[Ed: here is David Kurten’s letter of resignation which we publish with his kind permission.]
It is with regret that I have resigned as UKIP’s Education Spokesman.
I joined UKIP when Nigel Farage was the leader, and have served as the party’s Education Spokesman under 4 different leaders, including Gerard Batten.
I was immensely saddened to hear that Nigel Farage has left the party, and I am troubled at the direction the party is going. I supported Gerard Batten to be the leader for a 12-month term beginning in April 2018, at that time when UKIP was in a fragile state. While I appreciate that the party’s finances and organisational structure have improved, I never imagined that UKIP would become tied up with the ex-leader of one of our proscribed organisations.
Mr Batten’s decisions to appoint Tommy Robinson as a Special Advisor, and to participate in a rally with him on 9thDecember have proven divisive to the party. Instead of focussing on Brexit at this critical and sensitive moment, members are fighting other members, and good long-standing members are leaving – valuable and loyal activists, branch chairmen and candidates who cannot be replaced.
Rule I.6 of the party’s rule book states:
“Membership is not available to anyone who is or has previously been a member of the British National Party, the National Front, the UK First party, the English Defence League, the British Freedom Party and the Britain First Party (or any other parties or organisations later added to the proscribed list).”
This is a wise rule which keeps out dangerous, nasty and destructive elements. I am opposed to circumventing this rule or making an exception for the ex-leader of one of UKIP’s proscribed organisations to join the party.
I have written to the members of the NEC on four occasions in the last three months to ask them not to allow Tommy Robinson to join the party, and to disassociate the party from his influence.
The NEC made a good decision at their previous meeting to delay Mr Batten’s proposed ballot on his membership until after Brexit Day. This re-focussed UKIP on Brexit, and would have allowed Gerard Batten to stand in a further leadership contest at the end of his 12-month term on a platform of bringing Tommy Robinson into the party if he so wished, and for other candidates opposed to this position to stand against him.
Despite this there is now to be a rally on the 9thDecember featuring Tommy Robinson and Gerard Batten. If there is any trouble at this event, UKIP’s reputation will be irrevocably tainted. It may damage Brexit as well, which is far more important than any one person or party. It is an extremely dangerous risk to take.
UKIP should be attracting the 10 million Tory voters who are incensed at Theresa May’s Brexit sell-out, and the 5 million Labour voters who are appalled at Jeremy Corbyn and his party’s support for a second referendum. Instead of taking this golden opportunity, UKIP is currently putting off millions of people who are crying out for a common-sense party which has leverage in representing them and their hopes for a proper Brexit.
There are still many good people in UKIP who have worked very hard for a very long time to achieve Brexit. They want the party to remain a vital electoral force to ensure that it happens, and afterwards to fight the suffocating and increasingly insane political correctness which is destroying the fabric of our society.
I will remain as a member of the party and a representative on the London Assembly, and I will work to restore the reputation of UKIP as a common-sense party which represents Brexit, social conservatism, free speech, fiscal responsibility and a free market economy.