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Ukip frontbencher in local "bullying" controversy

Ditching the controversies could be more difficult for Ukip than Nigel Farage hoped when he appointed his sober new "frontbench team."

The local politician picked to be Ukip's new communities spokesperson by her leader has been accused of bullying alongside her comrades, following a Twitter row.

Merton councillor Suzanne Evans is a member of a three-strong Ukip team which complained about a vocal critic at public meetings.

Farage's foot-soldiers were apparently aghast at the way Jackie Schneider set out her views on Ukip's attitudes on immigration and honour killings. Schneider, who teaches at local schools, also shared her views on Twitter with her 4,000-plus followers.

This outpouring of free speech triggered an unexpected response from the libertarian Ukippers of Merton, who lodged a complaint against Schneider with her employer for "inflaming hatred."

But this 'I'll get you in trouble at work' ploy failed miserably. Schneider was swiftly cleared, leaving Evans and her colleagues facing accusations they tried to bully a critic into silence.

A letter to the local paper said: "This is simple case of bullying, as well as a means to intimidate and gag those who challenge their views. It's bizarre that a member of a party that traditionally rails against a supposed 'Politically Correct' culture should be so thin skinned about such comments."

A couple of days before taking up her new position as communities spokesperson, Evans ran on her blog a lengthy valedictory letter by her colleague, in which he claimed he had been the victim of a campaign of hate, triggered by Schneider's opinions.

It seems that a talent for controversy could be deeply engrained in Ukip. What hope for Farage's revamp?

"Farage logic says abolish the pound"

Meanwhile in Brussels Farage was bestriding the EU parliament chamber, condemning the "beyond parody" Greek finance minister to his face and calling for the Euro to be abolished in Mediterranean countries because its national economies are at different stages (ie: bankrupt) from northern Europe.

An MEP from Belgium developed this point by asking Farage if he agreed with abolishing sterling because UK countries also have different economies.

Farage's answer to this was not so clear, but were his logic to be continued to this extent then it would be bad news for the the party's badge, which features a sterling symbol rampant.

The Lion King

If Farage finds dealing with party members and Eurocrats is furrowing his brow, then at least he can relax to the ideologically pure sounds of Tim Rice.

The man who wrote the lyrics to the 'Lion King' Disney film has donated around £7,500 to Farage's anti-EU party. This sum was not disclosed prior to Rice telling the Times about it because it falls below the threshold for disclosure set by the electoral commission.

Having a multi-millionaire high-profile supporter like Rice can only be good for Ukip, particularly as the 69-year-old used to be a loyal Tory until David Cameron made him feel "unloved."