“A week is a long time in politics.” In the case of Ukip, truer words have never been spoken. Ukip activist, Jordan Wareham, reacts to what has been a turbulent week for the party.
By Jordan Wareham
|The two faction leaders. (Photo: The Times)
Civil War has broken out within the ranks of Ukip, shredding apart everyone. The row started on Wednesday when Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, rejected Ukip’s share of Short Money against the will of Ukip leader Nigel Farage. The civil war grew in size when Patrick O’Flynn, a prominent Ukip MEP and the party’s economics spokesman, referred to Farage as a “snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive” man.
The frontrunner in this is Douglas Carswell, Ukip’s only Member of Parliament. Carswell seems to be the preferred man throughout the anti-Farage faction nicknamed “Carswellians” – a group I’d associate myself with. Carswell appeals to the older Tory voter who have grown annoyed with the current Conservative party – your typical Ukip voter. Originally, Carswell ruled himself out the running for Ukip leader when he first resigned, but times have changed in the last week as Carswell and Farage have clashed over Short Money, as previously stated.
Patrick O’Flynn MEP fired first when he described the change of Farage’s personality. However, he went on further to state that Farage was his “political hero” and it was his inner circle’s fault; two members of it resigned recently. O’Flynn grew concerned when Farage returned unopposed, prompting questions in my mind. Did O’Flynn have his eyes on the Ukip leadership? That seems to be the only reasonable explanation to me. O’Flynn’s comments cost Raheem Kassam and Matt Richardson their jobs as senior advisor and secretary respectably. Therefore, O’Flynn forced Farage to lose two of his most loyal aides; a low blow to Farage’s powerbase within the party.
|Leader, Farage, and his former senior advisor, Kassam. (Photo: The Guardian)
If it hasn’t been party officials clashing, it’s been party donors. Stuart Wheeler, ex-Tory donor believed that Farage should step down in favour of a leadership debate. As an ex-Tory, Wheeler alleged that Carswell should take lead. On the other hand, Aaron Banks, a man who donated more than Wheeler was pro-Farage. Surely, if any of the two have any say it should be Aaron Banks. Banks has donated a reported £1 million whereas Wheeler donated £500,000. Both figures are substantial, but Banks should have more say because he has put more in.
Recently, deputy chair Suzanne Evans came out saying that Farage should take a few weeks off. Evans is a woman who I really like. She became one of my favourites in Ukip just after the European elections. An episode of Daily Politics showed Evans’ skills in tackling big, fearsome political figures such as Andrew Neil et al.
Lastly, there is a man who has taken a back seat in this war, Liverpudlian Paul Nuttall. He showed his support for Farage in a statement, but other than that he has played the part of “Mr Nice Guy” in this war. Nuttall is not the type of man I want to see lead my party in the future. Similarly to Evans, on shows like Daily Politics and Question Time Nuttall showcased his ability to control highly respected Political figures, but his overly right-wing views, like his standpoint on the NHS, bug me – he sent a letter that said the NHS was not fit for purpose in the 21st century and commended the coalition for privatising it more. Although Ukip is a right-wing party, Ukip have to push closer to the centre to gain voters, and being overly right-wing could ruin this.
The man this affects the most is Nigel Farage. Farage brought this party up from the rubble into the third most voted for party in Britain although he perhaps bit off more than he could chew by promising to resign if he lost South Thanet. It appears highly probably to me, that Farage and the National Executive Committee (NEC) said that Ukip rejected his resignation to make Farage look even more better, further reiterating the point that Ukip is a one man party.
I believe this could be the driving factor behind the outbreak of this civil war. Although Farage is liked amongst a lot of Ukip party members, if he left the party, we would have a huge opportunity to grow to be more than a one man party. Hugh Williams, the party treasurer, would agree with me, as he said it’s time for Farage to move on and let the party “stand on its own two feet”.
Farage is a controversial leader; a downside which attracts a lot of media attention, the HIV comment on the leadership debate being the most prominent. Ukip members are growing tense and annoyed with more bad publicity; therefore Farage leaving could be looked at as good thing for Ukip’s distant future.
If all this happened, who should replace Farage? There are only two members I could see as leader, something I’ve touched on earlier, these two being Suzanne Evans and Douglas Carswell.
|Douglas Carswell, a future
leader? (Photo: The Sun)
I’d prefer Carswell over Evans because of the appeal to Tory voters. Ukip needs to make gains across England, and we should hit the Conservatives where it hurts. They got 11 million votes and no doubt some will become fed up with David Cameron’s regime in charge. The new leader has to be looking towards the general election in 2020, and Ukip has to grow at that election or all work and progress will be lost. Douglas Carswell seems to me as the only viable successor and viable member to do this job well and effectively. As much as I like Evans, I can’t see her winning voters around to vote Ukip. As for Patrick O’Flynn and Paul Nuttall, sadly I can’t see them ever winning seats and sitting in Parliament; they cannot become leader.
Make no mistake, it’s safe to say that I am a Carswellian. Douglas Carswell is a man I have supported in Ukip since his defection. As a paying member, I only want to see the party drift away from this horrendous tag we have, and become a more mainstream, acceptable party. With a controversial leader at the helm, like Nigel Farage, sadly this cannot be achieved despite the man doing wonders for Ukip.