I support most of the policies UKIP stands for and I believe profoundly on the need for Britain to regain its independence. I joined UKIP about five years ago and started to contribute regularly to UKIP Daily. I gave up contributing when I realised that nothing I wrote would ever have any influence on policy. I was increasingly disillusioned with the party during the sequence of failed leaders which followed Nigel’s departure. And when finally, it looked as if UKIP was going to become an anti-Islam party, I didn’t bother to renew my membership.
Then Henry Bolton was unexpectedly elected and I renewed my membership after all. He was an unknown quantity, but first impressions were good and, by overcoming the threat of anti-islamism, he had already brought UKIP back from the brink in that respect, anyway. I am an old man, my legs are no longer good and I haven’t been able to play an active part in UKIP, so I could only judge Henry Bolton by what I saw on the internet. He looked to me like a very honest man, not a natural politician but undoubtedly a natural leader. For a man who had had no previous exposure to the media, he seemed to me to handle them brilliantly. He was quite imperturbable under fire. He looked like a man of great determination and personal courage. And his diagnosis of what was wrong with UKIP looked right to me. He was not and never would be a Nigel Farage, but he might yet succeed in achieving what Nigel never managed to achieve – to turn UKIP into an effective political party which can survive and develop and prosper even without a charismatic genius at the top.
He has not yet been leader for six months. Yet already, a very serious situation has arisen. An EGM has been called for the sole purpose of ejecting him from the leadership. What, then, has he done wrong? There has been no election, he cannot have failed there. He has not basked in idleness, enjoying the glory of national attention while doing nothing to justify his position. On the contrary, he seems to have been quite busy. Did he make unjustified claims on his CV? Even if he did, we are none of us perfect in that respect, and he is in office now, he must be judged by his present performance, not his past. He has refuted the allegations in detail on his website, but it never mattered anyway.
Ask the media what he has done. They will tell you that he has had an affair with a girl who made some rather silly comments some time before they met. Good material for an anti-UKIP smear – we have had plenty of those in the media in the past and we have rallied round and learned to ignore them until they died down naturally. Surely, an episode in his private life cannot explain the emergency situation which seems to have arisen. Surely, it would have made more sense to have offered him every possible support. But no, the opportunity offered by the media scandal has been take to mount a campaign to expel him from the leadership. The situation is so serious, his continued position as leader has become so intolerable that a party with no money which has already gone through what UKIP has gone through since Nigel’s departure must make a desperate and expensive attempt to prevent him from doing any more damage than he has done already.
So what has he done? It must be pretty bad, to justify going through an EGM and another leadership election with no money in the bank, members leaving in droves, everything already going wrong. Mr Bolton has been properly elected, he claims confidently to be able to put things right. Would it not be better to give him a fair chance? Say six months, maybe even a year? No, Henry Bolton must go, anything else would be impossible. But why? Who will lead for the prosecution at the EGM and what will they say?
I am an outsider. I don’t see the minutes of the NEC even if such minutes exist. So I have no way to judge what the intolerable offence is that Henry Bolton has committed. But judging as an outsider, with a combination of experience elsewhere and a bit of guesswork, I suggest that the only explanation which fits this situation is that Mr Bolton has in a very short time accumulated the reputation of a man who has the courage to actually start making the changes which are needed.