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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February 2005, 17:56 GMT
Sketch: Kilroy unveils the truth
By Brian Wheeler
BBC News political reporter

So now we know the truth.

Robert Kilroy-Silk's new political party, Veritas, is not just a vehicle for the former chat show host's ego, a one-man party, created in his image.

Robert Kilroy-Silk
Mr Kilroy-Silk was on bullish form
And he is not pandering to racists when he cries "our country is being stolen from us" and vows to halt "the ascendancy of multi-culturalism".

He is merely speaking up for the ordinary British voter who is "sick and tired of being lied to" and "fed up of being taken for granted" by the political establishment.

How do we know this is the truth? Because, as everyone knows by now, Veritas means truth in Latin and because Mr Kilroy-Silk told us it was.

'Lies, evasion and spin'

The East Midlands MEP was on characteristically bullish form on Wednesday morning at Veritas' official launch in Westminster, as he locked horns with a sceptical press pack, by turns smiling, bullying, charming and blunt.

I cannot hide my tan, or my looks and I don't intend to, and I am not ashamed of either
Robert Kilroy-Silk
He began by brandishing reams of paper, which he said were the "lies evasion and spin" of the political establishment on immigration and Europe.

It was great theatre, as Mr Kilroy-Silk pledged to "put a stop to all that nonsense". Although what the long, taped together printout actually was, was never made clear.

Perhaps the number of parties Mr Kilroy-Silk has been a member of, muttered one member of the press pack.

This was no doubt typical of what Mr Kilroy-Silk called the "Metropolitan smartarse" attitude of Westminster journalists, a group he evidently has little time for.

At one point, the BBC's Guto Harri, fresh from a tour of duty in Italy, was ordered to "go out of the room, wash your mouth out, come back and then ask a proper question", for daring to ask if Kilroy wanted to emulate Silvio Berlusconi.

Perhaps Mr Kilroy-Silk was joking, but it was hard to tell. He does smiling menace very well. First names are used with conspiratorial charm, but questions he doesn't like are batted away with one-liners or turned into a joke.

One-man party?

Has he always told the truth, at every stage of his career, asked one reporter, carefully laying another elephant trap.

"I would be very surprised if I had."

The point was, he argued, that he no longer wanted to stand on a platform and "defend policies I don't believe in," as he had done as a Labour MP in the 1970s and 1980s.

How did he like being compared to Enoch Powell?

"I am not interested in talking about the past, I am interested in talking about the future. What are you going to ask me about next, Genghis Khan?"

Is Veritas a one-man party?

"Are they patsies?," he cried pointing to his supporters at the back of the room. "Do they look like patsies? Do the people at the back look like yes men and women? They are bloody difficult people actually."

'Silly hats'

Many of those present including London Assembly member Damian Hockney, now Veritas deputy leader, were former UKIP members.

Robert Kilroy-Silk
The new party presents an inclusive image
But the event, at a hired room in Great George Street, in the heart of Westminster, seemed stage managed to present a modern, inclusive image, at odds with the all-male, all-white platform, which frequently played host to Mr Kilroy-Silk during his all-too-brief career with the UK Independence Party.

Winston Mackenzie, brother of former boxing champion Duke Mackenzie, Veritas spokesman on sport, sat alongside former UKIP member Judith Longman, and the party's deputy leader Damian Hockney. The party's spokespeople on crime, health, asylum and other matters took more of a back seat.

Most significantly of all there was not a single blazer or cravat in sight. Mr Kilroy-Silk has reportedly banned them, along with "silly hats", apparently believing them to be the uniform of what he described in a BBC documentary as "fascist nutters".

He joked that he had ordered Mr Hockney, to remove his cravat before the meeting. "We had to take it off him."

So does Mr Kilroy-Silk honestly believe he has a chance of winning a seat in Parliament?

"Scientifically, we haven't got a chance. We cannot make an impact, but then that was true of my campaign in the East Midlands."

'Awkward squad'

Even though the East Midlands is the "centre of euroscepticism" in England, the opinion polls had not given him a chance of being elected as an MEP, but they were proved emphatically wrong.

Veritas would not be targeting BNP voters, he argued, with its strong line on immigration, it would be attracting support from across the political spectrum, particularly disaffected former Labour voters.

His aim, he said was to create a "proper awkward squad" of MPs to keep the big parties honest.

But it would not be a proper encounter with the British media without mention of the T word - and Mr Kilroy-Silk's disdain was magnificent to behold.

"I cannot hide my tan, or my looks and I don't intend to, and I am not ashamed of either."




SEE ALSO
Kilroy-Silk quits 'shameful' UKIP
21 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
Kilroy quits UKIP group of MEPs
27 Oct 04 |  UK Politics
Major warns Tories against UKIP
24 Oct 04 |  UK Politics
UKIP branches 'reject Kilroy bid'
20 Oct 04 |  UK Politics
Profile: Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP
20 Jan 05 |  UK Politics

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