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An Open Letter to Steven Woolfe and all Members

Dear Editor,

I would like to try and pour some calming oil on what looks like very troubled water.

I have watched, in dismay, the horrific notices in the press and elsewhere with regard to the problems of Steven Woolfe’s application for the position of Leader.

I have known Steven for a long time and would like to say this to him and to all members who wish to stand for office whether it be as a parish, town, district or county councillor, prospective parliamentary candidate, MEP etc: the rules are very simple, and they are these – we are taught them from the moment we have declared an interest in standing – :

Get your nomination papers in at least 48 hours before the deadline, so that if there is a problem either with your paperwork or indeed a problem with those receiving your paperwork, you will have two days to sort it out.

Now, my brain would tell me that the closing date for the leadership nominations was at 12 noon on Sunday 31st July.  Common sense should kick in and say “Sunday“- it’s not likely that there will be many people working in the office – must get this done earlier, i.e. the Wednesday or Thursday of the preceding week.

Try turning up at the airport when the plane is waiting to taxi out for take off and see how far you get!  A deadline is a deadline and if you genuinely wished to lead the UK Independence Party, I would suggest that every duck should be in the row at the very earliest opportunity, and not with minutes to go before the deadline.

I see there are all sorts of theories as to who has tried to bring Steven down.  It’s a pity that I or a number of other people were not working for him. We would have made certain that his papers were all in place well before the deadline.

Steven, I don’t know whether it was you or your staff which was responsible for this debacle, but it should be a salutary lesson for the future – for you and indeed any prospective candidate.

The NEC have been pilloried mercilessly over this.  What a situation to put them in to start with.  All these people represent our interests and do an extremely difficult job. Remember they are Directors of the Party with all the duties and responsibilities and indeed liabilities that encompasses, and on many an occasion they have had to work with both hands tied behind their backs.

Those days are thankfully over and it is up to the people we all elected to do the job we want them to do on our behalf.  Part of that job, I believe, is to deal properly with each and every member in every situation, fairly and by the rules.  This appears to have been done here and every avenue examined before refusing to allow Steven to stand.

Steven, I am so sorry that for whatever reason this has happened but  you seriously should not have put yourself in this position to start with.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Phillips


[Ed: Further to this letter, please check out paragraphs 2.2.2 and 2.2.3 of the Constitution which define the role of the elected members of the NEC. See in addition, and  specifically, all of Part VI of the Constitution. Also refer to the ‘Internal Party election rules’ in the Party’s “Rule Book”, i.e.‘Rules of Procedure’ . The relevant sections are sections N and O.]

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27 Comments on An Open Letter to Steven Woolfe and all Members

  1. wake up NEC. Anyone who regularly uses the servers know they’re temperemental. Also, anyone who knows about servers knows one client can be turned down whilst another is accepted. If the NEC are going to rely on legal arguments they ought know these basics. Furthermore, is it true that a candidate voted on whether wolfed application should be accepted? And who initially suggested that his membership had gaps? Please tell us that wasn’t another candidate! And whose made a complaint to the police about an old driving ban? Is it the same person?
    All VERY odd. One thing for sure- grassroots didn’t administer a kicking to a US president, various multinationals, investment banks, the conservatives and the BBC to rolled over by what is clearly a bad call by the NEC.
    Also, is it true the NEC extended submission time on an NEC application once? And wasn’t the extension of 24 hours clear precedent for 17 minutes?
    Anyone can see this is a poor decision, truly awful. What is unclear is if there are political games going on in what is fundamentally meant to be the party where country trumps personal interest. What a disgraceful homage to a departing hero as leader…. Shame!!
    sent by I phone

  2. Pouring petrol on the flames occurred when the wet behind the ears UKIP Chairman sent a ridiculous letter to FB Members.

    “”From Paul Oakden party Chairman for UKIP.

    This has proven to be a challenging week for us; not necessarily how I’d imagined my first week as Chairman. But now, more than ever, we need to steady our nerve and stick together, whatever our feelings. If not, we risk everything we’ve achieved.

    Many of you are disappointed at the situation regarding Steven Woolfe. So am I. But it is vital that we don’t conflate the NEC’s decision on Steven’s nomination with any other agendas being touted, or a general dissatisfaction with the NEC.

