Cllr Tony Hooke, well-known as a local UKIP Councillor, has today blasted the UKIP party as a ‘shallow franchise with tight bandwidth’, as he resigned and labelled himself as Independent.
Speaking exclusively to Andover & Villages, from Aldershot Magistrates Court, where he had been ejected from the latest court hearing of Father4Justice founder Matt O’Connor, Cllr Tony Hooke told Andover and Villages, “Petty party politics are not what I got into this for. Andover has a unique set of issues that are deep and complicated. The absurd party political stuff that sees UKIP struggling with policies is not what I want to be involved in; I want to concentrate on local issues, like the A-Boards, parking and the problems facing the elderly.
“I feel that I can tackle these issues better on my own, without the restraints of the UKIP party.
“I took great exception to the appointment of Paul Lovegrove as UKIP Campaign Manager, with his serious criminal record, and I spoke to a leading charity who said they would not have employed him, so why did UKIP? When I challenged this decision, and was digging around for information, I was told to shut up or I would be sacked.”
Cllr Hooke resigned earlier this month as Leader of the Hampshire County Council UKIP group, stating to Andover & Villages that the reason was because he was to be the campaign manager for UKIP Parliamentary Candidate for North West Hampshire, Diane James MEP. (Read the story here)
Speaking to Diane this morning, she said, “I have not heard from Tony in a while and am unaware that he is no longer connected to UKIP; it would certainly be news to me.” Diane James did confirm to Andover & Villages that she is still running as a parliamentary candidate for North West Hampshire.
Andover & Villages asked Cllr Hooke if it would be fair to say that the reason he actually resigned, as Leader of Hampshire UKIP, was because of his issues with the UKIP party, to which he responded, “That would be an accurate assumption.”
Chris Lagdon, Leader of UKIP’s Hampshire County Council Group said, “I didn’t know anything about this, but I am not that surprised at this news.
“Whilst Tony is a great politician for his local area, he is not the best or easiest of people to get along with. As for his comments about UKIP being shallow, anyone I have dealt with from UKIP have been far from shallow, but he is of course, entitled to his opinion.”
Cllr Andy Moore, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council’s UKIP group, told Andover and Villages he was ‘flabbergasted’ at the news of Cllr Hooke’s UKIP resignation. He went on to say, “Cllr Hooke does seem to change his mind a lot about whether he is UKIP or not.
“As a party group, we have not had any confirmation from Cllr Hooke of his resignation. I am flabbergasted that the first I heard about it was from a reporter. I am totally perplexed by this news.”
Asking Cllr Hooke what his followers would feel about his decision, he said, “I hope that everyone will follow me and that I will gain more support because of leaving behind UKIP and their shallow policies.”