When a Government watchdog decides to launch an investigation into activities in which you might have been involved, the least sensible thing to do in response is to draw the attention of the world on yourself. So when the Electoral Commission decided to investigate the dealings of Arron Banks, the alleged “man who bankrolled Brexit”, his reaction, and that of his pals, was to scream long and loud “look at me”.
Banksy, Nige, Wiggy, Ray and their pals in happier times
Banks, who became rather well-off in a short space of time by means which have recently been investigated by the people at Open Democracy - among others - has joined with his best pal Andy Wigmore to loudly denounce this move. The double-act, who refer to one another as “Banksy” and “Wiggy”, want you to know that they are so relaxed about this development that they are going to spend rather a lot of time denouncing it.
Banks’ other bosom buddy, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage has not yet spoken up on the subject, but then, he has his own problems right now, not least the highly adverse reaction to his comments about Jews on his LBC show the other evening. But what of the investigation announced today?
As the Guardian has reported, “The election watchdog has launched an investigation into whether donations and loans from the Brexit campaigner Arron Banks and one of his companies broke campaign finance rules in the run-up to the EU referendum … The Electoral Commission will investigate donations worth £2.3m, assessing whether Banks was the ‘true source’ of loans made in his name. It will also establish whether Better for the Country was the ‘true source’ of donations made to Brexit campaigners or whether it was “acting as an agent” for some other source of funds”.
Remember, Banks and his company ponied up the thick end of £9 million for the Leave campaign, and that although his wealth is estimated at between £100 million and £250 million, “an analysis by Open Democracy suggests the actual figure may be considerably lower”. So was he a front man for someone else? What say Banksy and Wiggy?
There would be an investigation? Banksy didn’t care: “Gosh I'm terrified”. He laughed in the face of the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr: “I suppose you welcome sun light on all campaign finance and activity including Remain. We do”. Yeah, look over there at the other lot (bit like Combover Crybaby Donald Trump, eh). And there was even time for a sneer at Labour MP Ben Bradshaw: “You are brave enough using Parliamentary privilege to accuse me of Dark money / Russia … Man up and say it outside!”
Wiggy was equally contemptuous: “Poor @carolecadwalla going to be sooooooo disappointed we are not Russian spy’s [sic]”. But, as so often, the braggadocio went a little too far: after Rob Nisbet of Sky News told “.@Arron_banks to @SkyNews : "the only involvement with Russian money was a 6 hour lunch with the Russian ambassador. We had a great time”, someone brought the whole shebang down to earth with a bump.
Pixel Press enquired “Is That the same Russian ambassador named in the Steele dossier and who was in communication with Papadopoulos?” It was indeed. And thus another connection was made, another lead volunteered, and Denis Thatcher’s dictum proved right over again - better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. Banksy and Wiggy should have kept schtum.