    This was simpler than it looked. Steven did not submit his nomination before the deadline, and the NEC were unable to find any good reason – technical or otherwise – why he could not have done so. Another candidate nominated at 11.46 without a hitch.

    So to have allowed him to stand would have meant bending the rules, for one candidate. That is not only wrong in principle, it would have breached our contract with the six candidates who did file in time, opening us up to costly legal challenges and undermining the whole contest. It would also be exactly the kind of ‘fix’ that members rightly despise – something which, I can assure you, will never happen on my watch.

    There is much talk about an EGM. Neither I nor any Party officer will stand in the way of any branch wishing to avail themselves of the Rules.

    What I would say to you, though, is this; think hard about why you want an EGM, what you want to achieve. The seriousness of such a move, and the damage it would cause us in the media should only be considered as a last resort. While it is easy for individuals inside or outside the party to promote agendas and whip up resentment, many of our members have worked for 23 years to build up what we have, and it shouldn’t be jeopardised lightly.

    Any EGM would have to be very specific about what it wanted to change. Putting Steven back on the ballot paper (the ‘fix’) is not an option in anyone’s world. Anybody wanting to remove the elected NEC would need to be clear about what – or who – would replace it.

    The leadership contest and its hustings are the perfect opportunity for our members to question candidates on how they see the future direction of the party, its structure and how it’s governed.

    I hope you will help me keep our party focused, protect it through these turbulent times and see us through to the bright future that awaits us, beyond September 16th.
    We won. Let’s not buckle now.”””

    This Paul Oakdon sounds like a Cameron, sucking up to members, scaring with EGM threats… and so on. It’s just a matter of time, as I watch the wrigglings, before I make a decision. An outright liar and deceptor and scaremongerer in charge of UKIP means a bad future. We didn’t ask him to lie, it came natural to him.

  3. UKIP Champions direct democracy…Yet have the NEC making decisions behind closed doors?….We need an end to this system of backroom deals….UKIP should be Open and Transparent, implement the direct democracy they champion, consult the parties Members let hem have a say on issues via online voting. .every decission should be available to members to view online

  4. The entire UKIP/NEC dispute is manufactured. If you look at the dispute over Steven Woolfe the nomination was either 1) so badly organised that the people in question should not be allowed anywhere near the organisation or 2) It was engineered to create a dispute as Farage and Banks have no vision to offer beyond get rid of the NEC.

    Before people decide on such a drastic measure please explore the alternatives to the NEC removal. The drive to dissolve the NEC is based on an inability to control it, not as is suggested the miss behaviour of the NEC. Take the Woolfe decision, his not being allowed onto the list was based on legal advice given to the parties board of directors. Acting against that advice would have open UKIP Ltd to possibly very damaging legal actions. Ask a further question if Woolfe is so aggrieved he could easily bring the matter to the courts by way of a judicial hearing. He has not and further he has gone away on a pre arranged holiday.

    So when deciding who to support make sure you ask the right questions after all it was Woolfe who’s actions in standing first then admitting electoral fraud that have potentially brought the party into disrepute not the NEC.

  5. While caught up in bureaucratic sclerosis the NEC has done a disservice to us all. I have to say Steven Woolfe MEP is the most hard-working and inspiring person I have met during the hectic the year leading up to the E.U. Referendum. I met him three times on the campaign trail. If BREXIT was the great legacy left us by Nigel, then a resounding G.E. Victory would have been the legacy given to UKIP by Steven Woolfe. The NEC do not get this and hence UKIP is undermined.

  6. Patrick Dearsley // August 6, 2016 at 9:10 pm // Reply

    Contrary to most of the commenters, I find that Liz Phillips’ letter perfectly reasonable. Anyone applying for a major role like this would be wise to leave themselves some margin for error on whoever’s part. Not to do so is a pretty basic misjudgement, and wouldn’t bode well for the future.
    We have a superb opportunity at the moment, and no doubt in true UKIP fashion we will do everything we can to blow it, but personally I hope that a leader emerges who is relatively faction-free, who can put together a collegiate leadership team, and whose initials are DJ.

