The current turmoil the party has been thrust into by the NEC has already become one of the nastiest UKIP arguments I can remember that has been played out so publicly.
Senior party members including some on the NEC are conducting themselves in a thuggish and abusive way to the detriment of everybody concerned. It doesn’t add to one’s argument to ramp up rudeness and abuse as a mechanism to garner support. It is most unseemly.
The party clearly has a problem in the way it is structured. It has always been a problem but in the heady days and with Nigel Farage the organisational failings were too often overlooked. Without him (or perhaps even with) the party is essentially ungovernable as the NEC continues to make decisions that reflect negatively on the party and create constant conflicts between the party governance and the leadership.
To remind readers of a very serious lack of judgement, Jane Collins, entirely of her own volition, libelled three Labour councillors. For reasons not explained, or with the flimsiest of justifications the NEC spent £30,000 of your money on helping her defence. Because of that the NEC made UKIP party to the libel action and is currently being sued for the costs (£670,000). Of course, Jane Collins is unable to, or says she is unable to meet the libel settlement. It isn’t known if the action against UKIP will succeed, but to place the party in that position represents a degree of irresponsibility which is staggering.
Those who have already taken a partisan view of the EGM, and our leader, will simply not wish to acknowledge this potentially catastrophic action, but it is fact. Our NEC did that and it may have expensive repercussions. It may even bankrupt us.
So how can this happen? The principal reasons are:
- The NEC are a group of, generally, well-meaning people, but not necessarily qualified to be company directors. Their role is one of party management and oversight. In effect that means marking one’s own homework. The poor spending and management decisions are a direct consequence of the inbuilt limitations of the people and lack of formal supervision.
- They are elected via a mechanism that doesn’t require any form of qualification, nor does it provide enough information to members so that they can make an informed voting decision. Most members, when voting, choose a name they’ve heard of, or if it is an existing NEC member re-standing, are influenced by the incumbent factor. This allows for some members to remain on the NEC for very long periods. It also means that people with no track record of management, or running a business are suddenly faced with managerial and business decisions they are simply unqualified to make.
- When change does happen, the potential is there for the longer serving NEC members to overly influence the newer members.
- If you add to that a culture of the utmost secrecy, one then has all the ingredients for poor governance. In the last year alone two elected NEC members resigned as have many before them. They clearly found the culture impossible to work with.
- We have NEC members who are unqualified, unaccountable, have authority without responsibility, and exercise oversight of self. All this goes on in the most secretive and opaque way. That’s how we end up here.
It isn’t necessarily the people themselves but the impossible situation that hands all the party authority to unqualified and unsupervised people whilst removing all authority from the party leader who does have all the responsibility.
That restructure is needed isn’t generally doubted, but when a leader is intent on doing that the existing powerbase always finds a reason to oppose. The current unprecedented and deliberate campaign of abuse and misinformation about the leader is exactly what happens when the power base is threatened. In a short timescale there isn’t always time to correct all the allegations.
Quite simply, if Henry Bolton goes, so will any hope of reform. I expect we’ll be treated to endless platitudes about how the NEC understands, and that they have a plan, but as is the case with the laughable self-reform of the House of Lords, some reason will always be found as to why it can’t be done now. The evidence is, that it has never been attempted before so what’s changed? Well Henry Bolton came along, and they really don’t like that.
As a party we have been utterly dysfunctional in so many areas for a long time. We’ve survived on the relentless toil of local branches and activists who tramp the streets in rain and shine with no help at all from the party central. In days gone by most were driven and inspired by Nigel Farage, bypassing the party organisation. It was by that mechanism that we functioned.
Now, there is no Nigel, and won’t be. We do not have a conveyor belt of Nigels waiting to take the helm. Any new leader will be different, and certainly not like Nigel. We have one, now who is a planner and organiser, which is exactly what the party needs to properly function. It remains bizarre that Henry Bolton is now criticised for ‘doing nothing’ when into the first three months of a three-year rebuilding program and having done a great deal to steady the ship.
To function properly the management of the party must be in the hands of those qualified to discharge the responsibilities. They must be accountable by their results. We also need an elected oversight to whom the directors report on a monthly basis. The party structure is the campaigning engine of the party and should also have responsibility for enforcing the party’s codes of conduct.
The governance should look something like this.In this structure the party leader appoints functional directors and policy spokespeople. The board of trustees is elected on a regional basis. Their role is one of oversight and supervision. The directors are there to get things done.
The spokespeople are the political face of the party and develop policy through the advisory groups, which is how members can initiate policy and become involved in its development. No longer can we rely on one man to be everything. With radical, well thought out and supported policies, people will listen. If we don’t do that then the leader won’t matter because we’ll have nothing of interest to say.
The party organisation will get help and direction from the functional directorates to improve performance. In this structure the directors have specific responsibilities against which they will be held accountable.
I’m supporting Henry Bolton because I support these changes, I’m not a life long chum, nor do I have any ancillary reason to back him. I do think a personal life should be kept personal, so I’m not minded, to judge his leadership on irrelevant factors. It’s simple. This is what we need to do, Henry Bolton will do this (and some areas have already begun change) and if he goes, all the impetus for shaking the tree will evaporate.
We simply must survive and become a professionally organised party. The government is well under way to betray the referendum vote, yet we think the best thing to prevent that from happening is to embark upon another leadership election. The world must think us mad.
We could and should be in pole position to re-capture the lost ground since the referendum if we remain on the pitch and re-build for the future.
Think on that when you cast your vote on 17th.