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My thoughts on how to make the leadership election work

I am concerned that some good candidates for the leadership may be daunted by the task – daunted, because the task looks impossible.

It is incumbent on the existing management to make the job possible and attractive. I do not see that happening. For that reason I suggest an alternative approach.

Whoever wins the leadership election will be faced with re-inventing the leadership role so that it becomes possible. There is no point in starting an impossible job and failing. It won’t help you, it won’t help UKIP and it won’t help Britain. I suggest therefore that you seek to agree terms before starting your work. If UKIP and you cannot agree terms, then you will need to resign. If UKIP and you agree terms and then UKIP reneges later, you may decide to resign. I do not wish to publish a proposed list of terms, though I have drafted one. However, I do wish to try to summarise the conundrum that we face.

The Conundrum:

Nigel has been too good!

Nigel has been a strong leader with incredible energy. Can you follow that? Or can you design a structure where you can get by with less energy? Nigel is the best orator in the world. How can we manage without him? Or would you continue to use his skills?

The Vacuum:

The leader, deputy leader, chairman and Diane James have all resigned in very quick succession. The rulebook and constitution have not addressed this unforeseen situation and thus cannot cope. Where is the leader’s private office, secretary, and personal staff? Is the inward cash flow enough to pay for routine payments? Who is running UKIP right now?

David and Goliath:

There has been a 10 year battle between the EU and UKIP. UKIP has partially (perhaps wholly) destroyed the EU with words. The EU has partially (perhaps wholly) destroyed UKIP with money.

Party Members:

The volunteer wing of the party has 35,000 wonderful members. Bolted onto that volunteer wing is the small professional wing, consisting of people who (in the main) receive money (salaries). Some of the professionals have publicly made disparaging remarks about other professionals and about the NEC. (There may also be unpleasant remarks on Facebook etc, but I don’t look at those). Some of the professionals have threatened to leave if other professionals do not leave. The professional wing is, as I see it, corrupt, cheating, and undisciplined.


Our largest potential donor has said he will leave if certain other prominent members remain. Nigel Farage plans to stay on as head of the MEPs, thus controlling nearly all the money, and the paid staff. Nigel Farage conducts the relationship with the donors and there is no guarantee that donors will continue to donate. Nigel Farage wants to depart; but how can he, if he controls all the MEPs and nearly all the money? We shall lose all our MEPs and all the associated money in 2019 at the next elections to the EU Parliament. The job of leader is unpaid. The work is massive. The hotel and travel expenses, the security expenses, could be substantial.

The NEC:

The NEC does not always stick up for the members. Instead it often collaborates with the central Clique, against the members. When the NEC sticks up for what is right, some of the professionals want the NEC abolished. NEC briefing papers are often inadequate. The NEC should probably elect its own chairman, as should the Board. The NEC need better links with the regional organisers’ and regional chairmen’s meetings, which also should elect its own chairman.


The press office will continue to work for Nigel, thus reducing control by the leader. Only the professionals appear on TV. It is not certain that the volunteers could cope on TV. The press office will disappear in 2019.


Our main policies have been stolen by the Tories. Our ‘VIPs’ may have different views on future policy and presentation of Policy. Some voters and some members think the Party’s work is now done; our membership is shrinking.


It is not certain that you, the leader, will be briefed on how the party works. Do not expect a proper briefing book. You will not inherit a civil service to brief you. It is not certain that the MEPs, nor ADDE nor IDDE nor EFDD will give you the information you need.

You are inheriting a vacuum.

Mad Ideas:

Mad option 1: 

Could Nigel stay as nominal leader, but with a much reduced Workload? Could you, as new leader, come in as deputy leader or chairman or chief executive? Nigel could resign as an MEP. That way he would get most of his life back.

Mad option 2:

An amicable divorce; MEPs and the professionals can leave and found a 5-star party, with no internal democracy; the councillors, AMs, MP, and volunteers can carry on in UKIP, with the branches, counties, regions. The regional chairmen would constitute the NEC.

All options need to be considered. Procedurally it would be odd to win the leadership election and then suggest that Nigel stay as nominal leader, with you as deputy, but if it might work, then it should be considered.

I don’t claim that I am right, but we do seem to need some creative thinking. The highly intelligent people who read this forum may be able to hit on the right solution.


The new leader will need a management consultant style report on the state of the Party and on the options. Who is going to write a good report and will there be a cost?

I hope that, having read this screed, good candidates will feel more able to enter the contest!

