The media rumpus being played out against Farage is a put up job. There is no substance to the animus being worked up against him. He’s had a fantastic run since retaking on the leadership of the Party, quadrupling support in the General Election, but he looks tired and by his own admission is ready for a break.
The Party needs the opportunity to look less of a one man band. Four million votes in the General Election has placed the party well above the category of small. It needs to show that it has more breadth for one thing, and to show that it is a party of principle first, and of personality second.
There is one obvious person who could deliver the kind of leadership UKIP needs coming out of the election, looking for consolidation before its next push. That person to my mind is without doubt Douglas Carswell, the Party’s current sole MP. No one would be better placed to work on defections than him, and it would boost his position at Westminster to boot. The Party is nothing until it cracks Westminster, and Carswell knows the game there better than anyone.
Carswell supported Cameron when he believed his promises to quit the EPP in 2005, like many other Conservative MPs. He’s since seen the real Cameron as an unprincipled breaker of all his promises on the EU and other issues. He’s genuinely exercised by these issues and has shown himself willing to take risks, and run successful campaigns.
Above all he’s trusted. I’d be happy to see him as UKIP leader. While Farage has done a great job, it makes the party vulnerable not to show it has many other potential people with leadership potential. Beyond Carswell, Suzanne Evans might start to look like leadership in the future, but she lacks experience at this stage, and would wilt under the pressure.
Farage’s threats against Carswell to back me as leader or quit the Party shows the wrong kind of leadership, and he should ignore them. Carswell denies any interest in leading UKIP, but he should reconsider. The Party needs him to lead at least for a while. Farage could still make a comeback, but right now a period of consolidation would be healthy, after such a rapid and massive expansion. Farage can regroup and make a bid for the leadership again nearer election time, and if Carswell could filch a good number of defections meantime, his task would be that much the easier.
If UKIP had some wisdom in its ranks, they’d get going and appoint Carswell as soon as they can.