians should be protected by a legal shield against unjust political persecution by their enemies and while being a fallible instrument, we can see how dispersing more widely the decision among a wider body of elected officials as to whether someone should be submitted to prosecution, is itself a check and balance within the system.

    Whether this works neatly, well, if think we can see that it does not by the other examples, but it still seems a safeguard with reasons to support it.

  9. 9 Autonomous Mind 09/07/2013 at 4:58 pm

    Utter nonsense. No politician should have the protection of a legal shield from criminal prosecution that is not afforded to the rest of the population. It is a blatant abuse of position.

  10. 10 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 5:12 pm

    It’s not without historical precedent and recognises that politicians have a position that is more than being mere individuals in a private capacity, recognising they are the official representatives of others to whom they owe responsibility and offers some protection in recognition of this important role. The parlous and corrupted state of many modern politicians does not remove this factor.

    Whether they should also be the sole (self-interested) determinant of the extent of this immunity is arguable, but it is hard to see how else it might work.

    IMO the Mme Le Pen case actually offers support to the general protective principle outlined above.

  11. 11 Furor Teutonicus 09/07/2013 at 5:30 pm

    XX Utter nonsense. No politician should have the protection of a legal shield from criminal prosecution that is not afforded to the rest of the population. It is a blatant abuse of position.XX


    That they blatently abuse it, is not the same thing.

    But if a politician can not say in Parliament, what his (his voters) opinions are, WITHOUT FEAR OF LEGAL REPRISAL, then you have the Reichstag 1940! Or the Dhumma in Stalins time.

  12. 12 Furor Teutonicus 09/07/2013 at 5:32 pm

    Aye! “Lest we forget”.

    Words wasted on your sort, obviously.

  13. 13 David B. Wildgoose 09/07/2013 at 7:23 pm

    Sorry, I don’t agree. This is a completely different situation. The first case is another chiselling little crook, the second case is a politically motivated attempt to (mis-)use the law to dispose of an opponent who is growing in popularity.

    I am genuinely surprised that you cannot see the distinction. I appreciate your argument about “one law for all”, but in this case the law is being applied simply because Le Pen is proving too powerful, i.e. it is being applied specifically because she can no longer be dismissed as one of “the little people”.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 09/07/2013 at 7:33 pm

    People need to separate French and EU abuse of the ability to prosecute someone they find troublesome, with the outrageous situation that sees politicians protected from the very CRIMINAL laws they impose on others.

    The immunity is not to protect free speech. It is a blanket immunity from prosecution, as the Elmar Brok case showed.

    How commenters on here can seek to justify its existence, just because they don’t like that someone they sympathise is not being able to benefit from that unequal protection, defies all reason.

    Would you all be clamouring to defend MEP immunity from prosecution if it was a socialist being hauled in front of a court in their home country?

  15. 15 ansel61 09/07/2013 at 7:49 pm

    You got it wrong again, AM. Your determination to do down Farage and UKIP at every opportunity is clouding your judgement.

  16. 16 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 9:11 pm

    “Would you all be clamouring to defend MEP immunity from prosecution if it was a socialist being hauled in front of a court in their home country?”

    Yes, if it was a speech crime or severely politically motivated prosecution.

  17. 17 Andy Baxter 09/07/2013 at 10:15 pm

    real can of worms opened with this one AM!

    thou hast aroused passions that runneth deep….but speaking as one detached and emotionally uninvolved who neither supports nor denigrates Farage et al UKIP I can see your (AM) point; NO ONE should be above The LAW. Of that fundamental principle of THE RULE OF LAW (which all supposed civilised societies rest upon) no one special class of person can be seen to be or actually be above prosecution for alleged offences.

    The EU abuses the fundamental principle of The Rule of Law by creating a special political class who are just that, exempt from the rules that are imposed on the little folk.

    To those who disagree; yes I can understand the anger and frustration of those who see ‘those’ voices within the political bubble raging against the machine being singled out for ‘special treatment’ but that in no way absolves those (UKIP MEP’s and others) who seek to promote and maintain a rotten corrupt system that is such an antithesis to The Rule of Law.

    please step back, think with the rational cognitive part of your brains, not the emotionally attached to a political point of view and see exactly what AM has brought to our attention here.

