Under the terms of the constitution, if the members present at the EGM on February 17th do not endorse the NEC’s unanimous vote of no confidence in the leader, then all 12 elected members of the NEC must stand down. This has allowed leader, Henry Bolton and others, notably former leader, Nigel Farage, to tap into widespread discontent with the running of the party and portray the forthcoming vote as Henry vs the NEC.
This is a dangerous route to take. If sufficient members are deceived we will have a leader who has lost the respect of many members, including a significant proportion of those who originally voted for him. A leader who has lost the respect, if he ever had any, of the general public, who have devoured the whole tawdry saga with their toast and marmalade or mashed avocado. We will still have the NEC, maybe with a few different faces, but with NEC elections months overdue – delayed to allow reforms to be put in place first – we should have had some new faces anyway.
Myth 1: Henry Bolton and the end of the NEC
As Henry himself puts it on his website: “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.” – Wrong
If the vote of no confidence isn’t carried by the members attending the EGM, there will be new elections for all the elected members (which is not the NEC in its entirety) under the same rules. Apart from those who refuse to stay in the party if Henry Bolton is still leader and those who have already given up, it will be the same people voting for those who put their names forward for the ‘new’ NEC as those who voted in 2016.
“… renew the NEC on bloc, for one that will support reform.” – Misinformation
The reason 93 candidates stood in 2016 was precisely because, after all the criticism of the NEC from Nigel, candidates and members alike were keen for reform. Current and former NEC members have already commented on past problems with its proper functioning. I don’t propose to go over old ground but one thing is clear – the failures of administration, communication and structure cannot be laid at the feet of sequential NEC members alone. Attacking the NEC is like treating the symptoms of a stomach ulcer rather than eradicating the helicobacter infection that is causing it.
Myth 2: Only Henry Bolton will deliver reform
“Another change of Party Leader is not the change UKIP needs.” To paraphrase the late Mandy Rice-Davies – well, Henry would say that, wouldn’t he? No one wanted another change of party leader but a good many members, evaluating the effect of Henry’s brief stewardship on the electorate in their local area, think that a change of leader is essential.
“A vote to support the NEC will be a vote against change” – Wrong
This is wrong in so many ways. Let’s just take one, the response to member’s demands for reform, the recognition that we need to be more professional, communicate with members better, master modern media, some of which dates back to Nigel’s time as leader.
Henry talks about changing the NEC, which operates as the board of directors of a limited company, for a board of trustees. He is not alone, on 28th January Darrell Goodliffe published proposals for reform by Indigo Group spokesman, Ben Walker, including the spreadsheet below:
This was uncannily familiar to a draft proposal shown to me in March 2017 by Paul Nuttall’s then special advisor. He kindly sent me the original document reproduced below:
Spot the difference! There isn’t any. We haven’t seen Henry’s reforms in print yet but note that both refer to a Board of Trustees. Our previous leader, Paul Nuttall, was preparing our much needed reforms and his advisor was struggling to get action. Now others want to take the credit.
There is only ONE item on the agenda at the EGM in Birmingham. It is not ‘reform’, it is not ‘getting rid of the NEC’, it is: – ‘Do you consider Henry Bolton is fit to continue as leader of UKIP?’
As in any divorce, Henry tells one story of how much he has done, his cabinet members and the NEC tell another – of what he hasn’t delivered, until the skids were under him. It isn’t a choice between the two, if you want a credible leader AND change you can have both.