Have you noticed the build-‘em-up-knock-‘em down pattern when it comes to our recent succession of short-lived leaders? It looks like those who could take the party in a dynamic new direction are determinedly thwarted by the party machine and driven out. No new leader is allowed to make a success of the leadership – to be their own person, to reform the party or to take the limelight away from Nigel Farage.
Steven Woolfe was first built-up as the great hope. It looks like he was then dumped by the inner circle. An employee of Nathan Gill failed to submit his nomination forms in time for him to stand in the first leadership election. When he looked like the favourite in the second, he was involved in an argument with other UIKP MEPs. No outsider was at the meeting, but the story of his altercation was soon all over the press and he was made a laughing stock. He left the party shortly afterwards.
The first leadership election was decisively won by Diane James, in no small part because she was perceived by many members to be the Farage-endorsed candidate. She resigned after 18 days, saying, “It has become clear that I do not have sufficient authority, nor the full support of all my MEP colleagues and party officers to implement changes I believe necessary and upon which I based my campaign.” Read and re-read those words. The elected party leader is unable to carry out her mandate because is thwarted by her MEP colleagues (sitting in the EFDD group, still led by Nigel Farage) and party officers (mostly employed and thus answerable to individual MEPs rather than the party itself). She left the party shortly afterwards.
Some of us were excited by the prospect of Raheem Kassam as a young, energetic, media and internet savvy leader. Going by what he publishes on Breitbart London, he has an excellent grasp of the issues. He attended a patrons’ luncheon where he was talked-out of standing by his close friend Nigel Farage.
After being taken aside by the Chairman and warned not to rock the boat at hustings and believing as a result the race to be staged-managed, John Rees-Evans dramatically walked-out of the Newport hustings. He left the party shortly after his second attempt at the leadership.
Many of us were surprised and disappointed when the person we saw as Farage’s obvious successor – Paul Nuttall – didn’t put himself forward in the first leadership election. By popular demand he stepped-up in the second election and won by a landslide. Appealing to the disaffected working class who had so heavily supported Brexit, he initially led in polls for the Stoke by-election. It looked like he would be the first UKIPper (defecting Tory MPs aside) to be elected to the House of Commons – succeeding where Farage had tried and failed numerous times, even at one point standing against the Speaker.
Then it all went disastrously wrong. There was the unnecessary empty house debacle. Then it became public that he had exaggerated a number of elements of his life story – not least around the Hillsborough tragedy, triggering a massive negative reaction. Who was advising him? Who leaked to the press that the Hillsborough statements weren’t true?
With predictions abounding that the passionate Anne-Marie Waters would win our third leadership race, some of those at the top of the party used the press to smear as neo-Nzai entryists the many loyal party members who supported her. The Old Guard launched a concerted campaign to get their favoured candidate Henry Bolton elected and until recently were still crowing until recently about how they saved the party. Anne-Marie Waters left the party shortly afterwards.
David Kurten has a clear grasp that the key struggle that we face is against Cultural Marxism. He’s not afraid to speak his mind about these things, while so many of UKIP’s spokesmen remain silent. In doing so, he drew the ire of the LGBT group in the party, who tried to get him disqualified from the leadership race. Farage ally, one-time donor and serial troublemaker Arron Banks went quiet on his declared support for Kurten and Henry Bolton reneged on his promise to make him Deputy Leader.
Which brings us to Henry Bolton … Previously little-known in the party, it’s unlikely he would have won the leadership had it not been for Nigel Farage being his political nominee and describing him as “a man of substance”.
It almost seems designed to be as damaging as possible. Each new revelation is more shocking than the last. The photos look weird. Who was it leaked those ‘racist’ text messages to the press? And who or what is this Jo Marney character. Could she be a call-girl or some sort of agent? Is it true that she previously had an association with Nigel Farage’s son? Is this really a man with no income except that of the wife he’s just walked out on? It transpires that much of his military career appears to be fake.
Despite being taken apart by the media and a unanimous (apart from himself) vote of no confidence in him by the NEC, he’s doggedly hanging on. He must surely know he can’t survive. I can only conclude he’s intent on wreaking as much damage to the party as possible – with the apparent support of Nigel Farage.
Bolton’s background in the military and the police and being honoured by the Queen is a good fit for that of a security services agent. We in UKIP may like to think we’re on the side of the police, the forces and the monarchy, but that doesn’t mean they’re on our side.
If stepping down was just a ploy by Nigel Farage to defeat his enemies in the party and show that we cannot succeed without him at the helm, he’s proved his point. He could step back into the leadership at any time. It looks more like he wants to finish UKIP off. As for starting another movement, Arron Banks is now telling us to give up and join the Tories.
Why should yet another leadership election produce a different result and break this pattern? Our fortunes won’t improve until we change those pulling the strings behind the scenes.