|UKIP Defence Spokesperson|
Assumed office |
29 November 2016
|Preceded by||Mike Hookem|
|Member of the European Parliament|
for West Midlands
Assumed office |
1 July 2014
|Preceded by||Malcolm Harbour|
William Milroy Etheridge|
18 March 1970
|Political party||Conservative (2008–2011)|
|Alma mater||Wolverhampton Polytechnic|
Leaving the Conservatives: 2008–2011
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 activities of the Campaign Against Political Correctness. Etheridge then joined UKIP.
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, according to The Mail on Sunday, Etheridge praised Adolf Hitler during a public speaking seminar he gave to members of the UKIP youth wing. Etheridge commented positively about his speaking style, and said Hitler "achieved a great deal". According to Etheridge, he was "the most magnetic and forceful public speaker possibly in history" who "achieved a great deal". 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 acknowledged that "Hitler and the Nazis were monsters" and said "At no point did I endorse Hitler or anybody else".
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 the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has been active 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).
UKIP leadership bid
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 BBC's Sunday Politics. He withdrew on 25 October, and endorsed the eventual winner, Paul Nuttall.
- "vote 2014 - West Midlands". BBC. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Tories pose with golliwogs in political correctness stunt". The Daily Telegraph. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
- "UKIP defends MEP's 'Hitler speech' advice". BBC News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (10 August 2014). "Hitler praised as 'magnetic and forceful speaker' by Ukip MEP". The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
- Alex Stevenson (2014-11-05). "Climate deniers: Ukip in bed with corporate America". Politics.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- Walker, Jonathan (20 July 2016). "UKIP leadership: Bill Etheridge calls for death penalty vote". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 2016-07-21.
- 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.