Tuesday 23 January 2018

Carry On Kipper – New Civil War Breaks Out in UKIP

The UKIP leader, Henry Bolton, has vowed to carry on as leader of the party, despite losing a unanimous vote of confidence from the party’s National Executive Committee, the ruling body of UKIP. They argued that events in Bolton’s personal life had led to him losing credibility. It means that an Emergency General Meeting of the party will be called, in 28 days time, where the membership of UKIP will decide Bolton’s fate.

Given that Bolton won a leadership election only four months ago, and he has the semi-backing of ex-leader Nigel Farage, it can’t be entirely discounted that he will lose the vote. But things do look ominous for him. On Monday a succession of senior party figures tendered their resignations as spokespersons for the party on various matters, 16 of them at time of writing, two thirds of UKIPs front bench.

To recap, the furore began when Bolton’s girlfriend, Jo Marney tweeted racist comments, in particular about the unsuitability of Meghan Markle marrying Prince Harry, later this year. Bolton said that he had ended the relationship, but has been spotted still going out with Marney, with the inference being that it was a fake break up.

UKIP has got form on changing leaders quickly, ever since Farage stood down after the EU referendum, getting through as many as Chelsea football club do managers. Former UKIP leader Diane James, who succeeded Farage as leader but has now left the party, notoriously lasted for only 18 days, citing that she couldn’t work with other senior members of the party.

Paul Nuttall, lasted a little longer, but clearly didn’t like the job and resigned after the 2017 general election disaster, where UKIP bombed, falling from 12% of the vote two years earlier to just 2%. Of course UKIP’s big issue, leaving the European Union (EU), has now been superseded by the vote to leave the EU and many of their members have left to join the Tories.

Infighting (quite literally on occasions) in UKIP is apparently the normal state of play. Robert Kilroy-Silk flounced out of the party to form a new party, Veritas, which lasted for about eighteen months, before folding. The MEPs Steven Woolfe and Mike Hookem were involved in a fracas in their offices in Brussels, which ended with Woolfe being taken to hospital. 

UKIPs membership figures of 39,000 were last declared before the EU referendum, and it’s a racing certainty to be less, probably a lot less now, if polling and election results are anything to go by. There have been high profile resignations as well, like James and Woolfe. Most people now view the Tories as the anti-EU party, so it is hard to see where UKIP goes from here.

They have also lost the status of main protest party, vacated by the Lib Dems when they went into coalition with the Tories. The party’s finances are said not to be good either, and of course when we do leave the EU, they will lose that stream of funding.
Bolton appears to be taking a leaf out Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s book, with his refusal to be ousted by people at the top of the party, and appealing to the rank and file of the party, although on a much smaller scale, in terms of membership.

It is at least entertaining, unlike the civil war in the Tory party, which has made the party so shambolic that it is ruining the country. UKIP doesn’t matter, they are nowhere near power, so we can sit back and enjoy the Carry On. Ironic really, given UKIPs nostalgia for the Britain of yesteryear. Sid James would have been perfect playing Bolton and Barbara Windsor, Marney. The Carry On films series lasted for about as long as UKIP has now.

All things come to an end, and it looks like UKIP is in terminal decline, which could turn rapidly into complete collapse. As we know, there is a small constituency vote for a far right, anti immigrant, anti Muslim party in this country, which the BNP have exploited in the past, to some extent. UKIP could carry on courting these voters, but this would leave them very much on the margins of British politics.

Good riddance, I say. 

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