Editor-in-Chief Viv Evans gives a run-down of appearances by UKIP people this morning and comments on their performances
Gerard Batten on BBC Breakfast (8.10 am).
Ed: One word: outstanding. That’s what a leader should sound like.
And Gerard wore the £-badge on his lapel.
He declared right at the start that he has asked Henry to step down, he gave reasons (untenable position, ‘politics is unfair’), he explained what had changed between Monday, when he said jockeying for an unavailable position amongst certain members was despicable, and now when he asked Henry on Friday to step down for the sake of the Party, mentioning the loss of more members, activists and donors should he not do so: “In politics there comes a point when everybody has to recognise that the game is up and that we must move on.”
He offered to step in as interim leader for a few months out of a sense of duty – slapping down the BBC man who thought ‘gotcha – you do want to be leader!’
“Could UKIP afford an EGM/leadership campaign?” asks the BBC presenter. Gerard’s answer – The treasurer told Gerard last evening (Saturday) that there is sufficient money to hold an EGM and an ensuing leadership election.
The BBC then quotes O’Flynn who said that UKIP is drinking in the last-chance-saloon. “Is this the end?” asks the presenter.
Gerard: “The biggest problem is not finances, it’s political credibility.” He describes our voter base who sees that Brexit ain’t happening with all that entails (jobs, housing, NHS etc) and that, just as when UKIP was founded, “only we can supply these voters, the ordinary, patriotic, working class people of this country with what they want”. “UKIP came into existence 25 years ago to fill a political vacuum.” Many things still haven’t happened, and thus the situation UKIP finds itself in at the moment is entirely reversible.
Henry Bolton on Radio 5 Live/John Pienaar (10.24 am):
Pienaar (P) starts asking Henry if the NEC “has a right to judge him on his personal relationship”. Henry (H): No. NEC should focus on Party politics, and on who undermines him. It’s a matter of survival of the Party and that’s what they should look at.
P – Is his relationship with Marney not open to question, after the revelations of her racist remarks?
H – No, it happened before he met her, and she’s now left UKIP – UKIP must move on, the NEC must sort out the internal infighting in the Party. “We need to deliver the voice of Brexit into politics.”
Ed: but he’s the leader, and he hasn’t done so!
Henry wants to put all these personal things behind us. The NEC must move on, pursuing him means the NEC is undermining him.
He repeats that he’s no longer romantically involved, Party must move on – he won’t answer any more questions on this.
Ed: He is sounding very aggressive, and keeps repeating that the NEC ‘must move on’, laying the foundation for blaming everything on the NEC. Cutting out the repetitions.
Then P is going on about the Markle texts. H says it’s abhorrent.
P: – “So, is it not a matter of concern for many people who find it abhorrent and find it a matter of public concern?”
H: – “We need to move on.”
P: – “Farage’s second Party – will Henry’s romance help or hinder Nigels’ second Party?”
H: “It’s the duty of the NEC that the discussion this afternoon does not allows such second Party to happen.”
Ed: So here we have it: Henry’s strategy for the meeting with the NEC: “Move on, and if you don’t keep me in my job, everything bad that happens next is the NEC’s fault, Nigel will start his second Party and it’ll be the NEC’s fault.” – presented very aggressively.
Henry on ‘Peston on Sunday ITV’ – 10.45
Peston (Pe) starts with Batten’s BBC interview. “Are you going to quit?”
Henry (H): – “No. A leadership contest now would be non-viable for the Party, we need to focus on the May elections, need to get the Party fighting fit. Need to move forwards, no time to mess around.”
Pe: – “What about Marney, a racist etc? Doesn’t it reflect very badly on your judgment?”
H: – finds the comments abhorrent and offensive, but Marney has apologised and has now left UKIP, so the Party must draw the line now and move on. He then tries to blame the NEC for this situation.
Ed: moving on because -> repetitive:
Pe: – “Is the relationship over?”
