Last year I wrote an article entitled 'Whither the UKIP band Wagon Now?' Almost everything I suggested might happen did happen, I am disappointed to be proved right on this occasion. As a founder member of UKIP and not insignificant donor over the years saying ' I told you so' is not sweet on the palate.
Five years ago the constitution was changed to take power away from the membership and place it squarely with the party leadership. More power than the other main party leaders could dream of, outgoing leader Roger Knapman told me it was far too much power to put in the hands of one man. I took no notice, I was too busy building UKIP in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. My aim was 2 MEPs next time around. Internal party politics bored me rigid as it did most activists. This left the door conveniently open for infiltrators and carpet baggers who slyly became an internal unelected Mafia, mainly disgruntled conservatives whose careers had been thwarted by lack of talent or opportunity. Over the last four years any opposition to policy, strategy or organisation was ruthlessly suppressed, there are now as many ex senior kippers as existing ones. These purges were reminiscent of Joe Stalin, 'disagree? Off to the Gulag.'
Regional representation was stamped on. Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire, Wales have no NEC representation at all, this from a party that advocates local democracy, votes are counted behind closed doors, sometimes adjusted to suit the Mafia. One wonders why the August 2013 results were never published. UKIP membership has doubled in recent years so many members think this is the norm that democracy in the party never existed. All this has produced a UKIP that has been projected as a one man band quite deliberately. Power corrupts as it always has, the leadership suffers from an arrogance of office.
This is quite a normal development in a young party. So, what's to do?
A new constitution giving back some power to the members in keeping with a party of local democracy. Get away from the rather un English presidential style, no more of ' Nigel Farage's Purple Army' or all the other trans Atlantic rubbish. No other party does it. Find a leader with broader electoral appeal, being popular with UKIP members is hardly enough, at elections voters count not members. Do what other more mature parties do, the Labour Party has gone back to the drawing board. Admit at a general election one MP only is a disaster, stop blaming everyone else or the system. Realise that the old adage 'you can't fatten a pig on market day ' holds good in politics. The spokesmen for policies should have been learning their trade two years ago. Paul Nuttall on education and Roger Helmer on energy are two aces any other party would kill for, the electorate hardly saw him yet he is deputy leader of UKIP, much loved and respected to boot. When an opportunity to launch a press conference on women's issues presents itself the people to ally with are Mothers At Home, a chance squandered with a talk on female genital mutilation, not a hot topic in Hull or Pontefract. Leaders need to remember popularity is not a zero sum game, a popular colleague doesn't make the boss less popular. There is no place for jealousy in a team. If senior party representatives don't have military or team sport experience get them away to a man management course. UKIP started in 2009 with 13 MEPs and ended up with 5 taking the whip, one was hopeless but the others weren't. Don't override local judgement, Amjad Bashir was clearly not suitable as a Yorkshire MEP his name should never have gone forward. Local activists signed a petition begging party chairman Steve Crowther to drop his sponsorship of him to no avail. He was gone in 7 months to no ones surprise save Crowther's.
Importantly find out where the party is supposed to be in the political spectrum. Douglas Carswell has suggested the liberal party of Gladstone, a very good call that is where the space is, not in the centre so much beloved of the rather beige deputy chairman Susanne Evans who is on record as wanting to storm the centre ground (how to miss the point on a colossal scale).
Electoral assets are people who can win elections, sadly on an individual basis not the current leader, no shortage of money or air time but the seventh defeat in a row. UKIP has one elected MP, he is a man of outstanding proven principle and he is cleverer than most of the other contenders. Frankly I don't think he would take it on but he must be the first port of call.
Nigel has given his all for 25 years he and his family deserve a break. He is young enough to try his hand at something else, and all true kippers will wish him the best of luck.