In his article on Breitbart London early this morning, Raheem Kassam writes about UKIP on the Brink. Given what Nigel has written about the NEC recently, and that Victoria Ayling has tweeted about a “coup” by an NEC faction, he may well be right. But ordinary members who are commenting and tweeting to say they will vote with their feet by leaving the party overlook what Nigel, Victoria and Raheem are really doing. They are not just venting personally. It is a rallying cry to ordinary members, a plea for help, for it is us who can finally do something about this, and perhaps only us. I want therefore to appeal to everyone who is thinking of giving up and abandoning UKIP to reconsider, to stay at least long enough to participate in lancing a festering boil within the party. Arron Banks is trying to organise an EGM and if he succeeds it will be the forum where ordinary members fight back. The party needs you now more than ever.
Whatever has been going on this past year – we get only surface manifestations of a deep divide in the NEC – it is clear from TV and other interviews that Carswell/Evans/Hamilton et al regard the ordinary members with contempt. They do not say so directly, of course, but betray their elitism by discounting the views of ordinary members over immigration, for example, with Carswell banging on repeatedly about “nativism”, his version of calling us racist xenophobes, and by leaking to the press to embarrass the party. They do not care about the effects on ordinary members of their self-absorbed manoeuvres and their lack of respect for party members is inexcusable.
Suzanne Evans does have some supporters within the party but not as many as she fantasises about. She has displayed extraordinary vanity and at times an egregious lack of judgement which together make her unfit to lead. I have seen her in debates and while quite appealing in the prepared set pieces she is very poor during Q&A. That is, she cannot think on her feet and a leader like that would not be good for the party. Ordinary members are just adjuncts to her ego, she has been disloyal for self-interested reasons, and when she was prepared to accuse Nigel of beating his wife in her forlorn attempt at overturning her suspension she showed that she was spiteful and willing to wreck the party in revenge if she could. At the Llandudno Conference last February she and Carswell held a fringe event in a hotel at which they argued that in the forthcoming referendum campaign UKIP and Nigel should not be mentioned. It is nothing more than common sense that party colours should be dropped when campaigning in a referendum, but Evans went out of her way to claim that Nigel was less trustworthy than Tony Blair. Incredible! In effect, they left UKIP themselves. By not formally resigning they continue to treat the members with contempt. The truth about Mrs Evans is that she was a second rate Tory councillor who, after failing to win a seat selection, joined UKIP in a fit of pique, and is still here because she has nowhere else to go.
So why have Carswell, Evans et al been tolerated for so long? Cast your minds back to 2014. UKIP was hugely successful in the MEP elections and with a general election coming an optimism took hold (naïve in retrospect) that led the party to try and compete nationally on a scale it had never tried before. Looking back, the party tried to do too much before it was resourced and organised to do so. Evans got a position with a quick decision based on plausibility only during a period of excitement and urgency. Once she and Carswell teamed up I believe that it appeared politically dangerous to take them on fully with a referendum still to fight for and win. Nigel, correctly, focused on the big prize and decided not to risk outright civil war in the party when the big prize was the referendum.
Nigel’s instincts were correct about how to win the referendum. Carswell was wrong. If you look at the referendum votes in constituencies where the leave vote was high, and often higher than anticipated, you will find that it correlates very well with Nigel’s Say No! tours and GO! rallies. Look again at news reports of Nigel meeting and talking to people around the country and in coastal towns in particular. He got people who had not voted before to register, he explained to them that in a referendum, unlike a general election, every vote counts. He gave a voice to people who had none, he gave hope to people who had lived in quiet despair for years, and he got us a referendum that we won.
Carswell et al did none of that. With the referendum over we now have unfinished business to deal with and I am writing to urge all members to join me and others in dealing with it. If Arron Banks succeeds in getting an EGM then please move hell and high water to attend. We party members need to remember the 3.88 million people who voted UKIP in the general election and the many more than that who voted with us in the referendum. Please do not allow your (wholly justified) disgust at the NEC to cause you to abandon all those people who placed their hope in UKIP. For them we must have one last effort at lancing the boil that has been Carswell and his acolytes. We got or are getting our country back. Now let us get our party back. If the EGM does not come off then let us rally at the conference in Bournemouth.
History will acknowledge UKIP’s role in changing the destiny of the UK and of the rest of Europe. It is momentous. For that story to end with UKIP imploding would be a sad and undeserved ending. It would also be a betrayal of all those people the party reached and gave hope to. So, for all of you giving up on UKIP please, please do not do that yet. There is a real and important battle right now for the soul of the party. Play a part at an EGM or at the conference in September then review – the party and your membership – but do not walk away from the millions that are looking still to UKIP. Let’s lance the boil. Let’s tell Carswell et al that,
If they cannot or will not represent us, if they have no respect for ordinary members, then they must go. A thousand or more of us in the conference hall demanding that could not be ignored. We can call a vote of no confidence in Carswell and the NEC, we can take over the hall, we can fight back. We must do it because this nonsense cannot go on. There is a future out there for UKIP among 17.4 million leave voters. Do we take it or not?
See you at the EGM or Bournemouth. We won the referendum but let’s finish the job and get our party back.