UKIP’s “budget buster” on Farage's dictatorship and his dislike of women

Rebel UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen speaks out

Marta Andreasen might not be a household name, but her story was made for the headlines.

As a former chief accountant to the European Commission and an Argentinian-born, Swedish-married, Spanish citizen, Andreasen is on paper the antithesis of a stereotypical UKIP member. Since blowing the whistle on her EU bosses for alleged account fiddling in 2002, Andreasen has become the poster child of the British right-wing, desperate to claw back power from the EU.

Upon joining UKIP in 2007, the so-called “budget buster” rose up the party ranks quickly, first serving as party treasurer and then as a UKIP MEP from 2009. She was even dubbed Nigel Farage’s right hand gal as the pair pledged to take Brussels by storm and bring the Brexit debate centre stage here in the UK.

UKIP's Marta Andreasen and Nigel Farage in happier times (2009)

But with only a year-and-a-half left to her term in Brussels, the 58-year-old considers her future with the party in serious doubt. And, with little left to lose but her reputation and a Euroscepticism to rival that of the fiercest Europhobes, Andreasen is going out swinging.

“Nigel promotes the people who say yes to him and will be grateful for getting the job and will never contradict him,” says Andreasen.

“Under his leadership - and I have questioned his leadership obviously a number of times – the party has become a dictatorship. This is a Stalinist way of operating and he doesn’t care about the membership or the grassroots…”

Andreasen says that Farage has worked to exclude her from the election list and that recent electoral party reforms – put forward to the members as part of the new UKIP Constitution - have been specifically created to target the few remaining independent party voices, such as herself. UKIP deny the claim and say that the draft reforms Andreasen has seen are not the final version.

“The new constitution for UKIP has empowered the leader in a disproportionate way. Notably in the election of candidates,” says Andreasen. “It has put the decision in his hands – literally.

“This was a matter of concern for much of the membership who didn’t realise when they were approving the constitution what the essence of the changes was.”

This will spell a future in the political wilderness for UKIP at a critical time in the EU membership debate, she insists

“Nigel promotes the people who say yes to him and will be grateful for getting the job and will never contradict him,” says Andreasen.

The backlash is only the latest in a line of UKIP revolts, going all the way up to UKIP founder Alan Sked who called the party “morally dodgy” and “extraordinarily right-wing”, as well as UKIP/Tory flip-flopper and MEP David Campbell-Bannerman.

In a recent interview with LondonlovesBusiness.com, Campbell-Bannerman said UKIP had “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,” he added.

Late last year, Andreasen decided to pen her objections in an email to the UKIP’s south-east UK members. She quipped that the proposed changes, in effect, disenfranchised the base and allowed the national executive to dictate the MEP list selection process.

Andreasen also insisted that standing MEPs would not be informed about their right to run again until the last minute and that they would be barred from communicating to party members until the election, putting them at a severe disadvantage.

“I will find a possibility to serve my constituents in some way and to find a way to have them vote for me. Maybe the possibility will be that I will stand as an independent,” says Andreasen. 

The reforms, she said, mean that the process will be manipulated and was already resulting in the “rumoured” fast-tracking of the controversial former Tory MP and now UKIP national executive member Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine, in the 2014 election list.

The letter was subsequently leaked, and Andreasen was left facing the prospect of a libel suit from Hamilton who slammed her for spreading “false rumours”. UKIP subsequently denied charges that Andreasen was threatened with de-selection by UKIP chairman Steve Crowther who called her statements “wrong”.

Regardless, exclusion from the 2014 election list now seems likely for the outspoken accountant, although Andreasen insists that it will not mark the end of her political career.

“I will find a possibility to serve my constituents in some way and to find a way to have them vote for me. Maybe the possibility will be that I will stand as an independent,” she says. 

“Should I give up just because someone is bullying me not to stand?”

But why on earth does a South-American Spaniard care quite so much about her south east English constituents?

Well it seems, a part of it is personal, another ideological.

“Nigel does not like women,” says Andreasen. “He will not tolerate women that have a certain intelligence. He thinks women should be in the kitchen or in the bedroom. These are the two kinds of women he will respect, not a woman that says ‘things are not as you say and we should follow the rules’.

“Nigel does not like someone who will have reasonable ideas that contradict his ideas. He does not accept any contradiction to his ideas. Basically from day one, since I was elected, he was dismissive of my work.”

This doesn’t seem entirely in line with Farage’s original decision to select Andreasen or his support of Jane Collins for UKIP’s first parliamentary seat in last November’s by-election to replace disgrace Labour MP Denis MacShane, but Andreasen puts this down to pragmatism.

Staying candid about the reality that she owes her seat to Farage, the Spaniard nonetheless believes it was a two-way street. UKIP got Andreasen’s credibility, which she says they “desperately needed” at a time when David Cameron still felt it acceptable to publicly label UKIP “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

Marta Andreasen UKIP campaigning for EU Elections in 2009

Marta Andreasen UKIP campaigning for EU Elections in 2009

In part due to her help, UKIP has since gone on to win 13 seats in Brussels, at times outstripped the LibDems in national polling and even started to challenge the Conservatives for domination at the EU level. The Andreasen-Farage duo proved powerful, with the party scooping up almost 450,000 votes in 2009 in the south east, where there are only some 5,000 UKIP members.

