[Ed: for reasons described below, UKIP Wales exemplifies what has gone so wrong in our Party. Colleagues in the National Party share this experience. This two-part proposal is however not parochial exercise concerning only Wales, but describes a way out which, in our opinion, is of great interest to all branches/regions making up the the National Party.]
Part 1 – Historical Overview
The damage done to UKIP in Wales by an ignorant, arrogant and bullying Hierarchy:
The democratically elected Wales Branch organised UKIP in Wales for 15 years.
Under the Chairmanship of Richard Suchorzewski I, as Secretary, was asked to make important representations to the then UKIP General Secretary. No reply was received.
Under the Chairmanship of John Pratt I was again asked to make representations. No reply was received.
In the approach to the Welsh Assembly Election in 2011 the National Party had no comprehension that we needed rules to deal with the D’Hondt Proportional Representation system which applied to the 5 divisions of Wales. As there was no prospect of getting a response to any request to Head Office, we decided to use the same approach as the party had used in the 2009 European Election, but adapted to the 5 divisions.
So the UKIP members in each division decided which candidates should be chosen and the order in which they would appear on the List. I was the Returning Officer. There were no complaints.
And in South Wales East we narrowly missed getting David Rowlands elected to the Assembly.
Then the hierarchy changed its attitude:
- In Autumn of 2011 they put out Rules for the next Assembly Election. Unfortunately they treated Wales as one (which it is for European Elections), not as 5 separate Divisions (which it is for Assembly Elections).
As a result people in North Wales could vote for List Candidates in South Wales East and vice versa. What a dog’s breakfast. No one in Wales was consulted. Was this incompetence or sabotage ?
- At the next AGM of UKIP Wales I was prevented from attending by ill health. However the then Party Chairman attended and required that the democratically elected committee be replaced by his preferred Chairmen-only system, which has achieved nothing.
UKIP Democracy in Wales was dead.
In 2017 manipulation from the top became much worse:
1. Before the General Election in 2017, when we had limited time, the Party Chairman required that candidates pay to be assessed. A procedure, which
(a) was designed to enhance the importance of the Party Chairman,
(b) was irrelevant, because we all knew that we could not get anyone elected,
(c) delayed the UKIP campaign, in which all we needed were paper candidates already in place.
2. The interim Leader created the office of Controller. In the Nazi lexicon these are Gauleiters, so that at the top you have the Obergauleiter, controlling the Regional Gauleiter, and the Sub-Regional Untergauleiters. The perfect fascist system.
3. The Interim Leader presented to the Party Conference in September 2017 a false prospectus which offered a choice between 2 new Logos, but not the established Sun/Pound/UKIP Logo which everyone would have voted for if given the chance.
4. In autumn of 2017 the Interim Chairman told the branches that they had to hold their AGMs before the end of December. But the Financial Year ends on the 31st December. How can you have an AGM without the Annual Accounts?
Some of the Rule Changes from Head Office are so incompetent that we simply must ignore them.
We ordinary kippers looking at the above procedures may ask: Was this incompetence or sabotage? Under the misrule of the top-down attitude of the hierarchy the party has dug itself into a hole.
There are 2 choices:
* You can dig yourself further into the hole, with more top-down rules from the Gauleiters who are currently strangling the talents, initiatives and energy of the Grassroots.
* Or you can climb out of the hole – but how ?
Here are the clues:
In Wales our Counties were abolished to suit the European Union, and replaced by Unitary Authorities within the European Region of Wales. However the D’Hondt system of Proportional Representation meant that in each of the 5 divisions of Wales we have the chance of electing up to 4 Assembly members under the PR list system.
These 5 divisions are the nearest thing we have to the old Counties of Wales and the continuing counties of England, and so, rather than refer to them as Regions of Wales, or Sub-Regions of Europe, I will refer to them as Counties.
By an accident of history, in the whole of UKIP the only County Branch is South Wales East.
It comprises 8 Constituencies, who were able to work together so as to provide by far the best results in Wales in the European Election 2014, the General Election 2015, the Assembly Election 2016, the Referendum 2016, and the General Election 2017.
It is relatively more successful than other parts of Wales, not because the members are any better, but because of the close working relationship between the Constituencies and the County.
Through the County Branch members from the successful Constituency Associations can and do help out in those constituencies which have no significant organisation.
There is no doubt that as part of a UKIP County Branch your area will do better.
[To be continued in Part 2 where the blueprint will be provided.]