[Ed: The following article is the personal view of the author, and we hope that other readers will send in their own personal views of the candidate they will support in the forthcoming UKIP Leadership Election.]
Why Bill Etheridge MEP Must Lead UKIP:
Whilst I am sure we will be in find hands whoever wins, I am endorsing Bill Etheridge for leader and here is why.
Bill has the unusual double mandate of local councillor and MEP. As a local councillor, he has picked up the critical skills of pavement politics, from pot holes in the road and bin collection to save our park/hospital/cinema type campaigns that are the lifeblood of any political party. As an MEP, he has sat yards away from figures as high profile and international as the Pope, Jean Claude Juncker and King Abdullah of Jordan. This has given Bill experience as both an MEP and a councillor, someone who is as comfortable talking to a local group as he is talking to a world leader. Some of the other candidates only have an MEP mandate, some only have local experience. Bill has both.
Bill has shown the personal strength a front-line leader needs. During the alleged golliwog crisis, far from backing down and doing liberal penance, he stood his ground. Someone who can directly trespass on a liberal taboo like political correctness, and then refuse to back down from their attacks is a man well built for leadership. During the 2015 General Election he was the target of the Labour-left’s attack dogs Hope Not Hate. Various leftist factions waded in to his constituency of Dudley North with their usual shrill tone and self-righteous moral chest beating. They even went to the lengths of producing a grotesque attack leaflet. Bill did not back down in the face of this and won an impressive 24% of the vote.
Bill also supports letting the people decide on the death penalty. The EU has a slightly creepy obsession with the death penalty, holding up its opposition to the death penalty as evidence of its alleged moral superiority. The EU heavily funds anti-death penalty campaigns in other people’s countries, wading in where they have no business. This includes their obscene intervention to save the lives of death row inmates convicted of the gang rape and murder of two teenage girls in Texas. Bill Etheridge stood tall and fought the corner of the victims and their families when the issue was raised in the European Parliament (see the video below). On moral issues, we cannot expect our MPs to vote against their conscience on any issue. Bill’s policy of a direct referendum is the best way to resolve our policy on the death penalty.
But if there is one reason above all others I will support Bill, it is this. Bill understands that the centre ground of the Blair-Cameron consensus has had its day. Indeed, as the Tories move to the right, and Labour move to the Corbynite left, even the centre does not want to be in the centre anymore! So why would UKIP want to occupy the centre? The image of a dishevelled Tony Blair bumbling excuses at Chilcot was highly symbolic. That was the moment the centre ground Blair had created and championed in the 1990s and early 2000s was comprehensively discredited. It puzzles me that some figures in UKIP advocate moving to this centre. Bill passionately advocates a radical post-Brexit programme to really make our country a better place, and that will involve a dramatic break from the dying, discredited centre.
We have a number of good candidates. But for me, I am backing Bill.