Despite leaving UKIP in despair because of the inexcusable debacle that was the infamous Stoke By-Election, because of the foolish squandering of the political capital that had been built up during the period of the 2015 GE Campaign and on through the successful Referendum (including the too-hasty departure of the sainted Nigel) but mainly because of the Emperor’s Got No Clothes myopia of the so-called ‘Leadership Team’, I have been following the hustings with much interest. And, incidentally, thank you again for the excellent coverage / comment provided via UKIP Daily – If only UKIP’s own online presence was as well-managed as UD is then at least some of the party’s problems would be addressed.
Last night, suitably equipped with a sufficiency of red wine, I was ready to witness the turn of the South-East Hustings, Dorking, chaired by a lady who ‘binged’ a lot. ‘Welcome everybody…’ BING! ‘Now it’s time for…’ BING! ‘Thank you for letting me address…..’ BING! BING! BING! OK – I exaggerate, but there was a lot of BINGING! And a candidate field that, taahhdaah, shock-horror, ‘dramatically’ narrowed to just eight hopefuls after Ben Walker, my personal favourite, after he’d made clear his express intent to sack bumbling party chairman, Paul ‘Oakie of Stokie’ Oakden, declared his undying love for Jane Collins, joining David Braveheart Coburn and the unremarkable Marion Mason, (a candidate so unprepossessing that the current Wikipedia article forgets to even mention her), and joined ‘Team Collins’. Still, at least Marion provided a moment of light relief when one of the panel mistook her for Marilyn Manson, the American metal / rock singer or were they thinking of Charles Manson the cult leader turned mass murderer?
So, we’re down to eight – right? Wrong! In reality, as the Dorking Hustings clearly showed, BING! BING! BING!, we’re actually down to three. Yes folks, it’s a three-horse race between jovial pedagogue, David Kurten, Anne Marie Waters, known to her many followers as AMW, and Peter Whittle, known to his followers as… urrrmm … Peter Whittle, who, if nothing else, wears a nice suit well. And, if I had a fiver for every time Peter Whittle raises his right hand and solemnly declares: “I am a gay man!” I’d probably be able to stop watching the death-throes of UKIP and go and join Sir Richard Branson in his palatial des-res on Necker Island. Or maybe not as latest reports are that Hurricane Irma has laid waste to said pad. Remainers will be glad to know that their man survived by hiding in his ‘concrete wine cellar’. Peter! It’s 2017! Nobody cares about your sexuality, only about whether you’re fit to lead UKIP or not…
So, we have Peter Whittle, the establishment candidate, the fellow that the Crowther / Oakden cabal are hoping will win and maintain the ‘status quo’; a status quo that has seen UKIP membership drop to less than half of its pre-Referendum peak and which, as admitted last night, now apparently proposes to scrap UKIP’s iconic £ logo, presumably replacing it with one of a white flag. And then the other two – who both display something that none of the other candidates convincingly do, least of all the urbane Whittle. And that something is passion. P.A.S.S.I.O.N!
The difference is that David Kurten seems passionate about reinventing UKIP; about getting rid of the management myopia that has reduced a party that only a year ago had a decent shot of becoming the real opposition to the Tories to one that is becoming a laughing stock again. And that, in itself, is highly laudable. AMW clearly believes that all of that is just so much re-arranging of the deckchairs after the Titanic hit the iceberg. She says that the British people don’t care about UKIP’s internal wrangling (except when they provide some light relief). They don’t care about the NEC. They don’t care about ‘unelected interim leaders’ or not enough candidates being selected or approved. Etcetera etcetera. And she’s right.
Seeing her passionately set out her stall and stating clearly what she would do as leader of UKIP reminded me of somebody else who passionately believed in a generally unpopular and unfashionable idea and carried the party forward on the back of his zeal. That person was, of course, Nigel Farage.
That’s why, if I still had a vote, AMW would get it. Hands down.
But based on the experience of the previous 15 months, I fully expect that I AM A GAY MAN will win and under the new white flag logo complete the job of dismantling the party. Then the party really will be over for UKIP.