The defection of MEP Amjad Bashir from UKIP to the Conservative Party took an amazing new twist this afternoon when George Galloway’s Respect Party claimed on their website that Bashir was selected as the Respect candidate in Bradford Moor for the May 2012 council elections but was deselected “after local residents raised serious concerns about his fitness to stand.”
He subsequently left Respect, joined UKIP and was placed second on the UKIP list of candidates for the Yorkshire and the Humber region. UKIP topped the poll with 31% of the vote and Bashir was elected as one of six MEPs for the region. Prior to his dalliance with Respect and UKIP former restauranteur Bashir had been a member of the Conservative Party for 15 years.
The claim by Respect, if true, will heap further embarrassment on the Conservative Party, UKIP, Nigel Farage and not least Prime Minister David Cameron who told the Sunday Telegraph that he was “absolutely delighted that Amjad has decided to leave UKIP and join the Conservative Party.”
Bashir told the newspaper that UKIP had become a “party of ruthless self-interest”, was “pretty amateur” and had a “ridiculous” lack of policies.
Nigel Farage and UKIP hit back by claiming the defection was prompted by an ongoing investigation into interference with the candidate selection process and “extremely serious” financial issues, evidence of which it says has been passed to the police. Bashir, who denies the allegations was suspended by UKIP shortly before he announced his defection to the Tories on Saturday.
The Spectator yesterday speculated that “Bashir was being investigated over several allegations of concern to Ukip HQ. The first was apparent financial inconsistencies in his expenses relating to the EFD group in the European Parliament. Secondly, some at Ukip HQ believe they were misled over a story in The Times about his restaurant employing seven illegal immigrants. Bashir resigned as a director of the company (which owns the restaurant) three days before the story in the Times was printed — but he told party HQ that he has resigned a month prior.
Finally, at a selection meeting for the Keighley constituency in Bradford last week, Bashir’s associate Mujeeb Bhutto turned up with twelve other individuals – who were not Ukip members and were signed up on the door. The local party was unhappy about this situation — as recorded in the leaked minutes of the Bradford meeting. Ukippers were also concerned that Bashir met with representatives from Pakistan’s MQM party (video here)”.
George Galloway in typical barnstorming form said that:
Clearly Bashir does not have any real political principles or commitment only naked opportunism and self-interest. He represents the revolving door principle in politics. The Tories are welcome to him because he will cause them embarrassment. Fortunately Respect was able to act before he did it to us. Clearly both UKIP and the Tories have lower standards
Why Mr. Bashir was even considered as a potential Respect candidate in the first place given his previous political affiliations is of course open to question.
Tonight speaking via the Conservative Party Press Office Mr Bashir denied ever having any association with the Respect Party who hit back by accusing the MEP of “lying.”
On their website Respect claim “an application form he filled in and is still held by the party proves that isn’t the case… he also claims on the form that in the 1970s and 1980s he was a Labour party member and helped the then Bradford West MP Marsha Singh (now deceased)”.
Curiouser and curiouser.
Red faces all round.