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A Personal Report on UKIP Leadership Hustings

UKIP Leadership Hustings – a personal view by Gerald Gravett

I attended the Barking and Dagenham ‘Public Meeting’ back on the 30th July when five of the leadership candidates made an early appearance in their electioneering campaign (watch here and here)

Since then, I have been involved with the UKIP Surrey Committee’s organisation of the Official South-East Region’s Hustings which were held on Thursday 31st August in Dorking. All 10 candidates were present although three withdrew on the night, leaving seven (watch the whole event here).

I then went to the ‘Official UKIP Hustings’ in London at the Emmanuel Hall on the 4th September. All the ‘Magnificent 7’ were present. There was a significantly smaller audience of about 100 or so than at the Dorking hustings, which attracted 160 plus. One of the candidates – Peter Whittle I think – commented on numbers at hustings and mentioned Dorking as the biggest.

I have also seen some clips on Youtube, which tend to be rather selective in their subjects. This was one of the reasons why we in Surrey decided that we would video the whole of our event and upload it in its entirety as one file. We wanted to be scrupulously fair to all the candidates and not be selective nor unilaterally leave anything or anyone out.

I have since reflected on the candidates and their performance over the whole cycle and in particular their showing at the Emmanuel Hall on the 4th September. These then are my views on their performances – which are not necessarily my preferences regarding who I would personally support.

John Rees Evans looked and superficially sounded the part in London. He is a charismatic character but increasingly seems lacking in two areas.  It is not good enough to keep stating that it is up to the electorate to decide policy – that is surely not good leadership. Firstly, John is quite one dimensional, seemingly short on all policy issues except for ‘Direct Democracy’. Secondly, he places so much focus on ‘Direct Democracy’ but on every occasion that I have seen him speak, he has failed to explain how it would actually work in practice. He has effectively said far too often that he does not have time to explain in the short time given him at hustings and does not seem to realise that this is not acceptable. If it cannot be explained briefly to members, then what chance does he have of explaining it to the general public. To me, sadly, unless and until he overcomes this issue, it makes him unelectable at both levels – leadership and public elections. I say sadly, as I believe that he is an honest and committed man with a high-minded vision. He has apparently posted a 40-page personal manifesto on his web site.

Jane Collins MEP made much issue in her London speech as to her being a figurehead and team player, with former candidates supporting her. A little arrogant and confrontational, she seems lacking somewhat in personality. Realistically though, she started as a rank outsider and now has the support of a couple of other rank outsiders, so that as a group they remain as outsiders likely to gain maybe five to ten percent of the vote at best.

Aidan Powlesland MA cantab has a very dry humour but is viewed by most as a very lightweight candidate, a nice man, but no chance whatsoever of winning.

Henry Bolton OBE has an outstanding curriculum vitae – as he repeatedly keeps telling us. Henry is a former Army cavalry soldier, infantry officer, police officer and diplomat and an award winner whilst at Sandhurst Military Academy. He was awarded an OBE for services to international security and stabilisation in 2013. Henry has been an advisor to many foreign governments and has spent three years working in a senior position in the EU. A very ‘punchy’ speaker, Henry is viewed by some as a little arrogant. Comes over as probably the most typical politician type of all the candidates and one of the three most likely to be acceptable to the mainstream voter whilst exposing ‘traditional’ UKIP values. Says he has Nigel as a supporter for the leadership and is probably the most ‘Nigel like’ in his persona. A successful candidate needs two qualities –views that satisfy the membership and, vitally, the presence or preferably charisma that well appeal to the electorate at large. Henry has these qualities whilst maybe coming across as a little bit too ‘me’ and egotistical.

Anne Marie Waters is a driven person. She is passionate and almost frantic in her delivery of a rather one-dimensional agenda. That she genuinely believes in the truth of her cause is in no doubt and many members would agree with her. In London, she did cover rather more ground than the usual Muslim issue and spoke much sense. She has a very committed following but there is also a significant opposition to her, many of whom may agree with her views, but feel that she would be unelectable and likely to bring unwanted media scorn on to the party. Marmite.

