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ON BALANCE ….

There are party members who think Henry Bolton should stay as leader. The reasons given, at least through UKIP Daily, do not amount to a very convincing case. The case for him staying appears to be a belief in a conspiracy by the NEC and shadowy others to frustrate Henry’s reforms, said to be essential to the party’s survival, or sympathy because the horrid media have blown things out of proportion and we should not fall for their smears.

The EGM is thus a valiant struggle by plucky little Henry against dark, reactionary forces inside and outside the party, but it looks to me more like a demagogue’s desperate romantic fairy tale, the only tactic available when rational reasons do not exist. Yet, a rational case for Bolton staying may exist and the closest I’ve seen to an actual argument, to the setting out of reasons we might dispassionately assess, is a risk analysis. In short, is it riskier to keep Bolton or get rid of him? Whichever choice one makes as to the riskier course is guesswork. Patrick O’Flynn thinks Bolton can be sold to the public as the “comeback kid”. That assumes there would be a party left if Bolton won, that the media would stop ridiculing him, and he could produce electorally appealing policies. All whopping and unlikely assumptions.

Unfortunately, no-one has set out a truly disinterested case we can evaluate. O’Flynn’s effort on Bolton’s website is riddled with self-serving attributions. Bolton’s critics are said to have “whipped up” hysteria and are “inveterate plotters from one particular faction inside the party” who must not be rewarded for their “deviousness”. The implication is that even if keeping Bolton finished off the party that is a price worth paying to thwart the faction to which O’Flynn is presumably opposed. So unworthy are people who want Bolton gone that they are not worth listening to at all. One is reminded of the remainer elite looking down on ordinary leave voters. How dare they have an opinion differing from the elites.

But there is a nub of an argument (just) in O’Flynn’s failed attempt at reasoning and it is:

“There is no guarantee that either another leadership contest or a coronation would produce a leader able to unite the party and sell its merits to the electorate. The bigger risk is that UKIP would be stuck naval-gazing for another two months or more just at the most crucial time in the Brexit negotiations – the very time when we should be directing our attention outwards.”

The essence of his case then is that we should evaluate the choice at the EGM by which is most likely to 1) unite the party and 2) avoid navel-gazing (especially at a “most crucial time”).

I must admit that I did burst out laughing at O’Flynn’s argument. Party unity is a receding chimaera (all that changes at any time is which way we are split) and Bolton’s refusal to resign was a guarantee of yet another harmful division. It may even prove to be the most harmful split so far. Bolton is clearly not someone who loves the party more than himself, who respects its history and members, and whose track record within it – answers on a postcard – is sufficiently venerable to give weight to his views.

As to navel-gazing, this one takes the biscuit. I did not vote for Bolton and one of the reasons was his navel-gazing. His manifesto, along with that of too many other candidates, was about re-arranging the deck chairs on our sinking ship, when the problem all along is that the party failed after the referendum to transition from a single-issue party to one that had radical policies for a domestic agenda. (We can be radical or we can be respectable but not both, and there is no point whatsoever to another `respectable’ party.) No amount of constitutional tinkering can make up for the lack of political vision and leadership. It is delusional to think we can now have any part at all in how Brexit pans out. The “crucial time” for UKIP was August 2016.

We need a longer-term political vision for the party and it was depressing to see how many leadership candidates were a million miles from providing that. Which carries the greater risk? A leader, albeit interim such as Gerard Batten (hopefully), with a genuine political vision, or arch deck chair arranger Bolton who will consume party resources constructing an elaborate bureaucracy? Even O’Flynn admits that appointing 30 spokespersons (larger than the real cabinet) was over the top.

The need for reform centres on the alleged unaccountability of amateurs on the NEC and the proposal is to have trustees to oversee (or is it replace) them. This guarding of the guardians is an obvious nonsense. Who guards the guards doing the guarding? It’s an infinite regress. And as with any elected official NEC members are accountable in elections. What other or better accountability can there be for and in a political party? There are many deficiencies in the way the party is run but they are due to the paucity of resources available after Nigel overspent by some £850,000. There is no money to carry out the functions members yearn for.

