Just why did a company owned by a former UKIP leader pay Andrew Bridgen £500?

Here’s an interesting one. According to the register of members’ interests, on 17th November 2020, prominent Tory MP Andrew Bridgen received £500 for writing four articles from a company called “Open Dialogus Ltd”. “Open Dialogus” now has almost no presence on the Web.

It’s website appears to have been taken offline earlier this year, and its Twitter account has vanished. Fortunately, the Web Archive exists, so you can get a flavour of the kinds of content it published: criticisms of lockdowns, support for various flavours of Trumpist nonsense…

And Andrew Bridgen, writing about “The Legacy of Greville Janner“…

“Open Dialogus” had no employees; its one and only filing showed it still managed to lose £30,000, yet still paid an MP £500 to write, or at least put his name to, four rather dull blog posts.

The sole director of Open Dialogus is Daniel William Emmerson, and it took a while to track him down. But it looks like he is, in fact, the former chair of UKIP North West Hampshire, who was suspended from the party after some kind of disagreement.

Since then – like most right winders, Emmerson has taken to YouTube. Here he is talking about Open Dialogus, and it certainly doesn’t sound like he’s changed his political views since his UKIP days (he openly called for Johnson to go because he’s not right-wing enough):

Of course, Emmerson has plenty more videos on YouTube – and here he is saying that he knows Brigden and Mark Francois, and they are “the only true conservatives”:

In other words, it appears Andrew Bridgen MP was paid £500 by a company run by a former UKIP local leader who promotes policies at odds with those of his party and doesn’t actually consider any of his Conservative colleagues to be real conservatives (other than Mr Toad).

And – perhaps most importantly – there’s another question: how did Bridgen come to know – and get paid by – a former UKIP local leader? Where did they, and presumably Francois, meet? Perhaps he can tell us.

On the prospect of Keir Starmer resigning

The pressure from Conservatives on Durham Police to investigate Keir Starmer – and their jubilation when Durham agreed – perfectly illustrate why the Tories have lost their way on strategy. There is no outcome of this where their position is improved.

This isn’t hard to plot because there are only two things that could happen. So let’s take what they probably think is the best first: Starmer is given a fine.

What happens then is that Starmer resigns, and one of a whole swathe of capable leaders takes his place: Cooper, Rayner, and probably half a dozen others. Labour is the party which acts with honour and cleans its own house, while the Tories refuse to follow the laws they set and don’t accept the consequences.

The Tories, though, obviously think Starmer won’t resign. He will – because it’s the right thing for the party and the country. The Tories are so used to having a leader who cares only for himself they don’t believe any other leadership is possible. Think about that for a minute.

Starmer resigning loses some Labour voters. But they don’t go to the Tories: they drift to the Lib Dems, and as we saw at the local elections, that’s a real threat to the Tories in their heartland. The Lib Dems are the more significant threat in many Tory seats, and Starmer being fined would aid them, not the Tories.

The other option is Starmer is cleared. In this case, the investigation has strengthened Labour even more. No need to dwell on how bad this would be for the Tories.

What all this shows is that Tory strategists are just not thinking ahead. They are only thinking of the next few covers of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Sun – all of which will move on to the cost of living reasonably quickly either way, either hammering the government (Mail, Sun) or simply lying about it (Telegraph AKA Pravda).

The best Tory strategy would be to dump Johnson. Still, the party has become so infiltrated by extremists because of Brexit that it, unlike Labour, has few talents to turn to. So they are, in political terms, fucked.