Enoch Powell, who may have been a very clever man but was a lousy politician, made it impossible to talk about immigration for more than a generation. With his so-called ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech he gave those who hate their country an excuse to attack anyone who tries to address the problem.  Ms Waters is making the exact same error. I wrote the following open letter to Stuart Agnew as soon as I heard that he too was giving our enemies an obvious target:

“Dear Stuart,

To say I was surprised by your suggestions for leadership candidates in the latest Eastern MEP update would be an understatement. I can think of no-one less suitable to lead our recovery from the current situation than Anne Marie Waters. […]

The mainstream Press will claim that Miss Waters epitomises everything we in Suffolk have been fighting against: that may be unfair but they are looking for something, anything, to use against us. All our hard work will be wasted […]

We have not achieved that result by banging on against Islamisation – we have pushed the message that if we close the borders and stop mass immigration then things will settle down. The vast majority of people in Suffolk do not distinguish between too many Romanians, too many Poles or too many people from Pakistan or Bangladesh. They want fewer immigrants full stop.

Associating with the EDL and talking about Islamisation will make any supporters we have left after the last leadership débâcle head back to whence they came, and you seem to be advocating just that. You may plead that she has been traduced and is bravely speaking the truth. Surely by now you have realised that appearance is all in politics, and what matters is how a story can be spun. I could write the headlines myself. ‘UKIP veers Right. EDL Takes Control. –  UKIP Candidate Supports Extremism.’

Would those headlines be fair? Maybe not, although I have my own opinion on that, but we are not talking fairness or truth, we are talking politics. To suggest that Miss Waters could do anything but destroy our credibility is naive at best.

How did the proposed burqa ban go down? Badly, losing us many more votes than it gained because the media pointed and shouted ‘racist!’. How did we do in constituencies with large immigrant populations, in places where hundreds of young girls were abused by clearly identifiable perpetrators? Badly, because the media twisted the tale to be about racism, not about justice for cruelly exploited children. How will we do nationally if we cosy up to the EDL and the Press jumps gleefully onto this most obvious of own goals? Disastrously.

You say your chief motivation is to resist Islamisation. A Waters leadership, even her being accepted as a candidate, could make that impossible in the same way that Powell made it impossible. We would give people an excuse to avoid thinking about the inevitable end of the path we are on, let them dismiss reality as prejudice and racism.

There is still time to halt the tide, but your suggestion would be tantamount to dynamiting the lock gates during a tempest. Just suggesting that she is acceptable is immensely damaging. If I had my way she would not even be a member.

Advocating tight border controls and the reintroduction of the primary purpose law would achieve your aim but would present a much smaller target. If Miss Waters remains a member I will protest. If she is accepted as a candidate I will campaign and vote against. If by any mischance she became UKIP leader I would resign. 

Rgds, Julian Flood”

There is a vocal minority of members who think that concentrating on Islamification will attract votes. They are wrong. I speak here from considerable experience: I joined UKIP in 2013 and in three months I was a county councillor and served the people of Haverhill for four years. I have campaigned in five by-elections, stood for county twice, fought for borough once, for Westminster twice. I have leafleted what feels like half of the UK and doorstepped the other half.

Pushing this agenda will lose votes not attract them. If nothing I have said here has changed their minds then those who wish to make this their priority should let go of UKIP and form their own party. I do not wish them luck, and when they are wiped out at the ballot box I will say ‘I told you so.’

As a minority on Suffolk County council we found that we could only make a difference by playing politics by the rules, and the first rule is ‘don’t make yourself a target for a hostile Press’. Too many of our candidates for the leadership seem to have forgotten or, through lack of experience, are ignoring that rule.

Let me end on a positive note.

I was standing outside a polling station in Oldham West and Royton looking very obviously UKIP – I had a purple rosette, a purple clipboard and a purple face from the cold. A young Asian woman with a toddler stood and looked at the big sign, and then with a determined expression marched up to me and asked how she could vote. I explained and she went off to find her voting card. Half an hour later she was back. When she emerged she nodded thank you as she passed me and said quietly ‘the first time I have ever voted’. The triumph in her voice was wonderful, a message of hope. “Damn the imam” it said, “damn the elders, damn my father, damn my husband, damn my brothers, damn my mother and damn Granny. Damn everyone. Today I voted as a free woman.”

There is the prize: integration.

Close the borders, restore the primary purpose rule, restrict the chaos that is postal voting and things will settle down. By putting vanity before duty, by being delusional about their chances, by being simplistic about the problems we face, the majority of those who are standing in this election are risking that prize by splitting the vote. I beg them to put their country first. I beg them to put duty before self, ensuring a straight contest between the politically inept and those of us who know how hard is the battle ahead. Get this right and UKIP can survive.

Enoch was wrong, or at least he is not right yet. Let’s make sure that he stays wrong.