  7. I am not a grass roots UKIP supporter, but converted to UKIP because I felt UKIP was a party I could trust. I’ve sat back and listened and read comments and in particular the patronising letter of Liz Phillips, who I don’t know but as a newly to UKIP, I feel quite disillusioned and expected better. Her letter could have been written by a conservative who in past years have resorted to pulling the wool over the eyes of the electorate. I am disappointed. UKIP seem to be no better than the other scheming parties, who will find excuses and quote rules and regulations instead of listening to the electorate and being guided by public opinion. In effect she’s pouring scorn on the people whose vote will count and is treating them with contempt. This we know what is best for you attitude is not good enough. We’ve put up with this attitude from this Government for too long. Don’t spoil what Nigel Farage gained. Liz might not like me saying this but if UKIP wants to retain the support the NEC will have to change its attitude. Listen to the people. You don’t know better than them.Ukip is fragile. The public is fickle. My advice would be bend a few lousy rules if it will get more votes.

  8. Most of the above would be valid – and I would have supported stretching the deadline by half an hour – EXCEPT EXCEPT EXCEPT : is it really possible to contemplate as a serious Leader of the third ( by votes ) political party of the country someone who is being investigated by the Police for the serious offence of electoral fraud ?
    People who do not know the law in these matters may not realize that this is NOT considered by the courts as on a par with a parking offence : if convicted it is no exaggeration to say he could easily be sent to prison, as an example to others.

    At minimum there will be a swinging fine and probably a suspended sentence.
    How likely is it that he will be believed that he ‘forgot’ when he is himself a barrister ?
    If you look at the Electoral Commission website you will see for yourself that the Commission states clearly that NO ONE who has even ONE conviction for an imprisonable offence may be a candidate for PCC ( and they also immediately point out that the fact a conviction is ‘spent’ is irrelevant.)
    I would have supported Steven W but for this – I just don’t think any of the current candidates is credible or to be honest, intelligent enough to withstand close Newsnight type questioning : they will be shredded like the Greens Leader when she had her ‘BrainFreeze’.
    I cannot understand why Paul Nuttall and Patrick o’Flynn are not candidates – very different types but either would be credible and either would expand UKIP’s reach into working class, Labour territory.
    I realize they have their personal reasons for not standing: but sometimes you have to consider your duty to the country above your personal preferences. Brexit will never ever happen unless a very very strong UKIP is pressing for it, and winning by~elections and then many seats at the next General.
    We NEED PAUL OR PATRICK. Steven is very unfortunately, toast as re leadership prospects.

    • Are you suggesting that the committing of a serious criminal offence regarding electoral law is acceptable. The real question the party should be asking is who else knew and who lease sanction Woolfe standing in 2012 and why is he not here to answer these questions

  9. It’s clear that Nigel and others at HQ don’t like Carswell, Evans and Hamilton and also have problems with the NEC. I understand why but we’re supposed to be an inclusive party, there should be room for a wide range of different views. Carswell and Evans have valid opinions. I’m also concerned that Mr Banks has rather too much influence. There were also some strange appointments during the 2015 election and unsuitable people appointed.

    Despite concerns, I will be supporting the call for an EGM and a change in party governance, it seems to be the only way we can get unity. The NEC did their best to carry out their duties, which are after all to see the rules are observed but it’s time for change now and the last service they could do for the party is to immediatly go, with our thanks for past services. This would save much angst and they must surely see that the majority of the grassroots do not support them. To be honest, most of us have little idea who they are, they got elected on the basis of a few words in the party magazine.
    From the proposals I’ve seen so far, a committee of Area chairmen, who we are much more likely to have heard speak or to have met, seems a better way to represent Branches and members. there should however also be rather more openness about how those Area people are elected.

    I’m not sure why some of the Leadership candidates entered the race, they are clearly not suitable leadership material or represent small factions only. Get the wrong person elected and we’re finished.
    My own preference is James and if she were to promise to appoint Woolfe as her deputy, they would form an unbeatable team.
    The most important thing now is to get this issue behind us as quickly as possible, unite behind a strong leadership team and get on with the huge amount of work they still need to be done.

  10. Liz, you obviously support this pro-Tory subterfuge, please remember that unlike some other political parties,us kippers are not the gullible idiots which the NEC treat us as! This open letter is at best patronising us and at worse it is an insult to our intelligence, we will not be cowed by the obviously pro-Tory NEC, the members are who matter and our voices can be heard, we have stopped whispering, we are now roaring, remember this time!!

