Hit or Miss? UKIP responds to Times story about Nigel Farage expenses

UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage came out fighting over a story in The Times yesterday that he is facing an investigation over £60,000 of "missing" European Union funds.

UKIP: claiming smear campaign in election run-up
UKIP: claiming smear campaign in election run-up

Farage toured radio and television stations to criticise the story and said he was taking legal advice. In addition, UKIP released a statement seeking to address the allegations and claimed The Times was helping a politically motivated campaign to discredit it in the run-up to the European elections next month.

How I See It

Nick Williams, senior partner and head of public affairs, FleishmanHillard

Following the communications disaster of Maria Miller’s resignation over expenses, Conservative HQ will be rubbing their hands with glee following The Times’ front-page story concerning Nigel Farage and "missing" EU expenses.

Farage had limited options and has done the only thing he can do, which is to go on the offensive.

Forget the battle going on in the political blogs with claim and counter-claim over the allegations. The reality is that Farage has been dragged into the murky world of politicians’ expenses. No one gets out of this mire unscathed, particularly given the refreshed interest in the issue.

Parliamentary "allowances" (EU or Westminster) vs "expenses" is something that the average voter simply does not comprehend. Perception is everything. Farage recognises this and the damage that it can cause. This which is why he and his campaign team have reacted so vehemently throughout the day.

He has pushed every button and used every channel and connection open to him. However, the link in the eyes of the public has been made and the damage done. The expenses issue has tarnished him and that will always be used against him.

Given UKIP’s higher opinion polls over the weekend, there is going to be even more scrutiny of Farage as we lead up to the May Elections. Lynton Crosby will be spending all his time developing new attack tactics. Expect more of these types of story and expect even more mud-slinging. Things are only going to get nastier when the stakes are so high.

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