Photo by Sheila Hudson

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About Toby Micklethwait (5 Articles)
Joined UKIP in 2000, Runnymede & Weybridge branch, Chairman UKIP Surrey for most of 2007-2014. NEC member for 16 months during 2011 and 2012.

21 Comments on My thoughts on how to make the leadership election work

  1. The biggest problem with the Leadership election is that it is First Past the Post, which is ironic considering how UKIP has suffered from this system. My big fear now is that Paul and Suzanne will split the moderate vote and let Kassam and his paymaster in. After all the years we have spent distancing ourselves from the BNP and EDF this would be a disaster.

    • A couple of queries Mike:
      Is it ‘Kassam’, his ‘paymaster’, or both, that you have concerns about?
      Also, to which of Raheem Kassam’s policies specifically do you object?

      • “Welcoming Steven Woolfe back into UKIP’, perhaps, as Kassam has declared on Breitbart London?

        • You have a problem with that Vivian? You surprise me.
          Hasn’t Paul Nuttall just talked about a new unity, ‘a clean slate’ and ‘day zero’.
          Or don’t you agree with Paul?

          • I do have a problem with that: the problem of obvious double standard.
            How is it ok to ‘welcome back’ someone who actually was in talks with the Tory party to defect to them, and who has now left the Party while at the same time denounce Douglas Carswell and Suzanne Evans as tory plants?
            While Kassam sounded reasonable in his interview on SKY this morning about Suzanne Evans ‘having a role in the Party’, his vociferous supporter are screaming their heads off on every Kassam-supporting article about how Carswell/Evans/Hamilton must be thrown out as Tory plants, with nice denigrations that Paul has supported Duffy who was supported by Evans and is therefore unacceptable, for example.
            Yes – I do have a problem with that and will have until and unless Kassam comes out officially, in a Breitbart article, about stopping this witch hunt.
            Unity is not a one-way street.

  2. Well folks, surprise surprise Arron Banks is backing Raheem Kassam, now all be good boys and girls and do the same, or daddy won’t be buying you a christmas present this year!…..Crikey.

  3. In my opinion, for what it is worth, it seems to me that having played a large role in winning the referendum UKIP is now seen as no longer necessary especially as Mrs May is now more UKIP than UKIP. Tory voters who defected to UKIP are drifting back to the Tories and are now pinning their hopes on Mrs May delivering Brexit. I hope she does not let them down. The jury is still out as far as I am concerned. The situation may well be somewhat different as far as labour voters who defected to UKIP are concerned. What alternative do they have now that Labour has virtually nailed its colours to staying in the EU and the Lib Dems are, and always have been, an appendage of the EU? Surely, if UKIP does not accommodate those voters it will be a huge opportunity squandered.

    As for Nigel, he and Raheem should

  4. DD in a perfect world perhaps – but I fear the sniping would begin before the ink was dry on the agreement. We need the next leader to ignore the factions and get on with the job, imo. The only thing he or she needs to be is strong enough to discipline even Nigel, or anyone carping to the media – done once, it will not have to be done again. You may think, ” in your dreams, Dee”, but I shall be determinedly optimistic.

    What are all you anti Trump bloggers going to do when he turns out to be highly competent in the White House and emulates Ronald Reagan?
    Are you all bereft of common sense and the ability to study via the internet the choice on offer of clinton-trump?
    Are you aware for example that Donald Trump gave a Lincolnesque speech in Detroit to a mainly Black American audience on the need to offer them a New Deal and an end to the corrupt and incompetent democrat controlled black neighbourhoods?
    New leader of UKIP as soon as possible please.
    I suggest we choose someone who has already been through the recent hustings and give them a chance to see what they can do between now and next May.

    • Alas! Lisa isn’t standing this time! ?

    • CK.

      I think if Trump wins I will eat my hat, just cannot see it happening but one never knows he may make a surge towards the end of the campaign. Unfortunately, he looked out classed by Hillary at that big white tie event and she seems to know she is surging ahead. He really needs to stop putting his foot in his mouth as he is capable of giving a good speech, but we just don’t see them very often.

      Like you I thought it a good idea to save money and not hold hustings again, but instead choose the next candidate with highest numbers of votes. As Lisa Duffy is not standing this time that would leave Bill Etheridge, who has already set out his stall.

      I think we should also have a vote on who should be the next chairman and my preference would be Raheem Kassam if he should stand, I think he would be brilliant at that job, he seems a good organizer and publicist which is exactly what we need.

