[Ed: Graham has been a contributor for UKIP Daily (articles, letters, comments) and we are sad that he made the decision he describes below. UKIP Daily, as we keep maintaining, is not a closed shop. Anyone can contribute, provided the contributions are in some way UKIP-related. That’s why we publish Graham’s article. We hope that this particular New Year’s resolution will quickly go the way of other New Year’s resolutions. And: thank you, Graham, for all you’ve done.]
This year I have resolved to stop paying attention to anything that happens in UKIP. I came to this conclusion with both relief and sadness. Someone once said that the value of something can be measured by the amount of time you are willing to put into it. I spent a lot of time as a PPC fighting an election that I had no way to win, but I wanted to use it as a test to see if radical UKIP policies could be communicated in a non-threatening way and opposition tackled head-on. I supported other campaigns, leafleting and running social media for our candidate in Harrow, in addition to my own. I spent over £1,300 of my own money. Ultimately, I was thrown under a bus by Henry Bolton – after standing up and defending the Integration Agenda and other radical policies in public, they were all thrown out on day one of his reign and I was left looking like a fool. I had been called racist in the streets, shunned by the parents in my kids’ schools, ridiculed for the burka ban, been trolled relentlessly on social media, and all for nothing. Surely a leader is supposed to have your back, and I couldn’t help thinking that if Henry had actually ran himself (what kind of leader has never actually ran for the party they lead except as police commissioner?) then he wouldn’t have acted so hastily.
The General Election was a turning point for UKIP. Many of our branch activists thought we should not run a candidate and refused to give support; they fell for the ‘strong and stable’ Mrs. May, forgetting how she had been a Remainer. So rather than the GE being a chance to unite the branch in busy campaigning, it was extremely divisive. Living near London, I attended several of the national party press briefings, and was roundly ignored at all of them. There were only ever 20 people in the room for most of them (except the rowdy manifesto launch, which was fun and gave a hint as to how the party could look if it became more populist) and yet the huddle of sycophants that surrounded Paul Nuttall could never find it in themselves to look outwards to even acknowledge members that had come to support them.
It became increasingly clear to me that the London region is terribly managed. I helped a candidate run in Harrow where the branch chairman was entirely absent from the election, and in fact didn’t want to run a candidate. Demographically UKIP can never do well there and there were no Brexiteers running, but I helped run a limited social media campaign and we found pockets of support, especially along ethnic lines. But if even branch chairman can get away with doing absolutely nothing at election times then what is the point of having them? We had no London-wide social media campaign, no London-wide agenda to counter Sadiq Khan. In case nobody has noticed, our two London AMs Kurten and Whittle (deputy party leader then!) don’t talk to each other much and they talk even less to our regional chairman. There is no coordination between them, let alone any actual activity. It is all petty squabbles, petty vindictiveness, and no adults supervising the kids, so this state of affairs goes on and on. I spent half a day preparing a guide for PPCs to use social media at the reluctant request of the regional chairman who then binned it because he couldn’t understand it himself. I offered 20 hours a week to help develop policy and social media in London but was again ignored, because if I did it how could the chairman possibly get the credit for himself?
I decided to leave the party a few months back and have been waiting for my subscription to expire, which it does in the next week or two. Now I am hoping that Nigel Farage and Arron Banks will start a Five Star type movement. Ultimately, I am afraid that UKIP belongs to its five key donors, who have the party over a barrel. The officers have become institutionalised and who pays the piper calls the tune. They create conflict between the NEC (whatever happened to them by the way?) and the leader so that they can continue to extend their influence. They let the people below squabble like rats in a sack to distract attention. It’s not a radical party, it’s a reactionary party. I really hope it can change, but I don’t see any sign of that. In the leadership election, I didn’t think any of the candidates were much good so voted for the one I felt most likely to cause the top of the party to explode, so that something better could be rebuilt, a truly member-led, populist movement. That didn’t happen and the party continues to stumble on, but saying nothing and going nowhere. I honestly don’t know what it stands for any more except that the donors are unwilling to write off their past investments. I am now told that the GE17 manifesto that I spent £1,300 promoting for the party was not in fact properly authorised, although nobody seems willing to state definitively whether it was or wasn’t. Like the rebranding, it is shambolic and I don’t see that Henry is improving things at all, in fact he is the one declaring the GE17 manifesto ‘ultra vires’, although the leader does not have this unilateral power to decide policy either, and has left us in policy limbo.
Good luck to those who remain, I wish you well, but I shan’t be spending any more time and effort on this, I shall miss UKIP Daily but I have to be strong and resist the urge to bash out a comment or the occasional article! Or will this only last a few days like most of my resolutions before…