H: – “We are still in contact.” He is helping her. He’s going to submit evidence of Ms Marney’s bad treatment (‘death threats’) to the NEC. The NEC must stop the infighting in the Party.
Pe: – “What did you do wrong?” H thinks he has done nothing wrong.
Pe: – “Some would say your behaviour is not compatible with moving the Party forward from Brexit.”
H: – Again goes into items from his hustings speeches …
Ed: he is still sounding quite aggressive.
Pe: – Asks about Farage and that second referendum.
H: – Interprets this again (as on Pienaar) as if Nigel was misunderstood.
Pe – “Would you object to a secondreferendum?”
H: – “A second referendum is not UKIP policy.”
Pe: – asks about O’Flynn’s remark on UKIP collapsing.
H: – If the NEC goes down the route of further infighting, MSM scrutiny of his personal life etc, then The Party is over. (End)
Ed: This reinforces what Henry said already on the Pienaar interview, i.e. leave his romance and all that entails out, move on, deal with the bad people in the Party who undermine him, and if the NEC isn’t shaken by the threat that the Party will be over if they don’t support him then I don’t know what will work. No insight into his own behaviour, not just the personal affair but his whole leadership. I think he’s been schooled by Nigel, whose disdain for the NEC – ordinary members elected by the membership – is well known.
Sunday Politics BBC (12.10)
Lengthy intro by the presenter who then asks: “Will the NEC vote to have confidence in you or not?” Henry answers that they could do, he can’t predict it, but when asked if he then would stand down, says he won’t.
He then brings the same accusation against the NEC we’ve already heard, namely that ‘the NEC should have their eye on the political ball and delivering effective messages on policies’.
Ed: moving forward, like Henry wants, past the same old arguments we’ve heard in the other interviews.
The presenter then says that UKIP is now in the news because of this affair but not because of its policies. Henry comes back: “That’s fine, perhaps they now pay more attention to UKIP policies.”
Ed. Yes, really, he said that.
Henry goes on saying that he is not going to stand down because he is now ‘delivering the message’. “We have an agenda to move forward with internal reforms,” etc … That’s his ‘core purpose’; any other debate is a distraction.
“But was your behaviour that started this debate, it wasn’t forced on you,” says the presenter.
He says this leadership debate has now turned into a ‘moral court’ about his personal life (nice deflection, Henry!) but ‘we need to move forward’.
Presenter: “So you suggest we should not have a debate about your relationship etc – but that is why your judgement is questioned.”
Henry doesn’t think so and will let others decide, but thinks it’s wrong to focus on someone’s domestic affairs rather than on the politics they are delivering.
Ed: but you haven’t delivered any politics, have you!
“I’m not going to let this Party be disrupted by internal squabbling which has exploited my domestic situation in order to cause problems.”
Ed: is that what internal debate and valid criticism is called nowadays?
Next question: “A new leadership election would cripple UKIP – why?”
“Because it would disrupt us – it would take three to five months (what???) in order to reflect on this – it would take us off the battlefield” (he is thoroughly uncomfortable now), “it would take us off the Brexit debate, we can’t afford that politically. And the infighting that would result would give our political enemies more than enough ammunition to tear the Party apart. If the NEC makes that decision, the Party will do that itself.”
Ed: blaming the NEC …
Final question: “So regardless of the NEC decision, you will stay on as leader and will continue to have a relationship with Jo Marney?”
Ed: so there we have it – the NEC is going to be blamed regardless. Henry is innocent, bad internal squabbling – a.k.a criticism – must stop, ‘we’ must move forward and ‘deliver’. In my opinion, a leader who regards himself as sacrosanct and who has delivered nothing but the same sound-bites for months, is untenable. I hope the NEC will not succumb to this ‘project fear’ unleashed by Henry and his supporters. Someone tell him that without members there is no Party, and without members there’s nothing he can ‘deliver’.
Courage, NEC – ‘Project fear’ didn’t work for Remain, don’t make it work for Henry.