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State of play: the score so far. Part II

[Ed: This is Part II of a letter by Dr Tomasz Slivnik, taking a close look at the current state of the Party Leadership, and the legal issues. For Part I go here.]

Next question: who is the Party Director?

Before we on the NEC reluctantly agreed to Paul Oakden’s appointment as Party Chairman, we also pointed out that we firstly needed to understand who would take over his job as Party Director. Steve Crowther, who was still Party Chairman at that time, assured us the NEC would be given the opportunity to decide that question next, immediately upon having approved Paul Oakden’s appointment – but of course, we were never given that opportunity. Instead, Paul Oakden – I believe on the very next day – e-mailed every party member saying that Graham Young had been made Party Director. This then lead to vehement objections from the NEC.

Paul Oakden then privately told us all that he did not mean to say Graham Young was Party Director and that he was not so appointed, but that Paul himself remained Party Director, and indeed kept his employment contract as such. Graham would merely be helping him out with some of his duties of Party Director. Paul also told us it was not necessary for him to mailshot the party members (as we had requested) to correct the earlier mailshot, because, in his view, nobody considered Graham Young to be the Party Director, including Graham Young himself. So legally, right now, Paul Oakden is also Party Director, but does anyone in the Party act as if this was the case?

Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 3.

Nathan Gill appears to have accepted now that he is no longer Leader in Wales – but for the wrong reason. He announced, I understand, that his office terminated when Nigel ceased being Party Leader. The truth, of course, is different: his office ceased earlier, as I explained in my resignation letter. We now have the surreal situation where one person, the former Leader in Wales, claims his office ceased upon the election of the new Party Leader, although it did not and there is no legal basis for this, and another, the former Party Chairman, claims his office did not cease upon the election of the new Party Leader, although legally, in fact, this is precisely what happened.

Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 4.

Why does Nathan Gill not believe his office as Leader in Wales terminated when he was (albeit briefly) not a member of the Party when he was expelled by the NEC? Because Paul Oakden claims that he “reinstated” Nathan to membership of the Party, rather than had him readmitted, with the consent of the NEC, under Article 4.4.1 of the Party Constitution, once Nathan re-applied for membership of the Party.

Readmission to membership of the Party (with the consent of the NEC) of an expelled member upon a new membership application is a proper constitutional power of the Party Chairman, “reinstatement” is a nonsense Paul Oakden has conjured up from thin air ,and a power no one in the Party has. Lest I be seen as splitting hairs or picking nits, there is a difference: the claimed “reinstatement” power is supposed to have the effect of the expulsion never having taken place, as a result of which one’s offices in the Party are not affected, nor is the length of continuous membership of the Party, which may be relevant e.g. in elections where there is a minimum length of membership requirement. The proper constitutional procedure does not have this effect!

Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 5.

Since I have brought this point up, I understand Paul Oakden has subsequently exercised his conjured up “reinstatement” power in other circumstances. Minutes of the August meeting of the NEC, in which, as I wrote before, I do not recognize a single word attributed to me, record me as saying that Emmett Jenner “must be thrown out of the party”, and Paul Oakden as saying he would “expel” him. Apart from the fact that I never uttered the words attributed to me, it is the case that Emmett Jenner’s membership of the Party was revoked by Paul Oakden because Emmett Jenner formed a competing political Party.

Article 4.3(b) of the Party Constitution gives the Party Chairman (and indeed the NEC) no discretion as to what they must do under such circumstances: the Party Constitution expressly says that the Party Chairman “shall” (not “can” or “may”) “revoke” the membership of the person in question – not: “expel him”; again there is an important difference of the legal effect, which I shall not go into here. I understand that subsequently, Paul Oakden has again purported to exercise his conjured up power of “reinstatement” to “reinstate” Emmett Jenner to membership of the Party, as though the revocation never took place. That being the case, under the Party Constitution, he continues to be required (or would continue to be required were he properly, constitutionally be the Party Chairman) to revoke Emmett’s membership, which he has not done.