    • The call for the removal of the NEC by various parties shows a distinct lack of understanding of their role. UKIP Ltd is just that a limited company the NEC are actually a board of directors and LEGALLY charged in acting in that role by company law. The decision to uphold the rule over Woolfe would be the same now and the NEC cannot be abolished in the way that people are suggesting as the Company will still require a board of directors, you can call them what you like but its a legal requirement.

  11. Did the other candidates submit their applications before the deadline, sensibly leaving a margin of time in case of inevitable technical or administrative hitches to be sorted out?
    Did Steven Woolfe manage to do this?
    What about fairness to the other candidates who weren’t complacent, planned ahead, followed the rules, met the deadline whatever it took? Are they supposed to look on happily while the rules are waived for Steven Woolfe’s benefit because “he’s the best candidate” as some people claim? What an insult to the other candidates and to the membership. It is the MEMBERSHIP VOTE that decides who is the best candidate, not those who are already in Steven’s corner and are prepared to elect him despite any foul-ups he creates.

    I had already decided not to vote for Steven before he was ruled out. Why?
    Because he turned up late at our Brexit rally, having fallen asleep at a motorway stop. He rushed in shrugging his jacket on and spent the first 10 minutes of his speech tucking his shirt into his trousers – most distracting. He offended every cat-lover in the room by likening his next-door’s cat to corrupt, greedy, slyly grinning politicians and ‘fat cat’ businessmen (it was all too personal and literal to count as a metaphor), and topped it off by reading a poem of his own composition (a definite no-no at a political meeting). I was distinctly underwhelmed by his performance and disappointed that someone I had thought could be the next leader was so insensitive to his audience.

    • I have seen it acknowledged elsewhere by a member of the NEC that indeed there was another candidate that submitted after Woolfe did and was received within the time limit. Which all begs the question, who was Woolfe on the phone to whilst trying to make his submission and were they ‘consulted’by the NEC as to the validity of his claim that he was suffering a technical glitch from 11.35 onwards? It’s obvious that Woolfe not being a cat lover has a great bearing on your opinion of him, but the world and indeed the membership is not made up of cat lovers – I for one can’t bear the creatures, do you want to ban me from UKIP?

      • Of course, I don’t want to ban you from UKIP, Ann. I am much fonder of birds than cats, but my husband is a cat-lover and so were others in the room. Rambling on about the cat was just one aspect of his lack of sensitivity to his audience: falling asleep, arriving late, going on stage half-dressed, not having anything inspiring to say, and reading out his own poem as if we were at a sixth-formers’ literature appreciation society. He was the biggest Party fish we had speaking at that rally, but other speakers, some unknown, were much more impressive and enjoyable to hear than Woolfe.
        It was a shame, because I have heard him at National Conference and singled him out in my mind as a possible future leader. But perhaps he didn’t think our provincial rally was worth making much of an effort for. Big mistake – one Nigel wouldn’t have made.

  12. The Labour Party is kicking hell out of itself, UKIP have a golden opportunity, then somebody in NEC makes a decision that is totally against the interest of the Party, and indeed the country. I suggest it was not in the interest of anything of more importance than our future

  13. The open letter deals with the elephant in the room. Woolfe admitted not disclosing the criminal offence as required NOT by UKIP but by the election process that governs the election of Police and Crime Commissioners. This is called electoral fraud and Woolfe admitted to it in a HUFF Post article on Monday 1st August and it was then reported widely including the BBC. This intiself is a real problem as it is likely that senior figures knew that this had happened and allowed him to stand. That could be conspiracy to commit a far far more serious offence. So before members go screaming and shouting to the hurdles and want to drag part of the party down think for heavens and ask Steven Woolfe why it was he thought it was a good idea not to disclose the fact. I myself have asked this question of a number of people who support Woolfe and still await a sensible response.

    • There are many reasons for not voting for Steven Woolfe, but it is for the members to decide whether to believe he forgot his spent conviction (no mens rea) or whether he was being economical with the truth (and so fraudulent). A decision about whether to accept a nomination process begun before the deadline but concluded after it due to a technical glitch has nothing to do with whether he is a good candidate or not, merely whether a legitimate one. Personally, I favour Diane James but I will be at the EGM, if it comes to pass, and I will otherwise be rallying at the conference. In a sense, Woolf is a catalyst for all that is wrong with the faction on the NEC that is high handed and partisan that , through its leaks, damages the party.