    One can think of analogy after analogy here to labour AM’s point he made above “People need to separate French and EU abuse of the ability to prosecute someone they find troublesome, with the outrageous situation that sees politicians protected from the very CRIMINAL laws they impose on others.”

    If one cannot see that from a cognitive rational perspective but instead choose to be emotionally upset because ‘one of our own’ is being singled out then sadly the words below are apt for you!

    “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired…” Jonathan Swift 1667-1745

  18. 18 Dykeward 09/07/2013 at 10:54 pm

    If the legal system itself allows for a degree of immunity (plus a process to withhold it) then the phrase “above the law” is a misnomer.

    Arguably inequitable or unethical but not “above the law”.

  19. 19 Mark B 10/07/2013 at 7:08 am

    The issue for me is; not how UKIP voted in this matter or previous matters regarding immunity for MEP’s, but how others voted, such as the Labour MEP’s. Hypocrisy is not just confined to the ‘right-wing’ of the political spectrum.

    Dan Hannan has, I believe, consistently voted to have MEP’s immunity rights taken away. The principle of all persons equal under the law remains, at least in his eyes.

    The action against Le Penn is clearly politically motivated. Otherwise the French authorities would not have waited as long as they have if the offence was deemed serious enough. Hollande and the EU-establishment clearly wants this woman out, or sidelined.

    The problem as I see it is twofold. First you have a system where the political elite grant themselves special privileges under the law. Second, under such a system, you have the political elite ‘voting’ on such a matter. Where you have a Parliament (sic) that can be made up of your political enemies, who may hold a majority, they can effectively do that which has been pointed out in the piece. We have much the same sort of system here with the Parliamentary Standards Committee. In my opinion, a bunch of nee-do-wells deciding whether or not, another nee-do-well(s) have done good or not and any punishment that might be meated out.

    For people to have faith in any system, be it government or not, both laws and rules must be applied equally. If Le Penn or Brok knew that the ‘Law is the Law’ and they will be treated the same as anyone else who breaks it, then we would not be discussing matters like this.

  20. 20 Autonomous Mind 10/07/2013 at 4:00 pm

    And as usual you are wrong again Ansel/Bruce.

    I desperately wish I could support UKIP. I wish the party would articulate a vision for people, provide leadership and take on the stream of lies, distortions, fallacies and myths that are becoming accepted by people as facts because of that silence.

    However, despite the party portraying itself as an alternative to the political class and the establishment, here we see their MEPs voting to maintain a disgraceful double standard that sees ordinary people subject to laws while MEPs are immune to prosecution (unless they piss off the other members, who can use withdrawal of immunity as a form of coercion).

    There is no middle ground here. It is wrong for politicians to afford themselves immunity from prosecution for criminal offences. It is wrong for UKIP to support it.

  21. 21 David B. Wildgoose 11/07/2013 at 8:34 am

    I’m not a UKIP member so I can hopefully rise above any partisan concerns, (although I do vote UKIP if there is no EDP candidate).

    We have a principle in the UK that nobody can be prosecuted for what they say in Parliament – “Parliamentary Privilege”. This is to ensure that politicians cannot be gagged by their opponents even if it is arguable that this results in “One Law for Politicians, One Law for Everybody Else”. I do think that this is the one acceptable exception to that general rule

    This immunity is to guarantee Freedom of Speech and is the only time that such a thing is acceptable and should be supported.

  22. 22 Autonomous Mind 11/07/2013 at 10:46 am

    The immunity afforded to MEPs is not about protecting free speech within the confines of the parliamentary chamber, it is a blanket and default protection from prosecution for any criminal offence.

    Only the MEP’s peers can remove that immunity. As we have seen, in the case of clear tax evasion they decided to protect their favourite pro-EU son, and in the case of comments comparing Muslim immigrants to Nazi occupiers a MEP who is somewhat anti-EU and who is treated with disdain by her peers has had the protection removed.

    When standing accused of a criminal offence no individual should have special immunity reserved for them under the law simply because of the position they hold. Full stop.

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