Our score so far on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 6.

One of the reasons I gave for my resignation was that the NEC expressly rejected a particular financial scheme called Lyoness – more on this is in my resignation statement. The NEC also resolved that any Party official promoting Lyoness to Party members, or anyone promoting the scheme at the Party’s events, would automatically be deemed to have brought the Party into disrepute. This is not the only occasion when a particular activity is deemed to bring the Party into disrepute – the Party Rulebook contains a number of Articles stating that such and such shall be taken to bring the Party into disrepute.

Despite this resolution by the NEC and in defiance of it, Peter Jewell, the Party’s Deputy Treasurer, promoted the scheme at the chairmen’s conference on 30 July. The NEC asked the Party Chairmen (both Steve Crowther and Paul Oakden as the events overlapped with both their tenures) to take disciplinary action, and they both refused – but not on the grounds that what Peter Jewell did was unintentional, or not bad enough etc. but on the grounds that Lyoness was never promoted at the conference at all (!), despite there being photographic evidence of the Lyoness stall at that conference. Naturally, the NEC assumed that, at the very least, this would not happen again.

Not so! I understand that a Lyoness stand was very prominent at the Party’s national conference in Bournemouth as well.

What is the purpose of having an NEC if the party’s officers act as though the NEC had endorsed the scheme, when in fact the NEC had banned it, and totally ignore and defy all NEC decisions?

Our final score on the compliance with the Party Constitution: 0 out of 7.

Not a particularly encouraging result!

What is the positive message in this, and is there one?

The answer is: I don’t know. There certainly isn’t going to be any change for the better unless a whole slate of “mani pulite” [‘clean hands’] candidates get elected to the new NEC. Can this be done? The job will certainly be a poisoned chalice, but if no decent people are willing to do it, the future for the Party looks bleak.

Are there enough heroes willing to put themselves forward, go into the bear pit and sort things out?

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17 Comments on State of play: the score so far. Part II

  1. I migrated from Enfield & Haringey Branch to North London(?) UKIP in order to experience how another branch is managed and administered; whilst in North London UKIP, I was elected Membership Secretary and was told by Head Office Branch Officer that they do not have one and I can use the Branch Secretary’s Job Description, so, I resigned. I was later elected North London UKIP Branch Treasurer and requested Head Office’s Organogram/Organisation Chart – Paul Oakden himself replied to me that they do not have that as well! After several experiences, I resigned from being Treasurer – my management and administrative standards being incompatible. I am now back in Enfield & Haringey Branch – processing my return took a long time.
    Fortunately and unfortunately, I have experience of having been Constituency Treasurer for The Labour Party for four years – three of them consecutive(2006 – 2008); during which I designed a simple management accounting presentation format – I had optimised for detail and better transparency – which was accepted by The Electoral Commission. I kept a copy.

  2. Dr. Slivniks resignation letter and his recently published one are a damning indictment of those in control (i.e. those actually controlling rather than those notionally in control) of the party. Today that is highlighted in the press by the comments of Woolfe on his resignation. I expect that he will be criticised for those comments but it would be wise to look behind them rather than shoot the messenger.
    I have been considering joining UKIP prior to my expected return to the UK, so am following the present shambles with more than a passing interest. In particular I have tried in vain to find an organisation chart and a definition of officers’ responsibilities on the UKIP website; all I know has been gleaned from comments on here and links to some other sites such as that of Ray Catlin. Surely such information should be readily available? As it is I doubt many existing members are familiar with the inner workings of the party; perhaps this is intent on the part of some in control to prevent scrutiny of their actions.
    I have no doubt that UKIP has many good people; such people need to rid the party of those with a cavalier attitude to its rules, those using their position to further their own dubious activities which the party has no business being involved in and anyone else with the potential to bring the party into disrepute. If you follow UKIP Daily you know who they are.
    Once rid the changes need to be made to the rules and constitution to prevent a recurrence of the disarray. Today, following the comments by Wolfe, is the perhaps the low point of the party’s reputation; it certainly should not be allowed to get any worse. A working party should be established to formulate a new rule book and constitution (there can be no doubt that the present ones have failed); Dr. Slivnik and Ray Catlin (with his proposed constitution) must be part of that group.
    Today is the opportunity to stop the rot and cut out those who are beyond redemption. That of course must start with electing a leader who will support the necessary changes, meaning that the candidates must be required to cover that in their supporting statements.