O’Flynn worries about navel-gazing for another two months or more. If Bolton survives and embarks on changing the constitution, a mammoth task, then the leader will be consumed by the task for more than two months. He will periodically bleat about Brexit – to no real effect as UKIP is not an electoral threat to anyone – but there will be no radical political vision from him. It will be navel-gazing and deck chair arranging on steroids all the while that the party is seen increasingly as a joke with a joke leader, its job done with no mission to replace it. What a monumental waste of time.

I understood why Nigel backed Bolton. Nigel has never given up trying to be a puppeteer or let go of his personal grudge against the NEC in pursuit of which we can all be sacrificed. But I was surprised to see O’Flynn, who once called Nigel a “thin-skinned snarling man”, support Bolton. What accounts for this? Just guessing, but I suspect that Gerard Batten frightens one or two senior people. He is no-one’s puppet and has already hinted that in his view some “senior people” should go. Those Bolton supporters motivated to see “inveterate plotters” and other self-serving “devious” people removed might consider that actually Bolton is not the man for that but Gerard Batten is.

It was ordinary members lobbying the NEC (of ordinary members that we elected) that led to the vote of no confidence. It was not “inveterate plotting” nor “deviousness” behind our doing that. On 17th February I hope the members support the NEC’s vote. The risk to the party of not doing so would be calamitous.

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40 Comments on ON BALANCE ….

  1. This is a rather obvious piece, written to seduce the reader to think that the author is an impartial observer clinically sifting all the information and reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the leader must go.
    Gerard Batten is hailed as the pary’s saviour despite the fact that he’ll only be in place for less than 90 days and all of that time will be devoted to yet another leadership election.
    Reality is suspended, it appears, to follow the mob, who remarkably believe that someone other than the failures of the last three leadership elections will rise from the ashes and restore our fortunes in less than three months. Apparently that’s the maximum anyone now gets.
    It isn’t unique though, The messiah, Corbyn has to say and do nothing to recieve thy adulation of the masses. It seems that Gerard has swallowed some of the same soup. Mr anonymous, an equally poor orator as Corbyn, and devoid of any poilcy ideas at all, has captivated the partially interested, or has he? As for the NEC they’ll take anything to win and sod the party.

  2. What a farce. Bolton now informs members he has ‘plans’ however he decided not to share them with his fellow NEC members who, unlike the small % of members who voted for him represent 100% of the membership.

    And his claim that the NEC wouldn’t support him doesn’t stack up, given we gave him our full support on something very contentious i.e. putting up membership fees.

    Bolton’s EGM game plan is simple: divert attention away from his appalling leadership by creating a bogeyman i.e. the NEC (the members’ elected reps).

    The process for implementing his new constitution is (i) unconstitutional, (ii) pays lip service to consulting the membership & (iii) is a blatant power grab to concentrate control of the party around him and his appointed lackeys. The members can kiss goodbye to accountability, transparency and member control of the party via their elected reps.

    Even Nigel didn’t try this on and Bolton is no Nigel by a country mile.

  3. Me, a citizen of this UNITED KINGDOM, hold the following truths to be self-evident:

    -that I first started voting for UKIP because they were the only party committed to getting us out of the EU,
    -that I joined as a member when I heard UKIP was serious about “changing the face of British politics” in a radical way, smashing up the two-party system,
    -that Nigel Farage lied through his teeth about the latter because he literally just wanted to get us out of the EU, leading to years of exhausting wasted effort for me and thousands of other members who joined on the basis of his lie,
    -that Nigel Farage lied when he said he was not a dictator (yes, he did say that), resulting in the situation now where without him every potential leader is afraid and has no clue what to do with the party in case it’s not what Nigel might want,
    -that despite Nigel making us all proud to be non-PC clowns unafraid of the dreaded media, remaining UKIP members are actually frightened by the prospect of being called racist and would now rather kid themselves there are no problems connected with immigration or religion and refuse to talk about it, thereby doing the Establishment’s job for them.

