Today’s [Feb 16th 2018] Daily Telegraph carried an article by Nigel Farage MEP about tomorrow’s EGM in Birmingham and the new Constitution for UKIP proposed by Henry Bolton. Nigel has come out in support of Mr Bolton and gives his reasons why.
It has been said many times, but I will say it again: the NEC, the MEPs, the London and Welsh Assembly members and the rank and file Party members were all behind Henry when he became Leader. We wanted him to succeed and we supported him. It became apparent from about 19th January that his position had become untenable because of the media debacle that had overtaken him and which he was unable to contain or close down.
Henry Bolton has achieved something unique in UKIP’s history, which is a unanimous vote of no confidence by the NEC. In his article in the Telegraph, Nigel glosses over the Henry Bolton/Jo Marney part of the story, dismissing it as merely “wonderful material for the cartoonists and humourists” and paints the NEC as the villains of the piece. The NEC is condemned as “failing” and the party can only be saved from oblivion by Henry Bolton and his new proposed constitution.
I have attended numerous NEC meetings over the years. These can be boring, tedious, and on occasion extremely frustrating, just like most other committee meetings. However, I cannot recall ever being at one such NEC meeting with Nigel where he was not able to impose his will, either directly or by the use of proxies. I could give examples but I won’t. But in more recent times Nigel was not always able to get his way and perhaps that colours his view of the NEC now.
Whatever his motivation may be, he holds up Henry Bolton’s proposed Draft Constitution as the solution. Yesterday Steve Crowther published a masterly demolition of the Constitution (see here). As Steve points out, it would take all powers away from the NEC and hand them to the Leader and his Board of appointees. The Leader would have powers to remove party officers for the new crime of ‘undermining the cohesion and unity of the Party’. Legitimate dissent would be crushed. I think it is what Mao Tse-Tung described as ‘democratic centralism’.
Henry’s Draft Constitution is a blue-print for dictatorship. Why would a Party of natural rebels vote for that? The NEC has some wonderful people on it, like the generous and selfless Alan Bown who had got the Party of many a hole in the past. It has also had some not so wonderful people on it over the years, that’s life. It could benefit from reform and improvement but effectively abolishing it is not the answer.
We have all given Nigel Farage the credit which has been his due. He was the top performer and spokesman in the Referendum campaign and played a major role in securing the Leave vote. But none of it would have been possible without the UKIP troops’ boots on the ground during the campaign and over the previous 24 years. When Nigel denounces the ‘low grade’ personnel he has had to work with over the years he might care to remember that. He might also care to remember that many of the people who have given us the most trouble were ones he recruited and promoted.
The idea that UKIP can only survive by keeping Henry Bolton as Leader and adopting his North Korean style Constitution is laughable. If the NEC vote of no confidence is upheld tomorrow then UKIP will have a hard struggle to restore itself as an electoral threat, but it will have a future.
If the NEC vote of no confidence is overturned, and if Mr Bolton and his Constitution is the future, then UKIP doesn’t have one worth worrying about.