Revolution is in the air! We are being called upon to overthrow the NEC and usher in a new era. Henry Bolton’s new website declares that:

“The forthcoming EGM provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to renew the NEC on bloc, for one that will support reform and we can change the ethos of the party management at a stroke. Leaders will come and go over time, but none will succeed if reform is not forthcoming”.

No evidence is provided of how the current, cash strapped NEC is failing to support reform. Rather, this is a continuation of Nigel’s declaration in August 2016 that the NEC was `not fit for purpose’. Nigel’s ipse dixit was enough for some members at the time even though no explanation or illustrative detail was given for this bald declaration.

Indeed, even now, Henry Bolton provides no explanation of how the NEC is holding back reform. It is now holding him back of course, and with good reason in my view, and he probably realises that his own bare declaration looks like the sour grapes it is so his new website has pictures of Nigel with supporting quotations from him. Demagoguery by association.

Nigel has passed on his destructive strategy as a life-line to Bolton. It has the added bonus of re-writing history. Nigel’s failure to plan for the time after the referendum is replaced by this ‘NEC is the root of all evil’ narrative. So appealing is this that even Diane James, who never even met the NEC during her 18 days as leader, has jumped on the bandwagon with a carefully scripted contribution to fake news on Nigel’s LBC show. They seek to avoid responsibility for their past behaviour by casting themselves as victims of an obstructive NEC.

It is a destructive strategy. Had Nigel truly believed in the party’s best interests he would have compiled an in-house, detailed and reasoned document setting out the precise reforms necessary with a view to persuading members of the need for a new constitution if necessary to reform (much of what members complain about is really due to lack of money). But that is not what Nigel did nor is it what Bolton is doing.

The campaign on what are entirely internal matters (how many voters care about our internal structure?) is being conducted in public newspapers only too keen to highlight party divisions to the point of ridicule. It is despicable, demagogic behaviour. It is contempt for ordinary members masquerading as the opposite. It is an appeal to popular prejudices rather than use of rational argument.

I am reminded of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Recall that in the beginning the pigs organised the other animals to overthrow the established order under an inspiring, egalitarian cry to right injustice, but the true agenda was to replace the farm’s human dictators with themselves. The good will and good nature of the ordinary animals was callously and cynically exploited.

The novel is famous for the slogan “Four legs good, two legs bad”, a maxim repeated with Goebbels-like intensity until sufficient animals were indoctrinated. In UKIP we now have

“Reform good, NEC bad”.

Nigel and Henry seek `reform’ which sounds positive and good while the NEC are said to be unaccountable which sounds bad. The only departure from Orwell’s Animal Farm is the addition of #Draintheswamp which Henry has added to his website.

It is worth quoting Orwell more fully:

“FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD, was inscribed on the end wall of the barn…. When they had once got it by heart, the sheep developed a great liking for this maxim, and often as they lay in the field they would all start bleating “Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!” and keep it up for hours on end, never growing tired of it.”

On 17th February we will find out if the pigs will get their own way. Some members will turn up with revolutionary fervour chanting `Reform good, NEC bad’ – but they should remember Orwell’s warning that:

“Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

Be you sheep or pig, or just an old dog like me, I hope you will come to the EGM so that the outcome, whatever it proves to be, will be as definitive as possible.