I am not one to dive into something without giving the matter due consideration. I do not make major decisions lightly. The pathway that Ukip is potentially taking greatly disturbs me. We are in danger of disappearing which would give the political commentators the victory they have worked so hard for this past year. We are also in the very real danger of lurching to the far right as a certain candidate for the leadership is gaining enormous support from some members and those who are being encouraged to join now to also give her the support she would need to become the leader.
The rhetoric of this potential leader is, in my humble opinion simply not of this time, it is far too extreme and totally out of place and not in any way reflective of the libertarian values that the United Kingdom Independence Party was formed on. If we do take this path then this blogger is most certainly gone.
I therefore decided to stand for the leadership.The election though, has taken a sinister twist.
The qualification requirements were suddenly changed at the last NEC meeting, merely a week before the leadership timetable was published. The requirement to have been a member for a continual two years is a seismic change as it was previously 28 days. This precludes me from standing as I joined the party in January 2016. I would point out that for the following reasons I could not stand in all honesty anyway, but this rule change, taken in isolation, again, by the NEC underlines again that the NEC is not fit for purpose. You have to ask, why, apart from wanting to negate chancers and keyboard warriors from standing was the change made, such a sudden change arises suspicions yet again about the motives of the NEC.
Do the NEC have someone in mind, a coronation by stealth, one wonders. Is Nigel Farage coming back to throw his hat in the ring, if he does will it be a coronation or a contest? It would be someone brimming with confidence and oozing personal belief to take on Mr Farage.
Missing out by five months is disappointing to say the least. I was vetted, assessed and cleared to stand as an MP in the general election. I paid my money to attend the assessment day; I paid my own deposit of £500 to stand. Leading up to the election I was disgusted when told, that on the nod of a Regional Organiser the party were accepting anyone as candidates. In fact two members from my region who had never expressed an interest in standing were encouraged to. They did, and were guaranteed initially 100% of their deposit, this changed to 50% just before nominations closed. They had not undergone any vetting or assessment and this was in my opinion a retrograde, ill thought out and knee jerk reaction which has led yet again to ill feeling amongst the membership.
No, the reason I could not stand is that it will, potentially, if I did not poll 20% of the vote cost me £5,500. This is an enormous sum of money split between £5,000 deposit and £500 un-refundable admin fee. If I did poll 20% and won or came second it would still cost me £3000 as £2500 is all that is returned to the candidates. A money spinner for the party? Certainly an enormous financial risk for any ordinary member.
This financial risk, this financial penalty, is pernicious and lacks any equality of opportunity across the membership for would be candidates. These decisions have caused a great deal of unrest, again within the membership, who again have been ignored and taken for granted. A contest is a contest and should be just that, a fair playing field. £5,500 to stand for the leadership is ridiculous.
Candidates lacking the ability and status to lead this party into an uncertain future for sure would be found out by the membership at hustings and on social media. Candidates would have to be special in their thoughts, presence and the delivery of their message to gain the trust of the membership. The membership would be much more forensic in their examination of potential leaders, especially given the debacle of the previous two.
What a shame, yet again that the NEC did not and could not find it in themselves to trust the membership that are actually the blood, heart and soul of this party. What a shame that they are clearly so frightened of having the wrong person elected that they sought to so narrow the chances of anyone actually standing with sudden pernicious and expensive preclusions. Shame on them and I sincerely hope that the new leader makes it his or her mission to rid this party of this ridiculous committee which so seeks to rule in isolation.