  3. Steven Woolfe’s resignation from the party reported on TV today has relieved us remaining in UKIP of the waste of money and time that would ensue from an “investigation”! In the absence of CCTV, we will get conflicting versions(- from politicians) of what actually happened; and no credible and convincing result!
    I also think Nigel Farage and Paul Oakden should voluntarily exclude themselves from taking any part in processing who the next elected Chairman should be because of “conflict of interest”; after all, they contributed to the current management and administrative mess we are in. One option worth considering is for NEC Members plus Regional and Branch Chairmen to convene a SELF-FUNDED EMERGENCY WEEK-END MEETING to agree/acquiesce the procedures for processing the new leader contest. A management of changes challenge.

  4. I was right this is all quite depressing.

  5. Dear Dr Slivnik, thank you so much for your candour which I find refreshing, if rather disconcerting. I recently joined UKIP because, having spent most of my life at the bottom end of Africa, I recognise the road the UK is on. So here are some comments I’ve cobbled together giving a view from the perspective of someone trying to make sense of it all from the outside looking in.
    I know, from my national service days having decided to take things seriously and go for rank that in the army (I’m assuming it’s much the same in the British Army), that once one leaves the rank-and-file there is a whole new world of rules to learn. They call it military law. Rank and file members don’t need to know this, as long as they obey orders. If they don’t they soon learn, usually the hard way.
    As I see it we have a situation where, presumably because at its genesis UKIP was small, strict party discipline is being disregarded by some who achieved seniority without sufficient knowledge of the rules because in the early days this was not essential.
    In the army promotion to the officer corpse was by examination. If you didn’t pass you remained rank and file.
    Rules are the glue needed to hold the party together by keeping things fair so that the sort of disputes that can lead to internal splits, factions and even the splitting of the party itself are kept to an absolute minimum.
    Would I be correct in assuming that membership of UKIP is conditional on accepting and agreeing to abide by the party rules? If it isn’t perhaps it should be.
    The excellent example you give, the Lyoness matter, should leave no one in any doubt that party discipline is not only essential for the smooth efficient running of the party, but for protecting it from external threats. In this regard any form or manifestation of corruption of any kind should be regarded as an external threat because, at its core, it involves someone or some group working within the party to serve their own self-interest at the expense of party members.
    This is not a game we are playing and politics is not for the faint of heart. If we are to transition from a protest movement to ultimately running our country we need to take ourselves seriously. Our enemies, of which there are many both in the UK and elsewhere, see the danger we are to them and certainly do.
    Brexit has been a litmus test for patriotism. The people want what we want but the majority in Parliament do not. We need to keep ourselves free from being infected by those who march to a distant drum or risk becoming just like our political opponents, riddled with traitors. For this we need integrity.
    There is no choice for us as a party. We absolutely have to rise to the difficult challenge facing us because there is no one else that can do for our country what we can do and it’s imperative that we do it.

  6. Good comments here already. Thank god for UKIP Daily and its eminently intelligent and sensible readers.

    Antony Nailer’s paragraph beginning “The salaried staff are receiving a living …” succinctly encapsulates the problem at the heart of the party, the ultimate reason Slivnik resigned.

    I do not support forming a new party though. All our elected councillors and one MP cannot be forced to migrate to a new party and many members who have given their all to UKIP are attached to its identity and deserve better than to have their party taken away (by Bank’s Momentum?).

