During these last two weeks, many and various reports and comments by UKIP members in social media and on websites have illustrated some issues which I find very worrying indeed.
The issue of the the whole Leadership campaign from the 31st of July onwards, the issue of the NEC, the issue of the Hustings now underway: all of that is worrying. There is however one aspect which connects them all, like a red thread. It is how we, the members, have been treated by those whom we have elected and those we employ to run the Party – and I don’t mean just the NEC. The one, crucial aspect is that, and how much, we, the members, the Purple Army, have been and are being kept in the dark.
It is unacceptable that members learn of resignations or of accusations of ‘dark forces’ in articles from alternative news sites. Anodyne ‘newsletters’ by Party Chairmen, or little articles on the official website which read more like official press releases than information for members, are not sufficient when there are rumours flying about, some unsubstantiated, some very much substantiated. Worse – it seems as if not just we ordinary footfolk have not been told about things we ought to know, so have those we elected to run things, like the NEC.
It is unacceptable that only those with twitter accounts – which many of us do not have for valid reasons – were able to learn about the Woolfe rejection, which must have been leaked from inside UKIP Head Office before the official announcement. Leaking is a well-used instrument of party politics, honed to perfection by Blair’s government …
I must be very naive, but I thought UKIP was better than that!
Even more damaging to the Party is the suppression of news about acts by people who seem to have licence to do what they want because they are closely connected to Head Office. I was staggered to receive this article, showing that some members may have had this information while the majority is still kept in ignorance. For me, the key sentence in that post is:
“[…]extraordinarily in UKIP, [the panel] released the report of the hearing. The panel chairman’s report makes damning reading of what happened.”
Wouldn’t it have been easy to write in the newsletter the Chairman e-mails to members that ‘such-and-such panel has sat and released a report, here is the link’? Or must we ordinary members wait until this report is also leaked and finds its way into the MSM, like this about one of Nigel Farage’s aides being arrested in the USA, which ‘graced’ the headlines in two papers today, see here and here?
Clearly, there are leaks to the MSM coming from inside Head Office. The events of the last few weeks have shown that. Are we to believe that it is better for UKIP to keep the members in the dark, in the hope that the MSM won’t find out, and that it is better for the Party to let members, kept wilfully ignorant, defend the indefensible until the next MSM smear bomb, even if it leaves all of UKIP with egg on their faces?
Let’s consider this mess from another angle: many members are now clamouring for a “5 star”, “Direct Democracy” Party. How can this work if people are not well informed? How can this work if even a governing body like the NEC is kept in ignorance? How can this work if one needs to have a twatter account to follow all those who know something, or leak and hint, only giving ‘news’ in order to ‘enthuse’ the masses, but never telling the whole truth? Are we to assume that there won’t be a Head Office any longer, that no leaks will occur and that everybody will behave perfectly? Astonishing!
Some of the blame for the dire situation we’re in however does fall on us. How many of us knew the exact procedure to call for an EGM and how long it takes to arrange one? How many piled in on websites after having seen tweets by certain people, demanding an EGM or else? How many blithely skimmed over the explanations by Jonathan Arnott (here)? How many did actually vote last year for the new NEC members, on the postal ballot sent out to all members? Well?
And so to the next, vital question: where in all this is the leadership so many members are calling for?
The handful of Leadership candidates? The reports from the hustings are not encouraging, their format having been prescribed by Head Office. It’s as if candidates and Head Office are trying to convince the London media of their credentials, not us members!
But we do have others, don’t we – so where are they? Have they all gone on holidays? Isn’t Nigel still Leader until the next one has been elected? Isn’t Paul Nuttall still Deputy Leader? Why are they so ominously silent?
The EU Referendum has shown that winning elections or a referendum means having boots on the ground. Twitter and facebook ‘likes’ do not translate into votes nor into leafletting, into manning street stalls, into doing the nitty-gritty work necessary. A new, online-only Party won’t win elections, not here in the UK.
Far more importantly – UKIP is nothing without us, the foot soldiers, the Purple Army. Forget that fact, leave us behind to create a ‘modern, online-only’ entity, and all of us will lose, Party and Country. It would be a betrayal not only of all of us loyal members, of the Party we love, the Party we joined, the Party which won the EU Referendum, but also of all of those who voted in the Referendum for Brexit.
Anyone going down that route must realise that this is exactly what the Establishment wants: the ‘modern’ way of finally killing UKIP.
Are we really going to let that happen?