Former UKIP MEP and now Tory David Campbell-Bannerman has come under fire from UKIP supporters for describing his former party as “a bit of a cult”.
Speaking to LondonlovesBusiness.com last week, Campbell-Bannerman said:
“What is concerning about UKIP is it has become very much a one-man band and a bit of a cult. There is a followership and even the constitution has been changed to favour pro-leader candidates. I don’t think that’s healthy.”
Campbell-Bannerman joined UKIP in 2004, rising to become party chairman and serving as deputy leader until 2010, before moving back to the Tories in 2011. He stood for the UKIP leadership twice in 2006 and 2010, losing out both times to Nigel Farage.
Although spokesman for UKIP and party leader Nigel Farage were initially unavailable for comment, supporters have weighed in to dismiss Campbell-Bannerman’s criticism.
UKIP supporter Chris Warner wrote on Twitter: “Haha, DCB is still bitter that he lost the leadership contest!”
— Chris Warner (@cwarner7264) January 25, 2013
UKIP councillor Chris Adams condemned the “sour grapes” in Campbell-Bannerman’s attack on UKIP.
Another supporter commented on our earlier story that “All this is absurd and smacks of jealousy of Nigel Farage”.
A UKIP spokesman later told LondonlovesBusiness.com: “It is rather sad watching David desperately tying to curry favour with his new, old masters, it gives sycophancy a bad name. Having jumped ship to UKIP and secured an MEP’s wage he calculated that he was more likely to keep that wage under Tory colours. Looking at the polls, good luck with that David!”
Meanwhile, prominent UKIP member Alexandra Swann played down Campbell-Bannerman’s criticism, telling LondonlovesBusiness.com: “Well yes but this is Bannerman talking…”
— Alexandra Swann (@AlexandralSwann) January 25, 2013
The MEP has dismissed criticism over his comments, telling LondonlovesBusiness.com:
“My tongue in cheek remarks about UKIP just reflect what many UKIP members feel. I have no sour grapes whatsoever – I’m delighted and vindicated by the Prime Minister’s In/Out Referendum pledge, which I have worked hard internally to achieve. The fastest way out of the EU is working for an Out vote in a real Referendum not waiting 30 years plus for a UKIP Government. That is why I rejoined the Tory Party.
Despite the blowback from UKIP supporters, Campbell-Bannerman has received support from some corners of his old party.
Richard Lowe, who was forced to resign as a UKIP parliamentary candidate for Chester amid controversy over his support for gay marriage, said that he “wouldn’t disagree – in parts” with the criticism.