Peter Whittle AM is deputy leader of the party, a member of the London Assembly and spokesman on cultural affairs. Whilst having strong views on the EU, migration/immigration and the terrorist threat, he is pragmatic and well-grounded in his ideas. He possesses a very robust set of values and has the ability to express them in a calm, considered and well delivered manner. He is very much a defender of British culture and traditions. A much improved public speaker over the last couple of years, he now comes across well in television interviews and there is little doubt that he would put up a good front for the party in public.  Peter has media savvy, strength, fairness, persuasiveness, politeness, and looks the part.

David Kurten AM is a member of the London Assembly and spokesman on education. As would be expected of a teacher of over twenty years standing, he has a certain charm, sense of humour and communication skills. His agenda is wide ranging and his public speaking improves by the day. David is a ‘Dark Horse’ – no pun intended – coming up on the rails. He is the person most likely to appeal to the wider voter although would need to be careful not to let one of his witticisms to be taken out of context by the media. Supported by Arron Banks.

Strongest speaker on the day:

These are not my views on who I would support, but my view of how they performed on the day at the Emmanuel Hall Hustings.

Anne Marie Waters was passionate but contorted and frantic in her delivery – is this good or bad? Would it come over well on television to the average voter?

Henry Bolton was powerful if a little arrogant. Of all the candidates, perhaps he is the most typical politician type – is this good or bad?

Peter Whittle – solid, calm, considered and organised in his approach. A safe pair of experienced hands.

David Kurten – very natural delivery with a touch of humour. My view is that Peter and David came out equally best.

My view- again not necessarily my preferences – of the likely final result. Not very scientific, but……….


1           Peter                     27%

2           Anne Marie         23%

3           David                    17%

4           Henry                   16%

5           John                     12%

6           Jane                       4%

7           Aidan                      1%


Peter seems to be in a strong pole position, as does Anne Marie in second.  Interestingly, I believe that had there been a leader/deputy Leader pact between David and Henry – who appear to be extremely compatible – with one of them withdrawing and pledging support to the other – then Peter may have been put under some pressure.


Gerald Gravett, Secretary UKIP Surrey Committee

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8 Comments on A Personal Report on UKIP Leadership Hustings

  1. Fascinating contest. I see AMW is a 5/4 favourite with the bookies.

    Can anyone tell
    1. Size of electorate
    2. When cut off date was …to have a vote

  2. WORD OF MOUTH is still the most potent communication.
    In this regard AMW will do better than her critics hope; but so will HB!
    Although poundland would be an utter disaster as captain of the good ship UKIP that is just not going to happen. Neither JC nor DK have enough grassroots support/reputation. JRE might be a surprise win and that would not be a breakdown, just a slight odd rechanneling of the party.
    The real nightmare is a waffling whittle win as he offers nothing but the same old corrupt elitism of the ukip aristocracy. It would be a slow death but at least a painless one. There might even be a sort of celebration in Lewes on November 5th.

  3. Peter Whittle is not a safe pair of hands. All six Havering Borough Councillors have said they will not stand for re-election in 2018 if Whittle is elected Leader. UKIP does not have a chance in hell of holding any of the other local seats in London.

    Only with AMW will UKIP grow. We will lose many if not most of our MEPs and councillors, yet we will see a membership increase that will far outpace any which we have seen within UKIP at any other time in its history.

    With Whittle our membership will decrease, councillors outside of Thurrock will not stand for re-election, and our MEPs will fade into obscurity. The again, most of our MEPs are already obscure.

    I’ll burn my membership card if Whittle is elected.

