Manipulating democracy

Arron Banks

Many Rye residents will have received a letter this week from a gentleman (and I use the word with caution) called Arron Banks and who is running a scurrilous campaign under the title Leave.EU

For those of you who don’t recognise the name (and why should you?) this is the man who tried to ‘buy’ UKIP with his millions, but even they finally got wise to him and, after failing to get himself adopted as a UKIP parliamentary candidate for the 2015 general election, they parted company before the last election. He appears to have made his money out of insurance, claims to have a controlling interest in a diamond mine in Kimberley and, according to Companies House, we are told, has no less than 37 different companies set up with variations of his name. 

Why this interest in Banks? He is rabidly anti-European and wants the hardest of hard Brexit deals. Basically to cut off all contact with the EU. He claims that this government (and, by inference, the Labour party too, who have much the same policy in this respect) is reneging on the referendum result by aiming for a transition period after Brexit and that any MP who supports this policy should be de-selected and replaced by another, who would, of course, be more to his liking. 

Other than carrying out an armed coup and declaring himself president, this is about as undemocratic as it is possible to get. He is using his vast wealth, which is believed to be around £100 million, to attempt to buy members of parliament. His tactic is for lots of people who he thinks can be persuaded, to join the Conservative party in constituencies where the sitting MP supports a less than hard Brexit line and then force a vote in the local party to have that MP de-selected. Another – presumably pre-vetted by Banks – would then be put up and voted in for adoption as the candidate by the same stooges. At an ensuing by-election or general election, he would again use his financial clout to give maximum help and publicity to his choice to ensure their election to parliament. He is aiming at Conservative MPs because we currently have a Conservative government. If Labour had won the last election and were adopting the same soft approach in their negotiations with the EU, there seems to be little doubt that it would be Labour MPs that would now be in his sights.

But this is not about individual parties. It doesn’t matter whether you or I approve of our MP or whether or not we voted for her or for one of the other candidates, we are fortunate in this country to have the right to elect our representatives according to our own beliefs and inclinations, and then, if we don’t like the job they are doing, to elect, at pre-defined intervals, someone else to do the job instead. The practice of buying votes went out in the 19th century and I doubt if anyone (other than Banks) wants to see it return.

So please ignore the letter – which is in any case largely inaccurate and rather silly – from this man with ideas well above his station, who has no association with Rye, lives many miles away and probably could not even point us out on a map. If you want our MP out, vote for someone else at the next election and if you don’t, then vote to keep her in, but don’t be misled into thinking that Arron Banks has your interests at heart – he doesn’t.


Photo: library image


  1. Arron Banks is, like the rest of us, entitled to his opinion and to spend his money how he pleases – and at least he uses his own money to promulgate his views. It is our choice whether we listen to him.

    As for Amber Rudd, our local MP is a prominent Remainer and I fail to see what harm there can be in reminding the public of that fact – especially when others seem intent on concealing the efforts being made to overturn the Referendum result. There may be many Conservative voters locally who remain unaware of Ms Rudd’s position, her influence, or, indeed, her connections with those who would have us remain in the EU. These, of course, include her brother, Roland Rudd, the multi-millionaire spin doctor, and one of the most prominent figures in the shadowy Remain movement.

    Banks writes a letter urging us to do one thing. You use this publication to urge us to do another. Ms Rudd uses her position as an MP and her brother uses his millions to achieve their goals. Why are Banks’ actions a problem and the others not?

  2. Mr Cooper, you are missing the whole point of my article. Yes, Mr Banks is indeed entitled to his opinion and, like Roland Rudd, has the right in this free country to tell others what his opinion is. He does not, however, have the right to manipulate the selection of candidates for election, so that only those who agree with his point of view are available for the public to vote for. And that is exactly what he is trying to do and why, to quote your own words, his actions are a problem.

  3. Banks is urging Conservatives to make sure they are represented by an MP who shares their opinions and who will act in accordance with their wishes. How can this be anti-democratic? In what sense is he manipulating anyone? How many Conservative voters were actually involved in selecting Ms Rudd in the first place?

    The selection process for candidates of all parties in this country is one of the fundamental flaws in our system, with many MPs failing to represent their constituents’ opinions – and this is true of all the parties. Perhaps if voters took a more active role in ensuring their party’s candidate was not simply using their votes to gain power, then ignoring their wishes thereafter, the country wouldn’t be in such a mess?

    Rather than castigating Mr Banks, a democrat should be applauding him, not leaving selection to the comfortable cabals of central office manipulators, activists or whatever other string pullers are going about the business more or less unchallenged.


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