    UKIP does need to re-invent itself perhaps to lose the baggage. The Labour Party did it under Blair. We shall do it under…?

    Concerning Woolfe, the reasons for his collapse are first and foremost a medical judgement. The longer we wait on news of that the more we may consider that the reason does not reflect well on Woolfe or otherwise why not release news of the cause as determined by doctors?

    Oakden in his interview with foreign media says there are conflicting accounts from MEPs over what happened at that `closed’ meeting. No kidding? He should release each MEP’s statement. We’ll help him sort it out.

    • So Woolfe couldn’t resist kicking UKIP on his way out, according to the news tonight.
      I agree with Stout Y – members and voters are (or were) attached to the UKIP identity and with a fair wind and a half good leader we can go forward.
      Regards the Leadership contest, could we not nominate Viv to interview all candidates on our behalf and give accounts of the interviews here? I am confident that you know, through comments, what exercises readers of UKIP Daily most, Viv.

  7. Dr Slivnik, I am indebted to your Part I and Part II articles explaining the goings on at the top of the party. It is as before with the salaried staff exercising power and ignoring the elected NEC and membership.
    There does not seem to me to be a method by which the members can call the salaried staff to account within UKIP as it exists.

    You seem well experienced in the constitution of how the party should work and no doubt have ideas on how that should be improved.

    It would seem to me that there is an impasse.

    The salaried staff are receiving a living from the contributions to the party and are holding power such that no one can dismiss them. The salaried staff are not engaging with the membership nor listening to them. The membership does not have any mechanism to call the salaried staff to account.

    The UKIP membership is a headless chicken and needs to look for a new head! One or more people with management skills, with organisational skills, and public charisma are required to create a new UKIP and come to the aid of the membership.
    Essentially a new party is needed that has none of the problems and baggage UKIP now carries and so can absorb existing members and appeal to the huge numbers of Tories and Labour people who voted to Leave the EU.
    We also then need to address other problems of these nations and offer alternative policies to Tory and Labour. We must be willing to address the sacred cows of NHS, welfare, and pensions.

    • Antony,

      Maybe you are right about a new party being required; no doubt events of the coming weeks will confirm if that is the case. As a prospective member I could be tempted and may not join UKIP unless / until I see that changes are being made. I suspect that I am not alone when I look at the small number of UKIP members as a proportion of those who voted to leave the EU.

      Whatever happens an opposition party to keep May on track is needed and quickly.

  8. Do we have to wait to get this sort of information from “The management” by scouring the net for information on the leadership contest ? See the link under) http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/1017/824630-ukip/

    There IS a needfor urgency !

    • Thank you for that link, Paul!

      It’s jaw-dropping that the current chairman/director is making these comments while keeping us members in the dark – again.

      • VIV

        The other thing that concerns me about this article is Paul Oakden said there is no rush, we must make sure we get the right person. I think we do need to get a shift on with this election and it goes without saying we must choose the right leader. But does he mean by that comment that the ‘management’ want who they consider to be the right which in their view might just be a certain Steven Woolfe?

    • Paul,

      Quite honestly this is no surprise to me, but how can it be taking so long to sort this matter out. There were plenty of witnesses there although they did not see exactly what happened during the 30 seconds in that room.

      Between the two people involved we know that one of them is lying, and it probably is difficult to determine which one is telling lies. But you can go by the evidence which to me is that I cannot see any trace of bruising in the photographs, either on Steven’s face or Mike Hookem’s knuckles, which considering the force he is supposed to have used there should be something there.

      But then one cannot deny that Steven was flat out for the count two hours later on the stairwell and supposedly had two epileptic fits, which the hospital seemed to have confirmed. However, they could be unconnected to the altercation that took place earlier on, perhaps caused by stress or something else. We do not know if he has a history of epilepsy so it is all open to conjecture.

      The only thing I would add is that for some reason there were no CCTV cameras in the room or rooms where the altercation took place, but his collapse could not have been in a more public place, where there were plenty of cameras to record the event.

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