This paper summarises the wisdom in the 91 NEC candidate submissions.
The quality of the candidates is very high: Lawyers, accountants, directors, consultants, computers, logistics, charity, architect, antiques, jeweller, pilot, doctor, vet, dentist, teachers, musician, trade union rep, carer, publican, border force, police, author, civil service.
Many are retired (which could be an advantage).
Four regional chairmen are standing.
Date of joining was typically 2013 to 2016.
5 joined much earlier; they should have a good chance of election.
7 candidates had VIP assentors.
10 candidates had errors of spelling, punctuation or fact.
Knowledge of how the party works
Candidates who joined since 2013 have little knowledge of how the party has been operating. They should read UKIP Daily.
Candidates are calling for more openness … which would help future candidates to know more about the party.
Democracy versus leadership
6 candidates want more democracy.
4 want to “support the leadership”, “helping the leader achieve his goals”, and “unite under our new leader”.
4 candidates want to “bridge the gap between the executive and the grassroots” and “prevent the squabbling”.
Some candidates recognise (perhaps subconsciously) the contradiction between democracy and leadership.
3 candidates believe that the “general membership” needs “a voice”, but also want to “support the leader”.
Should the NEC be a poodle?
Usually the NEC does exactly what the leader wants.
However, recently the NEC refused to be a poodle. Such behaviour was described (publicly) as being “NOT fit for purpose”, “divisive”, or “setting up a clique”.
Some candidates may be suggesting that the grassroots should be allowed to express an opinion but that the leader should decide. (That’s what happens in commercial companies.)
But what if the Central Clique proposes a truly awful decision. Will NEC members vote against it?
Example of an appallingly undemocratic NEC decision
The NEC in 2014 took UKIP into a Pan European Political Party, even though a UKIP referendum had decided otherwise. The NEC totally failed to support the grass-roots.
Resolving the contradiction between democracy and leadership
Maybe the NEC should appoint its own chairman.
The NEC chairman should issue in advance Board Papers which detail all the options … and help everyone to agree on the right decision. No important matter should be dealt with under AOB or without a paper distributed in advance. The leader and chairman should have advocacy skills. The NEC members should have advocacy skills. Informed agreement should be reached and decisions should be unanimous and seen by all UKIP members to be right. With the right leadership, NEC members, chairing and preparation, I believe that this is 99% possible.
Rules and Discipline
6 Candidates want a “rule book that gives clear and unambiguous answers”. They want a “fair discipline system”, perhaps at “regional level”, not used as “a tool to discipline some members and not others”.
One candidate believes that “senior members must stop criticising the party and its membership in public” and one wants Tory plants removed. One wants to redesign the discipline process like the army’s.
Many candidates want regional representation. (Regional election was turned down at conference, in 2016).
An idea, which meets the need, without defying the conference decision: each of 12 elected NEC members should adopt a region and represent it, keeping in close touch with the region. That idea was accepted by the NEC in January 2012 but never fully implemented.
The RORC meeting should elect its own chairman. Minutes thereof should go to all NEC members.
Many candidates want constitutional reform, though one says “I don’t think we should rush to change without considering what we are changing to”.
Non-radical ideas: publish the NEC minutes, publish who voted which way, allow NEC members to tell everyone what happened, introduce an NEC stall at conference. Allocate tasks to NEC members.
Ideas that would require constitutional change:
- Allow the NEC to elect its own chairman.
- Make the discipline process more independent.
- Review who can change the rules.
NEC membership is onerous and unpaid.
Good luck to all!