    Course, that’s all just my opinion. I could be wrong.

  4. Will people please stop assuming we have got Brexit in the bag, and that UKIP can do nothing about it? It was clear to me and probably most people in UKIP by autumn 2016, that the Tory government were deliberately delaying Brexit, and were not setting about the job with any conviction or principles.

    The only way to stop squabbling about internal organisation is to stop squabbling about internal organisation. Oddly enough. What we have is enough to work with to oppose the government, civil service, and opposition as they deliver a weird half-in/half-out result that is like nothing we voted for.

    In the meantime a pox on Henry Bolton’s new barely literate constitution that hands almost all power to the “Leader” but almost all responsibility in law to the NEC.

    • Well said, sir. Spot on.

    • Nick,
      You have made the most sensible, truthful and constructive comment I have seen recently. I fully endorse your first two paragraphs.

      Regarding your third paragraph, I have not yet seen the proposed constitution but from what I have seen of Henry ……

    • Purple Potty Mouth // February 13, 2018 at 6:58 pm // Reply

      Didn’t our very own Nigel have a hand in drafting the very constitution he chafed at when it stopped him doing whatever he wanted? And wasn’t it to prevent a leader doing just that, presumably in the wake of the Holmes debacle?
      So Henry is not interested in we the people then, only his own power games – recommend you all listen to Kipper Central’s Reece at Gloucester when he talks about how YI was betrayed and rode roughshod over by Henry with respect to the fee increase.

    • So, to stop squabbling about internal organisation in your view is best served by extending that squabbling for another three months at least?
      Shome mishtake, surely?

  5. I suppose this is as good a place as any to get something off my chest:

    I’m following up this morning’s email from Henry Bolton, and I clicked through to his web site. Under “Digital Transformation”, I see Henry’s explanation for UKIP’s poor web site, etc, “This is as a result of an inept, directionless and unproductive NEC Technical Sub-Committee that is responsible for this area of the party.”

    I’m afraid that’s typical Bolton – divisive blamemongering. I don’t care whose fault it is; I don’t want to know; I only need confidence that improvements will be forthcoming. That Henry doesn’t understand this (I don’t think it’s a desperate last ditch attempt to save his leadership, but an intrinsic character flaw) is astonishing for someone who made much of his competence, leadership, diplomacy etc. during the election campaign.

    • I read that too. A classic over – long document written by someone who has swallowed the Prince 2 bible

      It’s designed to baffle the reader with guff. Buzzwords and bollocks.

      Frankly, I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup and sh*t a better plan.

      UKIP needs a better, more functional web -site and it can be bought off the shelf and managed without the need for a staff of about twenty and a ‘Chief Technology Officer’

      Its UKIP, not NASA.

      • I agree with all you say Mr Bav except for buying a new website off the shelf,that is what we have now with NationBuilder.

        If you have a knowledge of HTML5 coding then you can start with a blank sheet of paper and design a custom site. The only cost is for time first with design and then in updating, two people at most.

        We have been doing it in the SW for years with three websites all designed and updated by one webmaster and his partner.

      • Really, how many IT projects have you managed? Household Exel spreadsheets don’t count. There’s no fool like a normally intelligent person who presumes things they no absolutely nothing about are simple and need no resouces at all, and Bav fit’s that category perfectly. Stupidity on a stick.

    • Top-level requirements for a new UKIP.ORG were presented to the NEC last night.

      The tec sub-committee IS working – provided people, including Henry, actually interact with us.

      • Rob, how can you have requirements defined when we have no idea of the ‘different’ UKIP which might emerge after the EGM? Incomplete or wrong requirements are a recipe for increased costs, time and functionality. If you mean ‘strategy’ then that is different.

