As an activist and local campaigner, having sought elected office unsuccessfully on multiple occasions and not being a part of the party hierarchy, the leadership election was always going to be a step too far. Not because of ability, or experience, or knowledge or innovation, but simply because nobody knew who I was. How could they?
My initial announcement, at a Brexit referendum celebratory dinner, made it clear that I didn’t expect to win, but I had other objectives. Clearly, I needed to have something other than winning to justify a ludicrous deposit of £5,000.00 and a £500.00 application fee. As I’m no longer allowed to have a page in the Independence magazine the additional £1,000.00 that candidates must ‘stump up’ as a ‘contribution toward costs’ will be returned.
I felt very strongly that we needed to move forward as a party on issues that can attract broad support. We will, of course, continue to form policy on all governmental areas but we’ve slipped into a position of irrelevance and regaining that must be a priority. Above all, we must be interesting, sometimes controversial, but always measured, with everything we say well thought through. The way back requires firstly relevance, then support, then votes.
I campaigned on promoting electoral reform, but in a quite different way. The similarity with Brexit is marked. There has always been an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the EU amongst the British people. We didn’t create that, it was already there, but we cultivated it to a successful conclusion. There is now an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with our government, governance, and politicians in general. We need to cultivate that and, just as we did with Brexit, offer a solution. To get support for voting reform, don’t talk about voting systems, talk about better governance, fairer representation and more people power.
I have a clear strategy to do this, to make it happen, which I have talked about at length, so won’t reiterate here. The point is, that I saw my candidacy as a way to get people to listen to this approach. Not just the attendees at hustings, but also other candidates, because one of them will win. Maybe, if they’ve been listening, some of my ideas will have resonated.
As the contest has developed, it has become abundantly clear that my personal profile simply isn’t developed well enough to win, so I have stepped down from this leadership contest to throw my full support behind Henry Bolton.
My decision to step down will accomplish two important things. Firstly, it reduces the ridiculously large field of 11 candidates down to 10. Secondly, I now have a real opportunity to progress the strategy that has underpinned my campaign to date. Principle and pragmatism, when combined, allow achievement with integrity.
On Sunday 20th August 2017, I rang Henry Bolton. I had met him once before when he stood as the PPC in Kent. It was a brief encounter as I recall. However, I scrutinised his website and campaign messaging, as I have done with all the other candidates and it seemed that electoral reform was also an issue that he felt strongly about. That discussion, another conversation and further scrutiny on my part led me to believe that Henry Bolton could win the leadership. I was impressed, a sensation I’ve not experienced with any of the other candidates, with the exception of John Rees Evans, though I have serious concerns about John’s obsession with Direct Democracy and how that would play with the general public.
When we explain concepts to people, a mechanism we use to recognise that they have understood is when they ask the right questions. When we explore the needs of UKIP, and when each party to a conversation adds something to collective understanding, one knows that both people are on the same page. In short, I could work with Henry Bolton, and he with me.
Were Henry to win the leadership I would take the party’s portfolio for electoral reform as the official spokesperson. In essence, that’s what I set out to achieve. All we need to do now is make sure Henry wins.
So, why do I think Henry Bolton will win?
I urge everyone to look at Henry’s website, to avoid the repetition of a spectacular career and CV on these pages. An ex Police Officer, soldier and officer, he has been described by others thus:
- by Durham University as “One of the world’s leading experts on the development and implementation of National Strategies”
- by the Central Asian media as “The OSCE’s top international trouble-shooter”
- by the UK media as “arguably the UK’s foremost expert on regional border security”.
Henry Bolton was awarded the OBE in 2013 for services to international security and stabilisation. He was commended for outstanding bravery by the Police in 1997.
In my view, none of the other candidates come close in status, ability, career, experience or relevance. He is thoughtful and has an eye for strategy, communications and organisation. Quite simply, a leader in waiting. Not only will Henry’s background and high-level experience resonate with our members, he will also resonate with the British people. That’s exactly what we need.
Let’s talk numbers.
My understanding is that UKIP currently has something less than 24,000 members. Many of them won’t bother to vote as is usually the case with internal elections. With no well-known and well-liked candidate in the competition, apathy will abound. The expectation (a selection of people’s views) suggests that about a third may vote. 8,000 total voters, perhaps. Of those, I doubt that many will have attended a hustings, maybe 1,500 overall. That means 6,500 members, many of whom do not do social media, or check emails very often, will decide the outcome. The only information they will see will be the candidate’s page in the Independence Magazine and whatever MSM presence the candidates are able to manufacture.
Those candidates that have had some MSM exposure will benefit from that. However, one look at Henry Bolton’s career history and a powerful image of him receiving the OBE from Princess Anne is likely to have the same effect on our members sitting at home, as it does on our members at hustings when he speaks. UKIP members are very much Queen and Country people, and respond to those with a service background. They certainly recognise a deserved national honour.
That’s why I think Henry will win. That’s why I’m looking forward to being a part of his team. That’s why I forfeited the rest of my campaign, with no deposit return, and that’s why I’m supporting Henry Bolton for leader.