When the idea was first mooted it was met with opposition in some quarters and started former MEP Nikki Sinclaire's war against Nigel Farage and later, against the party. UKIP's economic advisor and world renowned economist, Professor Tim Congdon, was also opposed to the idea and it formed one of the central pillars of his failed bid to become leader of the party when Lord Pearson stood down.
|The current Pan-European Political Parties, all of which promote EU integration|
At the time myself and others wrote on this blog about the arguments being put forward both for and against the idea of UKIP forming a Pan-European Political Party without any real consensus. The membership as a whole were less ambiguous and voted against it in an internal referendum by 2:1. That was three years ago though and membership of the party has doubled in that time with running costs going through the roof as the party has professionalised. A lot has changed since the poll conducted three years ago and the £1.5m of funding available is badly needed to take the pressure off party finances which are paying for campaigning not just here in the UK but across the EU.
I made the point more than once that there is £10m of funding available to Pan-European Political Parties that is currently all going to federalist parties and unlike the EFDD ground (then just the EFD) it can contain delegates from political parties that don't have MEPs, thus supporting the eurosceptic movement across the EU and incubating future partners for UKIP in the EU Parliament. Leader of the EFDD group, Roger Helmer, makes the same point that the same amount of money is going to be spent - the budget isn't increased when a new group is formed - so it makes sense for UKIP to take a share of the cash which is currently going exclusively to promoting further EU integration.
A further internal poll of the party membership could have been held prior to the formation of the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe and the associated think tank, the Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe, but with more than 40,000 members these things are starting to get pretty expensive for the party. Whilst there is a certain irony to not practising direct democracy within the party on the subject of forming the Alliance for Direct Democracy, it's a common sense move that will benefit both UKIP and the eurosceptic movement across the EU and allow the party's money to be spent on the upcoming elections.