Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Woolfe at the (Exit) Door

The new UKIP leadership contest, after Diane James' resignation almost immediately after having been elected, is now gearing up.

The party seems to have been running out of eligible potential candidates, so they have felt it necessary to waive (or perhaps permanently change: I don't have that confirmed) their previous rule that candidates must have been UKIP members for at least two years.

Anyway, at least Stephen Woolfe got both his application and deposit in on time on this occasion – but has now pulled out, and is apparently resigning from the party. It is said by some 'Kippers that he had already spoken to the Conservatives, apparently with the intention of preparing the way to join that party later. Others claim that it was the Conservatives who approached him. We might never know which it was...

Here's another twist: the change of rule I mentioned above has allowed Raheem Kassam to stand, and Suzanne Evans' suspension from the party was lifted recently, thus allowing her to stand this time too. Both of these are somewhat divisive individuals, as are others who are also in contention.

Now, you always get an element of that in any leadership contest, with supporters of one being anti at least one of the others – but this has a noticeably different feel from that, which is usually significant only during the contest/election itself.

I have been reading negative comments (quite a lot of them!) about the likes of Evans, Carswell, Hamilton, O'Flynn and others since long before there was even the first leadership change (i.e. the Farage one that wasn't) so this is deep-seated long standing faction-ism within what is and has always been a somewhat 'flaky' party.

As I have been saying for a few years now, UKIP's time is likely to end "in a few years" – i.e. at what would from then have been around 2017 or 2018. Long before the next General Election, I surmised that they would either cease to exist or become just a lobbying movement by now, post-referendum, with no 'sales pitch' beyond being a kind of Brexit Watch until that's all over – then nothing. That of course is expected to be completed before the next election anyway.

With major donors having already withdrawn their support, leaving UKIP with a reported £800,000 deficit which no doubt will grow much worse as time passes, the party is going to have a tough time indeed just trying to survive.

With Woolfe as leader (which was likely) that might have been possible. Now I don't think they can succeed or survive...

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