Dear NEC members –
I wasn’t a fan of the NEC. I felt that too often they made bizarre decisions which defied common sense. There was a lack of transparency about how they arrived at those decisions, and the Minutes of the meetings were not easily available. Above all there was a lack of accountability when the decisions they made proved to be disastrous.
However, over the last few days I have changed my mind about the NEC. The day before the NEC were due to meet, to discuss a vote of no confidence in the Party Leader, I decided to send them one last email. Within a very short space of time I received kind and sympathetic replies from two of the NEC members. I still wasn’t confident that most of the NEC members were of similar mind. So, I was both surprised and pleased that the vote of no confidence was unanimous.
For once the NEC have got this right. They were responding to all the evidence that they were receiving from the grassroots. The Surrey Chairman had carried out a survey of UKIP members. A similar survey was carried out in Cornwall. In Berkshire a different approach was used. There, all UKIP members were contacted and asked to submit individual letters to the NEC. Both approaches came up with the same result. The overwhelming majority of UKIP members wanted Henry Bolton to go. I have no doubt that similar initiatives were carried out across the whole country.
The reasons for this consensus are simple. It’s got nothing to do with morality or the stupid text messages sent by Bolton’s girlfriend. It has everything to do with honesty and trust. There are two questions which need to be asked. Would UKIP voters have voted for Henry Bolton four months ago, if they knew then what they know now? Did Henry Bolton deceive UKIP voters?
People who voted for Henry Bolton were voting for someone who had an OBE in international security, an ex-military man and police officer. They were voting for someone they could trust. Even people who did not vote for him were prepared to get behind him and support him, because here was a man of substance who the media would not be able to destroy.
The trust UKIP members placed in Henry Bolton has been broken, and it cannot be restored. That is why he must go. Everyone who thinks they are a Leader needs to look behind them occasionally. If you look back, and no one is following, then you are not a Leader. So, the NEC have got this right. Their unanimous vote of no confidence reflects the views of ordinary UKIP members.
The next turn of events in this sorry saga, is that the day after the unanimous vote of no confidence by the NEC, Nigel used his LBC programme to both prop up Henry Bolton and at the same time attack the NEC. One of the NEC members, Paul Oakley (not to be confused with Oakden), phoned in and put the record straight on various inaccuracies that Nigel came up with.
Nigel is playing a game of divide and rule. He knows that most UKIP members want the constitution of the Party to be re-written so that the NEC can be reformed. However, for Nigel to imply that we must keep Henry Bolton for this to happen is absurd. Most of the candidates in the Leadership election recognised that the constitution needed to be updated, and had they been elected, would have put that work in progress.
Nigel’s motivation for wanting Henry Bolton to remain as Party Leader is obscure. It was probably his decision, to act as Henry Bolton’s political referee at the eleventh hour, which swung the vote in Bolton’s favour, and put him in as Party Leader in the first place. Up until that point, Bolton was a rank outsider.
Nigel has stated many times that he has no intention of coming back to lead UKIP. He wants to set up a decentralised online movement, like the Five Star Movement in Italy. There is no reason why UKIP and the online movement should not co-exist, co-operating and not competing.
We all owe Nigel an immense amount of gratitude and respect. Without ever having had a seat in Westminster, he is the most influential politician of our age. However, Nigel is not infallible. His attempt to influence the vote which will take place at the EGM in February, by being disingenuous, is wrong.
Nigel must realise that UKIP is no longer his baby. UKIP has made some disastrous mistakes in the last eighteen months, but UKIP has grown up now, and can make its own decisions. UKIP does not need another Leadership election until far more stringent selection procedures for candidates are in place. It takes an exceptional individual to be a good Party Leader.
What is needed at this moment in time is an Interim Party Leader who is a seasoned politician with decades of experience, a keen Brexiteer, with a vision for the future. A Party Leader needs to be trustworthy and able to command respect. With the right Interim Leader, UKIP will not just survive this current crisis, but will go on to flourish.
Sincerely, Beverley Roberts, UKIP, Secretary Berkshire County Committee