[Ed: having received this letter, we endorse the appeal therein. To that end, we would like to call on all readers to kindly forward it to their branch chairs and regional organisers, so that those higher up in the Party hierarchy can take note of the feelings of ordinary members. Furthermore, forwarding it to the Leadership candidates might help them to see that written statements cannot but help in their leadership campaign. Not all members can attend the Hustings – but all members do have a vote!]
When it was said that the party would now focus on competing in Labour seats I had no idea that meant competing with Labour over who was the best at in-fighting, smear campaigns, and losing touch with ordinary members. The traditional Labour voters that are expected to now prefer UKIP to Labour may well be wondering what the difference is. Meanwhile, as the academic Matthew Goodwin points out – I shall not say where as it is in a disgraceful Remainer paper I do not wish to give prominence to – UKIP are squandering an electoral opportunity in a post referendum landscape of Labour MP at odds with their own voters.
Reform in the party needs money not just political will. It needs permanent back office staff to carry out a variety of functions and with big donors and patrons threatening to put their cheque books away (some already have) the only secure funding for the future is a significant increase in membership. This elementary fact of life appears to have been overlooked at exactly the time a membership drive could have traction.
I suggest that a way forward is for all leadership candidates to issue a joint statement along the following lines:
“We note that feelings are high among members and we wish to present a constructive way to reform our party. We feel there is a risk in the current vituperative climate of UKIP’s legacy being winning the war but losing the peace. Accordingly, we each pledge that whichever of us is elected we will all support the new leader in launching a programme of review and consultation over reform in our party.
We pledge a consultative exercise and we pledge to listen. All reforms, from changes to the current set up to a completely new constitution, are on the table, and we will, jointly with whoever is the new leader, work to have clear proposals ready for the spring conference. In our view, significant changes to our constitution, to our culture, need thinking through carefully and should not be rushed.
So we say to all our colleagues, friends and members, please be patient for a little while longer and focus first on the most critical issue which is electing a new leader. He or she promises, for we each do, to deal with members’ concerns that have come to the surface following Nigel stepping down and to come up with realistic proposals for reform.
Let us show everyone that we are not the same as other parties. Let us be better. And let us then recruit new members.”
I hope at least one candidate reads your article, this plea, and then organises a joint statement from the candidates. They have an opportunity to show leadership right now. The range of moods across the membership, from unthinking anger to utter despair, cannot continue if UKIP is to have a future, if it is not to betray the trust and hope placed in it by the many millions who had no voice until UKIP came along. It’s not about us, it’s about them.
Westminster and City Branch, but writing in a personal capacity