If the bookies are right and if numbers of followers on Twitter count for anything, it now seems highly probable that Anne-Marie Waters will win the UKIP leadership election. She might win by a considerable margin too.
As UKIP is a democratic party, its members must respect the results of the election and decide whether to stay in the party, in which case they are morally obliged to back the new leader, or to leave if they feel that they cannot. The same goes for all the MEPs and GLA members.
There can be no back biting after the election and no challenges to any democratic decision made by the party members. No more repeat of the Diane James fiasco, no more short-term leaders.
I have been a vocal critic of AMW’s ‘one-policy’ platform, as I believe that the issues of the economy, law and order and the decline in Britain’s standard of living are far more relevant to the public than Islamic fundamentalism, but I respect the fact that many, many people are indeed more frightened about terrorism and Islam than I am. Recent events in London, where so-called refugees attempted to blow up a packed tube train, only reinforce those concerns.
Even though it might be the case that AMW will win on her platform, UKIP will still need balance and fresh ideas to become electable and to deliver MP’s. Without MP’s UKIP is a mere protest group. So, AMW must make sure that whatever team she brings together as leader have, not only loyalty but the intellectual horse-power to create an alternative and workable manifesto to contest those of the Conservative and Labour parties. She will need to have a clear plan of action as to how she might use what may be just a handful of future MPs in any future hung parliament. Let’s not forget that the party with the most power, now, is the DUP!
To succeed AMW will need to both purge serious dissenters who would do her in and make friends both internally and externally. Knocking off dissenters is relatively easy, but making new friends might be difficult as, let’s be frank, AMW is somewhat abrasive and chippy. She must be able to lead, being elected is not enough, and must be seen to mellow somewhat. I would urge her not to alienate the media either as, as a party leader, she will be forced to engage in adversarial debate with them. To be sure, she will be under immense and constant pressure the minute she is elected. It will be vital that she develops a thicker skin.
AMW needs a decent right-hand person and organiser to watch her back. Although there has been enmity between them in the past the natural person for that role might well be Henry Bolton. As an ex – soldier and diplomat Bolton respects authority and his gravitas and proven negotiating skills could be the ideal unifying collaboration to hold the party – and its finances- together. We shall see. It would be a shame to lose him. What is certain is that AMW cannot run UKIP on her own but, so far, she has not indicated if any of the other candidates might be included in her team. She would be well advised to consider creating new alliances. David Kurten, a likeable and decent man, would be a strong candidate for greater authority within the party, but as for the others, I can’t see them working together under AMW. Too many bruised egos.
The biggest threat to AMW and the party immediately after the election will be entryism from the so-called far-right. She will have to resist being feted by any past or present members of any far-right organisation or face almost immediate destruction as a credible leader. Let’s make this very clear. The public will never elect any UKIP MP if the party and leadership has any truck whatsoever with the self-styled Alt-Right or neo-fascist organisations. AMW will be forced to sever links with Pegida, Tommy Robinson, Britain First and the rest. Debating this is irrelevant, as is arguing, for example, that Tommy Robinson has renounced his EDL roots. I happen to like Robinson, but the attention he attracts is not going to win UKIP or AMW any friends. It’s just the way it is in politics and the media.
One last point. AMW will face a very real problem with her own, and the party’s, security. As Nigel Farage found out, extremists and agitators WILL target her. It is not going to be possible for her to travel on public transport at all and even with a driver she will need close protection that does not come cheap. (I believe Nigel’s protection cost £20,000 a month). Diane James was spat at days after being elected and it frightened her off. So where is AMW going to get this protection from? She is not entitled to any police protection at all.
Also, UKIP meetings and future conferences will be targeted by extremists just as the YI conference was. With only a couple of weeks before she might be thrown into the limelight, I trust that AMW has some plans formulated and the money to protect herself should she win the election.