A UKIP candidate has predicted the end of the party after its ruling body banned former leader Gerard Batten from standing in the upcoming leadership contest.
The move follows Battens pattern of aligning himself with individuals considered to be far-right. The NEC feels being associated with the likes of Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin to be extreme and that association has gone on to tarnish the reputation of the party.
Long term followers of UKIP will know that this claim is completely unfounded. On the contrary – Batten – as leader brought UKIP back from the brink of financial collapse and presided over a membership increase to 30,000 members each paying £4 a month. Most of these members came as a direct result of his support of public enemy number 1 – Tommy Robinson.
Batten tweeted after the announcement:“UKIP’s NEC has passed a motion to prevent me standing for the leadership. I was only going to stand again to prevent the party from folding. What do you think? Should I be allowed to stand or not?”
And Batten is right. After the poor performance in the European Parliament elections where UKIP lost all of their seats and only attracted 3.6% of the vote the party needs strong leadership. The NEC’s decision has put the future of the party into question. Without Batten it is likely that the party will vanish from the political landscape all together.
It isn’t just Batten who’s outraged by the decision. UKIP candidate Jeff Wyatt exclusivley told Politicalite that “Unless this crass decision is reversed immediately then it’s the end of UKIP”. His comments represent the view widely held by not only the members whom Batten encouraged to join but also the very candidates representing UKIP.
Members of the NEC have taken the myopic decision to distance themselves from members who have amassed a negative media following of late. If the NEC had any sense they would embrace not only Batten but also the relationships that he has established with Tommy Robinson and pool together the cross group support to strengthen the struggling party.
Admittedly in the short term the Brexit Party with Nigel Farage at the helm will dominate the political landscape of euroscepticism. Nevertheless the one issue party is never going to succeed in the long term. With batten himself lambasting the group as “Tory Lite” and rightly pointing out that the MEP’s come from backgrounds ranging from conservative to revolutionary marxism. He commented in a recent interview saying “How are they going to agree on any policies beyond Brexit?”. Good question Gerrard.
Political suicide is an inherent part of the new play book for UK policitians. We have seen the cross partisan demise of figures like Anna Soubry and Chuka Umuna who made the moronic decision to leave their respective parties and it has left them in political limbo having to seek asylum with any party that will take them. Both UKIP and the NEC should open their eyes and learn from the mistakes of establishment politicians and work to re-establish UKIP’s position and play the long game in attracting votes back from the Brexit Party.