With the NEC’s decision yesterday to allow all eleven candidates to stand in this year’s leadership contest, we now have kick-off. We all knew already that this would be an extraordinary affair. While many candidates have been visiting branches and unofficial Hustings these past few weeks, in general everybody has held their breath, waiting for the outcome of that NEC decision.

Rumours abounded on candidates going to be barred. Many members – even those who said categorically they would not vote for her – were up in arms about that, deeming it unworthy of our Party not to allow members to make up their own minds by barring certain candidates.

Common sense prevailed – but this is not the end of the story by any means. There’s no such thing as ‘plain sailing’ with UKIP, and thank God for that! The first repercussions are being felt, and they are not restricted to UKIP but are being taken to the general public. Below is a press release just in, from Mike Hookem MEP. That press release went out to the MSM in general and we publish it unabridged, just as we received it:

UKIP MEP – “I will not turn a blind eye to racism in the UKIP leadership race.

Mike Hookem MEP resigns Whip’s job in European Parliament over Chief Whip’s outspoken support for Anne Marie Waters.

Senior UKIP MEP, Mike Hookem, has dramatically quit his Deputy Whip post in the European Parliament over Chief Whip, Stuart Agnew’s support for far-right leadership candidate, Anne Marie Waters.  

In an explosive letter to interim UKIP leader, Steve Crowther, Mr Hookem said he was “no longer prepared to carry out the position” due to Mr Agnew’s support for a candidate who is “not a fit and proper person to carry this party forward as its leader.”

In Thursday’s letter to Mr Crowther, Mr Hookem outlined how he was disturbed by Stuart Agnew’s proclamation that he “looks forward to telling his grandchildren in the future how he helped in the fight against Muslims,” and that he would keep a scrapbook of communications from those who disagreed with his position.

Speaking of his dramatic resignation, Mr Hookem said, “let Agnew add this to his scrapbook! I strongly disagree with the views Ms Waters and Mr Agnew promote and I would like to put as much distance between me and them as possible. If I were to continue in my position of Deputy Whip, I would be seen as supporting or at the very least turning a blind eye to extreme views and this is not something I am prepared to do. I am not a racist and have never campaign on race issues. While I do believe in controlled immigration, this position is about “space rather than race”; and I am not prepared to support someone who seeks to single out in section of our society simply due to their religious beliefs.”

Mr Hookem continued, “I would also like to clarify that my decision has not been influenced by my support for any other candidate. If I’m bluntly honest, I do not feel I can support any candidate in the current leadership race, including my two MEP colleagues. In my opinion none of them measure up to what is, and will continue to be an extremely difficult job. Examining the Candidates CV’s, I feel none have the ‘tools in the box’ that are required and many I think have confused ability with ambition.”

Mike Hookem’s press officer has also provided us with the actual letter which was sent to Steve Crowther. That letter, we’re told, went out on Thursday 10th August by email, the receipt of which was acknowledged by Mr Crowther in a phone call in the afternoon of Friday 11th Aug. The letter is thus clearly not a reaction to the NEC’s decision later that day.

The press release, by necessity, does not quote the full letter, and by necessity concentrates on a few salient points so the MSM can and will publish. However, to inform members, we’ll quote a few relevant sentences from the actual letter which did not make it into the press release and which will serve to explain Mike Hookem’s reasons:

“Throughout my ten-year membership of UKIP I have proudly toured the Yorkshire region and country as a whole, speaking to members, the media and the public to impress that we as a party are not racist.

Our policies are common sense when we speak on immigration/migration about “space not race”. I believe as a party that we accept an that an individual’s choice of religion is a personal issue and one of conviction, and we shouldn’t try to influence that choice. However as a party, we will speak against those who use their religion as an excuse to carry out acts of criminality, terrorism or twelfth century cultural practices. We speak out through the media and call for the protection of the general public and those in our communities via the rule of British law.”

Mike Hookem writes further:

“I have always had the highest regard and respect for Stuart as a person and as a senior member of the party but on this I have to strongly disagree and distance myself from his views. If I were to continue in my position of “Deputy Whip” I would be seen as supporting or at the very least turning a blind eye.”

Let me conclude by saying that, regardless if one agrees with Mike’s letter and the press statement or not: one must applaud his honesty, that he stands by his principles and that he comes out in the open on this issue – unlike some who prefer to work ‘through channels’ and who I most definitely shall not name on these pages!