|Deputy Chairman of the Libertarian Party|
|Assumed office |
6 October 2018
|Member of the European Parliament|
for West Midlands
|Assumed office |
1 July 2014
|Preceded by||Malcolm Harbour|
|Born||William Milroy Etheridge|
18 March 1970
|Political party||Libertarian Party (UK) (2018—present)|
|Conservative (Before 2011)|
UK Independence Party (2011–2018)
|Alma mater||Dudley College|
University of Wolverhampton
William Milroy Etheridge (born 18 March 1970) is a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands region. He was elected in 2014 as a UK Independence Party candidate, but left the party in October 2018 and joined the Libertarian Party.
Etheridge joined the Conservative Party in 2008. Both he and his wife, Star, unsuccessfully stood as Conservative candidates in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council elections in 2010. In March 2011, they resigned from the Conservatives after their membership was suspended following complaints from party members that they were photographed posing with knitted golliwogs on their Facebook profile pages as part of a protest against political correctness. They joined the UK Independence Party and he stood, unsuccessfully, as UKIP candidate in the Dudley council elections in 2011 and 2012.
Member of UKIP: 2011–18
Etheridge stood for UKIP in the 2011 local election. In 2012, he stood in the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner election for UKIP; he finished fourth with 17,563 votes (7.37%).
In 2014, as well as being elected to the European Parliament, he was also elected as a councillor for the Sedgley ward on Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, unseating a Conservative. His wife, Star, was also elected for UKIP in the Coseley East ward. Etheridge lost his seat on Dudley MBC in the May 2018 local council elections.
In August 2014, according to The Mail on Sunday, Etheridge highlighted the speaking style of Adolf Hitler during a public-speaking seminar he gave to members of the UKIP youth wing, including the dangers it presented. According to Etheridge, he was "the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history" who "achieved a great deal" in relation to convincing people. A spokesman for UKIP said: "Bill Etheridge gave a seminar on public speaking and highlighted great speakers of the past, like Churchill, Blair, Martin Luther King and Hitler as people whose style, not content could be studied". When contacted by The Independent on Sunday, Etheridge stated that "Hitler and the Nazis were monsters" and said "At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else".
At 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 the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has been active in the UKIP front campaign; West Midlands Save The Pub. He has urged the Conservative government to increase the power of the Asset of Community Value, brought in as part of the Localism Act 2011. This would enable local communities to acquire their local pubs. This did lead to Etheridge making efforts to save a number of pubs in his ward, including The Seven Stars.
Etheridge sat on the EU Regional Development Committee; his belief that power should be handed back to communities has seen him emerge as a critic of combined authorities.
In May 2017, Etheridge launched his book; Putting Great Back In Britain, with a guest appearance from Nigel Farage. In the book, Etheridge outlines his vision for a post-Brexit Britain.
Etheridge is a prominent UK libertarian and is chairman of The Indigo Group. He has launched a platform of libertarian policies in his latest EFDD book; We want the UK and Europe to be Prosperous, Happy and at Peace.
UKIP leadership bids
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, who was only briefly in the post. His policy proposals included cheaper beer, better representation for fathers in the family court system and a referendum on bringing back the death penalty. 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. While in favour of Muslim faith schools and same-sex marriage, he advocates banning the burka.
In October 2016, Etheridge launched his bid to become leader of UKIP following Diane James' resignation, after declaring he would refuse to back Steven Woolfe and stand himself during an interview on the BBC's Sunday Politics. He withdrew on 25 October, and endorsed the eventual winner, Paul Nuttall.
Etheridge subsequently launched his third leadership bid for the UK Independence Party leadership election, 2017, having previously stood in both of UKIP's 2016 leadership elections. A key divide between candidates was between what The Guardian described as "Farage-ist economic libertarians" like Etheridge and the "more hard-right, Islam-focused" Anne Marie Waters and Peter Whittle. Etheridge stated that "whichever side wins, the other side won't have a future in the party". On 26 July 2017, two days before close of nominations, Etheridge withdrew his candidacy.
Etheridge left UKIP in October 2018, saying the party is seen by voters as a "vehicle of hate towards Muslims and the Gay community". He remains part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group in the European Parliament.
- "vote 2014 - West Midlands". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Former UKIP leadership candidate Bill Etheridge resigns". 2 October 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- Local Election 2010, Dudley Borough Council. Retrieved 30 October 2018
- "Tories pose with golliwogs in political correctness stunt". The Daily Telegraph. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Local Election 2011, Dudley Borough Council. Retrieved 30 October 2018
- Local Election 2012, Dudley Borough Council. Retrieved 30 October 2018
- Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (10 August 2014). "Hitler praised as 'magnetic and forceful speaker' by Ukip MEP". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "UKIP defends MEP's 'Hitler speech' advice". BBC News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge takes pub protection campaign to Westminster". www.expressandstar.com.
- Alex Stevenson (5 November 2014). "Climate deniers: Ukip in bed with corporate America". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
- "- Our team". www.theindigogroup.org. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
- "EFDD Booklet" (PDF). The Indigo Group. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
- Walker, Jonathan (20 July 2016). "UKIP leadership: Bill Etheridge calls for death penalty vote". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
- Wilkinson, Michael (6 August 2016). "Bill Etheridge: The pro-gay marriage, pro-Muslim schools, Shiraz drinking Ukip leadership candidate – who would bring back death penalty and ban burkas". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- Walker, Jonathan (5 July 2017). "West Midlands MEP Bill Etheridge launches UKIP leadership bid". Birmingham Mail.
- Walker, Peter (2 July 2017). "Large influx of new Ukip members prompts fears of far-right takeover". The Guardian.
- Goodliffe, Darrell (26 July 2017). "Bill Etheridge stands down". Kipper Central. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
- "UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge drops out of leadership race". Sky News.
- "Bill Etheridge drops out of UKIP leadership race". itv.com.
- Madeley, Pete. "Bill Etheridge: It's my time to lead Ukip and make the Black Country a post-Brexit industrial powerhouse". www.expressandstar.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
- Madeley, Pete. "Bill Etheridge suspends fourth UKIP leadership campaign to back anti-Islam candidate". www.expressandstar.com.
- "MEP Bill Etheridge quits UKIP over 'extreme nationalist' views". ITV News - Central. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- Bagdi, Annabal (8 October 2018). "Bill Etheridge joins Libertarian Party days after UKIP exit". Express & Star (Wolverhampton). Retrieved 12 October 2018.