  4. I have to comment on the flawed nature of the writer’s assessment of John Rees-Evans.

    He criticises JRE for being “one dimensional, seemingly short on all policy issues except for Direct Democracy”. Gerald has clearly failed to understand that DD is not as such a ‘policy’; it’s an overarching, all-encompassing, systematic plan governing all aspects of UKIP’s future organisational, aspirational and policy mechanisms.

    To ask someone to explain all that ‘briefly’, at a hustings is rather like asking someone to explain UKIP’s 2015 Policy Manifesto, which actually JRE suggests should be the starting point for current UKIP policies, in a similarly short time.

    He criticises JRE for “stating that it is up to the electorate to decide policy”. JRE has not said that.
    JRE’s plan is structured to ensure that the policies of UKIP are developed carefully, with wide input, to be in accordance with the general will of the membership of the party. It is the vital antidote to the ‘decisions made by small groups of people behind closed doors’ poison that has so damaged the party in the last couple of years.

    Finally, JRE has been explaining Direct Democracy for the last 12 months, for God’s sake! Hasn’t Gerald been listening? John stood on the plan in the November 2016 leadership election. He’s explained it when answering in lengthy Q&A sessions. He’s written about it. He’s explained it in videos. There’s even been some practical trialling of part of his proposed system.

    And most recently and comprehensively he’s explained it in his 38-page leadership manifesto, along with his views on a whole host of issues summarised into 15 crucial ‘National Campaign’ areas.
    Link below:-

    I think it would be helpful if Gerald could read it before he next sees JRE at a hustings.
    He may still disagree with JRE and he may still wish to criticise him and his plans.
    But his criticism would be considerably better informed.

  5. Most of the persons here reading UKIPDaily are in a minority who have read these articles (they rarely exceed 500 readers), or who have watched YouTube videos of hustings (rarely exceeding 500 views). [I don’t know about Twitter or Facebook views.]

    As most of the members have neither read these articles nor watched the videos can our considered opinions be used to predict how uninformed members will cast their votes?

    From the readership and viewership there could be as few as 1,000 persons who have read, viewed or attended a meeting. (I would guess 2,000 in total)

    If so and if 30% of members vote that means that the decision will be taken based on what? Mass media or name recognition?

    I just did a search for “UKIP leadership election” and the top three media stories were from 2016. The next was a negative story about AMW, then half a page lower ‘Bill Etheridge’.and then more stories about 2016.

    My conclusion is that the race is open, that we, who have read and attended, are not representative of the UKIP voters unless the election is only going to get a tiny turnout and that there hasn’t been enough media coverage for voters to judge.

    Which names do the members recognise and have a positive connection to?

  6. Dear Gerald,

    Thank you for your comprehensive impression of all the candidates at the hustings in this leadership campaign, I have also attended a few in London but not as many as you it would appear. However, I tend to agree with most of your observations, you have described them much better than I could ever have done.

    Today, my ballot paper has finally arrived and I have to admit I have been agonizing who to vote for, for me it has been between two candidates only:- David Kurten and AMW’s. I could go into lengthy details as to why it is these two but I will not bore you with them, simply to say, with me it is between heart v head and trying to predict which one is good for our party and country.

    I am glad to say that you have helped me make my mind up and I will be voting for David Kurten, mainly because I really like him and I feel I can trust him, I also like AMW’s and have huge respect for her but am a little worried that she may be unpredictable and a tad bad tempered when under pressure.

    So, my decision is simply down to these things, it is a big risk because we know so little about David apart from the fact he is on the London Assembly, and he has made some odd comments, such as the one about homosexuality, but he has justified his reasoning for them. However, should he become leader or deputy leader he will need to be much more careful in future. He certainly would embark on a steep learning curve, but so would anyone else, but I feel he is capable and resilient enough to cope, and I also feel he could have some new exciting ideas.

    So, there you have it, after much thought and even discussions with myself on which way to go, I have done got there in the end. But as you say in the above the most likely winner will be Peter Whittle, and all I can say to that is “Oh dear”!.

  7. Good balanced article.

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