Ed: UKIP Daily was forwarded a copy of the following letter sent by John Bickley to branch treasurers on 10th February. On reading this letter we are of the opinion that members should be able to read it as well since there won’t be many branch meetings between now and the EGM and their branch treasurers may well not have the time to inform them. Therefore we publish the full letter, unredacted, below:
1. The Party’s finances:
When I took on the party treasurer’s role in November 2015 the party’s finances were in a parlous state: almost £4 million was spent in the six months leading up to and including the 2015 General Election, following which the party was left with a £800,000 shortfall. The NEC had not been made aware of the extent of the overspend in the general election campaign and we spent the remainder of 2015 working with donors to repair the financial hole, sufficiently to keep the party afloat as the EU referendum came into view in early 2016.
Through tight financial controls, which were not always popular with the leadership, and further generous support from donors, we managed to play our part in the EU Referendum, to historic effect.
In reality though, the party, which prior to the European elections in 2014 had built up a substantial cash reserve, has been living hand-to-mouth since 2015 and today our finances are again under great pressure. Despite our running an extremely tight ship, the ‘job done’ feeling following the referendum, plus the party’s repeated leadership problems over the past 18 months have significantly impacted our income.
Two weeks ago when articles about Mr Bolton appeared in The Sun, Daily Telegraph & the IB Times he appears to have informed the public (inaccurately) that the party is losing £20–30,000 a month. This is a serious error of judgement for any senior party officer and director to make, since it sends a clear message that the party is in severe decline, so discourages members from renewing their membership or making donations.
Unsurprisingly, some suppliers are now looking for early payment or asking for payment in advance. Mr Bolton has yet to explain why inviting such damaging public coverage about our finances is in the Party’s best interests.
2. Donations and expenses paid to Mr Bolton:
Within the same newspaper articles the impression was given that the party is failing to support Mr Bolton financially:
* The Sun (23 Jan): “The party Treasurer is one of those trying to get me out, so he has stopped me receiving any salary. It will not work, because I am determined to do this job out of public service not personal advancement.”
* Telegraph (23 Jan): One friend told The Telegraph: “He is paying for everything. Tickets from Folkestone to London. Everything. He doesn’t get a bean.
However Mr Bolton said the party’s ruling National Executive Committee refused to agree to pay him the stipend at a meeting on Sunday when the NEC’s members voted 14-1 that they had no confidence in him.
Henry Bolton, the embattled leader of the UK Independence Party, has admitted he is running out of money after the party refused to cover his expenses.
* The Times 24 Jan: Henry Bolton says he is struggling financially, partly because the Ukip party he leads does not cover his expenses.
At best this coverage is misleading and cannot stand uncorrected. Mr Bolton knows there was never a leader’s salary on offer, in fact I believe he acknowledged the same when interviewed shortly after being elected, stating that he might have to sell his house to fund his leadership.
Here are the facts:
1. Expenses paid by the party to Mr Bolton: £3,329.78
2. Donations/payments to Mr Bolton for his personal use: £11,672.52.
The latter includes £6,076.00 paid directly to Mr Bolton by branches and members, which I have only recently received details of. There are very strict Electoral Commission rules about donations to party officers. Any donation given to any party officer, irrespective of whether it is reportable, has to be approved as permissible by the party treasurer. The party treasurer is held accountable by the Electoral Commission for doing so.
Being conscious of Mr Bolton’s financial plight, some months ago we set up an ‘Office of the Leader’ bank account, into which any member or other third party could make direct donations (or give benefits in kind) to the party leader in compliance with Electoral Commission rules. The NEC finance committee also, at its January 8th meeting, raised the payment of a stipend with Mr Bolton, but he stated that he did not, in the circumstances, expect to receive one at this time.
I hope this clears up claims in the media that he is not receiving financial support from the party. I believe that in the interests of transparency, and to counter damaging and negative media coverage of the party, these facts should be made available to the members.
John Bickley, Party Treasurer, UKIP