Bill Etheridge

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Cllr
Bill Etheridge
MEP
Member of the European Parliament
for West Midlands
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Preceded by Malcolm Harbour
Personal details
Born (1970-03-18) 18 March 1970 (age 46)
Wolverhampton
Political party

UK Independence Party

Conservative (2008–2011)
Alma mater Wolverhampton Polytechnic

William Milroy "Bill" Etheridge (born 18 March 1970) is a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands region for the UK Independence Party. He was elected in 2014.[1]

Early life[edit]

Etheridge was educated at Parkfield High School, Wolverhampton Polytechnic (now Wolverhampton University) and Dudley College.

Leaving the Conservatives: 2008–2011[edit]

Etheridge was originally a member of the Conservative Party and unsuccessfully stood in local council elections after joining in 2008, but resigned in March 2011 after he and his wife Star were photographed posing with knitted Golliwogs on their Facebook profile pages, as part of the Campaign Against Political Correctness.

UKIP: 2011–present[edit]

Etheridge stood in the 2012 Police and Crime Commissioner elections for West Midlands Police. He finished fourth with 17,563 votes (7.37%).

In 2014, as well as being elected to European Parliament, Etheridge was also elected as a local councillor for the Sedgley ward on Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, unseating a Conservative councillor in the process. His wife Star was also elected for UKIP in the Coseley East ward.

In August 2014 Etheridge sparked controversy by praising Hitler during a public speaking seminar he gave to members of the UKIP youth wing.[2][3] He described the genocidal dictator as "the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history"[3] who "achieved a great deal".[2]

In the General Election, in May 2015, Etheridge stood as UKIP's parliamentary candidate for Dudley North. He finished third with a vote of 9,113, triple that of the vote in 2010. At 24% of the votes cast, it also represented double the national average for UKIP.

Etheridge, who is also a member of CAMRA, has been instrumental in the West Midlands Save The Pub campaign. He has written to and urged the current Conservative government to increase the power of the Asset of Community Value, brought in as part of the Localism Act 2011. This would, if effective, enable local communities to acquire their local pubs and prevent their loss to convenience stores and the like.

Etheridge also sits on the EU Regional Development Committee, and his belief that power should be handed back to communities has also seen him emerge as a leading critic of the spread of combined authorities.

Etheridge is an associate of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[4]

UKIP leadership bid[edit]

For more details on this topic, see UK Independence Party leadership election, 2016.

In July 2016, Etheridge launched his bid to become leader of UKIP following the resignation of Nigel Farage. Launching his campaign at the Seven Stars pub in Sedgley, Etheridge said: "I want us to represent the view of the people against the establishment". Etheridge received 13.7% of the vote, with the third most votes cast. He promised to work and support with the new leader [Diane James] [5] His policy proposals included cheaper beer, better representation for fathers in the family court system and a referendum on bringing back the death penalty.[5] Also amongst his policy proposals were prison reform and a move to save the British public house by reintroducing smoking via the use of efficient extraction systems as used within the European Parliament itself.

Personal life[edit]

In May 2015 Etheridge split up with his wife Star after she caught him having an affair with party worker Lorraine Chew.[6] In a subsequent interview Etheridge confirmed he was now in a relationship with Chew but, apparently at odds with the previous reports, claimed he and his wife "separated some months ago".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "vote 2014 - West Midlands". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "UKIP defends MEP's 'Hitler speech' advice". BBC News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  3. ^ a b Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (10 August 2014). "Hitler praised as 'magnetic and forceful speaker' by Ukip MEP". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  4. ^ Alex Stevenson (2014-11-05). "Climate deniers: Ukip in bed with corporate America". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-15. 
  5. ^ a b Walker, Jonathan (20 July 2016). "UKIP leadership: Bill Etheridge calls for death penalty vote". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  6. ^ Mark Duell (18 May 2015). "Ukip MEP splits from wife 'after his lover answers his phone at election count': Party worker confirms relationship with politician". Mail Online. Retrieved 2015-05-18. 
  7. ^ "UKIP's Bill Etheridge speaks out over marriage break-up". Express & Star. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-20. May 19, 2015 11:59 am