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Thursday, August 04, 2016

UKIP in Wales set for summer of discontent as UK party descends into chaos

You have to hand it t UKIP, no sooner have they dug themselves into a hole then there is a clamour amongst the membership to dig it deeper.

The stand-off between UKIP's Welsh leader and the group on the Welsh Assembly really got interesting yesterday as Nathan Gill dug his heels in and refused to quit either of his two roles despite the Sunday deadline whilst 12 constituency chairs threw their weight behind him.

The BBC say that the 12 signatories believe that Mr Gill "remains extremely popular with a vast majority of the UKIP Wales membership":

Agreeing with Mr Gill's position, the letter sent to the NEC by the 12 apostles said: "It is clear that there is no viable candidate to assume his role in Brussels were he to step down and it is only right that he continues to serve the voters as an MEP as well as lead the party in Wales.

"To call on him to resign his seat on the Welsh Assembly, as the man who spearheaded the campaign, beggars belief."

Meanwhile, over at UKIP HQ, the seven dwarfs fighting over the leadership became just six as the favourite, Steven Woolfe was prevented from standing due to the fact that he failed to get his nomination form in on time. Presumably, he was rehearsing for the role of Dopey.

It is not clear how anybody could hope to lead a party, which has aspirations to become a serious Parliamentary presence, when a basic error like this shows them up to have the organisational ability of a gnat.

Nevertheless, the decision to exclude Mr. Woolfe from the process has left his putative deputy, Nathan Gill further out in the cold whilst also creating yet another schism in the party.

Three NEC members have quit in protest at what they believe is a “coup” by senior figures who want to move on from the Farage era. Others might just call it incompetence. Perhaps they need to get a dictionary.

Rumours are now rife that Nigel Farage may come out of retirement (again) and try to overturn the decision by halting the election and calling an emergency meeting of UKIP members with a request to abolish the NEC. The decision might also be challenged in the courts.

There is also growing speculation that Mr Farage and Arron Banks, a millionaire businessman who was backing Mr Woolfe, might break away from Ukip to form a new, internet-based party modelled on Italy’s Five Star Movement launched by the comedian Beppe Grillo. It is thought that about 10,000 of Ukip’s 50,000 members might join them.

Only the arch-nationalist and anti-European Farage could base a new party on one created in Europe by a clown.

Meanwhile, those UKIP members who choose to stay with whatever remains of their party may be lost for choice as to who will lead it. According to the Guardian, the candidates include a golliwog fan, a Putin admirer and a semi-professional wrestler. And to think we complained because we had to put up with Lembit Opik.

Amongst the candidate we have Lisa Duffy, a Cambridgeshire councillor, who hit the headlines on Wednesday, in calling for a “total ban on Muslim schools” as part of her “commonsense policy platform”.

There is also Bill Etheridge, who is a West Midlands MEP. He joined UKIP in 2011 after being thrown out of the Tories for posing with golliwog dolls in a Facebook post that he said was trying to stimulate “healthy debate” about whether the dolls are racist. He hit back by writing a book celebrating golliwogs, titled Britain: A Post-Political Correctness Society.

Shortly after Mr. Etheridge became an MEP in 2014, the party was forced to defend him after he described Adolf Hitler during a speech to youth activists as a “magnetic and forceful performer” who “achieved a great deal”.

The Guardian says that Etheridge has outlined a succession of eye-catching policies since announcing his candidacy, including a referendum on bringing back the death penalty, slashing beer duties to save British pubs and charging prisoners £40,000 a year. He has also proposed banning burqas in public.

Diane James is the deputy party chair and Ukip’s spokesperson on home affairs and justice. She is an MEP for south-east England. Last year she praised Vladimir Putin for his “nationalism”, saying: “I admire him from the point of view that he’s standing up for his country. He’s very nationalist. I do admire him. He is a very strong leader.” During the Eastleigh byelection, she was forced to apologise after commenting on “crime associated with Romanians”.

Finally, there is Elizabeth Jones. She is deputy chair of the Lambeth Ukip branch, and one of the more colourful candidates in this year’s contest, telling a UKIP website her favourite newspaper is the Times of India, and citing Boudicca and Margaret Thatcher as reasons UKIP voters should back her campaign to be the party’s London mayoral candidate.

This contest could prove very entertaining indeed.
This contest could prove very entertaining indeed. Really !

The growth of UKIP has been a cause of concern for me for some time.

1. The racism. There is no doubt that UKIP is an unashamedly racist party. The constant attack on anything that is different is quite frightening. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, and the introduction of austerity measures adopted by the Westminster government, UKIP has, day in day out, been seeking to lay the whole blame for this situation on the shoulders of foreigners, migrants, asylum seekers and Muslims. This was apparent on the door-step during this year's assembly election and the referendum campaign that followed. Every single UKIP leaning person I met had a go at foreigners and Muslims,( and I live in an area that is 97.5% UK born) and the sentiments expressed were often the 1970's Enoch Powell variety.

2. UKIP politicians. Not only do they hate foreigners - UKIP activists, councillors, AMs and MEPs hate each other - they seem utterly incapable of co-operating with one another, let alone with people of other political groupings. Tendring, Basildon, Grimsby - the list goes on. The Welsh assembly group - are they split 4-3 or is it 5-2 or 6-1 these days ? The NEC - have even declared civil war. Faragists versus someone or other.

Meanwhile, the pound is plummeting, economic confidence is in decline, Article 50 has yet to be triggered, China feels insulted, trade deals are a long way off, and hate crime is increasing - but neither UKIP nor the May government knows how to get us out of this mess.

At least the football season starts again on Saturday...

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