        • Yes, strategy is a better word, in some respects.

          But some requirements are cast in stone, e.g. the legal need to support disabilities, cater for different platforms (mobile vs desktop), and know who is responsible for the content on every page…

    • BTW, taking a leaf from Diane’s playbook, I am not aware that Henry ever met or attenpted to meet the Tec.

      Given he has said that he would like to see electronic voting in the future, and is clearly unaware that it is already in the rulebook (BB), I am not sure how much credit to give his ramblings.

    • Penultimate paragraph (in particular):

      Dirty washing should never be done in public. If Bolton can’t respect that there is only one direction for him to go. An enemy agent(?) could not be doing a better job.

  6. Well argued Stout.
    This morning I received HB’s email defending his activities.
    My position is that whilst UKIP under HB makes zero effort to campaign for real Brexit, all his modernising and reforming is simply a distraction.
    We will all be tucked into the EU’s suffocating embrace long before he is finished, and then there will be the Himalayas to climb to get out again.

  7. An excellent analysis Stout Yeoman and I endorse your wish for Gerard Batten to take over as Interim Leader.
    I believe we are well into “the Last Chance Saloon” era and the moment on Saturday when the vote is declared that Bolton is ejected must instantly mark the new departure.
    I believe the NEC now confirmed in existence should meet in extraordinary session and in effect declare a kind of “State of Emergency” on the basis that UKIP has become rudderless and ungovernable and a period is necessary to re-establish stability.
    While election for a new leader might be required in 90 days, it is necessary that there is a pre-condition that this event will be put back until the NEC is satisfied that stability, both financially and practically has been attained. Above all financially (UKIP cannot continue trading – I would assume legally, without such a requirement being fulfilled)
    Perhaps the interim period could be assessed at 3 monthly intervals and any extension subject to each revue.I would hope acceptable proposals for revisions to NEC practice should be done during the period and input and ideas must emerge from the NEC as well – they say they are the Grassroots voice – they must consult us!
    I believe it is desirable if UKIP is to have a firm future that now is the only time which will ever be available again to ensure this happens.
    UKIP might drift on with Henry for a while, but it would never rise again to prominence and indeed wouldn`t deserve to, it would indeed be a classic case of “shooting itself in the foot”

    • Sorry, Roger, but a “state of emergency” would be unconstitutional, and the NEC can’t do it.

    • Roger said: “… Saturday when the vote is declared that Bolton is ejected …”.

      Henry Bolton’s new self-serving constitution states on page 28: “23.10 In the event that the Party Leader stands for and is re-elected Party Leader at an election following a vote of no confidence in him by the NEC and endorsed in a membership ballot . . . . “.

      Oops what a giveaway: dear Henry has his comeback all mapped out.

  8. Dear Aidan,

    We agree on articles 2.3 to 2.5 do we not? The elaboration of that into a full set of detailed policies is work still to be done.

    I agree the wrong radical vision would be bad but it is no longer clear that no vision is ultimately better.

    If we started to have some electoral success again in local elections, then membership and donor confidence might increase. I do not believe people avoid UKIP because of the way it is organised. The washing of dirty linen in public – Bolton merely follows the tradition set by Nigel and others – is certainly a turn off.

  9. Henry has drafted a new constitution. It can be opened here:
    https://www.henryboltonukip.co.uk/plan/

    A list of what he’s done since becoming leader:
    https://www.henryboltonukip.co.uk/work-so-far/

    • Henry has failed to understand the requirements for changing the existing constitution, and the numbering of his replacement would do good service to the national lottery.

      I suggest no-one wastes any breath on it until a competent proof-reader and lawyer have vetted it.

    • some new paragraphs in the section on No Confidence Motions is rather amusing.

      23.3 In the same letter notifying the Party Leader of the meeting at which a Vote of No Confidence is to be held, the Leader shall be informed of the specific charges laid against him by the NEC.