      • many thanks for your response Donald you make some good points.
        Bill Etheridge could do the job.
        Raheem Kassam has real talent and could be just the person to challenge the mad assumptions of the remainiacs

    • CK I cling to your certainty amid the waves of terror that he might not, that often engulf me.

    • I hope that he does win but we must also consider that many here will have been put off by the anti-Trump spin of the MSM. Nigel should have been here fighting our own battles; plenty of time to ally with Trump when he wins.

  6. At one time I would have suggested that, rather than being leader, Nigel Farage should continue to support UKIP in some honorary position. We owe him a lot.

    However his recent involvement in the campaign of Donald Trump has, no doubt, alienated some voters and tarnished UKIP, the two being inseparable in the minds of many. Now I believe that toxicity has gone too far to recover from without visible change. So UKIP needs a new leader who is not seen as a Farage disciple.

    I don’t believe the idea of shared leadership can work and there is a danger that any disagreements would quickly become public knowledge. It is the sort of thing one might expect from the Labour Party or the Greens.

    Certainly there is room for duplication of effort in the lower ranks provided that the leader is strong enough to bang heads together when disputes are getting out of hand.

    Whatever happens a period of adjustment will be necessary but time is short. A state of the party report would indeed be a good starting point.

    • As I understand it David:
      Donald Trump ‘wants his country back’; does that ring any bells with you?
      He wants to make his country safe, strong, and ‘great again’. Sounds familiar to me.
      He is against all those areas of the ‘Washington Establishment’ whose sclerotic, long-term stranglehold on power has so weakened the USA.
      He is for American workers and free trade, but against TTIP, and very critical of NAFTA.
      He is against uncontrolled illegal immigration; for extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants; and also against an amnesty for illegal immigrants.
      He is pro-Brexit, pro-UKIP and pro-Nigel Farage.
      He has employed thousands of women over several decades, yet this is the first time he has been seriously accused of any sexual impropriety (funny that, don’t you think?).
      So I find it hard to understand how people agreeing with the many ‘UKIP-like’ policies of Trump could possibly ‘tarnish’ UKIP, ‘alienate’ UKIP supporters, and create ‘toxicity’ by doing so.
      To change UKIP’s principle values, ideas and direction now would hardly be a formula for emulating Nigel Farage’ consistent success.

      • I fully support Trump but I’m also sure that the media spin on him has had an effect over here.

      • He is also a stupid disgusting pig.

        The way he went out of his way to give hurtful offence to the grief stricken parents of a soldier who had died in combat ( for the USA ) and other, similar, incidents persuaded me that actually he does not even want the Presidency.

        He could have made his anti Establishment pitch without doing repulsive stunts like that.

        He wants to be able to say he tried but it was ‘rigged’.
        Then there were and are his many many disgusting remarks about women in general and in particular. Plus, tbh, he just LOOKS like a vile pig. OK that’s not a v mature thing to say ( but it’s TRUE ! – Sorry, it keeps slipping out !! )
        Nigel has lost loads of credibility by supporting him ( again, Nigel likes to go out of his way to give offence : he has been a marvellous politician for the country as well as for UKIP, but I am glad we are moving on to Paul. )
        Trump ? Yuck.

  7. Good grief! It’s a miracle anyone wants to be leader and it’s obvious that some potential candidates are very reluctant – we found this out about Diane too late.

    One of Diane’s ideas was that she wanted two Chiefs of Staff – one in the North, one in the South. She didn’t mention where the line would be drawn. But fundamentally it’s a good idea because UKIP is more likely to draw support from disaffected Labour voters in the North and Midlands, whereas support for UKIP in the South is more likely to come from disaffected Conservatives.
    Why not have two leaders, one for the North, the other for the South? This would halve the workload. Of course, it would be absolutely necessary for the co-leaders to have a personal rapprochement to enable them to work together and co-operate on policy, national statements etc.
    There is no reason for UKIP to follow the pattern of other parties if it would suit our needs better to have two leaders.

    • Panmelia,

      I have always thought this to be a good idea to share the workload between two leaders, or if that is too complicated the leader could come from the north and a deputy from the south or vici verci. It does not matter which way round it is.

      What would be even better is for one to come from the south and therefore may be a ‘Carswellian’ and the other from the north and a ‘Faragista’, and they would be forced to work together therefore uniting the party.

      Or is this just too much too ask? I don’t understand why when we should all have the same aims in mind.

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