Open letter to all prospective Leaders of UKIP
Barely a decade ago we had a Rules Committee presided over by Derek Clarke MEP for East Midlands. It consisted of intelligent, thoughtful and conscientious UKIP members who tried to think of all the considerations and contingencies that might arise before drafting the detailed rules for conducting the Party.
When I joined the Party what impressed me was the dispassionate and selfless attitude of the committee members. It was like joining an old fashioned Quaker meeting where the sincere expressions of the participants were respected, and built upon; in this case with a view to devising rules which would last.
It was destroyed.
The PR words were that the NEC would become its own Rules Committee. Thereafter the ruling elite could draft the rules to suit themselves.
The UKIP Wales Committee was the first and for many years the only Branch in Wales. It was democratically elected, and we encouraged all parts of Wales to participate. For 15 years when I was Secretary it organised all the General and Assembly Election Campaigns in Wales.
I had to resign on the grounds of ill health. At the next AGM of the Wales Branch the Party Chairman attended and insisted on requiring the members to accept his Chairman-only governance of Wales.
The democratically elected Wales Committee was destroyed.
The substitute Chairmen-only committee never produced anything of note, and we lost an essential forum.
On matters of concern for 2 different Chairmen I wrote to the General Secretary, but received no reply. Wales was of no interest to the then hierarchy.
So in 2011 at the Welsh Assembly Election we adapted the UKIP EU rules to apply the d’Hondt PR list system to the 5 sub-regions of Wales so that the members chose the candidates, and the order in each of the 5 lists.
I was the returning officer for our internal selection of candidates. There were no complaints. In South Wales East our lead candidate David Rowlands nearly won. We had devised a system which was fair to all UKIP candidates.
That workable system was immediately destroyed.
The new autumn 2011 rule ignored the 5 sub-regions and treated Wales as one. As a result members in North Wales could vote for the candidates in South Wales East, and vice versa.
A recipe for disaster.
Mark Reckless and Neil Hamilton were parachuted in as candidates for the Assembly Election in 2016. Then another rule change allowed the Chairman of the Party to re-order the 4 elected preferred candidates on the PR list.
There was outrage. Nathan Gill proposed his own revised order of the list. Further outrage.
So in March 2016 the revisions were abandoned, and they reverted to the misconceived 2011 Rules.
As a result we had lost over 4 months of campaigning!
Within 9 months Mark Reckless betrayed us. He now sits in the Assembly with the Tory group.
Neil Hamilton turned out to be an excellent advocate for UKIP in the Assembly, but has little support among UKIP members.
It is common knowledge among Party activists in Wales that without interference from the Party hierarchy we had a realistic prospect of getting 9 AMs in the Assembly.
Top-down interference destroyed it.
The present Leadership Election Rules were drafted without regard for contingencies.
The amateur brain surgeon said to himself: Legal Drafting : how difficult is that? I can do that! And failed to consider the contingency that there might be 11 candidates, or 7 candidates, which would require an elimination process designed to ensure that we ended up with a Leader with over 50% support.
Under the present incompetent system we could have a Leader with only 20% support!
The draftsman should immediately identify himself, and resign from the Party.
It all comes from the top-down I-know-best attitude which is destroying the Party.
And now we hear that at the AGM we will be given a choice of 2 new logos. But not the present one.
It appears that the interim leadership intends to destroy our greatest asset.
How much destruction are you prepared accept? That is the question for all Leadership Candidates.
The ruling elite are all highly intelligent, famously energetic,and focussed. Unfortunately the top-down mentality which has been institutionalised in the Party over the last 10 years prevents them from recognising and encouraging the varied talents and expertise of anyone other than themselves.
They have no perception of the Party as a grassroots organisation.
They are generals who fire on their own platoons at every opportunity, and destroy the People’s Army.
All because of a failure of perception.
So you inherit a generation of top-down bureaucrats, who have prepared a re-branding of the Party without consulting the Leadership Candidates or the Branches.
They have boxed you in.
You will have to be very, very clever and very, very strong willed to turn this Party around.
You will need Henry Bolton to help you (if he is not the Leader) with his uniquely high level experience. His SAGE procedure is the key to reconciling the presently alienated grass roots and the Leadership.
With SAGE this wonderful Party will effervesce with ideas, energy and grassroots creativity.
I hope you can save this Party from the destroyers.
Sincerely, Hugh Moelwyn Hughes, UKIP Founder Member.
Image by: ‘geralt’