  14. love europe, hate the eu // August 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm // Reply

    I received a like-minded email from one of your ‘colleagues’, my reply was, “not wholly convinced”. Likewise your comment.

    Appears to me there is a group of people who prefer bureaucracy to common sense; which I understand is a founding, and popular, principle of UKIP policy.

    It further appears to me the people who prefer the former are in the wrong party.

  15. Malcolm Marchesi // August 5, 2016 at 1:29 pm // Reply

    Liz Phillip’s letter was exactly the sort of formulaic response that would have come from lib/lab/con , exactly the sort of bureaucratic guff that we need to get rid of . What about “justice tempered with mercy ” or dare I even say ,” common sense “.

    • Quite

    • Totally agree with your comments. Rules are made to be broken especially when they are not in the best interests of Unity. Common sense has been overlooked by the NEC and the Party Chairman. Any Board of Directors can find a way to bend the rules. The Party is being compared to the split in the Labour Party and if we do not have the widest choice of Candidates to vote for our Party risks a split as well. Come on Party Chairman sort this out.

  16. I’d like to suggest that there might be a different way of looking at this. To me a deadline is a deadline. One either misses it or not. If it is correct that payment was accepted prior to the cut-off then surely this could be regarded as timeous acceptance of the application itself?
    If it is correct that there is a rule that states that applications should be lodged at least 48 hours ahead of the deadline to me that simply says the deadline is not the deadline after all and the words ‘at least’ imply that someone could then presumably decide to arbitrarily reject an application on the grounds that it was not ‘early enough’.
    Whatever the outcome of this may I suggest that the rules be changed so the deadline is the deadline, perhaps with acceptance of payment as the criterion for deeming an application as having been received. Thereafter the administrative staff could take their 48 hours, or longer if they wish, to decide on the merits of the application. Perhaps there should also be a defined appeal process to vet any disputed applications with a final decision being made by an appeal board of some kind.
    This board might also be given the power to decide whether a non-disclosure was of such a nature that it could be left for voters to decide on or present a danger of bringing the party into disrepute.
    Had such a system, or something similar, been in place this matter could have been dealt with without generating bad publicity by the simple expedient of having the candidate agree to announce that the application had been voluntarily withdrawn.
    I fully agree that non-disclosure of any kind is a very serious matter in politics. Those that uncovered this should be commended. (I’m assuming this matter has been reported correctly.) The party needs to protect itself and ultimately, were we to win the next election, the country by ensuring that applications from candidates that might be vulnerable to black-mail of any kind are not accepted.
    Whatever the merits of my suggestion I do think something needs to be done and must be seen to be done to assure members and supporters that UKIP has the quality to manage its own internal affairs and ultimately the affairs of state.
    UKIP’s heart is in the right place. It’s time to get its head in the right place also. We do not have a choice. We are the only party in British politics fully committed to getting the UK out of the EU.

  17. Looks like the EU Referendum result must be in doubt, because of the illegal extension that Cameron put on the registration date for the Electoral Register? Stop trying to hide the NEC machinations. They can quite easily be flexible about this instead of causing a crisis.

  18. Dear Liz, So the deadline is really 48 hours before the one published? The candidate is a fool for not realising that? Do you believe he began the process before the noon deadline or not? Do you accept he paid before the deadline? If the rule is so rigid, so incontrovertible why did the NEC have to vote at all? A deadline is a deadline, a rule is a rule – these are the pious claims of bureaucratic bullies. He began before the published deadline. Allowing a 17 minute extension for a technical hitch would not have harmed anyone’s interests. But it appears to have served someone’s interests. It’s called corruption. You defend administrative purity for purity’s sake and in so doing alienate much of the membership. Well done. Just keep repeating this self-regarding defence of bureaucratic thuggery. That’ll calm things down – not!

    • Good point! Imagine if we’d missed out on Nigel Farage because he was a few minutes late. There would be no UKIP at all and we’d be in the European Union forever.

      Isn’t this about the UK and its people, not about bureaucratic dogma?

  19. A missed plane is rectified by catching the next plane or making alternate travel arrangements. When rules outweigh a greater rationality then there is something seriously wrong. The leadership contest without possibly the strongest candidate is just not credible. Who’s afraid of Mr Woolfe?

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