Kippers don’t live in caves, so we all know what has been going on at the top of our party since our Leader Henry Bolton informed us in a late-night letter of ‘a change in his relationship’ and that this would be reported in next day’s ‘Sun’.
Kippers watched aghast as the story unfolded across the Sunday papers these past two weekends.
Members have made their feelings known, members are resigning, branches are closing down. But according to Bolton (quoted in the DT), those who call for his resignation ‘are people who for some time have been trying to work to undermine the leadership of the party in any case’ – by leaving? By saying what they think?
Yesterday morning, Paul Oakden said on the ‘Sunday Politics Show’ that Bolton would make a decision by the evening, and that ‘he is focussed on this matter’. One might have thought that a statement to members, either by Mr Oakden or Mr Bolton, would therefore be forthcoming that evening – but no!
Instead, this morning we and indeed the whole Nation was treated to Henry Bolton on all Breakfast TV programmes, explaining, defending, and above all announcing that he has now ditched the new love of his life, Ms Jo Marney.
I watched the BBC interview, and according to what other members wrote, the others on the other national TV stations went more or less the same way. So, taking it from the top, here goes:
‘The romantic part of this relationship has ended’ – is that what it’s called nowadays? Nice euphemism!
Henry ‘will help her and her family to rebuild her life’ – but what about his family – do they not need their lives rebuilding?
‘She is utterly distraught’ – oh is she really! So is your family, your wife, so are your kids, Henry – and so are we members, especially those of us who worked their socks off to get you elected.
‘There’s context to her remarks which in time will be revealed’ – in time? Why not now? Frankly, this is the usual weaselling-out approach taken by those who have something to hide: ‘context’ implying that we idiots don’t know anything so cannot possibly understand, should on no account judge and please go back to as we were before.
Henry then segues straight into his spiel about holding May’s feet to the fire on Brexit. But what has he done about that in the past three-and-a half months? Oh, there was one tweet about Nigel’s remark on a 2nd referendum. One tweet ain’t policy! The BBC presenter cuts him off and asks about his statement during the hustings that he was a family man with two small kids.
(Excursion: I never thought I’d say this about a BBC presenter, but this one is rather straightforward and asks his questions without being snide.)
So Henry spins the issue of his marriage and the hustings like a mini-Mandelson: he only said that he was married, nothing else, nothing about the state of his marriage – I bet members who saw and met him during the hustings saw and heard things differently! Of course, he’s since told us that actually, his marriage was on the rocks even then … did he think it would scupper his chances if he’d said so at the time? Well, now his goose is truly cooked as far as so many members are concerned who have left in the past two weeks: because they recognise that they were and are being lied to.
Next, the BBC presenter reads statements by Ben Walker, Bill Etheridge and Suzanne E (inevitably), calling for him to go. Henry brushes these aside saying that Walker and Etheridge were running against him in the leadership campaign, insinuating ‘sour grapes’, and that they should rather work towards delivering for the Party. (Watch out, Ben and Bill – he’s coming for you!)
He then goes on to talk about reforming the Party – organisation, planning, funding … This might play for ordinary BBC watchers but we Kippers all know what he has achieved in this respect: sweet F.A.! When I wrote my first critical appraisal “One month and counting …” on Oct 31st 2017, we heard reassuring noises. Knowing the mess UKIP was in, we gave him the benefit of doubt – but what happened in November and December? Nothing, except some longwinded letter and one shadow Cabinet meeting (we’re still in the dark about the outcome of this). There was the launch of one campaign, ‘Save Our Services’ – and then what?
Where’s the audit he promised? Where’s a new chairman? Where is the new comms system? One man has been working on it, we’re told – one man! (Was he offered any help, were members with expertise asked to help in this endeavour? Not that I’m aware of …) What about the funding? Is Henry getting paid or not? Who pays?
Now the nation talks indeed about UKIP – in a bad way. Why should voters trust a party whose leader vanishes to ‘be involved romantically’ (modern speak for having “carnal knowledge”, but do insert your favourite four-letter word!) instead of doing what he was elected to do – lead?
Concluding the interview Henry says he’s ‘worked hard’ to turn things around, and that ‘we’ll see things emerge in the next two months’ … funny that none of us grassroots have seen or heard any sign about this turn-around so far! One might expect to see the odd, tiny, little green shoot by now! And: two more months? That’s mid-March, six weeks before the Local Elections … weren’t we going to have everything in place to win seats then?
Off Henry goes then into ‘someone must hold the government to account’ – regurgitating phrases from his statements made before he was elected. That’s old stuff now, no relation to what has been happening in the meantime! Does Henry not read the papers?
Coming to the end, finally, he throws Jo under the bus again. Asked if there’s a way back for her, Henry describes the disciplinary process, says that it’s got nothing to do with him and that he’ll support their decision whichever way it goes. Reassuring, isn’t it …
He’s spouted this and variations thereof all over the national TV stations this morning. Should Nigel or anyone else come out describing these interviews as fantastic propaganda for UKIP, they need their heads examined.
I have bad news for them: as far as the Nation is concerned, UKIP is toast.
Thanks a bundle, Henry!