In exchange for her “credibility,” Andreasen got a chance to go and reopen her unfinished work, combing through the EU’s accounts. She immediately joined the Committee on Budgetary Control, which promises to monitors the haemorrhaging of EU funds.

Her work, she believes, is instrumental in building the case for Brexit, an idea Andreasen is as passionate about as her UKIP peers.

“I joined UKIP because the Tories wanted to reform the EU and in my experience I thought that the EU could not be reformed. In the course of my years as an MEP, I have only grown more convinced of this,” says Andreasen. 

“I have always felt that the UK was the only country that would have the power to change the EU and that they would be able to do this by either leaving the EU or threatening to leave the EU.

“Contrary to what people say, the UK brings more benefits to the EU than the EU brings to the UK,” she adds.

And once the UK leaves, or threatens to leave, Andreasen sees other countries starting to notice the clear disadvantages of membership, and breaking off too.

“It was immediately apparent to me that the EU system was open to fraud and that it was deliberately left open to fraud. I could see this very clearly,” she says.

This has not, and will not change without a serious push by the British, she insists.

Yet with Cameron now promising a referendum after the next election, and also heading to Europe to negotiate a budget freeze, Andreasen insists he will do just enough to convince the electorate that he is “trying”, without actually offering the much-needed drive to end senseless waste, burdensome bureaucracy and corruption.

“I think that Cameron will try to negotiate a few changes that will make his promises credible to people at least for some time. I believe some partners in the EU, notably Germany, will want to help him out. But we should not expect big and lasting changes to be accepted by the Brussels bureaucrats,” says Andreasen.

“I know that eventually the EU will come asking for more money, as happened with the budget for 2012 where Cameron claimed victory in freezing the budget with only a 2% increase – in line with inflation - but then at the end of the year an extra 9bn euro had to be injected to cover the pending invoices….so the increase was actually 9%. But this way Cameron gains 12 or 18 months.”

This is why UKIP continues to be a vital voice not only in the UK, but in Europe and the world, says Andreasen, and crucially why the party must pool all its resources into getting one or two members elected to Westminster not just Brussels.

“Farage is a good spokesman and he is good in the media, but he couldn’t care less about the membership and I don’t think that he would allow UKIP to be the party that is going to lead the way out of the EU – I don’t at all,” says Andreasen.

“Farage doesn’t care about getting MPs elected to Westminster and if we don’t get MPs elected then we will not be able to lead the process of leaving the EU.”

Comments like these already caused a public spat in 2011, when Andreasen called on Farage to resign following a poor showing in the national elections. He retaliated by calling her “out of touch”.

With council elections coming up this May, the EU elections next year and the general election in 2015, and a promised referendum on Europe two years later, the debate will only continue to heat up.

“We have limited resources so we can’t fight all the by-elections and when we do try and fight all these by-elections there is no way that we can succeed. We should concentrate on three or four places where we have a real chance of winning,” says Andreasen.

“But now Farage is saying that he wants candidates everywhere for the council elections. It is just a publicity stunt and this is why we get the candidates that we get. We get candidates that go on holiday when the election is going on or get people who come out with comments which are absolutely against the policy of the party.”

With opinions like these, the “budget buster” may find herself on a one-way road  out of UKIP but don’t discount her going away just yet – her soap opera-like political saga seems far from over.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Anonymous

    I have to admit to liking each of these people so it is distressing to read in the press of matters which should be dealt with in private.

    Perhaps some of Nigel Farage's critics are unused to the hurly burly ways of business which is his background and mine. I have certainly found I can debate vigorously with Nigel but I am not aware of ever falling out with him.

    I even accept that a leader can make mistakes but perhaps some members expect perfection from him but I doubt the critics are always fault-free. If you are a leader making decisions and taking risks, whether in business or politics, you will make errors but I am not sure how any critics suggest that can be avoided.

    The press has printed reports in the past to suggest that Farage was too attracted to women, but perhaps Marta's opinion is based more on particular situations than the generality.

    Within UKIP there is a longing for representation at Westminster, but other political movements have achieved a great deal without ever getting a majority in the HoC. One could use the example of the Greens, with a single recent MP and few votes relative to UKIP, but they seem to have captured the entire political class.

    Readers may chose to dismiss the reported remarks from David Campbell Bannerman as the reaction of a disappointed man. Despite his unwarranted advancement in UKIP and the cash and hard work of members, he let them down on both counts in the hope of a sinecure in the Conservative Party.

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  • Anonymous

    As I understand it, Andreasen is being forced out because of her relucatnce to be based in the UK, as she lives in Spain. Clearly, having her as a high profile MEP was good publicity for UKIP, but now they are mainstream and pushing the LDs for 3rd place, the leadership realise they need to eradicate potentially damaging anomallies like this. How can you represent the needs of UK residents when you spend hardly anytime in the UK? Local councillors have been forced to resign in such circumstances. The desperate slur on Farage that he does not like women is tabloid idiocy.

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  • I have heard her speak at various times, when questioned by journalists, I had a job to understand what she was saying, I would not vote for her as her content would not have persuaded me to vote UKIP.

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  • UKIP are the only mainstream party who want to stand up for the everyday Great Britain in the street. Immigrants are part of the problem, not the solution - so it's little wonder people inside and outside the party are tired of Ms Andreasen and her ilk who come in from abroad to live off the fruits of our proud nation.

    VOTE UKIP.

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