Here is a summary of the results of the Welsh Assembly Election on the 5th May 2016
- In only 10 of the 40 Constituencies did UKIP improve its percentage of the vote when compared with the General Election on 7th May 2015.
- In 28 of the Constituencies the percentage dropped.
- In 2 Constituencies we had no candidate.
What was the cause of this relative failure? In what should have been a busy campaign period of at least 6 months two factors got in the way.
Interference by Head Office.
The party rightly encourages each constituency to choose its own preferred candidate for election. However that right was taken away from the 5 sub-regions of Wales which are themselves Constituencies for the purpose of the Proportional Representation List system, and which 5 years ago, in 2011, chose their own 4 candidates, and the order of preference. Instead an Inquisitor was sent down by Head Office to “assess” the aspiring candidates.
I have nothing against Paul Oakden personally. He is obviously very able. Unfortunately he was given an objectionable brief. It was nothing to do with ensuring an adequate level of ability, as had happened at the General Election in 2015. When asked Paul told us that he was going to pass everybody. The assessment was for the purpose of recommending and prioritising the List candidates.
The active members whose energy and selflessness has built the Party in Wales were incandescent. Some excellent candidates resigned. Others were demotivated. Nobody was happy.
Nathan Gill tried to improve things by recommending his own preferred Lists, but that too ended in dissatisfaction. So it was decided to return to the 2012 rules. Unfortunately they are based on the assumption that Wales is one Constituency. That is true for the European Elections, but not for the Assembly Elections in which there are 5 sub-regional Constituencies. So we had members in North Wales voting for List candidates in South Wales East, of whom they had little knowledge, and vice versa.
The 2012 rules deprived Constituency members of the fundamental right to choose their own candidates. That was demotivating, but the delay was worse because it left little time to organise the campaign.
Lack of Funds
The expectation of funds from Head Office proved to be illusory. We later learned that a financial black hole in funding had been filled by loans, so that UKIP could continue to ‘trade’, but for how long ?
Fortunately on the 20th March 2016 a group of Patrons promised funding, and then we were able to draft and order significant numbers of our local Newspaper for distribution in South Wales East. Various Patrons contributed £11,500. A local businessman gave £5000. Arron Banks gave £25,000.
By concentrating our limited resources on South Wales East we increased our vote in that area. But we lacked the resources to do it elsewhere in Wales. These disasters can and must be avoided in future!
The Inquisitorial system has no place in a democratic party.
When choosing List candidates the 2011 rules should be restored. This can be done immediately. Only a People’s Army can win future elections. That means trusting the local platoons and their chosen commanders, with elected and voluntary Field Officers helping to organise and co-ordinate.
Salaried ‘Staff Officers’ are not there to boss people about, but to support and advise, and to provide finance and expertise. Staff officers should be advised that if they are unable to carry the voluntary activists along with them, then they have no place in the People’s Army.
A Treasury department which cannot produce Campaign Funds when required is not fit for purpose.
Whether the present incumbents remain or not, the Party needs a plan which
- Reduces debt to nil, and
- Builds a fighting fund for future elections
However, this is unlikely to be achieved while secrecy prevails. Prospective donors need to know where their donations are going. Realistic plans cannot be made until we know the full facts, however awful. Full disclosure is a necessary preliminary if we are to dig ourselves out of debt.
The question to be asked of each of the candidates for the leadership is:
How do you propose to achieve the desirable and necessary objectives outlined above ?
Subject to the above reforms being put in place the future for UKIP is rosy. A look at the Referendum results in Wales shows that Leave support was strongest in Labour areas.
One is reminded of the advice given to us over 10 years ago by the American election guru Dick Morris:
“You don’t have to persuade people of the merits of your case.They are already on your side. What you have to do is to persuade them to vote for you.”
We are positioned now to gain a significant number of seats in next year’s Unitary Authority Elections in Wales where all seats are up for re-election. We should now aim to replace Labour as the main opposition party in the UK. We must, when the opportunity occurs, replace as many Remain MPs as possible so that we have the option of repealing the 1972 Act (as amended) and of getting out of the EU instantly.
A new Leader and the People’s Army can do this if they are not choked to death by bureaucratic interference or starved to death by lack of funds.
Hugh Moelwyn Hughes.
A Founder member of UKIP