      The following which is entirely new also is misleadingly in black rather than red.

      23.8 If the NEC Vote of No Confidence is endorsed by a ballot of the members, the Leader shall stand down with immediate effect and the Deputy Leader will become Interim Leader until the results of a Leadership contest are announced in accordance with this Constitution and the appropriate Rules of Procedure. The purpose of this Article is to avoid a situation in which the NEC may facilitate the removal of a leader in order to appoint their favoured Interim Leader and to the members ballot becoming a de-facto leadership race between the Party Leader and
      an NEC supported candidate.

      Of course the Deputy Leader is an appointment of the Party Leader, so this is not a good idea in principle. As to the charge sheet, I would be prefer the existing system of trying the Party Leader as a Witch for which there can be no defence.

      • if the cross-references used the correct numbers, it might be barely comprehensible.

        Updaing reference citations is the sirt if thing Microsoft word offers as standard.

        When you are more concerned about pretty pictures than coherent internal numbering, then your priorities are badly wrong…

        • Rob, HB cannot make up his mind whether his new (apparently largely appointed by the Leader) body inserted into the party structure is called the “Party Management Board” or the “Party Executive Board”. This new constitution is dreadful – barely literate, disjointed, and self-serving.

    • Both an incoherent mess; has he ever had a proper job? I don’t expect many will be inclined to venture far into the detail.

  10. Does the fact that Bolton is now almost a regular on various MSM outlets mean that UKIP is no longer seen as any kind of threat?

  11. Dear Stout Yeoman,

    You write “We need a longer-term political vision for the party…” I whole-heartedly agree with you even though I know you and I would disagree about the form that vision should take.

    You went on ..” and it was depressing to see how many leadership candidates were a million miles from providing that.” I think three of the candidates actually did and in this sense I thought the 2017 leadership election was exciting in th process and depressing only in the outcome. Moreover, the outcome would have been, in my view, far more depressing had Anne-Marie Waters or John Rees Evans won. For this I thank Henry.

    I agree with you that we need a radical new vision but I also believe that a radical new vision that is wrong (as I think Anne-Marie’s was) is worse than no vision at all.

    I would say the electorate chose the candidate most without vision of them all but I would also say that it was the absence of any radical vision that attracted voters to Henry voters who wished, above all, to avoid the grand visions of Anne-Marie or John Rees Evans or even, if in a very different way, myself.

    If I am right that Henry was the continuity candidate par excellence he was never going to revive the party, even had he had the personality to win over the NEC instead of alienating it, the competence to fix the party’s finances instead of disowning the issue, and the drive to at least halt the decline in our membership, precisely because of the absence of the radical vision of which you speak.

    • Long-term vision: Having worked at the European and German Space Agencies, I actually LIKED yiur asteroid mining plan 🤓

    • I went to every leadership meetings that were organised by the Newark branch. I was totally depressed by the candidates lack of vision for the future even when prompted. All of the candidates favoured removing the chairman and dealing with the financial situation UKIP has. These views were prevalent at the Stamford Hustings. Views after Brexit were noticeable by their absence.

      In Newark I to suggested to one candidate a way that I thought taxation
      could be changed.. The reply was that international agreement would be required. I lost interest in his views.

      I went to Henry Bolton’s meet the grass root members in Derby and I was impressed by his view on UKIP become the third political party of the UK. I subsequently renewed my membership.

      In leadership contest only one candidate showed on vision of the future, a future that would have left UKIP as a single issue party. The remaining candidates failed to show any future policies except to fight for brexit. I got the impression that UKIP was soon to die. You mention about disagreeing with a form of vision, Apart from Bolton it appears to me that very few people in UKIP have a vision for the future except one half support Bolton and the other half does not support him.

      Might I suggest that you read https://www.ukipdaily.com/ukip-needs-become-proactive-political-party/

      D.Turgoose

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