The following is an extract from the London UKIP Regional Chairman’s email newsletter, reproduced here with the permission of Freddy Vacha, as it contains information that members nationally may find useful regarding the leadership election and hustings.
I will be holding, with the help of my able team including the London Regional Secretary, the London Regional Co-ordinator and the Regional Organiser who is also the National Nominating Officer, London’s official Leadership hustings in just over 5 weeks. 7:15pm on Tuesday 5th September 2017 in Central London (at 163 Old St, London EC1V 9NG) is provisionally intended; note this is subject to confirmation.
This is – deliberately – immediately prior to members receiving their ballot papers.
The despatch by post of ballot papers to members is expected to be on/during:
– 1st September according to Wikipedia whose source is UKIP Norfolk (I have written to them to query their source, as I suspect an error); or
– 8th September per an earlier email from the Party to the wider membership; and/or
– the week starting Monday 4th September, according to an NEC member and MEP associate of mine who had diarised the proceedings of the June NEC meeting. Note this is not at all at odds with the 8th September date, as the posting of ~30,000 letters can take the better part of a week and that could be the expected completion date.
Other key election dates are:
– 4th August, when I believe the Party will release the list of potential candidates who’ve not been disqualified – I do hope there are no disqualifications, as I fear the backlash will be considerable;
– 11th August, which is the last date a qualified potential candidate can withdraw from the ballot – after that date, the entire £5,500 is potentially forfeit (on a candidate getting more than 20% of the votes cast, £2,500 of it will be refunded to him/her);
– 29th September, when, at the Torquay conference, the new Leader will be announced.
Since a former NEC member has leaked the entire text to the media, I do not feel constrained about relaying the following extracts from an email sent 48 hours ago by UKIP HQ to Regional Chairmen:“No regional hustings should take place prior to 11th August when the candidates are officially declared by the NEC and rules become enforceable.
Individual Branches can still invite candidates for meet and greet style events but [must] not hold a full hustings in addition to any regional hustings already taking place in that particular region.
Invitations to all official leadership candidates should be sent from the Regional Chair
Invitations sent to all members in that region should be sent from the Regional Chair”
Individual London branches may still choose, if their committees so decide, to invite candidates for “meet-and-greet” style events.
However, the Party has strictly forbidden any London branch from holding “a full hustings in addition to [the] regional hustings already taking place in [London]”.
Of course, the ruling applies to the rest of the UK too – but in regions which are not holding a regional hustings, the strict prohibition on branch hustings may not apply. That’s why I worded the above as I did.
This decision was not in any sense mine; I had no part in influencing, let alone making, it. I do see a lot of sense in it, though: for one thing, many candidates already have very full diaries between August 11 and the close of voting. They can’t be in more than one place at the same time, and it then becomes a lottery both for candidates and for attendees as to who will be there.
This said, I fully understand a lively leadership “meet-and-greet” event can be a useful boost to local/branch morale. So, let’s use common sense.
The Party further clarified that if a branch is holding a “meet-and-greet style event” (not a formal hustings), the Meeting Chairman will be responsible for ensuring that order is kept at all times and treating all candidates fairly and equally. This, as I read it, applies to more than attendee candidates – it additionally implies inviting ALL candidates to the event, and doing so in good time. The Party goes on to suggest that robust debate is to be encouraged, but should not be out of the Meeting Chairman’s control.
If your branch is not fully confident it can keep to these reasonable Party requirements, do not hold a “meet-and-greet style event”, or ask me to chair it. I may be available to chair branch “meet-and-greet style event” and, if so, will ensure that the rules are followed – but I am not making my doing this a general requirement for branches. However, I’ve also been approached by another region and by several counties to chair their hustings (see http://tinyurl.com/ukip-ref-02 and http://tinyurl.com/ukip-ref-03
I am not a lawyer, but I am advised that even one candidate alleging the Party has broken its own regulations (for example, by holding an unofficial hustings, or holding a “meet-and-greet style event” other than as provided in the rules) could lead to a judicial review which could arguably jeopardise the entire election timetable or outcome, as could a legal action for alleged prejudice or unfairness to a candidate. This is not pie in the sky; similar considerations underpinned the NEC’s controversial decision to disqualify Steven Woolfe in 2016.
Bill Etheridge, Chris Wells and Mike Hookem have pulled out of the race prior to submission of nominations.
Right now, AFAIK, there are 11 potential candidates (in alpha order, Aidan Powlesland, Anne Marie Waters, Ben Walker, David Allen, David Coburn, David Kurten, Henry Bolton, Jane Collins, John Rees-Evans, Marion Mason, Peter Whittle) facing vetting.
I am in very friendly, usually regular, contact with 10 of them – and hope it will soon be 11. 🙂