Ed: After Steven Woolfe’s spectacular resignation from the Party, many members and readers have written and commented. The letter below, which reached us this morning, summarises the thoughts of many of us. we therefore publish it in full in this special edition of the ‘Letters to the Editor’.
If you were Leader of UKIP, and a potential leadership candidate, popular with a section of the Party, was considering defecting or going independent – what would you do? I refer of course to Steven Woolfe whom we know was Nigel’s preferred successor and whose resignation, coming as it does at a time of party crisis, is no help at all and may possibly be detrimental.
Would you, as Leader, do all you could to dissuade him? Would you call upon the loyalty you so famously demand of those around you and which Steven himself has professed to have for you? Would you tell him not to undo the good that you and the Party had achieved? Would you insist that this is the wrong time to abandon ship, that you need him to stay? Surely you would do all these things and more! And being a charismatic leader you would pull out all the stops to avoid further damage to the Party. You would, wouldn’t you!
And if Steven still chose to betray the party, wouldn’t you make some comment? Wouldn’t you intervene to minimise the damage? Wouldn’t you think of all the ordinary members who feel badly let down and say something for their benefit? You would, but, alas, we do not have such a leader.
So why has Woolfe chosen to be an “independent”? What good does that do for anyone? It seems he is no longer defecting but that is likely to be because the Tories no longer want him after his belligerence. With that avenue closed off Steven claims the reasons are that UKIP is ungovernable and riven with infighting, and continues with the (unsupported) claim that the NEC is not fit for purpose. But these reasons do not stack up. He has been very much involved in the infighting by “liking” and thus encouraging the so-called Woolfe Pack’s facebook campaign, a particularly nasty group who have been so obsessed that they claim Neil Hamilton has been controlling the party. Yes, really, they have claimed that. So controlling has Hamilton been that he managed to get himself removed as deputy chair and exiled from Nigel. Such mastery!
It is not the infighting then that bothered Woolfe so much as losing, something he managed to do all by himself but for which everyone else is to be blamed. He even belligerently caused the `altercation’ – he initiated the ‘come outside’ challenge to Mike Hookem – but now claims to be the victim. In his personal statement he claims that the events in Strasbourg “led to me later being treated by doctors for two seizures”. Really? There is a medical opinion about that? All we were told was that there had been a scan showing no bleed on the brain at all and that he was being kept in as a precaution. There are a number of causes of “epilepsy-type” seizures, and if I had seizures I would want doctors to get to the bottom of it.
On Newsnight Raheem Kassam claimed he had been told that the investigation will report “equal culpability”. Indeed, I have said as much in my letter. Woolfe was at fault for his combative attitude and Hookem at fault for taking the bait. But I highlight now again that a journalist has apparently been given advance notice of the investigation’s result.
My own conclusion is that Woolfe, aware that he is now damaged goods, that Hookem is threatening to sue for slander, that his own complaint to the police (contrary to what Nigel said) is presumably now up and running, as is the EU’s own investigation, is probably also aware that yet more may come out that is unflattering. But not being man enough to stay and face the music, he resigns as the only way to free himself (he believes) of the mess he got himself into.
In so doing he shows how little loyalty he really has to the members who voted for him.
We all worked together in the referendum campaign, and many ordinary members gave their all in that campaign and in the preceding ones for the elections to the EU Parliament (2014) and the GE (2015). Woolfe appears to feel no respect for these members at all.
Surely, if he loved the Party that gave him the opportunity to do nicely as one of its MEPs, if he respected the members who supported him and campaigned for and with him, if he believes, as he says he does, that only UKIP can keep Brexit on course, if Brexit was and is still worth fighting for – then surely he would stay in the Party and fight for what is worth fighting for, something more important than personal ambition!
Personally, I do not believe him. I think he is weak. I am disgusted with him actually and deeply, deeply disappointed with Nigel. If UKIP is, as Woolfe claims (and probably hopes, such is the spitefulness of vanity!), on a “death spiral”, then history will not judge these people kindly. They are so blinded by their own egomania, so duped by their own vanity, they cannot see that when the dust settles on UKIP it is they who will be held accountable. For there are no conspiracies, no sinister controllers, just sheer bloody-mindedness and incompetence.
They will be exposed for not being politicians at all – reasoning, persuading, dealing, compromising with the factions that exist as they do in all parties – but as the truculent children they are who, when things do not go their way, throw their toys out of the pram.
Respectfully, Stout Yeoman
Ed: we look forward to your comments on this letter and indeed on the whole affair, and plan to publish a selection of them in the next few days.